Have you checked out Buffalo’s new Canalside district? Located in the center of Buffalo’s historic inner harbor, it’s seriously awesome. Decades ago, this part of Buffalo acted as the bustling western terminus of the Erie Canal. It was converted into parking lots for a time, but has since been transformed into a space that’s fun for the whole family!

The heart of the city’s waterfront revitalization sits in the downtown corridor at Pearl Street and Marine Drive. And while the area is still growing and discovering its role in Buffalo, Canalside has already packed in the activity. If you are headed to Buffalo anytime soon, you should definitely add the Canalside District to your must-see list. Check out just a few of the things you can do when you head Canalside in Buffalo!

Ice Skating

"DSC01146" by Brent Soderberg is licensed under CC 2.0.

DSC01146” by Brent Soderberg is licensed under CC 2.0.

Open from November through March, Ice at Canalside is perhaps one of the new district’s most anticipated attractions. Measuring 33,000 square feet, the skating rink is the largest in New York State, at three times the size of New York City’s famed Rockefeller Center rink.

The rink at Canalside is set up in the footprint of the Erie Canal, with three pedestrian bridges designed to echo the bridges that were present during Buffalo’s shipping heyday. Skates can be rented for $3, but if you’re feeling adventurous, rent a bike on ice at Ice Bikes of Buffalo and get crazy!

Remote Sailing

"P9080081.sm" by Dana is licensed under CC 2.0.

P9080081.sm” by Dana is licensed under CC 2.0.

Nervous about sailing, but tired of missing out on all the nautical fun? Canalside has an activity for you! Sail the Canal is yet another activity unique to Canalside, offering you the chance to sail without leaving land. Say what?

During the warmer months in Buffalo, the ice rink transforms into a remote controlled sailboat area, referred to as Sail the Canal. Visitors can control a fleet of sailboats all by remote control. While remote sailing might not seem like such a big deal, it’s one of only two spots in the country to offer this type of activity. You might recognize the tiny sailboats from Central Park in New York City—that’s the only other spot you can sail remotely besides Canalside!

Lawn and Table Games

Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock

Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock

Not the water type? Canalside might be mostly aquatic, but the district does cater to those who would rather stay on dry land! Visitors can play a fun collection of lawn and table games at Canalside, including Ping-Pong, foosball, bean bag toss, ladder ball, and giant Connect Four. Available to play seven days a week, the best part of these games might be the price. Canalside’s lawn and table games are free to enjoy.


Elovich / Shutterstock

Elovich / Shutterstock

In addition to ice-skating, remote sailing, and lawn games, Canalside could keep your whole trip to Buffalo occupied with its watersports. From the area, you can rent kayaks, stand up paddle boards, water bikes, and pedal cars. Companies like BFLO Harbor Kayak even offer sunrise and sunset kayak tours if you want to see the district when the light is at its most striking.

If you don’t want to paddle your own way down the canal, you can leave it to the experts at Canalside. The Sprit of Buffalo will take you out on the water in a classic 73-foot topsail schooner. Various types of cruises are available, from pirate themed to craft beer sailing trips and more.

For travelers looking for a more serious sailing experience, Buffalo also offers the historical waterfront cruises. Buffalo River History Tours will spend about 90 minutes educating you about what Canalside looked like in the 19th and 20th centuries, all while cruising down the gorgeous canal. History buffs, this one’s for you!

Buffalo’s Canalside district is awesome, am I right? Have you visited this revitalized area of the city? Let us know in the comments!

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About The Author

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at http://suzyguese.com.