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Start a new family tradition this summer

Family traditions were a big thing in my house growing up. As one of five children, our busy lives left little time to spend all together, but summertime was the exception. With school out, it left more opportunities for my family to come together for ‘family fun,’ as my mom coined it, and over the years, many of those family adventures turned into yearly traditions.

The word tradition normally brings to mind larger events like extended vacations and road trips—but smaller, simpler excursions can just as easily create those priceless memories you’re yearning to capture. With summer officially upon us, consider these ideas that can easily be turned into new traditions…ones your family will cherish for years to come.

Family cookout

Nothing reminds me more of home than the smell of steak cooking on the grill. Hazy summer evenings on the porch were some of my favorite growing up. A barbecue is a great low-key way to get the family together.

A backyard barbecue isn’t your only option, however, as Buffalo boasts many public forums that can cater to this occasion. Getting the extended family together? Consider renting a park shelter for the day, or check out one of the many available spaces along the city’s waterfront. A grill, a picnic table, some good scenery and even better company are all you need to kick off this delectable tradition.

A day at the beach

This was always something I looked forward to—partly because my aunt would always bring a box of Jet Donuts for us—but mostly because I loved any opportunity to soak up the summer sun.

Lake Erie provides miles of beaches, both in Western New York and Canada, and a day in the sand is a great way to get some well-deserved Vitamin D, disconnect from life and connect with family. So take a look at the weather forecast, pack up the towels and sunscreen, and gear up for a fun day in the sun together.

Pick your own fruit

Nothing tastes better than a bite of fresh-picked fruit during peak season. Apple picking was a huge tradition for my family. We would make our yearly trip to Becker Farms for apples, pumpkins, hayrides and cider donuts. I still remember being hoisted up on my dad’s shoulders to get that ‘perfect’ apple at the top of the tree.

We’re fortunate to have a plethora of fruit picking options in Western New York. From berries to peaches, apples and more, u-pick farms offer the season’s best fruits all summer long. Different types of fruit peak at different times, so you can plan a single trip to pick your favorites, or make it a monthly affair and enjoy all of the season’s best offerings.

Take a staycation

Summertime often provides extra opportunities to get away from the everyday, but if travelling isn’t in the cards, consider a staycation. There’s more to see and do now in Buffalo than ever before, and a little research and planning can fill hours (if not days!) with local fun.

Kayaking, water bikes and boat tours on the waterfront, brewery and distillery tours, parks, farmers markets, live music, museums, Niagara Falls, the Buffalo Zoo, history and architecture tours and the bustling restaurant scene, not to mention festivals big and small that occur almost every weekend, are all at your fingertips.

The Allentown Art Festival has been a tradition for my family for years. Our extended family gathers at my house (in Allentown), we explore the festival and then head back for a family barbecue. Although its remained essentially the same, we always manage to find something new to see, taste or explore. It’s become a tradition I look forward to enjoying with my family each summer.

A day at the ballpark

My dad is an avid baseball fan (go Red Sox!) and his passion has rubbed off on all of us kids, so for several years we planned weekend trips to different cities to take in a Sox game. At times, aunts and uncles and cousins would join, which always made for a memorable weekend…and more often than not, a Sox victory!

During the summers that we didn’t travel for a game, and even during the ones when we did, we always made it to at least one Bisons game. With family days, theme nights, holiday celebrations and more, there’s always something happening at the ballpark.

There’s something nostalgic about heading to the ballpark. The smells and sounds, clutching your mitt in anticipation of a foul ball, dancing to get on the jumbotron, the music that accompanies Bisons home run—and of course, the fireworks after Friday night games.

Ride a bike or take a hike

Biking, walking or hiking together is a great opportunity to enjoy the warm summer air, take in the local sights and open the door for some great family conversation.

Bike rides through the neighborhood on warm summer evenings are one of my favorite childhood memories. And with the major expansion of bike lanes through the city, along the waterfront and beyond, there’s more to explore than ever.

If you’d rather keep your feet on the ground, there’s a plethora of areas in Buffalo to explore. From Tifft Nature Preserve, Unity Island Park and the Inner and Outer Harbor, to Whirlpool/Devil’s Hole State Park, Chestnut Ridge Park, Allegany State Park and more, Western New York contains many beautiful landscapes of varying degrees of difficulty, just waiting to be discovered.

Take a weekend road trip

When we were younger, each summer we took a weekend trip up to Canada. The trips always varied slightly: our Saturday was spent at African Lion Safari, Canada’s Wonderland, the Toronto Science Center or the Toronto Zoo, and our Sunday was spent downtown at the theater. We’d take in a different musical every year—or if you were my dad, take in an expensive nap!

No matter where your interests lie, a weekend road trip is an excellent way to create your own family adventure. Pull out a map and see what catches your eye. Explore the heart of a new city, or grab your tents and sleeping bags and spend some time with nature. The opportunities that await you are endless, and the experiences will create a lifetime of memories.

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