Trying to find great activities and attractions in the Queen City? Our guide to the best things to do in Buffalo, New York is all you need to plan the perfect trip!
Buffalo, New York, located on the eastern shores of Lake Erie, is a city with a rich history, a vibrant cultural scene, and a resilient spirit.
Known for its iconic architecture, including works by Frank Lloyd Wright, and as the birthplace of the famous Buffalo Wings, this New York city has experienced a revitalization in recent years.
Home to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo Zoo, and Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, the city offers a blend of cultural attractions, military history, world-class museums, and outdoor spaces.
Buffalo embraces its industrial heritage while transforming with new developments, trendy neighborhoods like Elmwood Village, and a thriving waterfront.
There is so much to do when you explore Buffalo, New York! Here is our list of the best attractions and activities so you can make the most of your time in Buffalo.
Table of Contents
- 18 Best Things To Do In Buffalo, New York
- 1. Tour the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
- 2. Explore the magnificent Buffalo City Hall
- 3. Escape to nature at the beautiful Glen Falls
- 4. Dive into the past at the Buffalo History Museum
- 5. See the animals at the Buffalo Zoo
- 6. Visit the iconic Niagara Falls State Park
- 7. Explore the artsy and quirky Elmwood Village
- 8. Stroll around Buffalo Lighthouse Park
- 9. Sightsee and learn at the same time with a Buffalo River History Tour
- 10. Admire the works at Albright Knox Art Gallery
- 11. Feast at the local New York food trucks
- 12. Engage with the natural world at the Buffalo Museum of Science
- 13. Tour Niagara Wine Country
- 14. Visit Buffalo Harbor State Park
- 15. Tour the architectural masterpieces of Frank Lloyd Wright
- 16. Wander around Delaware Park
- 17. Check out the Burchfield Penney Art Center
- 18. Tour Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park
- Where to Stay in Buffalo, New York
18 Best Things To Do In Buffalo, New York
From seeing artifacts like the USS Little Rock at Buffalo Naval Park, to tasting Buffalo wings at a local food truck, here are some of the best things to do in Buffalo, NY!
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1. Tour the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, located in South Park, Buffalo, is a captivating horticultural gem that enchants visitors with its diverse plant collections and stunning architecture.
The beloved Buffalo Botanical Gardens span 11.4 acres and feature a series of interconnected greenhouses and outdoor gardens that showcase a wide array of plant species from around the world.
The landmark Victorian-style glass conservatory, designed by Lord & Burnham, is a testament to architectural elegance and provides a unique setting for the flourishing botanical wonders within.
Visitors to the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens can embark on a journey through themed gardens that include tropical rainforests, desert landscapes, and herb gardens.
The Palm Dome, a highlight of the conservatory, boasts towering palm trees and lush foliage that transport guests to a tropical paradise.
Educational programs, workshops, and seasonal exhibits further enhance the visitor experience, making the gardens a hub for nature enthusiasts. With its rich history, architectural beauty, and vibrant plant collections, the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens are a highlight of the city.
2. Explore the magnificent Buffalo City Hall
Buffalo City Hall is an iconic Art Deco masterpiece in the heart of downtown Buffalo, NY. Completed in 1931, this architectural gem was designed by John Wade and George Dietel, reflecting the optimism and grandeur of the era.
The building’s towering structure, reaching a height of 398 feet, makes it the third tallest city hall in the United States. Its intricate details, including geometric patterns, intricate carvings, and a prominent central tower, contribute to the building’s visual appeal and showcase the craftsmanship of a bygone era.
The interior of Buffalo City Hall is equally impressive, featuring an Art Deco aesthetic with polished marble, decorative metalwork, and ornate fixtures. The Common Council Chamber, with its stunning stained glass dome and detailed murals depicting the city’s history, is a particular highlight.
Visitors to Buffalo City Hall can take guided tours to explore its architectural wonders and learn about the city’s history.
The observation deck on the 28th floor offers panoramic views of Buffalo and Lake Erie, providing a unique vantage point to appreciate the city’s landscape.
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3. Escape to nature at the beautiful Glen Falls
Glen Falls is a small but beautiful waterfall in Williamsville, a suburb of Buffalo, NY. The falls are part of Ellicott Creek, and their cascading waters create a tranquil oasis amid the suburban landscape.
