40+ Things to Do in Buffalo, NY

The best Buffalo attractions, plus what to eat and where to stay

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Year visited: Most recently 2024

Time of year: All seasons

Buffalo, NY.

It’s a place I’ve booked a plane ticket to more than anywhere else in the world. In. The. WORLD.

That’s… probably because… it’s our closest major airport…

If Buffalo is not your closest major airport, you may not even be considering planning a trip here. Except for one major thing: Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls is a major tourist attraction that just happens to be a 30 minute drive from Buffalo, NY. So now that you’re enticed to fly into Buffalo, allow me to fill you in on all the other fun and unique things to do in Buffalo.

In fact, this article has almost double the things to do of any things to do article I’ve written to date! There are just so many unique Buffalo tourist attractions! Plus I have insight from my friends who lived in Buffalo. So Buffalo is not to be snubbed as a fun city to visit!

And, while we’re at it, let me just say that there are other world-class attractions that aren’t too far from Buffalo! So here is your guide to all the best Buffalo attractions, and the best road trip from Buffalo!

About Buffalo, NY

Buffalo, NY is a city of about 280,000 people. It is the second largest city in New York State, behind that city which shall not be named… (we get a little sensitive about people always assuming “New York” means NYC).

Where is Buffalo?

Buffalo is just south of Canada, on the edge of Lake Erie, one of the five Great Lakes. It is in the upper north west corner of New York State (about as far away from NYC as possible).

How to Get Around Buffalo

If you are flying into Buffalo, NY, you will want to fly into the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.

The best way to visit Buffalo is to rent a car (or to drive your own car), because not all of the things to do in Buffalo are right downtown. Plus there are so many great day trips from Buffalo.

However, you can get around to the main Buffalo attractions using public transportation. The city bus system can take you to all of the main things to do in Buffalo, and you can even take a bus from NYC to Buffalo. Amtrak also runs a train that goes from NYC to Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Why is it Called Buffalo?

You may be wondering, “Why is it called Buffalo???”

And the truth is, so is everyone else!

The city of Buffalo was named after the river that flowed through it, Buffalo Creek (now Buffalo River). Pretty straight forward. But there is much debate over how the river got the name “Buffalo” in the first place.

You can check out this article by the Buffalo History Museum if you would like to learn all the theories and pick a side in the great debate!

What is Buffalo Known For?

  • Snow-Um… yeah. Snow might be the #1 thing Buffalo, NY is known for… It’s the perfect place to come in the winter if you love winter sports. Otherwise, try to avoid November-April if you don’t want to accidentally get snowed in!

  • Architecture-Buffalo, NY is a well-known city for architecture. In fact, the first professional female architect worked in Buffalo, as did Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most famous architects EVER. The city has a lot of unique architecture, and is one of the first cities in America to turn from the European revivalist architecture and embrace the Art Deco style.

  • Buffalo Wings-The famous spicy, messy, perfect for eating at a football game food was invented in (and named after) Buffalo, NY.

  • Teddy Roosevelt-Or rather, the assassination of William McKinley that led to the inauguration of Teddy. But we’ll just stick to the happy part that is the presidency of one of our nation’s most beloved presidents! He is one of only five presidents ever to not be inaugurated in Washington DC!

  • General Mills-My beloved childhood cereal. You might notice the smell of Cheerios permeating the air around downtown Buffalo. That’s because the cereal is made there, at the oldest cereal plant in the United States!

  • The Erie Canal-As the song goes, “From Albany, to Buffalo-o.” The Erie Canal (locally referred to as the “Big Ditch”) spans the state of NY, and brought much business to Buffalo in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s.

  • The Buffalo Bills-The only football team in the NFL to go to 4 Superbowls IN A ROW! And… we’re just… gonna leave it at that.

Why Visit Buffalo

Buffalo doesn’t always get the attention it deserves, but there are so many great things to do in Buffalo, NY. Let me just give you a few teasers of the unique Buffalo attractions there are to explore:

  • Hiking to an eternal flame

  • Riding through the locks on the Erie Canal

  • Seeing one of the (if not the) most famous waterfalls in the world

  • Some of the most unique and important architecture in American history

  • Sites of national historical significance

  • Kayaking between giant grain silos

  • Air that always smells like Cheerios (yum!)

  • (Good) Wings

  • Wegmans

And those are just the highlights! Not to mention the amazing day trips and road trips from Buffalo!

So yeah, Buffalo, NY is worth a visit.

Best Time of Year to Visit Buffalo

Summer/early fall is the best time to visit Buffalo for good weather!

I’m just going to come right out and say it; don’t come to Buffalo in the winter. Or early spring for that matter.

Unless you like snow… and want to see the Christmas lights at Niagara Falls. Otherwise I would say to only visit Buffalo between May and October.


Summer is one of the best times to visit Buffalo. The weather is going to (probably) be so beautiful, and even though it’s the most crowded time to come, you can’t beat visiting Niagara Falls on a hot sunny day!

Early June will be the least crowded, as the kids are still in school (or on field trips to Niagara Falls…). But you have the lowest chance of good weather in June. I would suggest August for the best summer weather, although it really just depends on the day.


