From meeting new people to experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells – is there anything more exciting or rejuvenating than a break from the day-to-day mundanity? Traveling is an excellent way to immerse yourself in a new culture, setting, or way-of-life, but the best part is this: you don’t have to venture far from home to enjoy what this world has to offer.
Whether your journey takes you across your own city, to an unexplored part of your state, or even to the other side of the world, there’s no doubt you will still learn a lot about your surroundings – and yourself – along the way.
While the culture an hour away from your home might not be drastically different from what you’re used to, you can still gain a deepened sense of appreciation for where you’ve laid your roots. Plus, traveling locally has a lot of benefits:
More cost-effective. Local travel is certainly a budget-friendly way to explore! Many activities and parks are free or have a low cost of entry. For day trips, you can also pack your own meals to save.
Eco-friendly way to travel. Travel is hard on the environment, but putzing around your area is more sustainable than air travel.
Quick trips. Getting out locally means you can do it more often! Long weekend trips are a lot easier to take when the destination is a short drive away.
Easy to plan. Preparing your itinerary for a local getaway will likely save you some time and stress.
More convenient. Especially if you have little ones, sticking close to home may be much more convenient than far-off destinations. If you forget something, have an emergency, or need to cut the trip short, being closeby definitely has its benefits.
Buffalo is the second-largest city within New York and is situated on the picturesque Lake Erie. Known as a cultural hotspot, the region is home to a thriving arts scene, multiple museums, and other intriguing historical landmarks. It was also the first place to serve Buffalo-style Chicken Wings (hence the name), which were first served at the Anchor Bar back in 1964.
Best of all, perhaps, is the fact that Buffalo is located less than 30 minutes from the world-famous Niagara Falls, serving as a popular and convenient base for all that the attraction has to offer. It’s also one of only a handful of cities in the US featuring over a half-dozen designs by architect Frank Lloyd Wright, so you’re never far from famous architectural beauty.
Even those who have lived in the city for a decade would agree they haven’t experienced all that Buffalo has to offer, while for those new to the region – well, they’ve got a lot to look forward to as well.
Ready to discover the best of Buffalo, New York? Let’s get started!
*Note: Some of the suggestions may not be doable due to coronavirus closures, but keep this list handy for when things start opening back up more! Be sure to check individual pages for specific operation details.
Buffalo isn’t all hustle and bustle! There are also plenty of state parks both within and surrounding the area, all of which provide a tranquil escape for those looking to surround themselves by nature.
It may only encompass 8 acres, but Amherst State Park is a wild place nonetheless, featuring hiking and biking trails that can easily keep you occupied and active for an afternoon. It’s also a common place to spot local deer and a variety of bird life, so be sure to look up while you’re wandering around!
Preserving almost 900 acres of unique New York marshlands, meadows, and woods, Buckhorn Island State Park is popular for hiking and biking in the summertime as well as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in winter. Tucked along the Niagara River, this park also offers plenty of great fishing opportunities and is pet-friendly, provided Fido stays on his leash.
Bearing the distinction of being the newest park in New York’s state park system, Buffalo Harbor State Park is a haven for boaters and water lovers, thanks in no small part to its sprawling 1,100-slip marina. The park also offers boat launches, a fish-cleaning station, a beach, an on-site restaurant and a nautical themed playground to keep the kids occupied!
Less than an hour’s drive southeast of Buffalo lies this unique opportunity for outdoor recreation: a park of almost 1,900 acres that’s perfect for day trips and overnight ventures alike. Offering hiking, biking, and equestrian trails as well as hunting and fishing opportunities, this park also hosts a campground with more than 100 sites, many of which offer 15- or 30-amp electric hookups.
Featuring an arc-shaped shoreline along Lake Erie, Evangola State Park is a wonderfully diverse outdoor adventure station, featuring, of course, plenty of water-based activity opportunities but also lots of land-based options as well. From hiking, biking, and disc golfing to a swimming beach and also lots of winter options (think: cross-country skiing, snowmobiling), this state park is the perfect place for a weekend RV getaway.