Surrounded by lush greenery, Glen Falls offers a peaceful escape from the bustle of city life. A series of walking trails wind through the scenic area where you can stretch your legs and enjoy the fresh air.
Glen Falls holds historical significance as well, with the area once serving as a mill site in the 19th century. The remnants of the mill’s foundation add an extra layer of interest to the natural setting, blending the elements of history and nature seamlessly.
Whether visitors are looking to take a leisurely stroll, have a picnic by the creek, or simply unwind in a tranquil setting, Glen Falls offers a charming and accessible escape, showcasing the natural beauty that enriches the Buffalo area.
4. Dive into the past at the Buffalo History Museum
If you’re a history buff, definitely consider visiting the Buffalo History Museum! Established in 1862, this is one of the oldest history museums in the country and has played a pivotal role in preserving and showcasing the cultural heritage of Western New York.
The Buffalo History Museum is housed in a grand neoclassical building in Buffalo’s historic Elmwood Village neighborhood, which itself is a testament to the city’s architectural legacy.
The extensive collections within the museum span centuries, featuring artifacts, documents, and exhibits that highlight key moments in Buffalo’s development, from its early days as a frontier outpost to its rise as an industrial powerhouse.
Visitors to the Buffalo History Museum can explore a wide range of exhibits that delve into the city’s past, including displays on Native American history, the Erie Canal, industrialization, and the Pan-American Exposition of 1901.
With its commitment to preserving and sharing the stories that have shaped the city, the Buffalo History Museum is the perfect place to connect with the past and gain insights into the vibrant history of Western New York.
5. See the animals at the Buffalo Zoo
Animal lovers and families will have a blast at the Buffalo Zoo, located in Delaware Park. As the third oldest zoo in the United States, the Buffalo Zoo has a rich history and a strong commitment to wildlife conservation, education, and community engagement.
The zoo covers 23.5 acres and is home to over 1,200 animals representing a diverse array of species from around the globe. It provides a unique opportunity for visitors to connect with wildlife, fostering an appreciation for the natural world and the importance of conservation efforts.
One of the key attractions at the Buffalo Zoo is the Arctic Edge exhibit, which features polar bears, sea lions, and other Arctic species in a state-of-the-art habitat designed to mimic their natural environment.
The Rainforest Falls exhibit, on the other hand, immerses visitors in a lush tropical setting, complete with waterfalls and exotic plant life, showcasing animals such as monkeys, reptiles, and birds.
The zoo also actively participates in conservation initiatives, research programs, and educational outreach, making it not only a place of entertainment but also a hub for promoting environmental awareness and the welfare of wildlife. With its dedication to both recreation and education, the Buffalo Zoo continues to be a cherished institution in the Buffalo community and beyond.
6. Visit the iconic Niagara Falls State Park
Visiting Niagara Falls State Park from Buffalo, NY, is an awe-inspiring experience that allows travelers to witness the breathtaking beauty of one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders.
Located just a short drive north of Buffalo, Niagara Falls State Park encompasses the American side of Niagara Falls, offering a range of viewpoints and attractions to explore.
The park provides stunning panoramic vistas of the three majestic waterfalls formed by the Niagara River – the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. Visitors can take a stroll along the park’s well-maintained pathways, taking in the thunderous roar of the falls and feeling the mist on their faces as they approach the observation points.
One of the highlights of Niagara Falls is the iconic Maid of the Mist boat tour, which takes visitors on a thrilling journey close to the base of the falls, providing a unique perspective and a memorable experience.
Additionally, the Cave of the Winds tour allows adventurous guests to get even closer to the falls by descending a series of wooden walkways to feel the power of the cascading water. You can combine all of these attractions into one epic full-day guided tour of Niagara Falls!
With its stunning natural beauty, myriad attractions, and easy accessibility from Buffalo, New York, a day trip to Niagara Falls State Park is a must for those seeking a memorable and immersive encounter with this awe-inspiring natural wonder.
7. Explore the artsy and quirky Elmwood Village
Elmwood Village, located in downtown Buffalo, NY, is a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood known for its unique character, historic charm, and diverse community.