Fall (September & October) is the best time to visit Buffalo. The weather should be pretty good, especially in September, a lot of the seasonal activities will still be open (plus fall activities!), and you might start to see some amazing fall foliage.

September is a little early for foliage (though it always depends on the year), but I would say in general September is the best time of year to visit Buffalo.


There are a lot of fun festivals in Buffalo, NY! If you want, you can plan your trip to Buffalo around the festivals. Some of the best ones include the Buffalo Wing Festival, Taste of Buffalo and Dyngus Day. Or come in the summer for Shakespeare in the Park.

Check out Step Out Buffalo for information on upcoming events and current things to do in Buffalo.

Things to Do in Buffalo

There are so many Buffalo attractions besides just Niagara Falls (though, let’s be honest, that is the main tourist attraction in Buffalo).

From a flame that never dies to a cruise on the Erie Canal to a visit to the world’s best grocery store, there are so many unique things to do in Buffalo.

But… let’s start with Niagara Falls.

Map of things to do in Buffalo, NY

Niagara Falls State Park

A visit to Niagara Falls State Park is the #1 thing to do in Buffalo! The oldest state park to be recognized in the country (with a little help from Teddy Roosevelt) is the most visited natural attraction in NY state (it also happens to be an attraction in Canada, too!).

How to Get to Niagara Falls

The best way to get to Niagara Falls from Buffalo is to drive. It’s about a 30 minute drive from downtown Buffalo to Niagara Falls State Park (Pro tip: If you want to skip the toll to cross Grand Island, you will only add a couple minutes to your drive).

However, if you don’t drive, you can also get to Niagara Falls using public transportation. Amtrak runs a train service from Buffalo to Niagara Falls. You can also get a bus from Buffalo to Niagara Falls, which is the cheapest way to get there.

Most guided tours of Niagara Falls will offer hotel pick up, but only to hotels in the city of Niagara Falls, NY. You can also get a shuttle from the airport to Niagara Falls.

Things to Do in Niagara Falls

There are so many things to do in Niagara Falls State Park, and the nearby area as well!

  • Maid of the Mist-Ride the famous boat to the foot of the falls, and just try not to get wet!

  • Cave of the Winds-Open year round, you can hike down right in front of the Bridal Veil Falls.

  • Walk to Canada-While you’re in Niagara Falls, don’t miss the chance to walk across the Rainbow Bridge to view the falls from the Canadian side.

  • Hiking-There are a lot of hiking trails in Niagara Falls State Park, like the Devil’s Hole, and Niagara Gorge.

  • Niagara Scenic Trolley-During the summer season, you can ride on a historic trolley through Niagara Falls and learn fun facts about the falls and the local area.

  • Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour-Take a thrilling ride on the rapids of the Niagara River!

  • Niagara Power Vista-This is a fun, free place to visit to learn about the power generated by Niagara Falls.

  • Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center-Just across the border from Canada, Niagara Falls was often the last stop on the Underground Railroad before reaching freedom. Learn real life stories from the Underground Railroad at this unique museum.

Old Fort Niagara

Old Fort Niagara, viewed from across the lake at Niagara on the Lake.

The historical Old Fort Niagara is not far from Niagara Falls, and is just across the water from Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.

The fort passed back and forth between the French, British and American forces throughout the 16, 17 & 1800’s. It eventually ended up in American hands, but owes much of its architecture (such as the “French Castle”) to the French.

It is technically 40 minutes from Buffalo, but I’ll include it up here instead of as a day trip from Buffalo, because it really goes well with a trip to Niagara Falls.

Tour Buffalo City Hall

Now that we’ve covered Niagara Falls, let’s get into things to do in Buffalo proper. The first thing to do when you visit Buffalo is to take a tour of the iconic City Hall building. It is one of the architectural marvels of Buffalo (and there are a lot!).

Try to visit on a sunny day (I know it’s rare, but they happen!) and see the sunburst stained glass window. Tours take place daily at noon, and the best part is, it’s free!

Take an Architecture Tour

After (or before) you’ve toured Buffalo City Hall, take an architecture tour of Buffalo. There are honestly so many different options for architecture tours of Buffalo! From guided walking tours to Segway tours, boat tours, to self-driving tours of all the best spots in Buffalo, there are so many great things to see!

See the Frank Lloyd Wright Houses

The Frank Lloyd Wright Martin House in Buffalo, NY.

On the subject of architecture, Buffalo is home to multiple Frank Lloyd Wright houses! Some of them remain private residences today, but you can tour the original house and the summer home that he designed for his good friend Darwin Martin.

  • Martin House-The original Martin family home designed by Wright, and noted as one of his best works. It is located in the city of Buffalo, near Delaware Park and other popular Buffalo attractions.

  • Graycliffe Estate-Located 30 minutes outside of Buffalo, this stunning summer home designed especially for Martin’s wife sits on the cliffs overlooking Lake Erie.

