Great Dates in 50 States: Buffalo, New York


The Surprising Date Opportunities of Buffalo, N.Y.

By Guest Writer, Sam Stieler of

Buffalo, N.Y. gets a bad rap. Sure, the city has seen better days, but the evacuation of its blue-collar economic base laid the groundwork for an exciting influx of artists and ground-breaking non-profit initiatives that make the capital of Western New York one of the most surprising cities in the Northeast.

If you’re willing to stray off the beaten path and indulge in a few less-than-gourmet pleasures, then Buffalo has a whole lot to offer anyone planning some special time with their main squeeze.

Exploring Elmwood Village

elmwoodDuring the day, you’ll have a hard time finding a better time than walking up and down Elmwood’s main drag.

Filled with boutiques and specialty shops, you’re likely to find at least a few appealing stores to check out with your date.

While Elmwood is primarily known for its independent fashion boutiques, the street also features a couple great candy stores (Can Can Candy and Fowlers), a stellar bookstore (Talking Leaves, which has an even better second location on Main Street) and a welcoming food co-op and plenty of good restaurants, giving you all the options you need to grab a bite or a treat as you browse the local racks or before you pop in and chat at the street’s massive SPoT Coffee location.

Elmwood is best explored during the day, as (aside from a few eateries and bars), the street mostly closes down at night.

Once the sun sets, you can always stray a couple blocks to the west and end up at Left Bank (a solid restaurant) or The Essex (arguably Buffalo’s best dive bar).

If you’re looking for some of the most amazing, and often uncomfortable, karaoke you’ve ever experienced, then stop by The Essex on Tuesday night, where a mixture of hipsters mingle with down-on-their-luck locals in the bar’s miniscule space to create a truly memorable experience.

Hopping Around Allen Street

allenstreetYou can check out Allen Street, another of Buffalo’s big alternative culture hubs, during the day if you want (you’ll find tons of great antique stores), but this stretch really comes alive at night and offers some of the city’s best dive bars, cultural venues and restaurants.

During the day and into the early evening, you can bring your beau to check out Rest Belt Books, which is filled with secondhand tomes and hosts a steady stream of readings and performances.

But if you’re looking for music, you’re better off heading down the street to Nietzsche’s, one of the city’s most famous bars and live music venues, best known for being the spot where singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco was first discovered rocking their open mic night (an ongoing event definitely worth checking out if you’re hitting the town with your date on a Monday).

However, if you’re looking for a seedier spot to get to know each other, you can always stop by the Ol’ Pink, one of Buffalo’s dingiest (and most popular) dive bars and home to an infamously uneven pool table, terrible smells, unpredictable DJ sets, the occasional grilled sandwich and a rotating cast of last-callers looking for love in all the wrong places.

Buffalonian Nightlife

nightlifeWhen you’re looking to go out dancing with your sweetheart, you have a couple options at your disposal.

For a cramped, low-key vibe, you can stay on Allen St. and see who’s spinning over at Hardware.

While Hardware is certainly more bar than club, the small dance floor is home to an often-epic weekly hip hop night.

For a more conventional club scene, you’ll need to head down to Chippewa Street.

While Pure is the biggest kid on the block, Chippewa Street is beyond saturated with nearly-identical clubs where you can bump and grind with tons of young female Long Island-born undergrads and over-tanned guys who are old enough to know better.

And for those who prefer to view the dramatics from a distance instead of getting up close and personal with a grimy stranger, Buffalo is home to a shockingly well-developed and sophisticated theater scene.

There are plenty of theaters and companies to choose from, but when it comes down to it, no one in Buffalo is doing anything as exciting or as high-quality work as The Road Less Traveled Theater, which operates out of the Market Arcade Center (a worthwhile movie theater in its own right).

Enjoy the Summer — It Won’t Last

summerBuffalo lives up to its weather-related stereotypes and feels inhabitable for most of the year, but that just makes the summers so much better, especially when you’re looking for love or enjoying your connection with your special someone.

To get the most out of a date during Buffalo’s summer, you and your partner really need a bike.

The city itself is almost completely flat, making it easy for even amateurs to bike around, and a bike will let you breeze through the city’s sprawl to enjoy its many hidden gems.

Bike up to Amy’s Place early in the morning and enjoy two amazing $1.99 breakfasts, and then stop by the old-school candy and ice cream shop, Parkside Candies.

Ride down along the newly revamped waterfront until you find an evacuated gain elevator to climb and explore (provided you and your date are feeling very adventurous).

Trek through the West Side and check out the urban renewal efforts of local organizations, including PUSH and MAP.

Ride back up to the Albright Knox gallery and marvel at ridiculously high-profile pieces on display. Who knew there were Picassos in Western New York?

Next to the gallery, you’ll find the Rose Gardens, home to the summer’s Shakespeare in the Park productions.

And if you’re feeling extremely ambitious, bike for a couple hours until you hit the Great Lakes and sunbathe on the beach.

Buffalo has a lot to offer when you’re aiming to create a unique, once-in-a-lifetime date, as long as you’re willing to dig a little and leave your preconceptions behind.

Sam Stieler is a writer with He writes on a variety of dating and relationship subjects, including how-to articles and do’s and don’ts for dating. is a one-stop site with a collection of dating experts who dispense wisdom on “all things dating” daily.

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