In most cities, climbing the wall of an old industrial building would land you in jail for trespassing. In Buffalo, it’s a new summer pastime.
Buffalo’s Elevator Alley – one of the world’s largest collection of grain silos dotting the city’s waterfront – has become a hub for urban outdoor recreation. At the RiverWorks urban adventure course, visitors can rock climb up or zip line down a complex of silos more than 100 feet tall. Afterward, they can quaff a beer brewed inside of a grain elevator within a beer garden carved from silo ruins.
Up and down the Buffalo River, urban explorers rent kayaks, water bikes and standup paddleboards to navigate this extraordinary, manmade silo canyon. At nearby Silo City, the structures become a setting for tours, poetry readings, concerts and performances, while the Connecting Terminal grain elevator is the site of a nightly light show. The sea change in the perception of these grain elevators – from a blight on the city to a tourist attraction – embodies Buffalo’s broader transformation as the city has restored its architecture, redeveloped its waterfront, infused its neighborhoods with public art and opened dozens of new attractions, hotels, restaurants, breweries and distilleries.
Buffalo’s waterfront development is just the latest reason why the region has become an up-and-coming outdoor recreation destination. Just a half-hour from downtown, hikers can soak in the breathtaking beauty of the Niagara Gorge. Visitors can rent a bike from the city’s bike share program and access miles of trails along the Lake Erie shoreline via the new Queen City Bike Ferry. Or, they can spend a day on the lake itself sailing or reeling them in from one of North America’s top freshwater fisheries.