Welcome to East Aurora, New York – a small town with a big heart.
Nestled in Erie County, I've called this charming place home for as long as I can remember.
It's a hotbed of history, culture, and natural beauty that never fails to draw residents and visitors alike.
Yet, it's also a place often overlooked by many travel guides.
So, if you're planning a trip to the Buffalo-Niagara region, let me give you a few insider tips on what to do in East Aurora.
From exploring our historical landmarks to indulging in our local cuisine, you will find something that will make your trip memorable.
So, let's embark on this enchanting journey, through my eyes and experiences, to discover the best things to do in East Aurora, New York.
Explore the Tranquility of Knox Farm State Park
You will be overcome by tranquility when you step foot in Knox Farm State Park.
Nestled within 633 acres of pristine nature, it's a haven that allows me to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life.
I often wander through the park's extensive network of trails, encompassing wooded areas, hills, and vast fields.
It's the perfect spot to clear my head and a fantastic location for wildlife viewing, hiking, and cross-country skiing.
One element that truly sets the park apart is its vibrant dog community.
My regular visit involves taking my trusty canine companion to one of the several large dog park areas.
It's a joy to watch him frolicking freely amidst the scenic surroundings.
The park offers different sections, providing a level of interaction that suits every dog and owner.
But Knox Farm State Park is not just about natural beauty and wildlife.
It's a place steeped in history.
The park gets its name from an old farm that now symbolizes the region's past.
Moreover, the historical buildings scattered across the park offer a wonderful backdrop when exploring the park.
Even during winter, the beauty of the park never fades.
It is transformed into a winter wonderland perfect for cross-country skiing.
Despite the cold, you'll find a good number of visitors, most of them with their dogs, enjoying the snow-covered landscapes.
Last but not least, the park's clean facilities are worth mentioning.
The restrooms are well-maintained – a small but significant detail that enhances the visitor experience.
Spend the Day at the East Aurora Farmers Market
There's something incredibly refreshing about starting your Saturday at the East Aurora Farmers Market.
The assortment of colors hits you as the fresh fruits and vegetables stand tall against the early morning sun.
Moreover, handpicked goods, from bright red cherry tomatoes to lush, leafy greens, are a feast for the eyes.
The market may be small, but it packs a punch.
Also, the stalls house a plethora of locally-sourced produce and baked goods that are nothing short of excellent.
There's a sense of community here, where you can meet the people who grow your food.
You can feel the love and care they put into every single item.
Walking around, I feel the scent of Joe's famous donuts wafts through the air teasing my senses.
I always make it a point to grab a dozen. Their soft, sweet deliciousness is a staple for my Sunday mornings.
While the coffee brews, I browse the variety of homemade soaps, locally harvested honey, and maple syrup - each with its own character.
Along with the usual suspects of fruits and vegetables, you'll also find a healthy selection of herbs, flowers, and local meat.
All of it was fresh, all of it delicious.
And the best part? The vendors are friendly and knowledgeable, always ready to discuss their products.
Take a Trip Down Memory Lane at Vidler's 5 & 10
Every time I stroll into Vidler's 5 & 10, it feels like stepping into a time machine.
It's a treasure trove of nostalgia that never ceases to amaze me.
Vidler's is a labyrinth spread across four buildings and two floors.
It's a fascinating blend of Walmart, Hallmark, and Dollar Tree all rolled into one, a place where you can find anything and everything.
I can spend hours just wandering around this store, exploring the variety of items they offer.
From decorative items for my living room to craft supplies for my DIY projects, there's a little bit of everything tucked away in the corners of this store.
I love the vintage vibe the old nostalgic candies and paraphernalia add to the place.
It's like a trip down memory lane, stirring up childhood memories.
The kids' section is my children's favorite spot.
Lined with a wide range of toys and games, it's their paradise.
Every visit to Vidler's means coming home with a new game or toy, making it a favorite family shopping spot.
The best part about Vidler's is that despite their extensive range of items, they never compromise on the shopping experience.
Plenty of cash registers ensure a quick and easy checkout process.