Visit the Colored Musician’s Club & Jazz Museum

Among the distinctions that Buffalo claims is the only continuously running, all Black owned music venue in the entire country! The Colored Musician’s Club is not only a thriving and historical jazz club, but also a museum dedicated to the unique history of jazz and African-American music in Buffalo, NY, and its power to unite people.

The Colored Musician’s Club is currently closed for renovations, expanding their offerings while maintaining their historical building. The new construction will make this already great attraction even more worth visiting!

  • Even while the building is currently closed, they are still hosting many events.

Stand Where Teddy Roosevelt was Inaugurated

The library where Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated.

In 1901, Buffalo was host to the Pan-American Exposition, a fair of the latest technology and popular culture of the western hemisphere. Many incredible buildings were constructed (most of which were temporary) for the 6-month event.

It was here that President McKinley was shot, and ultimately died, leaving then Vice President Theodore Roosevelt in charge. He was staying at a friend’s house, Ansley Wilcox, where they held the impromptu inauguration ceremony. You can visit the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site in the city of Buffalo today.

Admission can be booked ahead of time, or on-site. Tours are given every hour, on the half hour. There is a free parking lot available for guests of the site.

See the Buffalo History Museum

The only permanent building constructed for the 1901 Pan-American Exposition is now home to the Buffalo History Museum. The museum sits on the edge of the beautiful Delaware Park, just across from the AKG Art Museum.

It is free to visit on the third Friday of every month, and is “pay what you can” the rest of the time, making this one of the most affordable things to do in Buffalo.

There is a free parking lot, and you could also walk across the park to the AKG Art Museum on the other side of Delaware Park.

Front of the Buffalo History Museum, seen from AKG Art Museum.

Visit the AKG Art Museum

Formerly the Albright-Knox Gallery, the Buffalo AKG Art Museum recently reopened after extensive renovations. The beautiful glass atrium houses three floors of modern art works, while the glass tunnel connects you to the original galleries, displaying many famous paintings and sculptures by the artists who shaped history (AKA, names I remember from college art classes!).

There is a small cafe with drinks and light bites available in the museum. Parking is available at the underground parking garage on museum property. It is officially $20 for parking, but be sure to ask for a QR code to scan at the front desk, so you can park for $10.

AKG admission is pay what you want on the first Friday of every month!

If you’re an art lover, another Buffalo attraction to check out is the Burchfield Penney Art Center on the grounds of Buffalo State University. It is just across the street from the Buffalo AKG, so they can easily be visited together!

Explore Delaware Park

Delaware Park sits in between the Buffalo History Museum and the AKG Art Museum. It is the perfect place to come in the summer to enjoy the walking trails, an outdoor performance of Shakespeare in the Park, or the flamingo shaped (FLOATmingo) paddle boats!

The park was designed by Frederick Olmsted, of the nearby Richardson Olmsted Campus. And the (less nearby) Central Park. A visit to Deleware Park is one of the best things to do in Buffalo, and is close to many other popular Buffalo attractions.

Bike Around Town

Biking has become a thing in Buffalo! There are bike rental places all over the city, and so many great biking trails, the most popular being on the Outer Harbor. You can even ride the bike ferry back and forth.

Or if you want something a little more involved, sign up for one of the many themed bike tours around Buffalo.

Enjoy the Waterfront

The Buffalo Waterfront has two prominent sides: Canalside & the Outer Harbor. So many of the best things to do in Buffalo are on the waterfront. From kayaking to biking, a naval museum to a historic carousel, the waterfront is full of fun things to do!

And the best part is, it isn’t just fun in the summertime. It’s a great winter destination too!

Outer Harbor

The Outer Harbor is across the Buffalo River from Canalside, with Lake Erie on its other side. Here you will find the Buffalo lighthouse, lots of beautiful walking and biking trails, beaches, volleyball and basketball courts, and Wilkeson Point, one of the most popular places to watch the sunset in Buffalo.


Canalside is one of the most popular things to do in Buffalo, no matter the season! Here you will find restaurants, ice skating/roller blading, concerts, harbor cruises, boat rentals, and the beautiful vintage carousel. They even hosts events all year round.

Buffalo Naval Park

The large naval ship that dominates your view when you’re out exploring the Buffalo waterfront is actually a museum you can visit and explore: Buffalo Naval Park.

Open seasonally, usually spring-fall, the Buffalo Naval Park is a great place to bring your whole family to explore (not one!) four decommissioned naval vessels. It is the largest inland naval park in the country!

Explore the Grain Elevators

When the city of Buffalo rebuilt itself, they truly embraced their industrial heritage. Now, there are are so many ways to explore the waterfront, and the grain elevators in Buffalo! These are truly unique things to do in Buffalo that you can’t find anywhere else!

Explore Silo City

Silo City is the name given to the large cluster of old grain elevators pictured above. In fact, it’s the world’s largest collection of historical grain elevators!

This unique landscape is home to a native plant nursery, art installations, and a brewery.

  • Public tours of the Silo City grounds are available from June-September every Saturday morning.

  • Walking tours through the grain elevators are available May-October from Explore Buffalo.

  • Cruises to, and walking tours of Silo City grain elevators are available from Buffalo River History Tours.