Stretching along Elmwood Avenue, this trendy district is lined with tree-lined streets, historic homes, and a mix of locally-owned shops, boutiques, and restaurants. The neighborhood is a hub for creativity and culture, with numerous art galleries, performance spaces, and cultural institutions contributing to its lively atmosphere.
Elmwood Village is not only a shopping and dining destination but also a center for community events and gatherings. Residents and visitors alike can enjoy the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers Market, showcasing local produce and crafts, as well as various festivals and street fairs throughout the year.
The neighborhood’s architectural diversity, ranging from Victorian-era homes to modern apartments, adds to its appeal. Elmwood Village draws people from all walks of life to explore its unique offerings and immerse themselves in Buffalo’s urban landscape.
8. Stroll around Buffalo Lighthouse Park
Buffalo Lighthouse Park is a scenic destination situated at the convergence of Lake Erie and the Buffalo River. At the heart of the park stands the Buffalo Main Light, a majestic lighthouse that has guided ships through the turbulent waters of Lake Erie since 1833.
The lighthouse, with its iconic red roof and classic design, has become a historic site and symbol of Buffalo’s maritime heritage. The park surrounding the lighthouse is also a beautiful spot for relaxing outside and taking in the views.
Visitors here can explore the Buffalo Lighthouse Museum, housed within the keeper’s dwelling, to delve into the maritime history of the region. The museum showcases artifacts, exhibits, and stories that illuminate the role of the lighthouse and the vital maritime activities that shaped Buffalo’s growth as a port city.
Buffalo Lighthouse Park, with its blend of natural beauty and historical significance, showcases Buffalo’s maritime heritage and provides a unique waterfront experience for all who visit.
9. Sightsee and learn at the same time with a Buffalo River History Tour
Embarking on a Buffalo River History Tour offers a captivating journey through the rich maritime heritage and industrial history of Buffalo, NY. These guided boat tours navigate the waters of the Buffalo River and the Erie Canal, providing passengers with a unique perspective on the city’s development and transformation over the centuries.
Knowledgeable guides share fascinating anecdotes and historical insights, recounting stories of the Erie Canal’s construction, the bustling waterfront industries, and the pivotal role Buffalo played in the transportation network linking the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.
Anyone looking for a fun way to sightsee combined with unique knowledge of the city’s history should spend the afternoon with Buffalo River History Tours!
Read next: 19 Best Things To Do In Niagara Falls
10. Admire the works at Albright Knox Art Gallery
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is known for its impressive collection of contemporary and modern art. Established in 1862, the gallery has evolved into a world-class destination for art enthusiasts.
The museum’s collection spans a wide range of artistic movements, from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art and beyond, featuring works by iconic artists such as Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Vincent van Gogh, and Pablo Picasso.
The gallery’s commitment to showcasing innovative and boundary-pushing art has established it as a dynamic hub for cultural engagement and education in the Buffalo community.
The Albright-Knox Art Gallery is not only distinguished by its remarkable collection but also by its architecturally significant building.
The original neoclassical structure, designed by E.B. Green and constructed in 1905, has been expanded and renovated over the years. The recent addition of the AK360 expansion, designed by the renowned architecture firm OMA, further enhances the gallery’s capacity to host diverse exhibitions and programs.
With its combination of historical and contemporary elements, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery continues to be a cultural beacon, inviting visitors to explore the ever-evolving world of modern and contemporary art in the heart of Buffalo.
11. Feast at the local New York food trucks
Buffalo, New York, has embraced the culinary trend of food trucks, creating a vibrant and diverse scene that caters to a variety of tastes. From the savory aroma of Buffalo wings to gourmet tacos and inventive fusion dishes, the city’s food trucks bring a mobile feast to residents and visitors alike.
Larkin Square, in particular, has become a hotspot for food truck gatherings, hosting weekly events that showcase a rotating selection of trucks offering everything from artisanal pizzas to international street food. The variety of cuisines and the creative twists on traditional favorites make Buffalo’s food truck scene a dynamic culinary adventure.
Whether parked near popular attractions, office districts, or special events, Buffalo’s food trucks offer a delicious and on-the-go way to experience the city’s evolving culinary landscape. From iconic Buffalo fare to globally inspired dishes, the food truck scene adds a flavorful and mobile dimension to Buffalo’s dining options.
