20 Things to do in Buffalo, New York: A Friendly Local’s Guide

Buffalo, New York, might not be the first destination that comes to mind for a getaway, but this vibrant city is brimming with exciting activities and undiscovered charms.

From its rich history and architectural marvels to its flourishing art scene and natural wonders, Buffalo caters to a wide variety of interests for both locals and visitors alike.

In this guide, we’re sharing 17 must-see spots that truly showcase the best of Buffalo.

So buckle up, because an exhilarating journey through this fabulous city awaits you and your fellow explorers!

1. Explore the Vibrant Elmwood Village

Elmwood Village is a delight for both tourists and locals in Buffalo, New York.

Named as one of America’s 10 Best Neighborhoods, this area boasts a wonderful collection of shops, bars, and restaurants. With countless ways to spend your day, your adventure here will be nothing short of amazing.

Lexington Avenue at Ashland Avenue, Elmwood Village, Buffalo
July 20, 2019: Lexington Avenue at Ashland Avenue, Elmwood Village, Buffalo” by Carrotflower Productions International is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

As you wander through the tree-lined streets, admire the elegant turn-of-the-century homes that surround Elmwood Avenue.

Tap into your whimsical side and browse unique artwork, sip on artisanal coffee, and indulge in delicious food. A walk through Elmwood Village is an experience that showcases Buffalo’s vibrant local scene.

During your exploration, don’t forget to check out events like Elmwood Village porch concerts, which offer fun for both residents and tourists. The music, laughter, and lively atmosphere will surely put a smile on your face and make you feel like a true Buffalonian.

2. Visit the Iconic Niagara Falls

Just a short drive from Buffalo, Niagara Falls is an awe-inspiring natural wonder that you simply can’t miss.

As you experience the majestic power of the cascading water, take time to savor the moment and let the roar of the falls mesmerize your senses.

For some outdoor fun, consider hiking the Niagara Gorge Trail, where you can appreciate the stunning landscape surrounding the falls. To get a different perspective, don’t forget to also visit the Canadian side by crossing the Rainbow Bridge—all the while keeping your camera at the ready.

One enthusiastic visitor on TripAdvisor mentioned,

The beautiful scenery is worth seeing, the impact of the waterfall is very spectacular, and the water droplets will splash. It is recommended to bring a raincoat.

The beauty of Niagara Falls awaits you!

3. Try Authentic Buffalo Wings

While exploring Buffalo, you can’t miss out on tasting the city’s signature dish, Buffalo wings!

Begin your gastronomic journey at the birthplace of this delicious creation, Anchor Bar. It was here, in 1964, that Teressa Bellissimo whipped up a batch of these scrumptious treats for a group of late-night customers.

If you’re in the mood to test out other local favorites, take the Buffalo Wing Trail challenge. This mouthwatering adventure leads you to the best wing spots, such as Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub and Doc Sullivan’s.

As you savor each bite, remember to hold onto those wet naps, because medium means hot at Duff’s Famous Wings! President Barack Obama was a fan too – he enjoyed 10 medium wings with a side of fries and onion rings at Duff’s in 2010.

Lastly, why not give this Reddit review a shot? This reviewer swears by Nine-Eleven Tavern’s “excellent wings with a crisp and a great homemade sauce.” Go ahead, indulge your taste buds and experience Buffalo’s culinary pride!

4. Savor Beef on Weck

When in Buffalo, make sure to indulge in the iconic Beef on Weck.

This mouthwatering sandwich consists of thinly sliced roast beef on a kummelweck roll, garnished with coarse salt and caraway seeds.

Beef on Weck
Beef on Weck – sandwich and horseradish” by nickgraywfu is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Locals rave about Charlie the Butcher for their scrumptious Beef on Weck, but you should also check out other popular spots like Schwabl’s and Bar Bill Tavern. A Yelp reviewer claims that Charlie’s Beef on Weck is “unrivaled” and “the best they’ve ever tasted.”

Don’t miss your chance to try this delightful Buffalonian dish while exploring all that Buffalo has to offer. Enjoy this flavorsome delight and let your culinary adventure guide you through the city.

5. Tour the Historic Buffalo Naval Park

Discover the fascinating history of the US Navy as you visit the Buffalo Naval Park, the largest inland naval park in the country.