  • Duende at Silo City is a restaurant on the grounds that is open all year, and also hosts live music and special events.

Kayak Through Elevator Alley

If you want to kayak up and down the Buffalo River, through the grain elevators, and along Canalside, you can either rent kayaks or join a group tour from Elevator Alley Kayak.

The launch point for Elevator Alley Kayak is Mutual Riverfront Park, from which you can paddle upstream through all the giant grain elevators!

Buffalo RiverWorks

Buffalo RiverWorks is located on the little strip of land between Canalside and the Outer Harbor. This is where the General Mills factory (and mural!) is. And, of course, more grain elevators!

There are so many cool things to do at Buffalo RiverWorks (some year-round, some seasonal):

Float on the Erie Canal

One of the most unique things to do in Buffalo is to float on the Erie Canal. And not just to float on it, but to actually go through the locks that raise and lower the water levels on the canal!

I promise, your cruise with Lockport Locks is going to be the most unique river canal cruise you’ve ever been on!

  • You can also walk along the canal in Lockport, and watch the boats as they’re raised and lowered on the Erie Canal.

  • You can cruise through the caves beneath the Erie Canal with Lockport Caves. Full disclosure: we did not do this cruise because it was shut down for safety concerns at the time. They have since reopened, so hopefully all the safety issues have been addressed, as this is a super unique and cool tour!

  • Fun Fact: Did you know you can rent a house boat and cruise down the Erie Canal? #newlifegoal

Eat Buffalo Wings

I think it is self evident that one of the best things to do in Buffalo, NY is to eat Buffalo wings. Or, as they call them… wings. Definitely try some (or a lot!) while you’re in Buffalo.

In fact, you can even take an entire chicken wing bike tour, or explore the Buffalo Wing Trail on your own! Or visit Buffalo during the National Buffalo Wing Festival.

Try Beef on Weck

Less well-known than the chicken wing is one of Buffalo’s other famous foods: Beef on weck. It’s basically a roast beef sandwich, dipped in au jus sauce, on a salty bun. This sandwich is literally the definition of classic western NY food.

Eat Sponge Candy

While on the subject of eating, here is one more especially unique food you should try in Buffalo: Sponge candy (I took a picture of it so you can see why it’s called sponge candy. You’re welcome).

Sponge candy is one of those things that doesn’t have an exact time and place it was invented, but it definitely is unique to the western NY/western PA area (and potentially was invented in Buffalo). Regardless, if you’re not from this general area, you’ve probably never heard of it (thus the picture, to show you how it looks like a sponge!).

Sponge candy is super popular, and you’ll find all varieties of it in the local candy shops. Here are a couple good places to get some (although my personal favorite is from Pulakos in Erie, PA):

Eat at a Vintage Soda Fountain

And on the subject of candy shops, Parkside Candy is in itself a unique Buffalo attraction! It is an adorable vintage soda shoppe (the main street location), where you can order a classic ice cream sundae or root beer float to go with your sponge candy (or even a Sponge Candy Sundae!). Or real food… if you’re not as obsessed with sugar as I am.

Take a Buffalo Food tour

If you want to try a little bit of everything, take a Buffalo food tour! You can choose between a walking food tour, and a food tour via a bike ride. Either way, you’ll burn calories as you go. Which means room for… more food!

Visit Wegmans

Ok, so… Wegmans. When my friends came to visit from Indiana, I knew exactly where I wanted to take them: Wegmans!

And they were like, “Um… you’re taking us to a grocery store??”

Until they got to Wegmans. Then they understood.

Wegmans is the best grocery store! It was founded in nearby Rochester, NY, and is very prominent in the north east. Which is why I always tell people visit Wegmans when they are in the area.

Some of them (especially the bigger ones in Rochester and Buffalo) are so cool, they even have full blown restaurants, murals by local artists, and model train displays. Wegmans really is an experience. Trust me.

Shop on Elmwood Ave.

Elmwood Ave. is one of the main roads in Buffalo, NY, and it’s a great place to go shopping! There is a section along Elmwood Ave. just lined with local shops, restaurants, and of course, Panera Bread… This oddity, however, makes it very easy to find the part of Elmwood Ave. you want to visit: Just follow directions to Panera Bread, and park anywhere along the street there.

This area of local shops and restaurants is part of the Elmwood Village neighborhood, a beautiful and historic area of Buffalo, NY. The village also hosts seasonal events and a farmer’s market.

Buffalo Botanical Gardens

A lot of major cities have a botanical gardens, but some are better than others. Now, I have to be honest, I usually skip the botanical gardens when I visit a city.

But the Buffalo Botanical Gardens intrigued me. The architecture is so pretty (no surprise, when it comes to Buffalo), it’s one of my local friends’ favorite places to visit in Buffalo, and they host special events like an evening fairy light walk, which was so magical!

Visit the New Era Flagship Store

If you’re a sports fan, you probably have some gear that’s made by New Era. In fact, the Bills’ stadium was briefly called New Era Field (and locally known as “The Cap”) for a year or two.

