Just north of Buffalo begins Grand Island, the country’s largest freshwater island. About five square miles larger than Manhattan, Grand Island was once seriously considered as a possible site for the United Nations. Earlier, in 1825, Maj. Mordecai Manual Noah founded Ararat on Grand Island as a refuge for persecuted Jews from Europe. He got as far as erecting a cornerstone for his new city, but the plan eventually failed due to lack of support.
Now primarily a suburban community, Grand Island hosts Martin’s Fantasy Island (2400 Grand Island Blvd., 716/773-7591, www.martinsfantasyisland.com, 11:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. daily June–Sept., adults $24, seniors $14, children under 48 inches tall $20), an 80-acre theme park with thrill rides, live entertainment, and a petting zoo.
© Avalon Travel and Sascha Zuger from Moon New York State, 5th Edition