Explore the Hunters Creek County Park
Every weekend, I lace up my hiking boots and set off on an adventure, and one of my favorite places to explore is Hunters Creek County Park.
The sheer scenic beauty and diverse landscapes it offers are simply breathtaking.
From the moment you step foot in the park, you are greeted with an array of trails leading into different parts of the park.
Always up for some exploration, I enjoy losing myself in the labyrinth of trails, each unveiling a new face of the park's beauty.
But be warned, the trail markings aren't the best and could be confusing if unprepared.
I usually pull out an online map or snap a picture of the map at the entrance for easy navigation.
Though the park is extensive and attracts many visitors, the well-laid paths and vastness ensure that you still have a sense of solitude and peace.
Even on the busiest days, you can enjoy your time in the park without constantly navigating through crowds.
Nothing beats the tranquility of being surrounded by nature, with only occasional encounters with fellow hiking enthusiasts.
The hikes can sometimes be challenging, especially after a good rain when the trails turn muddy.
But the feeling of accomplishment after completing a four-mile loop is exhilarating.
Just make sure you have your hiking boots on for those tricky spots!
One thing that keeps me coming back to Hunters Creek County Park is the stunning views.
The park is an artists' palette of colors, with trails painted in shades of purple and pink.
It's easy to get them mixed up, but that's all part of the fun!
Enjoy the Day at the Historic Roycroft Campus
When I first stepped onto the grounds of the Roycroft Campus, I was instantly transported to the late 19th-century arts and crafts movement.
Every corner echoes the creative spirit of the time.
It's a journey into the past where craft and artistry were revered and celebrated.
I still remember the two-day workshop I attended, where we crafted stained glass panels.
Each brush stroke and every cut of glass was like forming a bond with the past, a connection to the old artisans.
Not only did I create something beautiful, but I also learned so much about the craft and its history.
The historic buildings and landscapes are incredibly well maintained, a testament to the love and dedication of those who care for the campus.
The gift shop is another gem.
You can find everything from garden sculptures to jewelry, pottery, and print art.
I can't resist picking up a unique piece or two each time I visit.
One of the highlights for me is the art festival.
The campus comes alive with colors, people, and creativity.
It's incredible to see artists from all walks of life converging at this historic site, showcasing their craft.
But it's not just about the arts and crafts. The dining options are excellent.
After a day of exploring, nothing beats settling down with a delicious meal surrounded by the history and beauty of the campus.
Enjoy Majors Park
There's something quite serene about strolling through Majors Park's broad, well-maintained trails.
The crisp air, the sound of chirping birds, and the beautiful view of nature can instantly lift my spirits.
Casual walking or easy cycling is a delight here, with the park offering vast trails that are impeccably groomed.
But as the summer wind starts to carry a cooler breeze, you might find yourself in the company of insects and mosquitoes.
I've learned that it's best to stick to the main trails and avoid the deer paths; thorn bushes tend to make their unwelcome appearance there.
One of my favorite aspects of Majors Park is its proximity to Cazenovia Creek.
The sight of the slow-moving water is therapeutic, and if you're up for it, the creek is ideal for an easy kayaking adventure.
Especially for beginners, the upstream journey at the start makes for an effortless ride back.
The only downside is the distance from the parking lot to the kayak launch point - it's a bit of a trek.
I've found it's more convenient to launch the kayak from the Legion on Center Street.
There's also some talk in Aurora about removing logs from the creek, which would make the kayaking experience smoother.
Take A Walk Through Owens Falls Sanctuary
Our town has a hidden gem, a place of tranquility that offers an escape from the daily hustle and bustle.
It's the Owens Falls Sanctuary, a forested sanctuary with a beautiful waterfall that serves as its pièce de résistance.
I frequent this sanctuary, taking strolls along the trails and indulging in the peace this natural haven offers.
On arrival, the small parking lot may seem underwhelming, and you might even miss it if you're not paying attention.
But once you step into the sanctuary, you're welcomed by a serene, forest-like trail that leads you to discover nature's many offerings.