It’s just about as far northwest as you can go in the state of New York before you hit Canada, and it’s nestled along the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Along with its panoramic lakeside views (that honestly look more like an ocean), Four Mile Creek State Park is known for its excellent hiking opportunities through the wooded bluffs that characterize this area.
Once a country estate owned by — you guessed it — the Knox family, Knox Farm State Park today is a wilderness encompassing almost 700 idyllic acres, which contains a variety of unique upstate New York habitats such as grasslands, woodlands, and ponds. The farm is still true to its name today, and offers visitors the opportunity to hang out with horses, sheep, goats, llamas and chickens.
Really looking to get away from it all? Letchworth State Park is a massive wilderness of over 14,000 acres, and is home to an incredible river gorge that’s so scenic and dramatic, it’s often known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” In 2017, it was voted the best attraction in the entire state… and for those in Buffalo, it’s all just an hour and ten minutes away. You don’t want to miss it!
Woodlawn Beach State Park, located on the easternmost side of Lake Erie, will make you forget how far you are from the Atlantic. With its serene waterside views and incredibly well-preserved freshwater sand dunes, this park is perfect for all things beach day, from sunbathing and swimming to running along the sands or enjoying some beach volleyball.
Less than a half-hour’s drive from the center of Buffalo is one of the most famous state parks – not just within the United States, but perhaps the world! With Niagara Falls State Park on your doorstep, you have the luxury of spending plenty of time here and enjoying the awe-inspiring scenery, thrilling attractions, interactive exhibits, miles of hiking trails, family-friendly dining options, and so much more. Don’t forget to pack your camera!
Another must-visit state park located less than a half-hour’s drive from Buffalo’s center is Devil’s Hole State Park, which overlooks the fascinating Devil's Hole Rapids. It’s also a great destination to enjoy a scenic picnic, go for a picturesque hike, or enjoy a spot of fishing. In the colder months, activities such as skiing and snowshoeing are also available.
Nearby, you’ll also find the popular Whirlpool State Park, which overlooks the Niagara Whirlpool on the Niagara River and the lower Niagara Gorge. Along with its incredible views, the state park is also famous for its stone staircase, which descends into the Niagara Gorge. Activities here include picnicking, hiking, biking, fishing, cross-country skiing, and more.
Thanks to the remarkable diversity of landscapes in the Buffalo area, there’s certainly no shortage of incredible trails to tackle. Here are some of the best hikes in Buffalo and the surrounding countryside.
It may be less than a mile altogether, but Lily Pond Loop is still a worthy venture — and is a particularly good opportunity for beginning hikers as well as those bringing their kids along for the trek. Offering beautiful lakeside views punctuated with, of course, lily pads (when they’re in bloom) as well as beautiful forested areas which are perfect for viewing fall foliage, this easy hike has a big payoff for minimal effort.
Another short but sweet option, the Tifft Nature Preserve Trail winds just under two miles in length through this favorite Buffalo attraction, offering views of the lake as well as elevated boardwalks to change up the terrain. Seeing just about zero elevation gain, this easy trail is a good pick for newbies as well as those looking for something light and leisurely, and is also a good family option.
One of the most popular trails inside Amherst State Park, the Glen Falls Trail Loop sees about three miles in length, total, with a negligible amount of elevation gain. All of which is to say: it’s pretty easy, and for that reason, you have no excuse to miss its out-of-this-world views. It looks even better, if that’s possible, covered in a fresh dusting of snow!
Looking for a slightly longer and more challenging option? Wilkeson Point Loop runs almost five miles altogether along the eastern shore of Lake Erie, offering a combination of urban and waterside views. The trail is considered moderately challenging thanks mostly to its substantial length, and is also popular amongst dog owners who are welcome to bring their (leashed) furry friends.
