Summer often means the same sorts of things.
Pools and hot dogs. Beach walks and ice cream. Fourth of July fireworks and – gosh, is it Labor Day already?
Nothing wrong with that stuff. In fact, we love it.
But sometimes we find ourselves craving a few new elements, among all our usual summer pastimes.
With that, we offer this tipsheet.
It’s a short list of a handful of fun new activities and cool things to try, to make this summer as memorable as possible.
Why step outside our comfort zone?
Because summer is when we have the time. It’s when the weather is good enough to make it worth it.
And it’s when we can find ourselves relaxed and open to new experiences.
So, grab the kids or some good friends and give it a try.
1. Attend an auction.
You may think you don’t need any more stuff in your house. But if you’ve never attended a live auction, you owe it to yourself to see how wrong you are.
Antique furniture. Costume jewelry. Vintage clothing, china, books, tools and knickknacks.
One of the great things about living in an old city like Buffalo is that everyone’s attics and cellars are packed full of things – some of them quirky and unique, others practical and useful – and many of these goodies turn up at local auction sites, which can be especially lively during the summer months.
In Buffalo, the Lodge auction house at 212 Cazenovia St. is a fun and accessible place for beginners to start. See their website, www.thelodgeauction.com, for schedules.
Outlying areas also have auction houses that draw crowds. Bring a few bucks and your sense of adventure.
2. See a movie in an old movie palace.
A movie is a movie is a movie, right? Perhaps not, if you’re viewing the film in a vintage movie house that dates back generations.
There’s something special about settling back for a screening in plush seats, amid decor that speaks of an earlier era.
Among the choices are movie palaces in the villages of East Aurora, Hamburg, Angola and Springville. Lockport has an old theater, and the Riviera in North Tonawanda is another option.
There are lots of reasons to try a vintage theater, those in the business said.
“We are on the lower end as far as price,” said Jay Ruof, owner of the Hamburg Palace, a 600-seat theater that opened in 1926 at 31 Buffalo St., in the Village of Hamburg (www.hamburgpalace.com). “We are digital. You do feel like you’re in a historic building. We do have a lot of the same decor.”
“You feel like you are in a grand theater,” said Ruof, “instead of a little screening room.”
Soak in the style as you wait for the lights to dim.
“I don’t do the on-screen advertising before and after each show. I like the curtains to open and close,” Ruof said. “There’s something about that.”
3. Visit a farm or orchard.
Harvest produce – or pick a variety you don’t typically go for.
Nothing says summer like spending time outdoors, picking fruit or produce that you can then enjoy at home in your kitchen (or freeze, for next winter).
“What you pick is what you get,” said Millie Awald, an owner of Awald Farms, a family farm in business for three generations in North Collins. “It’s up to you. They’re fresh – they can’t be any fresher. They’re not trucked in.”
“You can eat them right away, or freeze them for the winter,” she said.
If you typically do some picking, shake up the routine this summer by choosing to harvest a crop you don’t normally go for.
If you always get blueberries, this summer try picking cherries. If you’re a strawberry and raspberry fan, try currants or blackberries.
Awald Farms offers a new weigh station, with a small restaurant as well as items for sale, including fresh jams and jellies. It’s open seven days a week (8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays) at 10692 Walnut Ave., North Collins, off Route 62.
“Our berries this year are very good,” Awald said.
At Greg’s U-Pick in Clarence, owners said the experience is rewarding for all ages.
“It’s good for young kids. The kids – their eyes just light up,” said Greg Spoth, who owns the farm with his wife, Sandy. “It’s spending a couple of hours on a farm. Everywhere you look, there’s something going on. It’s the whole experience.”
To learn what’s picking at their farm, see www.gregsupick.com. The farm, located at 9270 Lapp Road in Clarence Center, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, for much of the berry season.
And then, mark your calendars for apple and pumpkin season.
“It’s nice to take a drive to the country,” said Awald. “The fresh air – and it’s quiet. People like to take a drive in the quiet.”
4. Spend time at a historic site.
Buffalo and its surrounding areas are full of local historic sites, some of them so small and tucked-away that you might never notice them in a guidebook or on a map.
But there are loads of intriguing places to stop and mull over the rich and varied history of this unique region of the country.
Try your local historical museum, in your town or village, first.
Then try an old cemetery – even a rural, forgotten-about one, which can yield fascinating insights into the generations of people that have lived in Western New York.
Other local gems, such as the sites connected with local presidential history (the Theodore Roosevelt inaugural site in Buffalo, the Millard Fillmore cottage in the Southtowns) will add to your understanding and appreciation of our area.
Be forewarned: History is addictive. Once you start exploring, you may never be able to stop.
5. Visit a library that you have never been to before.
Many of us have a favorite public library – usually one near our home or workplace. And that’s as it should be. Libraries should, as a rule, feel as warm and comfortable as a pair of slippers.
But this is summer, right? We want to switch our routine a bit.
Which is why it’s fun and stimulating to take a walk or a drive to a public library you don’t typically visit.
You can check out the materials in a different collection, and enjoy some new surroundings in the bargain. Plus, as long as you have that library card in good standing – it’s free.
“We encourage people to check out the other libraries – there are 37. You can always find a different selection of books or CDs or DVDs,” said Joy Testa Cinquino, a spokeswoman for the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library.
“I’m always excited when I get to go to another library. Each library reflects its community,” Cinquino said. “You can always find new things at a different library, and new people.”
Check out a list of locations of the 37 branches in the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library system at www.buffalolib.org.