12. Engage with the natural world at the Buffalo Museum of Science
The Buffalo Museum of Science is dedicated to exploring and celebrating the wonders of science and natural history. Established in 1929, the museum has evolved into a hub of educational engagement, inspiring curiosity and discovery for visitors of all ages.
The museum’s exhibits cover a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines, ranging from astronomy and paleontology to physics and anthropology.
Notable attractions include the Kellogg Observatory, which offers breathtaking views of the cosmos through its telescopes, and the interactive Bug Works exhibit, where visitors can explore the fascinating world of insects up close.
Beyond its captivating exhibits, the Buffalo Museum of Science is committed to providing educational programs and outreach initiatives to the community. The Explore More Discovery Center is a hands-on space designed for children to engage with scientific concepts through interactive displays and experiments.
Anyone interested in the wonders of science and the natural world should consider a visit to the fascinating Buffalo Museum of Science!
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13. Tour Niagara Wine Country
Another one of the best things to do in the area is take a day trip to Niagara’s wine country. Embarking on a day trip from Buffalo, NY, to explore Niagara’s wine country is a delightful journey through picturesque landscapes and award-winning vineyards.
Just a short drive from Buffalo, the Niagara Wine Trail spans the scenic countryside of Niagara County in the USA and Canada, showcasing a diverse array of wineries and vineyards.
Visitors can savor a variety of wines, from crisp whites to robust reds, produced from the region’s fertile soil and unique microclimate influenced by the nearby Niagara Falls. With numerous wineries dotting the trail, each offers a distinct atmosphere, making the experience a rich tapestry of flavors and scenic beauty.
Many wineries feature tasting rooms with expansive views of vineyards, orchards, and even glimpses of Lake Ontario. Visitors can also enjoy locally sourced cheese and snacks that complement the wine-tasting experience. The leisurely pace of a day trip allows for exploration of quaint towns like Lewiston and Youngstown along the way, adding cultural and historic elements to the overall adventure.
14. Visit Buffalo Harbor State Park
Buffalo Harbor State Park, situated along the shores of Lake Erie and the Buffalo River, is a waterfront oasis offering a blend of recreational activities and scenic beauty.
The park features a marina with slips for boats, kayak launches, and fishing areas, so there are lots of fun things to do here.
The Buffalo Harbor State Park Observation Tower, rising 60 feet above the ground, provides panoramic views of Lake Erie, the Buffalo skyline, and the surrounding landscapes.
Buffalo Harbor State Park boasts open green spaces, picnic areas, and a network of trails for walking and cycling. The park’s events and programming, including outdoor concerts and live music festivals, contribute to its lively atmosphere and make it a community hub throughout the year.
The park’s strategic location, nestled within Buffalo’s inner harbor, adds to its appeal as a gateway to the city’s rich history and ongoing revitalization efforts.
15. Tour the architectural masterpieces of Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpieces, the Martin House Complex and Graycliff Estate stand as testaments to his innovative and influential design principles. Both are easily accessible from downtown Buffalo, New York!
The Darwin D. Martin House Complex, located in the historic Parkside neighborhood of Buffalo, is a prime example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School style. Constructed between 1903 and 1905, the complex includes the main Martin House, a pergola, a conservatory, a carriage house, and other interconnected structures.
Visitors to the Martin House Complex can explore the meticulously restored interiors, which feature Wright’s signature leaded glass windows, intricate art glass, and innovative design elements that redefine the concept of a home.
A short drive from Buffalo, Graycliff Estate, built between 1926 and 1931 for the Martin family, extends Wright’s architectural legacy along the shores of Lake Erie. The Graycliff estate, perched on a bluff overlooking the lake, exhibits Wright’s design principles in the context of a more intimate residence.
Both the Martin House Complex and Graycliff Estate offer an immersive experience of the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright, allowing visitors to appreciate his groundbreaking ideas and enduring influence on modern architecture.
16. Wander around Delaware Park
Delaware Park is a cherished green space that offers a myriad of recreational opportunities and natural beauty in Buffalo, NY. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the renowned landscape architects responsible for New York City’s Central Park, Delaware Park was completed in the late 19th century and is a prominent feature of Buffalo’s Olmsted Parks system.
The park spans 376 acres and includes a picturesque lake, meandering walking and biking trails, sports fields, and beautifully landscaped gardens. The Buffalo Zoo and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery are also located within the park, providing a diverse range of cultural and recreational experiences for visitors.
