Q: What should I consider when booking a guided tour?
-- D. Glynn, Toronto
A: There are tours for nearly every topic so be sure to pick one that suits your interests.
I've taken ghost tours in St. Augustine, Fla., toured Colonial Williamsburg with costumed re-enactors and went into a decommissioned gold mine with a retired miner as my guide. While these experiences are all different, they shared one similarity. All of the guides were passionate and knowledgeable -- key for an interesting tour.
Cory Schaeffer, co-founder of Listen Technologies, a firm specializing in listening devices, says it's also important to hear the guide clearly so when joining group tours, consider those that provide audio devices.
"There aren't many things more frustrating than going on a guided tour only to either not be able to hear the guide at all or to have to focus so intently to hear what is being said that you have to choose between listening to the guide or enjoying the sights.
Q: I'm interested in architecture in Buffalo. Do you know of any tours, etc.?
-- W. Vickers, Mississauga
A: Buffalo's past as an industrial powerhouse is reflected in its architecture. The opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 helped put the western New York city on the map. Large corporations and trailblazing architects followed. After the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1957, Buffalo's importance waned. Businesses closed and the population shrank. But after a long period of decline, people are once again discovering Buffalo's iconic buildings and other attractions.
Buffalo's signature buildings can be seen on architecture tours led by Preservation Buffalo Niagara. There is also a free tour of the Art Deco City Hall. See preservationbuffaloniagara.org.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed six residences in and around the city. Some of these, including Darwin Martin House, are open to the public.
Forgotten Buffalo tours are led by residents who share lively tidbits on local lore and legends. Among these are pub crawls and visits to ethnic neighbourhoods.