The sanctuary is rich in biodiversity, with numerous birds filling the air with melodic tunes and a wide range of plants adorning the trail.
Walking through the sanctuary leads you to a creek and waterfall, which can be quite a spectacle, especially after a bout of rain.
However, a word of caution: there is no bridge to cross the creek, and the water can be pretty high and slippery, especially after rainfall.
So, if you're planning to walk through, prepare accordingly, or better yet, enjoy the view from the safety of the trail.
Enjoyable as the trail may be, keep an eye out for high cliff areas if you have little ones or pets with you.
It's also a great place to bring your dog for a walk, provided you keep them leashed and cleaned up after.
Benches are strategically placed in critical areas, perfect for taking a break, soaking in the surroundings, or capturing the beautiful landscape with your camera.
Cherish Moments at Spring Garden
Every summer, I eagerly anticipate the arrival of Waldfest, a lively celebration that makes my hometown of western New York burst with joy and merriment.
Nothing else quite compares to the experience at Spring Garden.
This annual event is exceptional; I wouldn't miss it for the world!
Don't get me started on the food and music!
They're fantastic, offering an array of delightful dishes I can barely resist.
There's also the bonus of bumping into old friends and sharing laughs and stories from the past.
However, prepare to pay a somewhat hefty admission fee to participate in Waldfest.
Spring Garden isn't just for Waldfest, though.
It's an ideal place for large picnics and outdoor parties.
Although the ground can be uneven, posing a minor challenge for individuals with disabilities or those prone to rolling an ankle.
However, the venue has golf carts to shuttle guests up and down the large hill from the parking area.
It's a thoughtful gesture that makes accessibility easier for everyone.
The expansive space is also perfect for setting up bounce houses, horse rides, crafts, and other fun activities.
Each year, I find myself equally excited to attend these private outdoor parties or company picnics as much as I look forward to Waldfest.
Book a Stay at the Historic Roycroft Inn
Every town has its unique place that embodies its history and culture.
In East Aurora, it's the Roycroft Inn, dating back to 1905, perched on the Roycroft Campus.
As a local, I am proud of this exquisite establishment that reminds me of our town's rich heritage.
For example, their brunch buffet was a feast for the senses.
The food was sumptuous, with an incredible variety that left everyone spoilt for choice.
From carved roast beef and lamb to smoked salmon and capers, I tried them all and was left wanting more.
And let's not forget their special gluten-free dessert table; it was a hit among my friends.
Staying at the Roycroft Inn was also a unique experience.
I had a suite all to myself, encompassing three rooms.
However, the charm of the old world comes with its quirks, such as peeling paint in the bathtub.
Despite that, I found the staff responsive as they noted my feedback promptly.
The Inn's location is a major plus.
Once you park your car, the entire campus is within walking distance.
And if you're a fan of bottomless mimosas, bloody Mary's, and poinsettias, then the $33 per person price tag for brunch is unquestionably worth it.
Grab a Drink at 42 North Brewing Company
There's something about finding that go-to spot in your hometown where you can let your hair down, enjoy good food, and sip on some excellent brews.
That's what 42 North Brewing Company is for me.
A key feature that sets this place apart is the variety of its beer selection.
Not all are on tap, but that only adds to the allure.
There's always the thrill of stumbling upon a new flavor you haven't tried yet.
And let me tell you, their selection goes beyond your typical lagers and ales, leaving any beer enthusiast in pure delight.
They also have a Fat Bob's Smokehouse on site, and if you're a fan of good smoked meat, you're in for a treat.
I lean towards their pulled pork sandwich; it pairs perfectly with their craft beers.
The ambiance at 42 North Brewing Company is also worth mentioning; it has an inviting patio perfect for larger groups.
Gathering my friends here and catching up over a drink or two has always been a joy.
Prices are competitive. You're getting quality food and drinks at a reasonable cost, and that's always a winning combo in my book.
Enjoy a Night at the Aurora Theatre and Popcorn Shop
Whenever we have a family celebration or want to enjoy an excellent movie, we head straight to the Aurora Theatre and Popcorn Shop.
