Follow this two-day itinerary to explore the peace gardens and area attractions around Buffalo and Niagara Falls, NY.
WAR OF 1812 HISTORY: BUFFALO
In December of 1813, Buffalo was burned to the ground by enemy forces, with residents fleeing just east of Buffalo to Batavia, NY. The vitality of the frontier was strong and by the following spring the process of rebuilding was well under way. The Peace Gardens here mark many areas of the original destruction including the actual site of the US Army encampment. Today visitors and residents enjoy a network of beautiful parks, gardens and scenic waterways in Buffalo and the surrounding towns and villages.
Begin your journey at the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village. The peace garden is located to the right of the main museum building entrance and can be viewed year-round at no cost. The garden pops with shades of green, red, pink and yellows, designed to bloom all season long. Then step inside the museum’s Heritage Village, 35-acre grounds with historical homes, a rural church, and a one-room schoolhouse. Costumed interpreters will make you feel like you traveled back in time to the 19th century.
Stop at the Walden Galleria Mall – the region’s premier shopping, dining, and entertainment destination. With 200 retailers, 12 sit-down restaurants, an international food court, an indoor karting racetrack and a Regal Cinemas, there’s plenty to do and see.
Head to the Hull Family Home & Farmstead, the oldest surviving stone dwelling in Erie County. Stroll along stone pathways among the 35 different varieties of Hostas featured in the garden. Smell the herbs that take you back to a past era or gaze out over the patchwork of color in the perennial gardens, including the red geraniums that are planted every year as a sign of peace and tranquility. The peace garden is open daily from dawn to dusk, and is also home to a sculpture of Buffalo Mayor Ebenezer Walden, one of the few individuals who stayed behind when the British burned down Buffalo in 1813, attempting to save as many lives as possible.
Continue to the Buffalo & Erie County Botanical Gardens, your last peace garden visit of the day. The peace garden graces the entire south lawn of this site and is dedicated to two noble and brave Buffalo women, Margaret St. John and Sarah Lovejoy. Margaret St. John’s cabin is the only dwelling to be spared by the British when they burned down Buffalo. She single-handedly rescued Buffalo, feeding and sheltering many homeless villagers until they could rebuild. Sarah Lovejoy is the only women killed in the defense of Buffalo. She was stabbed on her doorstep in trying to defend her home.
End your day walking around Canalside, the jewel in the crown of the Queen City. Canalside has plenty of activities to offer for every season and provides beautiful views of Buffalo’s waterfront. Explore America’s largest inland Naval park, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. Or climb the observation tower at Erie Basin Marina for a breathtaking sight of Buffalo and Canada.
Buffalo has overnight accommodations for everyone – from history fans and architecture admirers, to luxury lovers and modern seekers. Check out the nearby options and check-in to the one that fits your style.
Grab coffee and a bite to eat in downtown Buffalo and then start your day at the Buffalo Transportation / Pierce Arrow Museum. Explore their collection of historic automobiles, bicycles, Pierce-Arrow memorabilia and documents. You will also find a selection of significant transportation items and Buffalo-made automobiles, as well as the two-story Frank Lloyd Wright Filling Station. For more Frank Lloyd Wright architecture, stop by The Martin House, a series of interrelated buildings spanning 15,000 square feet.
Next stop is the Buffalo History Museum located on Scajaquada Creek – the scene of several important engagements during the War of 1812. The peace garden is located in the museum’s Japanese Garden, which represents a long history of friendship and peace between Buffalo and sister city Kanazawa, Japan. Today the garden is an oasis of tranquility for visitors.
WAR OF 1812 HISTORY: NIAGARA FALLS
From the Battle of Queenston Heights in the Fall of 1812 to the last evacuation of British troops from Fort Niagara in May 1815, Niagara County was on the front lines of the conflict. Peace Gardens here stand near historic buildings and vistas that are little changed from two hundred years ago. Visitors can tour Old Fort Niagara, view the site’s massive 1812 flag and travel along the scenic Niagara River where numerous colorful interpretive labels and living history programs tell the story of the war on the Niagara Frontier.
Just a 30-minute drive away is the Peace Garden at Niagara Falls Public Library, where Gad Pierce operated a public house, Gad Pierce Tavern, in the early 1800s. On December 20, 1813, Gad Pierce attempted to slow down the British and Indian forces to protect his family and locals. He tried to defend the tavern and his house from the attack – and escaped through his back door just as the British charged through the front. His acts of bravery earned him the title of Niagara Frontier Protector of Freedom.
The iconic Niagara Falls is a must-see during your trip. At Niagara Falls State Park, you can soak in the views aboard the Maid of the Mist or enjoy a thrilling walk on the Cave of the Winds. There are plenty of delicious places to eat nearby, including Top of the Falls Restaurant, the only restaurant overlooking Niagara Falls.
The Peace Garden at Lewiston is now a kaleidoscope of colors and fragrances, but it wasn’t always a beautiful scene. When Lewiston was burned in December of 1813, villagers tried to escape by running through what is now this garden of peace. Take a self-guided tour with interpretive historical markers to tell.
Walk in the footsteps of history at Old Fort Niagara, the last stop of the trip. Start in the Fort’s visitor center where you can view original artifacts, including the Fort’s original War of 1812 flag. Once inside the Fort, you can tour original buildings where Native American, French, British and American soldiers lived and worked from the 18th to the 20th centuries. If you visit during the summer, you can witness musket and artillery firing demonstrations and artisans from the 18th and early 19th centuries hard at work.
STOPS IN THIS ITINERARY