Buffalo, the second-largest city in the state of New York, is no bull when it comes to offering an incredible bucket list of experiences. From spicy wings that will make your tongue tingle to the nearby natural wonder of Niagara Falls, the city will surely draw you in with its charm.
It’s time to unleash your inner adventurer and embark on a stampede of fun in Nickel City with our handpicked list of things to do in Buffalo, packed with fun attractions and unforgettable experiences that will make your visit truly remarkable.
Fun Attractions, Activities and Things to do in Buffalo, New York
1. Eat Chicken Wings
Buffalo wings are not just one of the city’s pride and joy, but it is also the most famous wing city in America. And what better way to get a bite of this sauced-up chicken perfection than at the place where the dish is born, Anchor Bar? Since 1964, Anchor Bar has served ‘the best wings in the world’ with their signature secret recipe that continues to win the hearts (and stomachs) of people across the globe.
But, don’t take their word for it, do your own research to find you favorite place for wingy goodness. You can follow the Buffalo Wing Trail and go chicken wing hopping to one of 14 of Buffalo’s best chicken wing joints, each with its own unique recipe (my favorite…so far..was Bar-Bill, highly recommended!)
2. Celebrate Dyngus Day
Dyngus Day is a Polish tradition celebrated on the Monday after Easter, where (traditionally) boys splash water on the single girls they like, and tap them with pussy willow branches.
In Buffalo, they started celebrating this popular holiday during the 1960s as a way to honor the Polish culture and heritage of its large Polish-American community (which is why the city is also known as the Dyngus Day capital of America.)
The Dyngus Day celebrations in Buffalo typically involve different events and activities, such as parades, live music, eating/drinking traditional Polish food and drink (like krupnik), wearing red and white colors, and, of course, water fights. And best of all, everybody (including you) can join in on the fun.
3. See the Plants at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens is a historic botanical garden located within Buffalo’s South Park, and features a collection of over a thousand plant species, including tropical and subtropical plants, cacti and succulents, and a large collection of orchids. The gardens also feature several greenhouses and conservatories, including a Victorian-style tri-domed glass house modeled after the famous Crystal Palace in London.
*My dad used to take me here when I was a kid and it’s beautiful!
4. Explore the Buffalo Museum of Science
The Buffalo Museum of Science is a captivating destination at Martin Luther Jr. Park that melds education and wonder. They’ve got over 700,000 artifacts and a bunch of different exhibits covering all sorts of stuff, from natural history to nano technology to anthropology and so much more, so there’s always something for everyone.
They’ve got interactive displays and hands-on activities too, which make the whole experience even more exciting. You can head to the planetarium and get lost in the wonders of outer space, unravel the mysteries of the human body, or even marvel at dinosaur fossils from a million years ago. Whichever way you go, you’re surely in for a world of discovery.
5. Go to Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park
Located along the banks of Buffalo River, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park is a must-visit spot if you’re into history and military artifacts, and boasts some seriously impressive displays.
You can explore a variety of historic naval vessels, including a World War II-era destroyer, a submarine, and even a cruiser. It’s like stepping back in time and getting a glimpse into the life of sailors and soldiers.
6. Stop by the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site
Fancy going on a journey through an important chapter in American history? Go on and take a step back in time at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site. The house on the site, the Ansley Wilcox House, is the actual place where Theodore ‘Teddy’ Roosevelt took the oath of office after the assassination of President William McKinley.
Inside, the beautifully restored rooms and exhibits transport you back to the early 1900s, immersing you in the political and social atmosphere of the time. From the ornate Victorian decor to the artifacts and personal belongings of the Roosevelts, you’ll get a firsthand glimpse into the life and legacy of this remarkable leader.
7. Tailgate at a Buffalo Bills game
Whether you’re a huge American football fan or a casual watcher, there’s no denying the infectious vibe a good game can bring. Here in Buffalo, experience the exhilarating tradition of tailgating at a Buffalo Bills game, where pre-game festivities take on a life of their own.
Join passionate fans in the parking lots surrounding the stadium for a lively celebration of football, food, and camaraderie. Expect a sea of grills, the aroma of mouthwatering barbecue, and a vibrant party atmosphere. As an unofficial currency, beer flows freely, fostering a sense of community and camaraderie among fans.
8. Tour The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum
Get ready to be transported to a bygone era of style, sophistication, and automotive innovation! The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum at the heart of downtown Buffalo is a treasure trove for car enthusiasts, featuring an exquisite collection of meticulously restored Pierce-Arrow vehicles and other vintage automobiles, bikes, and motorcycles.
Other highlights in the museum include a life-sized replica of a two-story, 1,600-foot gas station based on Frank Lloyd Wright’s blueprints and a section dedicated to women drivers at the time.