As mentioned above, a trip out to Letchworth State Park is an absolute must — and perhaps the most iconic trail in the park is the Letchworth State Park Gorge Trail. However, meandering a grand total of 14 miles and seeing over 2,000 feet in elevation gain along the way, this trail is one to work up to… though its incredible views should offer plenty of motivation where that’s concerned.
Why do they call this hike the Erie Canal Challenge? Because the point-to-point trail is 581.8 kilometers long, taking hikers from Buffalo all the way to Albany. What section of the trail you choose to do is up to you, but you can expect scenic views and a number of activity options along the way.
At the Griffis Sculpture Park, in East Otto, you can enjoy one of the most unique hikes through the woods available in Western New York. Enjoy the hillsides and pond, all while spotting stunning sculptures of Larry Griffis, Jr. and friends, who is one of Buffalo’s most renowned artists. It’s an easy walk that’s perfect for a quiet afternoon or family day out.
There’s a lot to keep you busy in Buffalo… which means you’re definitely going to need a meal or three to keep up. Here are some of the best places in town to grab a bite.
You can’t say you’ve been to Buffalo without visiting Anchor Bar, famed for being the birthplace of none other than Buffalo wings themselves. Even if you’re not in the mood for wings, there are plenty of other options to choose from: think standard (and delicious) American bar-and-grill fare, from burgers to salads to pizza and more.
Easily considered one of the best Italian restaurants in Buffalo (and the state at large, at that), Tempo is as beloved for its romantic Tuscan ambiance as its classic and delicious menu. Exposed brick walls, just-so lighting and friendly service are just as much stars of the show as the Fra Diavolo and Pomodoro… or, you know, almost.
Buffalo may be (much) closer to our northern border than our southern border, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some delicious and authentic Mexican eats in town. Cantina Loco is the local go-to for tacos, tequila, and all things spicy and satisfying. Case in point: the restaurant’s lead chef, Mike Andrzejewski, defeated none other than Bobby Flay on national television!
There’s nothing quite like a heaping, hot plate of Indian food, and the best spot in Buffalo for something eastern and exotic is Buffalo Tikka House. As well as serving up Tandoori and Tikka favorites, this spot is also known for its array of Bengladeshi offers, including many vegetarian options as well.
The plant-based set is often disappointed by the restaurant world… but Big Mood puts that stereotype to bed. A vegan restaurant whose plant-based-ness takes a backseat to its just-plain-good-ness, this spot offers elevated comfort foods like burgers, mac & cheese, tacos, and sweet potato fries, all without relying on animal products.
Fancy visiting an exciting southern inspired restaurant owned and operated by Chef James Roberts? Head to Toutant on Ellicott Street to enjoy contemporary country cuisine in a casual setting. Think fresh Gulf seafood and shellfish, buttermilk fried chicken, and authentic celebrations of numerous Southern favorites, including jambalaya, house-smoked sausages, and more.
The popular Gabriel’s Gate is located at the heart of the historical Allentown district in Buffalo. The restaurant is cherished among locals and travelers alike, and has been serving the local community for over 30 years now. It’s known for its mouth-watering Buffalo Chicken Wings, not to mention the French Onion Soup and local draft beer.
If you need just one reason to visit Chef’s Restaurant, it’s this: it’s the home of the world-famous spaghetti parmesan. Chef’s Restaurant has been serving the community since 1923 and features an intriguing history that would make any local proud. Experience true Italian cuisine, a casual atmosphere, and friendly service!
Allen Burger Venture isn’t your average burger joint. You see, their fresh dry-aged and grass-fed angus beef burgers are hormone and antibiotic free, sourced from verified humane and sustainable ranches to ensure the highest quality and flavor. If angus beef isn’t quote your thing, don’t miss their popular vegetarian options too!
As Buffalo’s premier location for great food and unparalleled service, Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant is a must-visit for any passionate foodie. You’ll find it located in the heart of Buffalo’s historic entertainment district and its menu features favorite dishes such as pecan-crusted salmon, rib eye in a gorgonzola crust, mushroom ravioli, and more.