Stroll through exhibits and marvel at the decommissioned vessels, including the USS Little Rock, USS The Sullivans, and USS Croaker.

Buffalo NY Waterfront overlooking the Naval Park
Buffalo NY Waterfront overlooking the Naval Park (in Color)” by grilled cheese is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Get a peek inside the underwater world of submarines and uncover thrilling tales of valor aboard the various vessels. Don’t forget to pay your respects at the Monuments Garden, highlighting veterans and supporters from a variety of conflicts and backgrounds.

While visiting, enjoy a guided tour to truly immerse yourself in the rich history of the park. A TripAdvisor review commends the knowledgeable staff who bring the stories to life with their enthusiasm.

6. Enjoy a Day at Canalside

Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere of Canalside, a bustling place where Buffalo locals and visitors alike gather for outdoor fun.

Glide on the historic Erie Canal in a kayak or paddleboard, and embrace a sense of adventure as you explore the iconic waterway.

5-31-14 CANALSIDE IN BUFFALO NY 226” by jimduell is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

While basking in the sunshine, take part in yoga classes or check out concerts during Thursdays at Canalside. Don’t miss the Queen City Bike Ferry which shuttles you to the Outer Harbor for picturesque hiking and biking paths!

When the temperature drops, the fun doesn’t stop. Canalside transforms into a winter wonderland with a 35,000 square foot ice rink, perfect for ice skating, curling, and pond hockey.

One TripAdvisor user shares,

Perfect for a low key sunday, very relaxing, lot of things to do, very nice waterfront park, surrounded by good choice of restaurants.

7. Immerse in the Arts at Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Buffalo’s Albright-Knox Art Gallery offers a fantastic collection of modern and contemporary art.

You’ll find works from world-renowned artists like Van Gogh, Picasso, and Warhol. The recently expanded Buffalo AKG Art Museum has even more to offer.

When you visit, make sure to marvel at the gorgeous architecture both inside and out. It’s a perfect blend of historic charm and modern design, thanks to the recent transformation.

Here’s a quick itinerary to make the most of your visit:

  1. Admire the sculpture garden
  2. Explore the diverse exhibits across levels
  3. Stop by Cornelia restaurant with its stunning 30-foot mosaic.

A TripAdvisor user said “Albright-Knox is a must-see for art lovers visiting Buffalo!” So, don’t miss this delightful artistic experience.

8. Explore Allentown

Allentown, the historic neighborhood in Buffalo, offers a variety of things to do.

Wander through the beautiful tree-lined streets, admiring the architecture of lovely homes and gorgeous old stone churches.

Don’t miss the lively art scene in Allentown, especially during “First Fridays.” From 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., local galleries like Studio Hart, El Museo, and Dreamland Art Studio open their doors, making it the perfect time to meet and mingle with the city’s creatives.

If you’re hungry, explore the culinary delights of Allentown that includes creative Mexican cuisine at Casa Azul, or enjoy a polished dining experience and whiskey bar at Billy Club.

A TripAdvisor reviewer raves that Allentown is “the place to stay and play.”

9. Visit Trendy Bars and Clubs

Buffalo has a lively nightlife scene for you to explore.

Start your night at the Billy Club, a trendy restaurant and whiskey bar known for its craft cocktails. Then, make your way to Ballyhoo, which excels in classic cocktails and offers a lengthy beer list.

Interested in a quirky pub? Check out Founding Fathers Pub, a laid-back spot with U.S. historical decor. It features games like darts and regular trivia nights. One TripAdvisor review raves about the excellent drinks and cozy atmosphere.

If you’re seeking something with a unique feel, Bar-Bill Tavern is a local favorite housed in a charming timber-framed building.

With these options and more at your fingertips, Buffalo offers a fun-filled night out for everyone.

10. Tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House

While in Buffalo, make sure to visit the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House, which is considered one of the architect’s finest Prairie-style houses.

This architectural marvel will captivate your senses as you explore the fully restored campus.