9. Ride a Water Bike
Riding a water bike is probably one of the most unique things to do in Buffalo, NY, especially if you’re looking for a different way to explore the city’s waters. Take in the views at your own pace as you pedal along the water’s surface aboard your water bike or kayak.
If you head over to the Canalside, you’ll find plenty of places to rent water bikes (and other boats and equipment), such as the Water Bikes of Buffalo and Water Bike Adventures. Paddle boats are also available for the kiddies (and adults,) making for a thrilling aquatic escapade everyone will enjoy.
10. Eat Beef on Weck
Aside from traditional Buffalo wings, the city of Buffalo is also known for another classic: beef on weck. Beef on weck is a sandwich that has thinly sliced roast beef served on a kummelweck roll (hence the ‘weck’ in the name), which is a roll topped with caraway seeds and coarse salt. The sandwich is typically served with horseradish sauce and au jus for dipping.
While the sandwich’s origins are up for debate, it is commonly attributed to a German immigrant population in Buffalo during the 19th century. Here are some of the best beef on weck in the city:
- Swan Street Diner: offers a classic beef on weck sandwich with slow-roasted beef and a homemade kummelweck roll.
- Schwabls: renowned for their juicy, tender beef on weck featuring hand-carved roast beef and freshly baked kummelweck rolls.
- Charlie the Butcher: a beloved establishment known for their signature beef on weck, showcasing thinly sliced slow-cooked beef and a flavorful salted caraway-seed bun.
- Eckls: a local favorite, serving up a delicious beef on weck with succulent roast beef and a soft, salted kimmelweck roll.
11. See the Buffalo Lighthouse
Buffalo Lighthouse (or Buffalo Main Light) is a historic lighthouse located near the mouth of the Buffalo River, where it meets Lake Erie. It was built in 1833 as a guiding beacon for ships entering Buffalo Harbor from the lake. The lighthouse stands at 60 feet tall, and features a distinctive octagonal shape and a white tower.
Although they don’t have a fixed schedule, they are usually open for tours between May and October (every Saturday and Sunday.) You might even get the chance to climb it! They also post regular updates on the Facebook page about their schedules and stuff, so be sure to check there first if you’re planning to visit.
12. Hike to the Eternal Flames Waterfall
The Eternal Flame Waterfall is located in Chestnut Ridge Park at Shale Creek Preserve, just south of Buffalo. What’s unique about this waterfall is the constant flame burning behind the small cascade of falling water, which is where it got its name. The ‘eternal flame’ is fueled by natural gas seeping through the rock, creating a mesmerizing sight and a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts.
P.S.: The 2.3 km hike to the falls is moderately challenging (takes around 33 minutes to complete.) Be sure to wear proper hiking shoes, as the trail is mostly muddy and slippery.
13. Check out the Animals at the Buffalo Zoo
Founded in 1875, the 23.5-acre Buffalo Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. It is located in the city’s Delaware Park, and is home to a diverse collection of animals from around the globe, from American bison to princess parrots to red pandas and many more.
The zoo focuses on conservation efforts and education, providing visitors with the opportunity to observe and learn about various species. It offers a range of exhibits, including the Rainforest Falls, Arctic Edge, and the Vanishing Animals exhibit, making it one of the best attractions for families and wildlife enthusiasts.
14. Explore the Churches
Embark on a captivating journey through the rich spiritual heritage of Buffalo as you explore the diverse and stunning array of churches in the area. Among the notable gems is the awe-inspiring Basilica in Lackawanna, a breathtaking architectural masterpiece that stands as a testament to the city’s Catholic heritage. Its grand domes, intricate mosaics, and ornate details inspire a sense of reverence and awe.
Another must-visit is St. Joseph’s Cathedral, a majestic landmark that serves as the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. With its towering spires and magnificent interior, the cathedral showcases remarkable Gothic Revival design, welcoming visitors to embrace both its spiritual significance and architectural splendor.
These two churches are just a glimpse into the abundance of religious landmarks that grace Buffalo. From historic churches adorned with exquisite stained glass to charming neighborhood chapels, the city boasts an impressive number of places of worship. Each church carries its own unique history, cultural significance, and architectural beauty, providing a diverse tapestry of faith for visitors to explore.
15. Ride the Buffalo Heritage Carousel
The Buffalo Heritage Carousel is a vintage attraction found along the shores of the Buffalo River near the Canalside. This beautifully restored carousel features three rows of hand-carved and hand-painted animals representing iconic Buffalo landmarks and historical figures. What also makes it one-of-a-kind is that it runs on solar power (courtesy of Tesla), which aligns with the city’s dedication to sustainable practices.
16. Shop at Vidlers
For some, a visit to a new place like Buffalo is never complete without some shopping therapy. Enter Vidler’s 5 & 10, a family-owned five-and-dime store that has been a cherished destination since its establishment in 1930.