Wondering what the top things to do in Buffalo are for this weekend — or whenever the urge strikes? Here are some of our can’t-miss activities in Buffalo, no matter how you’re adventuring.
Looking to entertain some little ones? Or perhaps you’ve got some teenagers in-tow who are starting to get a little bored? Either way, these attractions will entertain both children, teens, and adults alike!
The Buffalo Zoo is a mainstay within the region. After all, it has been in operation for over 140 years! Nothing beats a visit to the zoo for a family day out, and the Buffalo Zoo has plenty of fun to offer to visitors of all ages. It spans 23.5 acres and features some of the world’s most exotic, endangered, and even local wildlife. Enjoy a wide array of exhibits, events, and experiences.
With its impressive collection of more than 700,000 specimens pertain to the Greater Niagara Region, as well as a unique 3D cinema, rooftop Kellogg observatory, and state-of-the-art exhibitions, the Buffalo Museum of Science is sure to wow even the fussiest of visitors. With tickets costing no more than $19 per person, it’s an affordable day out for the family too.
Also known by its longer name, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, the Buffalo Naval Park catalogs and preserves the unique military history of this part of the world, namely by way of presenting four decommissioned naval vessels for families to explore. Also hosting regular events such as game nights and film screenings, this museum is certainly one to keep on your radar (no pun intended).
What should you do in Buffalo once the sun goes down? We’re glad you asked! Here are our suggested night-time attractions.
Where do Buffalo’s residents come to play? At Seneca Buffalo Creek Casino, of course! It’s more than your average casino, and features everything from multiple dining options to a golf course. Visit the decadent steakhouse or hit up one of two bars, or if gaming is more your thing, then you’ll be pleased to hear there are over 1,100 slot games and table games on offer.
What could be more fun (or funnier) than a trip to the Helium Comedy Club to hear stand-up acts from comedians, both local and national? They also host popular events, such as trivia, workshops, and more. But wait, it gets better! While having a laugh, you can also enjoy a wide selection of food and beverage, including a full spread of entrees, desserts, and homespun cocktails in a relaxing, cozy atmosphere.
Locally owned and operated since 1994, The Screening Room is so much more than an indie theater — though it’s an excellent one of those, too. Along with film screenings, this spot also hosts community events like poetry readings, trivia, comedy and more, all in a cozy, familial atmosphere with excellent eats and drinks available thanks to its on-site cafe.
What can you do in or around Buffalo that won’t cost anything more than a few dollars? The answer: plenty! Here are just two of our favorite attractions within the area that can be enjoyed on the cheap.
Did you know the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is one of the oldest museums dedicated to contemporary art, and the sixth oldest public art institution in the United States? They offer fun workshops for children and adults, not to mention regular events and fascinating exhibitions. Get ready to embrace your inner artist!
Fancy a wonder among some of the most beautiful botanic gardens in the region? Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens is open year-round and features a large indoor conservatory, several seasonal outdoor gardens, and different exhibits and collections of plants. Tickets cost just $7 - $12.50, making it a perfect (and inexpensive) day out for all to enjoy.
Also known as the Darwin Martin House National Historic Landmark, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House was originally designed and constructed back in the early 1900s, and today is open to visitors who enjoy both self- and docent-guided tours of the property and grounds. Ticket prices depend on which kind of experience you’re after, but there are plenty of ways to save on entrance costs, including military discounts.
Looking to get the most out of your time spent within the city of Buffalo? Whether you want a fun way to waste away a Sunday afternoon or a date idea that won’t break the budget – here are our most recommended things to do in Buffalo that won’t cost you a cent.
You’ll find Canalside located at the heart of downtown Buffalo's waterfront location. What makes it a popular place to visit, apart from its Erie Canal location, is the fact that it hosts hundreds of events throughout the year, many of which are free or low cost to the public. These include everything from concerts and festivals, to summer fitness classes, ice skating, children's activities, history tours, and more.
