Sampling Some of
Buffalo’s Best

by Christa Glennie

Every time I take visitors on a tour of the Queen City, as I have almost 100 times, I am filled with quiet gratification when their eyes widen at the unexpected: the tucked-away and beautiful Wilkeson Pointe beachfront park, our jaw-dropping collection of world-class architecture, the lush urban farms east and west of the downtown core, sumptuous restaurant meals and a modern art collection that wows from the outside in.

From the lowbrow to the highbrow, the modern to the historic, there are a myriad of ways to experience Buffalo. For me, its facets are as familiar as a comfortable pair of jeans. Yet, by the day, they manage to thrill me anew. Try my favorite short course itinerary.

Friday

3 to 5 P.M
Art Sets Us Apart

Buffalo’s art scene experienced the equivalent of a seismic jolt when the Buffalo AKG Art Museum (the former Albright-Knox Art Gallery) reopened its doors after an extensive campus expansion and restoration project, creating a more accessible and engaging home for its collection of modern and contemporary art. With 50,000 square feet of exhibit space now at its disposal, the curatorial staff finally has room to show off the breadth and depth of what is widely considered one of the great collections in North America, with extraordinary work by masters spanning the last 160 years of art history. But the art is only part of the show. A new Town Square features Common Sky, a sculptural installation that serves as a canopy overlooking the activity in the restaurant, book shop and a variety of spaces that are home to interactive experiences — including a Lego room created in a first of its kind partnership with the toy company — designed to be inviting, inclusive and a catalyst for community engagement. Plan to be dazzled.

Across the street, on the campus of Buffalo State, you’ll find the Burchfield Penney Art Center at 1300 Elmwood Ave. It specializes in art with regional connections and is named in part for Charles E. Burchfield, the inventive 20th-century watercolorist who spent much of his life in Buffalo. He is best known for his transcendental, mystical interpretations of landscapes and street scenes. The museum has the largest public collection of his work. In an interplay of pieces from its archives, works by local artists and select items on loan, it stages immersive, savvy and memorable exhibits.

6:30 to 7:30 P.M.
Lucky You, It’s Happy Hour!

Check into your lodgings, change for dinner and head downtown to Lucky Day Whiskey Bar at 32 Pearl St. Built around the turn of the last century as a Freemason’s temple, its sexy, dark atmosphere is an ideal backdrop for its well-curated selection of spirits, beer and wine. Lucky Day, with its beautiful, polished bar, is an excellent spot for a classic cocktail. Here, strict adherence to standards, sans fluff, is refreshing. Barkeeps are friendly without being intrusive, making it easy to pull up a stool whether you’re alone or with others.

7:30 to 9:30 P.M.
Save Room for Dessert

Three seasons a year you can easily walk the quarter-mile from Lucky Day to Marble + Rye at 112 Genesee St., even in heels. The restaurant is modern and highly Instagrammable, but you’ll forget to take pictures once the drinks and food begin to arrive. Bar manager Megan Lee offers one of the most nuanced, intellectual, vibrant cocktail menus I’ve ever seen. Her informed, food-friendly wine list matches fare that is hyperlocal, made from scratch and consistently delicious. The menu reads simply, but anything served by chef and owner Michael Dimmer has gone through an intense series of trials before making the list. Orde