It is also widely recognized as one of the largest five-and-dime stores in the United States, with two floors of old-fashioned charm filled with over 75,000 items ranging from nostalgic toys and classic candies to kitchen gadgets and unique novelties. Truly a treasure trove that appeals to shoppers of all ages!
17. Have fun at Canalside
The Canalside is a vibrant waterfront destination that has become the heart of the city’s activities. Situated along the historic Erie Canal, Canalside offers a dynamic mix of entertainment, recreation, and cultural experiences.
Come and enjoy a wide range of activities here, including concerts, festivals, outdoor fitness classes, ice skating in the winter, and water sports during the warmer months. The bustling atmosphere, picturesque views, and diverse programming make Canalside a hub of excitement for both locals and tourists alike.
18. Visit Longshed Maritime Center
Dive into Buffalo’s nautical legacy and set sail on an immersive journey at the Longshed Maritime Center. This remarkable two-story wooden facility at the Canalside is like a time machine for boat enthusiasts, where you can learn about the craftsmanship and history of the city’s boat building.
And the best part? You’ll also get the chance to witness skilled craftsmen use traditional methods to work on a full-sized replica of the Erie Canal Boat called ‘Seneca Chief,’ which is expected to be completed around the bicentennial celebration of the Erie Canal in 2025.
19. Explore Silo City
Have you ever dreamed of exploring a mesmerizing industrial wonderland? Welcome to Silo City in Buffalo, New York! This trendy destination is a sanctuary for urban explorers and art enthusiasts alike, offering a glimpse of the city’s industrial past. Wander through the labyrinthine corridors and towering grain silos, where art installations and cultural events breathe life into these magnificent structures, or see the native plant nursery where the city meets nature.
And when you’ve worked up an appetite from your explorations, make sure to quench your thirst at Duende, a unique watering hole nestled within Silo City. Sip on handcrafted cocktails and soak in the rustic ambiance, surrounded by the echoes of Buffalo’s industrial legacy.
20. Explore the African American Heritage Corridor
Discover the vibrant tapestry of African American history in Buffalo, New York, along the African American Heritage Corridor at Michigan Avenue. This cultural journey takes you through four cultural ‘anchors’ that have shaped the city’s diverse heritage.
Start by visiting the Historic Colored Musicians Club & Jazz Museum, where the spirit of jazz and the legacy of African American musicians come alive.
Continue your exploration at the iconic Michigan Street Baptist Church, a historic beacon of faith and activism that played a pivotal role in the Underground Railroad and the civil rights movement.
Don’t miss the Nash House Museum, a testament to the remarkable life of Rev. Edward Nash, a prominent leader in the city’s African American community.
And last but not least, tune in to the empowering voices and stories of local African American leaders and trailblazers at the WUFO Radio Station and the Black History Collective.
21. Visit an Old Mental Asylum (Richardson Olmsted Campus)
Old mental asylums have a reputation for being associated with ghost stories, paranormal activity, and all sorts of urban legends. But, not this one…probably! The Richardson Olmsted Campus was once an asylum for the insane until the 1970s, when they transferred patients to a new location with more modern facilities. The campus experienced a revival in 2004 when rehabilitation projects went underway.
Today, the Richardson Campus has been sensitively repurposed and transformed into a vibrant destination that includes the Richardson Hotel. This luxurious boutique hotel seamlessly combines historic charm with modern elegance, offering guests a truly exceptional experience. You can also have a picnic at the South Lawn, explore the campus grounds on a bike, or join a historical tour of the place (from June through September.)
22. Have Fun at Buffalo RiverWorks
From its vibrant atmosphere to diverse dining options to unique recreational offerings, Buffalo RiverWorks is the perfect place to experience the energy and excitement of the city’s waterfront.
Situated along the banks of the Buffalo River, this expansive complex combines industrial charm with thrilling recreational opportunities, from kayaking and paddleboarding on the river to ice skating and curling in the winter. The complex’s centerpiece is an impressive multi-purpose venue that hosts concerts, sporting events, and other live performances.
23. Check Out the Buffalo Central Terminal
The massive Buffalo Central Terminal, east of downtown Buffalo, stands as a majestic testament to the city’s rich architectural heritage. This iconic Art Deco train station, once bustling with travelers, now serves as a captivating symbol of years passed. With its grandeur and historical significance, the Buffalo Central Terminal has become a beloved landmark and gathering place for community events, art exhibits, and cultural celebrations, including the annual Beau Fleuve Music & Arts Summer Festival.
24. See a Show at Shea’s Performing Arts Center
Whether you’re a theater enthusiast or simply looking for a memorable night out, catching a show at the historic Shea’s Performing Arts Center is a must-do in Buffalo.
