Buffalo's Neighborhoods

Grand Island, NY

Beaver Island State Park. Photo by Lee Ruk

Over the River

Millions of tourists traveling to Niagara Falls pass through Grand Island every year. Those who drive past the natural beauty, family attractions and other island amenities on their way to the Falls are missing out. From state parks along the Niagara River ideal for year-round enjoyment to Erie County’s only amusement park and an old-fashioned country store, a day in Grand Island is a terrific way to complement a trip to Buffalo, Niagara Falls or both.

Grand Island

Grand Island

Over the River

Pack a picnic lunch and grab the swimsuits and golf clubs in the summer. Or, snowshoe and cross country ski in the winter. Experience a picturesque year-round natural setting at the 950-acre Beaver Island State Park along the southwestern corner of the island, the largest state park in Erie County. Or, if your preference is something wilder, hike Buckhorn Island State Park on the northwest corner, an 895 acre preserve that’s the final vestige of marshlands and meadows straddling the Niagara River.

Once you’ve had your fill of nature, enjoy Erie County’s only amusement park, Martin’s Fantasy Island. The park has been delighting children and families for decades with roller coasters like the Silver Comet, thrill rides, a water park and a Wild West Shoot-Out show performed several times a day.

No island trip is complete without a stop at Kelly’s Country Store, which has been a Grand Island mainstay for over 50 years. From candy jars along the counter to hundreds of varieties of chocolate and gifts, Kelly’s Country Store is a Christmas and Eastertime staple and a must at any time of year.

If a day at Grand Island’s parks has whet your appetite, there are nearly three dozen dining options available, from Louisiana cuisine at Dick and Jenny’s and home cooking at the Village Inn to local flavors like beef on weck at Adrian’s Custard and Beef and char-grilled goodness at Theodore’s Red Hots.

— Brian Hayden


Kelly’s Country Store Excursion


In search of the perfect Easter basket trimmings, I visited a popular destination to indulge in sweets: Kelly’s Country Store. Spring is a time of celebrating and marks the coming of a holiday steeped in festive traditions, especially for the candy lover. This Grand Island mainstay fits the bill for Easter traditions, having been family-owned and operated since 1962. Four generations have helped sweeten the Easter-confection season for Western New York families.


I was delighted with the dazzling array of candies. The selection was incredible, from hard to gummy and sweet to sour and all colorful. If you remember a favorite from your childhood, chances are you can find it in one of the candy jars adorning the counter. I enjoyed, as I’m sure you will, reminiscing about my cravings as a child and took delight in observing wide-eyed kids lining up for their turn to pick a treat.

As regulars to the store will tell you, during Easter the real draw to Kelly’s is the chocolate. Not only do they have seven different flavors of chocolate to choose from, but there is an astonishing amount of shapes and sizes to select – from vintage cars to dogs to golf clubs. There are over 500 different novelty molds to personalize the perfect Easter basket. And of course, it wouldn’t be Easter without a chocolate bunny. At Kelly’s you can even find a chocolate bunny topping three feet high!


Beyond the sweets, I loved exploring the the shop windows chock-full of a joyful menagerie of characters celebrating the spring season. The displays are sure to capture the attention of youngsters and adults. Kelly’s also offers a great variety of gift items – including games, jewelry and preserves- that can used to complete a basket or serve as a stand-alone present. Even when it’s not Easter, this country store is definitely worth a visit. Your taste buds will thank you!

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