The athlewear company was founded in Buffalo, NY in 1920, and is now the exclusive provider of sideline caps for the NFL, MLB and NBA. You can visit the New Era flagship store in downtown Buffalo and pick up a baseball cap souvenir to remember your trip to Buffalo.

Hike to the Eternal Flame

For years, when the NFL would come to town for Bills games and shoot footage of local attractions, it was either Niagara Falls or Buffalo wings. But with all the big games the Bills have been getting lately (go Bills!), they’ve started to show a little more of the Buffalo attractions.

For instance, if you watched some of the January football games, you may have seen this local attraction, the eternal flame, covered in snow (kudos to the camera guys who hiked down there in the snow to get the shot!).

The eternal flame is one of the best (and the most unique) hiking trails near Buffalo, NY. It’s not a super long trail, about a half mile each way, though it does get a little steep.

At the end of the hike is a little grotto with a beautiful waterfall. But even more impressive is the little flame burning within the waterfall! You will know you’re getting close to the falls when you can smell the natural gas that keeps the flame burning.

Follow the little flame signs to the eternal flame.

Hike through the river bed to get to the eternal flame falls.

Tips for visiting the Eternal Flame:

  • The popular trail is well marked. Follow the little flame signs through the woods.

  • Dogs are welcome (and common) on the trail.

  • Stairs have been recently added to help with the steep part of the hike.

  • When you get to the bottom of the stairs, you will be on the river bank. There are no signs here, but you will climb down into the river (to the left) and follow this all the way to the Eternal Flame Falls.

  • Contrary to its name, the flame does occasionally go out. If you bring a lighter, you can re-light the flame.

  • There is a large gravel parking lot, but there are no bathrooms at the eternal flame parking lot.

Hershell Carrousel Factory Museum

In the late 1800’s/early 1900’s there were multiple carousel factories operating around Buffalo, NY. Many skilled artisans worked at these factories, sculpting beautiful horses and other animals for the popular rides.

Today you can visit the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum in North Tonawanda (in between Buffalo & Niagara Falls). You can see examples of the carousel animals they would have sculpted, see the only working Wurlitzer Music Roll in the world, and ride on the vintage 1916 carousel!

The museum is small, so plan to spend around 30 minutes exploring the museum. But don’t forget to ride the carousel and visit the gift shop! This makes a great stop on the way back to Buffalo from Niagara Falls.

  • Fun Fact: The beautiful carousel animals on the 1924 Buffalo Heritage Carousel at Canalside were restored in the Herschell Carrousel Museum.

Meet a Penguin at Aquarium of Niagara

Penguins are my favorite animal!!! Unfortunately, there are no penguins to be seen at the Buffalo Zoo. But…!!! There are penguins at the Aquarium of Niagara!

And, not only can you see penguins at the aquarium, but you can actually MEET THE PENGUINS at the aquarium!!!

Penguins are pretty much the cutest stinking (no really, they are kind of stinky…) animals on the planet! So getting to meet them is one of the best things to do EVER!

You can even take home a PAINTING MADE BY A PENGUIN from the gift shop for a super unique souvenir from Buffalo. Or, if for some reason you’re not into penguins (or you’re just more into seals), there are a bunch of other animal encounters (and paintings) you can do at the aquarium.

Explore a real life “Hallmark” small town

East Aurora is a little town just outside of Buffalo, and it is a popular Hallmark filming location. So come explore this cute little town, eat wings at the original Bar-Bill Tavern, see a movie at the Aurora Theater, buy sponge candy and chicken wing shaped chocolate at Fowler’s, and shop at the world’s largest 5&10.

There is street parking available, and also a large public lot behind Viddler’s 5&10. Parking is free in East Aurora.

Try an Escape Room

Escape rooms are fun to try in any new city, and they are a great way to support local businesses and experience something unique to the area!

A good way to find the best local escape rooms is by looking on the Facebook group Escape Room Enthusiasts. My local friends recommend trying Queen City Escape Room.

Watch a Classic Movie in a 1920’s Theater

The North Park Theater in Buffalo has been showing movies since 1920. Today they show unique, classic and indy films. Or, you could visit the vintage movie theater in Buffalo to watch a movie that was filmed in Buffalo, like the new movie Cabrini!

See a Show at Shea’s Performing Arts Center

One of the most iconic Buffalo attractions is Shea’s Performing Arts Center, and it is definitely one of the best things to do in Buffalo in the evening (or for a free afternoon movie).

The beautiful, historic downtown theater hosts touring Broadway shows, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra events, free family movies, and more! What better way to end your day of exploring Buffalo?

Bonus Things to Do in Buffalo

I just want to mention a few less unique Buffalo attractions to round out your trip to Buffalo, especially if you’re coming with kids. There are so many things to do in Buffalo, NY!!

These are things that are maybe not super unique to the area, or are just smaller, and not one of the main attractions. But just so you know for your trip planning purposes (and since my sister was insistent I include a visit to the Bills’ stadium), you can also do these things in Buffalo:

Seasonal Things to Do in Buffalo

Now I know I said not to visit Buffalo in winter… but in case you ignore my advice and do anyway, there are some fun Christmas things to do in Buffalo, NY! Plus, there are other seasonal things to do in summer and fall.