From Broadway musicals to concerts and touring performances, Shea’s wide range of shows and productions showcases top-notch talent that will leave you mesmerized. The theater’s rich history, dating back to 1926, adds to the allure of the experience, creating a sense of nostalgia and grandeur.
25. Visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House
The architectural masterpiece that is the Darwin D. Martin House is a testament to renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius and his innovative approach to design. The complex includes the main residence, the iconic pergola, the glass-enclosed conservatory, and the stunning gardens.
Explore the meticulously restored Prairie-style residence, with its harmonious integration of nature and architecture, and admire the intricate details, flowing spaces, and organic elements that exemplify Wright’s signature style.
26. Taste Vino Along the Niagara Wine Trail
The Niagara Wine Trail is a 60-mile scenic trail that meanders through picturesque vineyards and charming wineries across the counties of Niagara, Orleans, and Monroe. From crisp whites to full-bodied reds and everything in between, the wineries along the trail showcase the region’s rich viticultural heritage.
27. See the Works at Burchfield Penney Art Center
Discover a world of artistic inspiration at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, located within the grounds of Buffalo State University. This vibrant cultural institution celebrates the legacy of renowned American artist Charles E. Burchfield.
The institution showcases a diverse collection of contemporary and regional artwork, be it Burchfield’s own works (which they have the largest collection of in the world) or from distinguished local artists.
28. Tour Old Fort Niagara
Known as the oldest military installation still in use in North America, Old Fort Niagara is steeped in tales of military strategy, colonial life, and cultural exchange. This well-preserved fortress, with its commanding position between Niagara River and Lake Ontario, offers a glimpse into the strategic importance of the region during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Explore the stone walls, barracks, and cannons that once witnessed significant military conflicts and cultural exchanges, and immerse yourself in living history demonstrations, where reenactors bring the past to life through engaging presentations. One of its main draws, however, is the oldest building in the Great Lakes Area called the ‘French Castle,’ which dates back to 1726.
29. Get Up Close and Personal with Niagara Falls
This next one will definitely be one of the highlights on your things to do in Buffalo, NY.
Prepare to be mesmerized by the sheer power and grandeur of Niagara Falls, one of the world’s most famous natural wonders. Spanning the border between the United States and Canada, these awe-inspiring waterfalls consist of three distinct cascades: the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls.
Experience its breathtaking beauty up close with the thrilling Cave of the Winds tour, where you can venture near the base of the falls and feel the mighty rush of water. For a truly immersive experience, embark on the iconic Maid of the Mist boat tour, allowing you to witness the thundering roar and spectacular spray of Niagara Falls.
30. Visit the Niagara Heritage Village
The Niagara Heritage Village is a living history museum which offers a captivating glimpse into the region’s rich heritage and rural life. This meticulously recreated 19th-century village comprises fourteen buildings (ten are historic) and over 40,000 items, which represents the different trades, crafts, and culture at the time.
Experience the daily routines and trades of the past as you visit the blacksmith’s shop, the general store, or the one-room schoolhouse. Adding to its charm are the costumed interpreters who bring history and the village to life through demonstrations and seasonal events.
Buffalo is a city that beckons with its vibrant energy, rich history, and an incredible array of experiences. From savoring the world-famous Buffalo wings to exploring architectural marvels, immersing oneself in art and culture, and witnessing the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls, the City of Good Neighbors offers an adventure that is second to none.
So, let this destination ignite your wanderlust as you embark on a journey of discovery, checking off unforgettable experiences from your own personal itinerary of things to do in Buffalo. Embrace the magic and let this remarkable city leave an indelible mark on your travel memories!
Best Tips for Visiting Buffalo NY
How to Get to Buffalo NY: Buffalo Niagara International Airport is a major hub and most airlines will fly into it. You can easily check for the best fare deals at Skyscanner, which also has the option to choose ‘cheapest month’ as the departure to find the lowest priced dates to fly to your destination. From the airport to the city center, you can use the a private transfer, a taxi or a bus.
Getting Around: Driving in a new destination can be a bit of a challenge, but if you choose to rent a car, RentalCars.com has great deals. If you are not renting a car, there are plenty of other options. Taxis, Lyft and Uber are available all over the city. For a more budget friendly option, you can take the metro bus or metro rail.
Best Time to Visit Buffalo NY: Between the month of June and August.
Where to Stay in Buffalo NY: It’s best to stay near the city center, public transportation or the area that you will be spending the most time in. The Richardson Hotel is a great choice in the Koror district. For something on the less expensive side, try The Delavan Hotel located in Buffalo. For a hotel with a little more extravagance, book a room at the Buffalo Marriott at LECOM HARBORCENTER. Or search some great deals on hotels of your choice at Booking.com. If you’re looking for more of a home atmosphere (or are traveling with a group of people), head over to VRBO that has houses, apartments and even just a room for rent in every price range.