Carriage House, Darwin D. Martin House, Jewett Parkway, Parkside, Buffalo, NY
Carriage House, Darwin D. Martin House, Jewett Parkway, Parkside, Buffalo, NY” by w_lemay is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Take a guided tour to dive deep into the history and significance of various Wright-designed residences on the estate. In addition, the Martin House Plus Tour allows you to venture inside these additional residences for a more extensive experience.

Experience a 3D virtual reality tour ahead of your visit to immerse yourself in the beauty of this historic site. One TripAdvisor reviewer described it as ‘a highlight to their Buffalo trip’:

The Martin house by Frank Lloyd Wright was a highlight of our trip to Buffalo. Unbelievable detail, history, and architecture made this tour engaging and impressive.

Treat your inner architecture enthusiast through a visit to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Darwin D. Martin House.

11. Buffalo City Hall Observation Deck

Buffalo City Hall’s Observation Deck offers a unique perspective for exploring the city.

Perched on the 28th floor, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views from approximately 300 feet above the streets below.

On a clear day, the Observation Deck gives you an opportunity to catch a glimpse of Niagara Falls’ mist and even the Canadian skyline more than 16 miles away.

Aside from the view, this Art Deco masterpiece boasts intricate murals in its grand lobby, adding an artistic touch to your visit.

So, don’t forget to step inside Buffalo City Hall and make your way up to the Observation Deck for an unforgettable sightseeing adventure.

12. Buffalo AKG Art Museum

The Buffalo AKG Art Museum is a vibrant destination that showcases modern and contemporary art right in the heart of Buffalo’s bustling cultural district.

As you stroll through the museum, you’ll be captivated by its impressive collection, which has been actively curated since 1862.

As you plan your visit, try to allot 2-3 hours to truly immerse yourself in the diverse art exhibits and enriching experiences the museum offers.

Also, remember that your experience can be different every time, thanks to their ever-changing lineup of events and exhibits.

Visitors often rave about their experience at the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. For example, one TripAdvisor review mentioned that the museum’s calm atmosphere and well-curated selections make it a perfect weekend activity for locals and visitors alike.

13. Pierce Arrow Transportation Museum

While exploring Buffalo, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum.

This amazing museum showcases Buffalo’s rich transportation history, including antique vehicles, bicycles, and historic automobilia.

Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum, Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, NY
Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum, Michigan Avenue, Buffalo, NY” by w_lemay is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

From the Pierce Arrow and Thomas Flyer cars to the captivating collection of electric vehicles, vintage bicycles, and motorcycles, you’ll be transported back in time. The museum also features a remarkable Frank Lloyd Wright-designed gas station, adding to its unique charm.

As a testament to its appeal, one TripAdvisor user gushed,

This unique museum focuses on Buffalo’s transportation history, featuring Pierce Arrow, Thomas Flyer, electric vehicles, vintage bicycles, motorcycles, and more.

Dive into this fascinating world of classic transportation and appreciate the evolution of engineering that fueled Buffalo’s growth.

14. The Buffalo History Museum

If you’re looking for a captivating journey through Buffalo’s past, the Buffalo History Museum is the perfect stop for you.

Located in the last remaining building from the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, it showcases Buffalo’s storied history from its early days to the present.

From engaging exhibits to uniquely Buffalo gifts, there’s no shortage of fascinating items to discover. Plus, visitors appreciate its educational aspect, as noted in this Tripadvisor review.

The museum is surrounded by Delaware Park, a beautiful green space that also houses the Buffalo Zoo and Forest Lawn Cemetery. So, if you have some time to spare, take a leisurely walk around the area after your museum visit.

Don’t miss out on their events, like the M&T Third Friday, which offers free admission.

15. Erie Basin Marina

Erie Basin Marina is a delightful spot to spend a relaxing day by the waterfront, taking in the stunning views of Lake Erie.

Immerse yourself in the beauty of this area with a leisurely stroll through the gardens, where you can indulge your senses while admiring the captivating flora.

At this Marina, you can also partake in various recreational activities. According to a TripAdvisor user, visiting the nearby Naval Park is a must, where you can walk along the water and appreciate the historical ships.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to explore the Buffalo Outer Harbor, just a quick trip away for some more waterfront leisure and tranquility.

Complete your visit with a trip to the top of the Observation Tower for a panoramic view of Buffalo’s skyline and Lake Erie.