The region is also home to the famous Peace Bridge, which bridges the United States to Canada, right at the east end of Lake Erie. It was opened in 1927, and to this day, is still a fun and free activity for all to enjoy. Named to commemorate 100 years of peace between the United States and Canada, the bridge makes for a great walk, drive, or cycle, and offers scenic views of the surrounding area.
We had to list it twice! Everyone should see Niagara Falls at least once in their lifetime — and since this wonder of the world is technically a New York State Park, it’s free to visit 365 days a year. (Of course, there are plenty of local tour operations and attractions that will charge you for boat rides, behind-the-falls tours, and more, if you’re interested.)
Alright, by now you’ve probably been on your feet all day exploring the sights and delights that Buffalo has to offer. If you’re craving some rest and relaxation, or even a bit of pampering, these are two of the best spas in the region.
Rejuvinex Spa is the ultimate place to relax, rejuvenate, and restore. You’ll find the salon located in the heart of the Kenmore Village, serving the greater Western New York community. Here, you can enjoy services such as massage, facials, peels, manicures, and so much more.
Imagine Salon & Day Spa is another popular destination within the local area, offering everything from massage and hair, to makeup, nails and facials. It’s the perfect place to treat yourself for a special occasion, or just after a long week. Go on, you deserve it!
If rejuvenation for you is less about deep relaxation and more about sweating it out, then you’re in luck. Buffalo is home to some of the highest-rated gyms and yoga studios within the region.
Catalyst Fitness is a great go-to within the region for all things fitness, whether it’s cycle, yoga, bootcamp, Zumba, and so much more. They also offer personal training, for those who are really serious, as well as a kids club if you need the littlies to be entertained while you train.
If you’re looking for a local yoga studio providing classes across a wide range of yoga styles, then Yoga Parkside is for you. They offer classes for all levels too, including both babies and children, so no one has to miss out! Enjoy gentle and restorative yoga, as well as morning rejuvenation, meditation and breathing practice, Vinyasa flow, prenatal yoga, and more.
One part evolution, one part elation, and a whole heap of good-for-your-body-and-soul, Evolation Yoga Buffalo is one of the best studios in the area for getting strong and centered, both inside and out. Featuring a wide range of classes fit for yogis of all fitness and interest levels, this spot is a great option for beginners and advanced practitioners alike.
While you clearly don’t have to travel far from Buffalo to have a good time, it’s true that there are some incredible day trip opportunities in the surrounding areas! Here are some can’t-miss options next time you need a long afternoon (or long weekend) getaway.
Looking for a very different taste of the midwest? Pittsburgh, aka Steel City, is just about three hours away from Buffalo, and has an entirely different vibe than Buffalo — or Philadelphia, for that matter. With plenty of fine cuisine and tons of outdoor and urban adventures to choose from, give yourself more time here than you think you’ll need!
Just ask anyone from Cleveland, and they’ll tell you: this unassuming Great Lakes gem is easily one of the best communities in the country, if not the world. Known for everything from art museums to restaurants and a bustling burlesque scene, this northern Ohio town is a must-visit.
You’ll find the city of Rochester on Lake Ontario, less than a 1.5-hour drive from Buffalo. It’s the perfect day trip for those interested in historical and cultural attractions, such as The Strong Museum, Seneca Park Zoo, the George Eastman Museum, High Falls, and more. With so many intriguing attractions on your doorstep, Rochester makes for an excellent destination to spend a few hours or an entire day.
Syracuse is another city located within New York, this time around 2.5 hours’ drive from Buffalo. It too features a wide array of attractions well-suited to visitors of all ages and interests, whether it’s the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Everson Museum of Art, Museum of Science & Technology, Onondaga Lake Park, and more. Don’t miss it!
As a final reminder, some of these activities may need to wait until businesses fully reopen from coronavirus closures. However, there is still much to see and experience in Buffalo that you can enjoy today! What are your favorite spots in Buffalo? Send them our way to [email protected] or by tagging us on Instagram @rvshare and using the hashtag #rvsharelocal.