The park’s centerpiece is Hoyt Lake, a serene body of water bordered by willow-lined shores, walking paths, and historic bridges. The iconic Delaware Park Lake Casino, a neoclassical building on the lake’s edge, adds to the park’s charm.
Forest Lawn Cemetery is a historic site in the park known for its beautifully landscaped grounds, grand mausoleums, and the final resting places of notable individuals, including President Millard Fillmore and musician Rick James.
From Forest Lawn Cemetery to the various museums and walking trails, this beautiful park is full of fun things to do!
17. Check out the Burchfield Penney Art Center
Another one of the best things to do in Buffalo, NY for art lovers is visit the Burchfield Penney Art Center. Located on the campus of Buffalo State College, this cultural gem is dedicated to the legacy of visionary American watercolorist Charles E. Burchfield and the promotion of contemporary art from the region.
The center is home to an extensive collection of Burchfield’s works, spanning his career from the early 20th century to his later years. The collection includes not only watercolors but also sketches, journals, and archival materials, providing insight into Burchfield’s artistic process and the evolution of his distinctive style.
The striking architecture of the building, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, complements the surrounding landscape, providing a visually compelling backdrop for the exploration of art.
With its commitment to preserving the legacy of Charles E. Burchfield and championing the contemporary art scene, the Burchfield Penney Art Center stands as a vital cultural institution that enriches the artistic landscape of Buffalo and beyond.
The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, situated along the Buffalo River, stands as a living tribute to the nation’s maritime and military history.
The historic site is home to an impressive collection of military artifacts, including decommissioned naval vessels, aircraft, and exhibits that honor the sacrifices and achievements of the U.S. Armed Forces. The centerpiece of the park is the USS Little Rock, a Cleveland-class cruiser that served in the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1976.
Visitors can explore the decks, compartments, and weaponry of the ship, gaining a firsthand understanding of life on board a naval vessel. The park also features the USS The Sullivans, a Fletcher-class destroyer named after the five Sullivan brothers who lost their lives during World War II, and the USS Croaker, a World War II-era submarine, providing a comprehensive look at the nation’s naval history.
In addition to the historic vessels, the Buffalo Naval Park showcases an extensive collection of military aircraft, tanks, and other artifacts.
The park’s exhibits highlight the contributions of Western New Yorkers in various conflicts and wars, from the Civil War to the present day. The park’s commitment to education is evident through guided tours, educational programs, and special events that provide visitors with a deeper appreciation for the bravery and sacrifice of those who have served in the military.
The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park is a fascinating place to visit! Just note that it’s only open seasonally, so you can check the website to see when it’s open next!
Where to Stay in Buffalo, New York
Buffalo residents and tourists alike will never tire of all these amazing things to do in Buffalo, NY. But you’ll need somewhere to stay during your time in this glorious corner of New York.
Here are our top recommendations for where to stay in Buffalo, NY. There are options to suit all types of travel budgets!
Best Luxury Accommodation in Buffalo, NY – Embassy Suites
Embassy Suites right in the heart of downtown Buffalo New York offer the ultimate luxury experience. With beautifully styled interiors that are spacious and lined with windows, you’ll get to enjoy an opulent atmosphere during your stay.
The hotel also offers all the amenities you might need, including free hot breakfast, air-conditioned/heated rooms, a swimming pool and fitness center, and even a convenience store on-site.
Best Mid-Range Accommodation in Buffalo, NY – The Delavan Hotel
Treat yourself to a lovely stay without breaking the bank at the Delavan Hotel. With its convenient location, attention to detail, and commitment to providing an exceptional guest experience, the Delavan Hotel embodies the essence of refined hospitality in this historic city.
Make use of the top-notch amenities and excellent service at this sophisticated hotel, and do it all on a mid-range budget!
Best Budget Accommodation in Buffalo, NY – Baymont by Wyndham Buffalo
If you’re trying to save money in New York, look no further than the Baymont by Wyndham Buffalo. This affordable hotel offers basic but comfy rooms that are perfect for budget travelers. Baymont by Wyndham features a fitness center, air-conditioning, free parking, free wifi, and even pet-friendly policies to ensure a pleasant stay for travelers.
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