16. Kayak the Buffalo River

Explore the industrial history of Buffalo while having an adventure on the water by kayaking the Buffalo River.

Glide past towering grain elevators and unique lighthouses, making you feel like you’ve paddled back in time. Choose from various rentals and guided tours offered by local businesses.

Kayaking along Buffalo River
Kayaking along Buffalo Bayou, Between Wayside and Lockwood, Houston, Texas 1204101224” by Patrick Feller is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Buffalo offers many picturesque spots for kayaking. Besides the Buffalo River, Canalside and Woodlawn Beach are popular destinations. Paddle through serene water lily-filled marshes, or challenge your skills along soaring cliffs.

Join a kayak tour or embark on your solo journey to experience the captivating beauty of Buffalo’s waterways, which guarantees a fresh perspective of the city’s charm.

17. Shakespeare In Delaware Park

Attending a play at Shakespeare In Delaware Park is a must-do summer activity for locals and visitors alike.

Every year, this unique outdoor theater experience enchants audiences with free Shakespearean performances on a picturesque hill.

The atmosphere is lively and welcoming, as folks gather with blankets, picnic baskets, and bottles of wine. Make sure to catch a show in the upcoming season for an unforgettable time.

A theater-goer on TripAdvisor raved, “Every year we look forward to going and are never disappointed. Love the atmosphere and the people we meet!”

18. Silo City

If you’re a fan of unique experiences, Silo City is a must-visit in Buffalo, New York.

This former grain elevator complex, which played a vital role in the city’s industrial past, has been transformed into a fascinating hub for art, culture, and history.

Silo City - Buffalo
Silo City – Buffalo” by jay galvin is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

A popular way to explore the site is through an Elevator Alley Kayak Tour, offering an engaging perspective from the river. Additionally, Explore Buffalo provides an exhilarating Silo City Vertical Tour, taking you 100 feet up for an unforgettable view.

Silo City hosts a variety of events, including concerts, literary readings, and craft beer festivals. As a TripAdvisor reviewer mentioned:

We recently took the Silo City tour with Explore Buffalo. Our docent had great knowledge of the history of the area and the industries therein. We also took a walking tour of one of the silos and were completely amazed at discovering how they worked. I would recommend this tour to residents of Western New York and visitors from outside the area.

This captivating experience will surely be a highlight of your trip.

19. Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, where you’ll find a captivating blend of exotic and local flora.

Experience a variety of environments from around the world, all housed within the enchanting domed greenhouses and connected small greenhouses.

As you stroll through the 12 lush gardens, discover a serene koi pond and marvel at the splendid architecture. This national historic site is not only an education center, but also a tourist destination that attracts over 125,000 visitors annually.

One Tripadvisor reviewer says:

Excellent place to visit midwinter, kids loved the bonsai trees, orchids, and cacti especially. Burst of green and warmth in a drab season.

Embrace your inner botanist and let the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens transport you to a colorful, enchanting world.

20. Teddy Roosevelt Inauguration Historic Site

If you’re visiting Buffalo, New York, make sure to stop by the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site.

This site is where Teddy Roosevelt was sworn in as the 26th President of the United States after the assassination of President William McKinley. The place is rich with history and offers an engaging experience.

As you explore the site, you’ll learn about the events that led to Roosevelt’s inauguration, his life, and key issues of the day. Interactive exhibits and knowledgeable tour guides make for an enlightening visit.

Check out this TripAdvisor review to get a better sense of what to expect during your visit:

A great piece of history. Worth the time to take the tour and learn about Theodore Roosevelt and why/how he took office.

The site’s location is conveniently situated in the heart of Buffalo, so it’s easy to incorporate into your itinerary.

20 Things to do in Buffalo New York: Key Takeaways

Whether you’re a history buff, nature enthusiast, or art lover, Buffalo has an array of experiences waiting for you.

You can start with soaking in the local culture and artistic vibe by visiting Elmwood Village.

Then, admire the Darwin D. Martin House, a masterpiece designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Also, don’t miss out on the unique outdoor wonders, such as the Niagara Falls State Park, where you can witness the iconic falls up close.

Enjoy your time exploring this charming city, and make lasting memories as you uncover its delights!

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