Amherst & Williamsville.
Today we're going to explore the areas north of Allentown and Elmwood Village. Enjoy some art, nature, parks. And some more churches. And we're going to take it easy. Longer distances are meant to be taken by NFTA Metro Rail or by bus.
+ Buffalo Sightseeing Map, Day 2
From downtown Buffalo we take NFTA bus #20 that brings us straight along the Elmwood Ave to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
+ NFTA Metro Rail & buses in Buffalo
Buffalo has lots of buses connecting most parts of the city and its suburbs (Williamsville, Seneca, Amherst, etc.) and only one metro line that's pretty straight forward (literally) and goes from Erie Canal Harbor Station to the University Station (South University Campus). The ride within stations above the ground are free (status 2014), for the underground stations the standard NFTA fees apply: One metro or bus ride is $2, A day pass (unlimited metro and bus rides within Buffalo and till Niagara Falls, NY) is $5. That's a good deal. Cards can be purchased from bus drivers or at the metro station machines. A hint about names of bus stops: When a bus is driving along Delaware Ave. and stops at the intersection of Delavan Ave the bus stop is called "Delaware Ave & (or "at") Delavan Ave". Or just ask the driver or locals, they are happy to help. Mind that if you wish to disembark you need to signal the driver. When waiting at a bus stop you may also need to hail the approaching bus to stop for you. Some buses operate every hour.
1. Albright-Knox Art Gallery & Japanese Garden of Buffalo
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery displays some stunning work by Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Joan Miró... From the gallery head to Hoyt Lake and walk to the north parallel to the waterfront. At some point you'll reach the two-spiral Delaware Park Pedestrian Overpass over Scajaquada Expressway. After crossing it head to the west through the park. After a few hundred meters you will reach the beautiful Japanese Garden near Buffalo History Museum. The garden was built in 1974 to symbolize the partnership between Buffalo and the Japanese city of Kanazawa. The three islands are connected by small bridges.
2. Delaware Park & Forest Lawn Cemetery
From the Japanese Garden we head back the path. We stay on the north side of the expressway and keep walking through Delaware Park. Alternative routing would be to cross back the overpass and walk on the north shore of Hoyt Lake to the east. The park is actually huge! We reach the #11 & #25 bus stop. These buses will bring us a few stops south to the Forest Lawn Cemetery (Delaware Ave at Delavan Ave).
Now you might think: "WHAT? Sightseeing in a... cemetery? How sick is this???" Believe me, the Forest Lawn Cemetery is so much more... cooler than a regular cemetery. On my trips to the US I've always visited some kind of tombs and cemeteries throughout the cities. American history is just rather... war-torn. Besides, Americans don't have that morbid culture and attitude towards death compared to other nations. Fortunately.
The Forest Lawn Cemetery is designed as a park: You can hike, jog, ride your bike up and down the hilly paths, have a picnic on one of the many benches through the cemetery park, visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Blue Sky Mausoleum... You can even spot deer as I did. If that's not persuading you, then check out the Forest Lawn Cemetery own commercial video:
3. Buffalo Zoo & Frank Lloyd Wright Martin's House Complex
The south-east exit of the cemetery is at the Dalavan/Canisius College NTFA metro station. That's perfect because we need to move on to the north. Board the next train heading to the University Station and disembark at Amherst Station (2 stations). From here we take the #32 bus to Niagara and disembark after just 2 stops, at Amherst Street & Parkside Avenue. By the way, this bus goes also to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The Buffalo Zoo is in front of us... technically. The entrance is a few hundred meters south, down the Parkside Ave. The Buffalo Zoo is the second most important attraction in Western New York (after the Niagara Falls) and the third-oldest zoo in the United States.
From there, a block away, you are about to encounter a real architectural gem! The Martin's House by Frank Lloyd Wright. The sweet part is that this house is in a really neat neighborhood of Buffalo and you don't really expect a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece to pop up from nowhere! Next to the house a pavilion contains a nice exhibition about the famous architect and his work. Unfortunately photography in the house is forbidden. Just enjoy the many horizontal lines without photographing them then...
4. University at Buffalo (south campus)
We return to the NFTA Amherst station and ride aaaall the way to the last station, University. (Alternatively we take bus #8 from Main Street & Rodney Avenue till the last stop University, closer to Martin's house & less walking) At University, this brief stop, while waiting at the metro bus station for our bus to Williamsville, we can have a glimpse at the campus of University at Buffalo, go see the nearby University Presbyterian Church or just grab some cranberry-flavored iced coffee from the next Tim Hortons in the Main St. (yepp, still on that street, did I mention it is reaaaly long).
5. Williamsville historic district
Bus #48 from University Station goes directly into Williamsville. I'd disembark somewhere at Main Street & Union Road and continue by foot along Main St. (did I mention Buffalo's Main St. is reaaaly long?).
+ Williamsville, Amherst, Buffalo, Erie County, NY... What?
Williamsville is a village, that's part of the town of Amherst. Amherst is also categorized as a suburb of Buffalo's metropolitan area. They are all in Erie County which is part of New York State. Easy geography is easy!
Williamsville's population is around 5.300 people. Amherst has a population of around 122.000 people, is considered as Buffalo's biggest suburb and is ranked as USA's 6th safest city to live in due to its astonishingly low crime rate.
6. St. Theodore Orthodox Church & Calvary Episcopal Church
We turn south into Los Robles St. and after a few hundred meters to the left St. Theodore Orthodox Church will appear, recognizable by its typical Orthodox dome cones. Williamsville has some Russian Orthodox minorities therefore the church plays a significant role in their lives. Turning east into Milton St. just before the Orthodox Church we'll soon reach the Calvary Episcopal Church.
7. Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church
This church in the Main St. in Williamsville dates back from July 12th 1836 when a young priest named John Nepomucene Neumann arrived in Buffalo to take charge of the local mission. At that time many Germans inhabited the area. In 1977 Neumann was canonized by the Pope. In front of the church there's a small monument dedicated to the then-young Catholic man.
8. Glen Park & Ellicott Creek
This tiny oase in the heart of Williamsville will give you some Niagara feeling. The entrance of the park from Main St. is easy to miss. Once you're in check out the waterfalls at the Ellicott creek (a small river passing through several suburbs of Buffalo). The park offers some neat spots to relax and observe mother ducks and their ducklings. In spring and summer art festivals and music concert are organized here. Ellicott Creek played an important role in the development of Williamsville. Mills were scattered all over the creek, formerly known as Eleven Mile Creek.
+ What do to in Williamsville, NY
The vibrant historic village of Williamsville is home of many churches (as you've already seen) but also of local spring & summer festivals, concerts, open-air movie screenings and further culture events. Check out "Walkable Williamsville" or "WillVill" for more info.
9. Meeting House Church
It's a rather unusual name for a church. It exists however since 1871. The bell tower has been renovated in 1997.
10. St Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church
... is four blocks from Main St. The church was built around 145 years ago and still looks so nice among those calm, quiet and beautiful Williamsville neighborhoods.
The nearby #48 bus stop in Main Street & North Ellicott Street will take us back to University Station from where we finish our suburb journey by riding back the NFTA metro rail to downtown Buffalo.