Niagara Falls Christmas Lights

Niagara Falls is lit up in colors every night (not just for Christmas). This photo of the frozen American Falls was taken in early March.

Niagara Falls is magical (and cold…) at Christmastime. Every year Niagara Falls, Canada puts on the Winter Festival of Lights, and fireworks are set off at night (though, it should be noted, there are lots of fireworks displays in the summertime too).

You’ll have to head over the border to Niagara Falls, Ontario to see the Christmas lights, and participate in all the festive things they have going on during the holiday season (like the Christmas market!). Just…hopefully your trip to the holiday lights will go better than ours did…

Stony Brook Legendary Lights

One of the best places to see Christmas lights in Buffalo, NY is in the Stony Brook neighborhood. Each year the neighborhood puts on the Stony Brook Legendary Lights (formerly Stony Brook Shines), which raises money for local children’s charities.

Drive or walk through block after block of over the top decorated houses. You may even spot Santa and Mrs. Claus roasting chestnuts over an open fire.

Explore a Hallmark Christmas Town

During the Christmas season in Buffalo, be sure to head over to East Aurora, where they’ve shot quite a few Hallmark movies! It’s the perfect little Christmas town. Plus, Viddler’s 5&10 (the world’s largest 5&10) is a great place to pick up a Christmas gift.

Be sure not to miss out on the annual East Aurora Carolcade!

Ice Biking

If you’re visiting Buffalo in the winter, the most unique Buffalo attraction is renting an ice bike at Canalside. Sure, there’s ice skating as well, but if you’re like me, and you’re prone to falling over, ice biking is the way to go! Why do more ice rinks not have this???

Visit a Sunflower Field

Visiting a sunflower field is one of the best things to do in Buffalo in the summertime! They are so pretty and picturesque.

Sunflowers of Sanborn is a popular place for taking sunflower pics. They have events, a sunflower trail, a corn maze, and so many other fun things to do!!

Take a Fall Foliage Train Ride

A foliage train ride might be one of the best ideas ever, because I personally am always distracted by the pretty leaves when I should be paying attention to driving…

The Arcade & Attica Railroad does scenic train rides near Buffalo, NY, with different themes being offered all year. So you could do the gorgeous fall foliage train ride. Or you could do the murder mystery dinner, the whiskey train ride, or, my personal favorite, the DISNEY PRINCESS TRAIN RIDE!!

As you can see, they have themes to fit all tastes!

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

This is an especially great thing to do in Buffalo if you come from somewhere that doesn’t really get fall. Because Buffalo in winter may not be the best tourist hot spot, but Buffalo in fall is idyllic!

So if you’re in Buffalo, NY in the fall, be sure to complete your fall bucket list by visiting a pumpkin patch.

Places to Eat in Buffalo

A burger as big as your face from Dwyer’s Irish Pub.

Because Buffalo is so diverse and has so many immigrant families, eating is one of the best things to do in Buffalo!

You can get such a variety of food, from classic chicken wings and beef on weck, to famous Polish delicacies, to some of the best Middle-Eastern food you’ve ever had!

Here are some of the best places to eat in Buffalo, including suggestions from my local friends:

For Buffalo Wings:

Eating chicken wings is one of the iconic things you have to do on any trip to Buffalo, and you can find (good!) wings at almost any restaurant in the city. With that being said, here are a couple of suggestions to get you started:

  • Anchor Bar-You won’t find that many locals here, but it is the place with the story of the chicken wing on their menu, because they (claim they) invented Buffalo wings! It’s definitely one of the best Buffalo attractions.

  • Duff’s-Duff’s was the go-to place for my best friends, when they lived in Buffalo. There are several locations all over the city. It’s a good spot for wings, beef on weck, or any sort of pub food, really.

  • Bar-Bill Tavern-Josh Allen (go Bills!) tried ALL the wings when he first came to Buffalo to play for the Buffalo Bills, and this is the restaurant he settled on as the winner for the best wings in Buffalo. Not surprisingly, their popularity has since soared.

Local Recommendations:

These are the restaurants that were specifically recommended by my best friend and former Buffalonian:

  • Pearl Street Grill-With a perfect location right downtown, and very close to Canalside, Pearl Street Grill is the perfect place to eat out while visiting Buffalo. Especially since it comes recommended from locals!

  • Tappo Italian-If Italian is more your thing (OR eating in an igloo is your thing!!!), then check out another local rec right downtown: Tappo Italian. Amazing food with gorgeous, insta-worthy views? Yes, please!

  • JJ’s Casa di Pizza-If you’re up for a pizza (and let’s face it, I am always up for a pizza), Casa di Pizza is my local friend’s recommendation.

  • Jay’s Artisan Pizza-This local pizza shop in Kenmore, NY, just north of Buffalo, has been called out for its pizza on numerous occasions, not the least of which is being named the #8 best pizza in the US in 2023!!!

  • Dwyer’s Irish Pub-Hidden in the cute little town of North Tonawanda, between Buffalo and Niagara Falls, is one of our favorite restaurants! Dwyer’s has burgers as big as your face (seriously, they’re as big as your face)! And they’re delicious.

