If all you know about Buffalo is snow storms, chicken wings, and the Buffalo Bills, it might be time to pay another visit to the City of Good Neighbors. After a hard couple of decades, Buffalo finally seems to be enjoying an exhilarating new period of growth and redevelopment that make a visit to the city more enticing than ever.
In this ultimate guide to the best things to do in Buffalo, you’ll find everything from the city’s biggest attractions to all the local recommendations that you won’t hear about elsewhere. Whether you’re just in town for a few hours or have a few days to explore the city of Buffalo, get ready; the city of Buffalo is going to be an exciting surprise.
This post contains affiliate links that may reward me monetarily or otherwise when you use them to make qualifying purchases – at no cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, please read our disclosure policy.
Things To Do in Buffalo
1. Visit the Buffalo AKG Art Museum
After a three-year closure and transformative addition, the former Albright-Knox Art Gallery has reopened as the Buffalo AKG Art Museum.
The addition of over 30,000 square feet of gallery space and the stunning new Jeffery E. Gunlach building, connected to the historic Wilmers Building via a twisting, floating bridge, are just the start of the museum’s transformation.
Groundbreaking new exhibits, larger-than-life galleries filled with natural light, and a vibrant excitement about the institution’s new chapter make both visitors and locals consider a visit to the Buffalo AKG Art Museum one of the best things to do in Buffalo.
Even those who don’t consider themselves art lovers or museum-goers will find something to love here. After all, a large part of the museum’s transformation was designed to make it more accessible than ever. Hands-on classes for kids and adults, interactive exhibits, and a new collaboration with the LEGO Foundation mean there are more ways than ever to get involved and enjoy your visit.
2. Take a Bike Tour
With an increasing number of bike lanes and trails to follow across the city, exploring Buffalo by bike is one of the best ways to get to know the city. Follow the experts at Buffalo Bike Tours on one of their specialized bike tours for the insider, local scoop on some of the coolest areas of town and the best things to do in Buffalo.
Choose from their different bike tour itineraries, all of which have plenty to offer if you’re looking for the best of the city:
- Wing Ride – Explore Buffalo’s favorite and famous destinations for the best Buffalo wings in the city, tasting the best as you ride.
- Waterfront Ride – Discover the city’s incredible revitalization along the waterfront, visiting Silo City, RiverWorks, Wilkeson Point, and Outer Harbor.
- History Ride – Explore some of the most important historic landmarks in the city while learning about Buffalo’s incredible past and exciting future.
- Foodie Ride – Taste your way across Buffalo as you visit some of the city’s best bakeries, cafes, and restaurants, where you’ll try everything from chocolate and kombucha to international favorites brought to Buffalo by the city’s diverse immigrant community.
We loved the waterfront ride we experienced during our recent stay in Buffalo, but would love to try any of the other bike tours on our next visit to the city! Highly recommended!
3. Kayak at Elevator Alley
Get out on the water and explore one of Buffalo’s most interesting areas in a totally unique way. Kayak among the city’s old grain elevators and silos, past the historic SS Columbia, and towards the vibrant Canalside and RiverWorks areas that are part of the city’s exciting waterfront redevelopment. It’s one of the best things to do in Buffalo and an unforgettable way to see the city.
Rent kayaks or stand-up paddleboards from Elevator Alley Kayak, located inside the Old Barrel Factory in the city’s Old First Ward. Elevator Alley Kayak also offers guides for groups or individuals looking for more history and guidance on their excursion.
After your excursion, make sure to pop back inside the beautifully converted Old Barrel Factory to enjoy a beer on tap from one of Buffalo’s many new breweries.
4. Visit the Burchfield Penney Art Center
At the heart of Buffalo’s museum district is the impressive Burchfield Penney Art Center, one of the city’s most impressive fine arts institutions. The center is home to the largest public collection of art by Charles E. Burchfield, an American artist and long-time Buffalo resident known for his incredible watercolor paintings developed with one-of-a-kind techniques.
The Burchfield Penney Art Center is home to an incredible permanent collection of paintings as well as an extensive archive of his drawings, journals, letters, notes, and more. While the works of Charles E. Burchfield are of particular importance to the Center, it also displays works by artists from and with ties to the entire Western New York region.
The Burchfield Penney Art Center also welcomes a number of rotating exhibits celebrating the art and artists of Western New York. On-going exhibits include Land, Sea, and Light: The John Sacret Young Collection, celebrating John Sacret Young’s collection of works by artists like Charles Burchfield and John Marin, as well as Brilliance: The Stanford Lipsey Art Glass Collection, with 50 impressive works of art glass.
Don’t think about traveling without a good VPN (Virtual Private Network). Using a VPN while connecting to the internet is an easy way to keep your personal information safe from hackers and trackers. We’ve used NordVPN for years and couldn’t recommend it more – it’s a must for safety online, at home or abroad.