There's something exceptionally magical about this little cinema tucked away in the heart of East Aurora.
Then there's the popcorn shop attached to the theatre, making the whole experience a treat.
You can't beat the unique taste of their popcorn, and it's always served fresh.
In addition to the popcorn, the heated lounge chairs are another highlight of this establishment.
They add a touch of luxury to the entire movie-going experience.
And let's not forget the fantastic shows they put on. I remember thoroughly enjoying "80 for Brady" when it was screened.
Enjoy a Memorable Meal at Homegrown Kitchen
Let me paint you a picture of Homegrown Kitchen in the heart of our neighborhood.
Oh, the food is a delightful treat to the palate.
The place is a dream for a lover of warm, delicious paninis like myself.
Their diverse menu caters to all tastes with fresh, healthy ingredients; the dressings are truly mouth-watering.
But it's not just about the food here.
The warm, spacious interior, the cleanliness, and the friendly staff make it a perfect spot for lunch.
And don't even get me started on their smoothies.
They are divine!
Enjoy the Community Spirit at Hamlin Park
Every summer, the festival season at Hamlin Park is a tradition that my family cherishes.
There’s something magical about the energy in the air during our annual July 3rd parade and fireworks display.
It embodies our community spirit.
The kids adored the new additions, making the visit worthwhile.
What I love most about this locale is the sense of community fostered here.
One evening, we were treated to a free performance of The Jungle Book, an unexpected delight!
Take A Stroll Down History Lane at Millard Fillmore Museum
There's something quite magical about living near a place that whispers tales of history and forgotten times.
The Millard Fillmore Presidential Museum, located in a quiet residential corner in East Aurora, NY, is one such place.
As I take my frequent strolls by the house, I can't help but imagine what life must have been like for Millard Fillmore, the 13th President of the United States, who once lived here.
The humble house, built by Fillmore himself, is a modest counterpart to the grandeur often associated with presidential residences.
But don't let its simplicity fool you.
The Millard Fillmore Presidential site envelopes you in an enriching journey of Fillmore’s life, his work, and the house's history.
It's like stepping into a time machine and being transported to the mid-1800s.
Each tour is a masterclass in storytelling.
The guides excel at painting a vivid image of Fillmore's life and his contribution to East Aurora, intricately weaving the personal, the political, and the historical.
Please expect to be regaled with tales and trivia about Fillmore’s time in the house, its occupants after him, and how the house has been preserved since the 1800s.
And, for those who share my love for artifacts, the museum boasts a collection of actual Millard Fillmore-owned artifacts and a small museum at the back end of the house.
Doubtless, visiting this presidential site is a fascinating journey through time that guides you through the life of a lesser-known, yet significant, President and the era he lived in.
Get ready to be informed, intrigued, and inspired.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Enjoy a Patriotic Shopping Experience at Made In America Store
Taking pride in the best of American-made goods is thrilling; my recent visit to Made In America Store was a testament to that.
When I entered the store, I was greeted by a clean, well-kept environment, with the merchandise neatly arranged for easy viewing.
I was also taken in by the statue they displayed out front, a tribute to our military and law enforcement.
The inventory was a patriotic delight - brimming with many items made here in the USA.
They had everything from groceries to home goods, clothes, and toys.
While shopping, I could not help but appreciate how well-stocked the store was.
They even had some trailers out front, a great spot for quick buys.
Visiting the store was more than just shopping; it supported the United States' homegrown talent and hard work.
The selection of American-made products was indeed off the hook, which makes me recommend it without a second thought.
Although they could use some docs for deliveries, it did not detract from the overall positive experience.
Seeing such a patriotic approach to retail was heartening, and I left the store feeling proud and satisfied with my purchases.
East Aurora is truly a gem hidden within the heart of New York.
It's the people, the energy, and the sense of community that truly make it shine.
Living here, I've realized that every day in East Aurora brings a discovery, a new adventure, and a new reason to love this town even more.