THERE’S ONLY ONE PLACE IN THE CITY WHERE YOU CAN SAY HEY TO A GIRAFFE, WATCH SOME PICK-UP HOOPS, AND DUCK WAYWARD TEE SHOTS ALL WITHIN A 10-MINUTE WALK – DELAWARE PARK.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in rural Western New York surrounded by green space. Maybe it’s because I spent almost my entire 20s living within a mile of the park. Or, maybe it’s because I’ve run the park’s 1.8 mile loop more times than I can count, but I’ve always held a strong place in my heart for Delaware Park.
There are quite a few things we here at SOB feel you absolutely need to know about Delaware Park. So we’ve highlighted 13 awesome things to do, try, or check out in the warmer months ahead (in no particular order). Whip out your 2016 Summer Bucket List, because you’re going to want to add these.
Ready, Set, Go: Train for a race
Delaware Park’s 1.8 mile loop is a wildly popular spot for local runners. The loop is part of major summer races like the Corporate Challenge and the Buffalo Marathon. It’s also a great place to train for these races. If you’ve never run a race, if you’re looking to get back into road running or you’re looking to PR this summer – head to Delaware Park to train. You may even want to check out Fleet Feet Buffalo’s custom and group training programs. Run hard enough and you’ll see the results when you hit the road for Buffalo’s big races like the marathon, Subaru 4-Mile Chase, Corporate Challenge or any others listed on BuffaloRunner.com’s 2016 calendar.
Pushups, pull-ups, squats – Get Strong
Pull-ups, chin-ups – those were things we did in high school gym class, right? Well, just south of the park’s basketball courts is a small outdoor gym with enough tools for anyone to get in shape. Hop on a pull-up bar and test your strength. Work on foot drills, do sit-ups, power jumps, and burpees. Lots of people use this gym to get in great shape for the summer and all year long. Start with the exercises you know and soon you’ll learn more from how the others uses the outdoor gym.
Beef up on your history – Visit the Buffalo Historical Museum
One Museum Court, Buffalo NY, 14216
Take a stroll over to Hoyt Lake, up the stairs and pay a visit to the Buffalo History Museum – the largest history museum in New York west of Albany. Those who are members or visit just once all help the museum conserve 100,000 artifacts, 2,000 manuscripts, 20,000 books and 200,000 photographs that showcase the emergence of our region. The museum is open Tues-Sunday and costs no more than $7 for non-members. Current exhibits include the John R. Oishei Native American Gallery and Tim Russert’s Office. Go Bills.
15-Love: Play tennis
Don’t let the fact you don’t understand the scoring system stop you from playing tennis this summer. Delaware Park boasts a number of tennis courts where players of all levels can test their skills with a racket. The courts always draw a number of local players on sunny days, but there’s never too much of a wait. Maybe you grew up playing the game but haven’t had as much time in recent years? Or, maybe you’ve never picked up a racket but think it looks fun. This is the year to find a buddy, get a racket and learn to love the game.
Enjoy the wildlife – Head to the Zoo
300 Parkside Ave., Buffalo NY 14214
All of your favorite mammals, birds and arctic creatures can be found at the Buffalo Zoo. With world-class exhibits and a wide-range of interactive programs, the Buffalo Zoo is a great way for families to spend the day outside while learning about the animal kingdom. Rain or shine, the zoo is open essentially every day and it’s a can’t miss destination during the summer. Find ticket prices online and make arrangements today.
Where Art Thou Romeo? Shakespeare in Delaware Park
There aren’t many places to catch a play outside, but Delaware Park is one of them as they offer regular Shakespeare in the Park performances during summer months. This year’s schedule will bring The Winter’s Tale from June 23-July 17 and The Taming of the Shrew from July 28-August 21. After a day at work, pack some snacks and your favorite bottle of wine (or two, or three – no judging here) and head to the park for these great, entertaining performances. It’s a Buffalo tradition that keeps getting better.
Enjoy A Stroll and Breakfast
Saturday mornings were made for strolls in Delaware Park and then a delicious breakfast. There’s nothing like walking 2, 3, 4 or more miles in the park and then celebrating the weekend with a stack of pancakes or an omelet. Great restaurants like Sweetness Seven Café, Bertha’s Diner and Pano’s can be reached by foot after a walk with friends in the park. Hey, after you burn off some calories, it makes sense to pack more on ASAP. I always recommend pancakes smothered in syrup!
Reconnect with kickball
It’s been years since you were a bad kickball player in junior high – it’s time to reminisce. With hundreds of adult leagues around the country, the sport is surging back in popularity and Buffalo is at the forefront of the trend. Even if you haven’t played kickball since your junior high gym class days, it’s worth a try this summer. Organizations like MILE Sports and GameOn have weeknight leagues. It’s a fun way to connect with friends, let your competitive juices shine and hopefully kick in some runs.
The 1.8 mile Ring Road in Delaware Park is a great place for walking, running and also pedaling. Buffalonian cyclists love to hit the park for solo rides or racing their friends. If running isn’t your thing, or you’re just looking for a new way to exercise this summer, get fitted with a new (new to you at least) bike at places like Handlebar Cycle Company, Rick’s Cycle Shop or The Bike Shop. All of them can find the perfect bike for you style of riding, size and fitness goals for the summer.
Bring a chair. Take it easy.
One of the best things to do on an awesome, sunny day is – just take it easy. Lots of people look forward to summer days in Delaware Park where they can bring a chair, their favorite book and soak in the sun. The park also offers great chances to people watch, enjoy lunch and just listen to the sounds of people enjoying nature. Need a book or two for your summer days in the park, head to Talking Leaves Bookstore and they’ll hook you up.
Tee it up. Yell fore!
Amidst the kickball fields, basketball courts, tennis courts, etc. there’s an 18-hole golf course in Delaware Park. It gets major play during the summer and provides some of the more unique holes in Buffalo. It’s an affordable place to try the game for the first time or play your hundredth round. If you’ve got a clubs in your garage, bust them out for 18 holes this summer.
Go for a walk and grab a drink
Now that the clocks have sprung ahead and the sun stays longer, there’s more than enough time to connect with friends for a walk in the park after work. Call your best friends, meet up for two loops in the park and then head to local watering holes like Cole’s and GoodBar on Elmwood or Mes Que and Wellington Pub on Hertel. It’s a great way to get moving, socialize and enjoy your favorite brew or wine.
Lace up your sneakers. Play hoops.
Delaware Park boasts four basketball courts where local jump shooters can come compete. It’s not uncommon to see 100+ people around the courts on summer days playing, practicing, cheering and bringing their A+ Game. If you’re a local basketball player who’s never taken in a game at Delaware Park – make this the summer the year you hit the park’s courts.
Written by Christopher Whitcomb