New York's Grand Island sits right on the east side of the border of Canada and is surrounded by the Niagara River; Grand Island is the largest island on the river and the fourth-largest in the United States. The famous Niagara Falls attraction lies just northwest of the northern tip of the island, making the area a great spot for tourists.
Families living on the island have access to several well-reviewed public schools and one private school. There are also two state parks and several smaller parks in addition to an amusement park for residents and tourists to enjoy.
Grand Island sports a relatively low cost of living, making it an ideal place to settle down with a family. Those working in the downtown area of Buffalo and living on the island only have to commute about 20 minutes by car.
Restaurants & Nightlife
Grand Island has several locally owned and operated restaurants. Dick and Jenny's sits right in the center of the island on Baseline Road. Here, patrons enjoy dishes like seafood cioppino fettuccine and southern buttermilk fried chicken over jambalya and braised greens. The menu prices are fair for the portion sizes, and the restaurant also has a moderate wine selection and live music on occasion.
/" The Riverstone Grill on East River Road remains another local favorite. Customers come to the Riverstone Grill to enjoy exquisitely prepared dishes like sesame-seared Ahi tuna and brisket and ribs served with their award-winning barbecue sauce. The restaurant also serves lunch and brunch every day except Mondays, when they are closed.
The Beach House Restaurant on East River Road on the northern tip of the island has been serving homemade cooking for over 30 years. Local favorites include the fish fry and the Angus steak and shrimp dish served with homemade mashed potatoes and vegetables. Regulars rave about the secret-recipe meatloaf. The menu also caters to children with a separate small-portion kids menu. The affordable prices and waterfront location on the Niagara River make the restaurant attractive to local residents and visitors alike.
For a night out, most residents either venture to one of the bars inside the handful of restaurants on the island or take a trip over the river into the neighboring community. A short trip south on Interstate 190 will take you to Mooney's Sports Bar and Grill on Military Road. Customers come here to enjoy bar food like hot wings and pizza late into the night. The bar has plenty of beer on tap, including specialty craft beers and a wide selection of cocktails, and free live music on most nights.
History & Culture
Grand Island was once owned by the indigenous Iroquois; it was later purchased from them in the early 19th century by the state of New York.
No museums exist on the island; however, you can cross the river to see the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum during the warmer months. Patrons enjoy a children's gallery and a wood carving shop. Vintage and antique carousel pieces from amusement parks are also on display. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children; admittance is free for kids under two years old.
There aren't any art galleries on the island either; if you're looking for an art scene, cross the river to visit places like the Carnegie Art Center on Goundry Street. The gallery features artworks and exhibitions free of charge; donations are taken in lieu of an admittance fee.
Transportation around the island is simple for those with their own cars. Interstate 190 runs north and south through the center of the island. It allows travelers to get on and off the island easily and connects to Interstate 290 to the south. There are no public parking garages or lots on the island; residents can park freely on the streets.
Cabs don't freely roam the island, so hailing one for curbside pickup can be a challenge. It's better to call the company in advance if you need a lift. Uber car services are not yet available in the area.
Biking and walking around the island are relatively safe, with crosswalks at most main intersections. There are no bike lanes painted on the roadways here, but there are plenty of bike paths that run parallel to some major roads. Both bikers and runners can use the bike trails along the road.
The cost of living on Grand Island can be quite affordable. A typical one-bedroom apartment rents on average for $642 per month.
Transportation around the island is reasonable with cab fares starting at around $6, though it can go up to $50 for a ride to the nearest airport. Gas prices are about four percent higher than the New York State average and 29 percent higher than the national average.
A beer at a local bar can cost anywhere from $3 for a domestic can to around $7 or $8 for a specialty or craft brew. Pricing also depends on the type of establishment.
There are no specialty clothing boutiques on the island, so residents and visitors shop just across the river. Check out Cats Like Us on Main Street; the affordable boutique carries retro clothing for women and men. It also sells accessories like jewelry, handbags, hair bows and other hair pieces. Most of the clothing styles are inspired by rockabilly and pin-up culture.
Modern Nostalgia on Hertel Avenue provides another great shopping destination. The shop carries fashionable and trendy clothing for women. The staff and shop owner are very friendly and act as personal shoppers, helping to coordinate outfits for their customers. The shop also carries funky and unique jewelry and accessories.
The main grocery store that serves the whole island is Tops Supermarket, located in the center of the island on Grand Island Boulevard. Other large supermarkets and grocery stores, such as Save-a-Lot, sit just off the island across the river.
The nearest farmers market, the North Tonawanda City Market on Payne Avenue, can be found in the town directly east across the river. The market has many local vendors who rent booths and stall spaces to sell their wares and foods. The market does business on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Several parks can be found on Grand Island. On the north end of the island, you'll find Buckhorn Island State Park. The nature preserve consists of 895 acres of biking and running trails with hiking trails winding throughout; you can canoe and kayak as well as fish in the river. Cross-country skiing can also be enjoyed at the park. There are no public restrooms or playgrounds here, though. Admittance into the park is free and leashed dogs are permitted.
The southern tip of the island hosts Beaver Island State Park. Here folks enjoy 950 acres of greenery and forested areas. There's a half-mile sandy beach near the marina available for swimming and boating; like Buckhorn, it also offers kayaking, canoeing and fishing. Picnic areas and public restrooms can be found down near the beach area. The park also has a recreation center with baseball and soccer fields in addition to an 18-hole golf course. Beaver Island also has playgrounds for children, making it a kid- and family-friendly destination. Leashed dogs are permitted inside the park. In the winter locals enjoy cross-country skiing and snowmobiling inside the park as well.