Buffalo/South Buffalo

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Buffalo is movin' on up these days: downtown has luxury hotels and condos aplenty, the Elmwood Village has high-end specialty shops, even the West Side sports a vibrant multiethnic pastiche with exotic food markets, restaurants, and artists. But let the other parts of town compete to see who's trendiest. South Buffalo doesn't need to be "cool" or to put on airs. What it offers visitors is not the future but the past; a throwback to a hardworking, blue-collar, rough-around-the-edges Buffalo that's steadily disappearing.
Combine the formidable barrier that is the Buffalo River with the notorious clannishness of its residents and it's easy to see why South Buffalo seems like a city all to its own, immunized both from Buffalo's post-WWII downward spiral and its 21st-century gentrification. You won't find much here that's pretentious, just quiet streets lined with old houses and shade trees, greasy spoons turning out some of the cheapest but tastiest food in the area, old-school watering holes, and friendly, downhome neighborhood people who'll give you a warm welcome the whole time.
Sound boring? Far from it. South Buffalo lays a hard-to-challenge claim on the title of best-kept secret in the city, with plenty to interest visitors. You can try your luck at the Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, peruse the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, learn about the area's industrial history at the Heritage Discovery Center or Waterfront Memories & More, or take a boat tour through Elevator Alley, the cavernous stretch of the Buffalo River lined with the grain elevators that earned Buffalo over 100 years of prosperity. And if you're the outdoor type, South Buffalo is the place for you: it's got a pair of Olmsted parks that are among the best-preserved in the city, nature preserves built on old industrial brownfields, golf courses, and — best of all — nearly four miles (6 km) of Lake Erie shore lined with beaches, marinas, and still more parkland.
Fans of the Emerald Isle are in luck too: South Buffalo is the city's Irish enclave, with pubs lining the streets, traditional music and other cultural pursuits at the Buffalo Irish Center, and an official Irish Heritage District along Abbott Road with a handful of specialty boutiques selling imported wares. And if you're in town at the right time, South Buffalo's neighborhood St. Patrick's Day Parade is an unmissable spectacle, with the streets of the Old First Ward and The Valley turned green each year on the Saturday before March 17.


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