  • Anderson’s Custard-This local spot was recommended by another travel blogger, who not only loves their ice cream (err… custard), but also says it’s one of the best places in Buffalo for a beef on weck sandwich.

International Cuisine

Here are just some of the best international restaurants to try in the city of Buffalo:

  • Falafel Bar-A fusion of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. From shawarma to shnitzel, there are so many varied and delicious food options available here.

  • Sun Cuisines-One of the most successful restaurants in Buffalo, serving Burmese and Thai food that not only tastes delicious, but is actually healthy too!

  • The WEDI Bazaars-A great place to stop for a variety of authentic international food options are the downtown bazaar and the west side bazaar sponsored by WEDI.

Pubs & Breweries

There are so many really cool breweries in Buffalo that really embrace its industrial history. Good atmosphere, good food, good drinks… what more do you need?

  • Big Ditch Brewing Company-Another restaurant you’ll find conveniently downtown is Big Ditch Brewing Company, a local brewery with a nod to the famous Erie Canal (AKA: The Big Ditch). Come for a super cool atmosphere and good drinks & food!

  • Duende Silo City-Silo City is without a doubt one of the coolest places in Buffalo. So if you’re out there exploring, kayaking, and working up an appetite, then look no further than the local brewery on site: Duende.

  • BriarBrothers Brewing Company-This Buffalo brewery is actually located inside an old grain silo! Talk about embracing your industrial history! BriarBrothers has been recognized as one of the best breweries in Buffalo, and definitely has one of the most unique atmospheres.

  • RiverWorks Brewing Company-Located on the peninsula between Buffalo’s Canalside and Outer Harbor, the RiverWorks Brewing Company is part of the extensive entertainment district run by Buffalo RiverWorks. They offer brewery tours and events year round, but if you’re here in the summer, you can even work up an appetite by rock climbing up the side of an old grain silo first. Talk about unique!

For Breakfast

I love breakfast. And most especially… donuts! So let me share with you my favorite breakfast and donut joints in Buffalo, NY:

  • Five Points Bakery-For the hipsters among you who really like bread… Five Points Bakery makes a bunch of different artisan breads every morning for some delicious toast!

  • Paula’s Donuts-A Buffalo staple, Paula’s Donuts has four locations (and probably will keep adding more) around the city. It is the go-to place for donuts in Buffalo.

  • Peace, Love & Little Donuts-Paula’s is good, but I have to admit, this little donut chain from Pittsburgh, PA is one of my top 5 donut shops in the US! They just have so many fun, unique toppings. And the best part is, because they’re so little, you can eat a whole bunch!

  • Wonder Coffee-Nestled among the grain silos on the Buffalo waterfront, Wonder Coffee is an adorable coffee shop with lots of yummy pastries and a great atmosphere! It’s the perfect place to stop for a pick me up if you’re out on an early morning walk/bike ride.

Chain Restaurants to try in Buffalo

I know some people find it an anathema to eat at a chain restaurant on vacation, but A) If you don’t have said chain near you, it’s fair to check it out when you’re visiting an area famous for said chain. And B) Sometimes you just want an easy coffee or sandwich.

  • Tim Hortons-The famous Canadian coffee chain is very prominent in Western NY. So if you need a quick pick me up, or you want to see what all the hype is about, don’t hesitate to stop at a Tim Hortons. Or if you just need free Wi-Fi. Or that.

  • Wegmans-Wegmans is always a great place to eat, especially if you don’t have Wegmans where you live. Or… if it’s 2021 and no one’s working, it’s a holiday weekend, and every restaurant is closed or about to close by the time you get there. Or that.

Day Trips from Buffalo

There are SO many great day trips from Buffalo, NY! Or, you can spend a week exploring the best of western NY on this amazing road trip from Buffalo.


Downtown Niagara on the Lake

Remember that at Niagara Falls (which is technically a day trip from Buffalo), you can walk across the border into Canada? So make sure you bring your passport with you to Buffalo, NY so you can explore all the fun things to do nearby in Canada.

Here are some easy spots in Canada to day trip from Buffalo to:

  • Niagara on the Lake-The prettiest town in Canada. It’s super adorable with lots of fun shops, restaurants and wineries. It’s about a 45 min. to an hour drive to Niagara on the Lake from Buffalo.

  • Toronto-Toronto is the largest city in Canada! It’s basically the NYC of Canada. And it’s super close to Buffalo! Just an hour and a half (to 2 hours, depending on traffic…) drive will bring you to the city, where you can explore a castle, visit a ton of museums, take in views from the CN Tower, and eat SO. MUCH. FOOD.

  • Unionville-This small town suburb of Toronto is probably not going to be on everyone’s bucket list… unless you love Gilmore Girls (which you should!). Because this adorable small town is where they actually shot the pilot episode of Gilmore Girls, before they moved to the California studio. It is just past the main city of Toronto, an easy day trip from Buffalo.

The National Comedy Center

The National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY is one of the best day trips from Buffalo! This highly interactive museum was voted the best new attraction in the country in 2020.

You can also get a combo ticket with it to visit the Lucy-Desi Museum in Jamestown, NY, the birthplace of Lucille Ball. Jamestown is an easy hour and a half drive from Buffalo, and there are so many other great things to do there besides just the Comedy Center!

Rochester, NY

The third biggest city in New York State behind Buffalo is nearby Rochester, NY. There are so many unique things to do in Rochester, like visiting the Strong Museum of Play, eating a garbage plate, seeing a castle, and exploring George Eastman’s mansion (it seriously looks like they designed the game Clue after his house).

It’s just a one hour drive east on I-90 to day trip from Buffalo to Rochester.

Letchworth State Park

Niagara Falls might be the most well-known state park in New York, but Letchworth State Park has been voted the number one state park in the country (and it really deserves it!).

You have to make the one hour drive to Letchworth State Park (Castile entrance) and experience its magic for yourself while you’re in Buffalo, NY.

Where to Stay in Buffalo

There are quite a few great places to stay in Buffalo, although most of my stays have either been on my friend’s couch or at the hotels with the free airport shuttles…

BUT, I have found the best places to stay in Buffalo, and am listing them here so you can stay somewhere cooler than just across the street from the airport!

Buffalo Marriott Harborcenter

This would be my first choice of where to stay in Buffalo. Just across from Canalside in downtown, and within walking distance of many great restaurants and activities is the Buffalo Marriott Harborcenter. It is a great location to base yourself in for exploring the city of Buffalo.

Hotel at the Lafayette

The historic Hotel at the Lafayette is a convenient downtown hotel that was designed in 1904 by the first professional female architect in America: Louise Blanchard Bethune.

The Richardson Hotel

Located on the grounds of the Richardson Olmsted Campus, one of Buffalo’s many note-worthy architectural sites, is the newly opened Richardson Hotel. History, beauty, and not to mention, a great location within walking distance of the AKG Museum and Deleware Park, this is one of the best places to stay in Buffalo.

InnBuffalo off Elmwood

In the beautiful Elmwood Village, and close to local shopping on Elmwood Ave. is the InnBuffalo. This beautiful and historic inn is locally owned, and one of the most unique places to stay in Buffalo.

Red Coach Inn

If you want to stay close to Niagara Falls, the Red Coach Inn is the famous Niagara Falls hotel, and also the location (or intended location) of Jim & Pam’s wedding on The Office.

What to Watch Before Visiting Buffalo

Buffalo (and especially Niagara Falls) has had their share of movies filmed here. Here are some of the movies to watch (and even a book to read!) to get you excited about visiting Buffalo, NY:


This new 2024 movie was shot mostly in Buffalo, and tells the true story of a sickly Italian nun who fought for the rights of Italian immigrants and orphans in the late 19th century. The cinematography of the film is absolutely beautiful!

The Office

Season 6, eps. 4&5

That episode(s) of The Office where Jim & Pam (#spoiler) get married at Niagara Falls!

Bruce Almighty

The classic Jim Carrey comedy (though not filmed in) takes place in Buffalo, with a memorable scene at nearby Niagara Falls.

The Four Falls of Buffalo

This documentary shares plenty of shots of Buffalo & Niagara Falls while focusing on the story of the Bills’ four Superbowl appearances. And if you’re anything like me, you will probably cry your way through it…


Although it takes place in Connecticut, this beautiful movie starring the late Chadwick Boseman as Thurgood Marshall was filmed in Buffalo and the surrounding areas. You can easily recognize the iconic Buffalo City Hall in the film.

It is also significant to western NY since one of the judges who eventually joined in the unanimous ruling for Marshall in Brown v. Board was from nearby Jamestown, NY.

A Quiet Place II

I’ll admit, I have never seen (nor plan to see) John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place series… But if you’re into suspenseful movies (I prefer singing princesses and animal sidekicks), these movies are highly acclaimed. And they’re filmed in western NY, with A Quite Place II especially filming in the Buffalo area.

Hallmark Christmas movies

As mentioned above, quite a few Hallmark Christmas movies have been filmed in the cute little town of East Aurora, NY. Viddler’s 5&10 keeps a list of all the Christmas movies filmed in East Aurora.

Mystic Pizza

Now this one might throw you off… but one of the boats that was seen in the Mystic harbor in Mystic Pizza is actually used by Lockport Lockes to sail on the Erie Canal! So go ahead and watch this movie too, before you come to Buffalo, NY.

I Love Lucy (and other Lucy movies)

If you’re going to head down to Jamestown for a day trip to the National Comedy Center and the Lucy-Desi Museum, be sure to watch at least a couple episodes of one of the all time best TV shows in America before you visit Lucy’s hometown.

Read-City of My Heart

Finally, I have a book recommendation for you. Before you visit Buffalo, grow to love the city with this book by local historian Mark Goldman, City of My Heart.

You can also check out his earlier book about the history of Buffalo, City on the Edge.

Any more questions?

If you have any more questions about things to do in Buffalo or the western NY area, don’t hesitate to email me or comment below.

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