5. Go to a Bills Game (or Sabres Game!)
Buffalo is a die-hard sports town with a particular love for their hometown NFL team, the Buffalo Bills. Fans call themselves “The Bills Mafia,” and you’ll see signs, flags, and clothing everywhere you look celebrating the Bills, even if it isn’t a game day.
Attending a game at Highmark Stadium south of Buffalo in Orchard Park is a treat, even if you can only snag tickets in the nosebleeds.
If you’re visiting in the winter or spring, there’s nothing like attending a Buffalo Sabres hockey game at the KeyBank Center near the waterfront. With Buffalo’s proximity to Canada, you can imagine how important hockey is to this town, meaning that you’re bound to have an unforgettable time at a game, even if you’re not a hockey fan.
Not a football or hockey fan? Buffalo also has a AAA baseball team, the Buffalo Bisons, as well as a National Lacrosse League (NLL) team known as the Buffalo Bandits.
6. Eat Wings
Can you even say you’ve visited Buffalo if you haven’t sampled the city’s best Buffalo wings? It’s no surprise that Buffalo wings are a staple and local favorite across the city, with a visit to the original Anchor Bar being easily among the favorite things to do in Buffalo for wing-loving visitors.
While the originals can only be found at Buffalo’s Anchor Bar, there are plenty of other award-winning favorite wings to sample in Buffalo. Duff’s, Cole’s, and Gabriel’s Gate are all popular favorites worth trying during your stay.
If you’re looking for a local’s insight into the best wings, make sure to book a spot on Buffalo Bike Tour’s beloved Wing Ride. This fun-filled three-hour guided bike tour of the city includes stops at all of Buffalo’s best wing spots. Or, read up on Visit Buffalo Niagara’s Wing Trail for local insights into the best wing spots to add to your itinerary.
7. Attend an Event at Canalside
Located at the very end of the Erie Canal in a rapidly revitalizing area of Buffalo’s waterfront, Canalside is increasingly one of the best places to visit for events. While the summer season brings free or low-cost events like fitness classes, open-air markets, and even children’s programming, you’ll find plenty to do here even during the colder weather months.
Make sure to check out the online events calendar for Canalside before you plan your visit, but even if there isn’t an activity here that coincides with your trip, exploring Canalside is one of the best things to do in Buffalo.
8. Visit Niagara Falls
Of course, one of the most impressive attractions in the Buffalo / Niagara region is the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls! Buffalo makes a great base from which to visit Niagara Falls. The Falls are just a 20-minute drive from the city, and basing yourself in Buffalo for your visit means you’ll avoid much of the craziness and overpriced tourist traps of the area immediately surrounding the falls.
Taking in the view of the falls from the viewing platform is a must, but make sure you don’t miss the Maid of the Mist! The Maid of the Mist is a thrilling boat ride that takes visitors to the base of Niagara Falls for an unforgettably thrilling perspective of the falls you won’t experience elsewhere. Make sure to book tickets online in advance to secure your trip, as they can sell out during busy travel days.
Try to take in the falls from both the New York side and the Canadian side of the border if your visit allows for it. You’ll get the best well-rounded perspective of the falls and have the most complete experience with this wonder of the world!
9. Spot Frank Lloyd Wright Masterpieces
If you’re a fan of architecture, your visit to Buffalo will be a particularly special one. Buffalo is home to a number of Frank Lloyd Wright’s creations. Touring these impressive destinations is one of the best things to do in Buffalo, whether you know much about the architect or not.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous creation in Buffalo is the Martin House Complex, built for the family of his dear friend and most important patron, Darwin Martin. Today the 30,000-square-foot complex is considered one of the architect’s most famous works.
Located just two blocks from Delaware Park, the Martin House Complex welcomes visitors on tours, the only way to visit the house. Make sure to book tickets in advance online before your visit so your desired time slot doesn’t sell out!
10. Sip Drinks (and Hear Poetry) at Silo City
Home to one of the largest concentrations of concrete grain elevators in the world, the Silo City complex is a testament to Buffalo’s important past as “Flour City,” named for all the grain that moved through the city’s waterways. Today, the complex is at the heart of one of the most ambitious waterfront reconstruction projects in Buffalo.
At the heart of Silo City is Duende, an impossibly cool bar and the first major development in the complex. Visiting Duende any time of the year will be a highlight, but enjoying the bar’s expansive lawn space and frequent live music and events is one of the best things to do in Buffalo in the summer.
The grain silos at Silo City also welcome artists with a number of events held within the silos, including poetry readings during Buffalo’s warm months. Check out Silo City’s website for more information on events, or plan a visit to Duende to learn more about the many ways to experience Silo City for yourself.
11. Stay at The Richardson Hotel
If you’re looking for the perfect place to stay in Buffalo, look no further than The Richardson Hotel. Located on the historic Richardson Olmstead Campus in Buffalo’s museum district, this unique property used to be a mental health facility when it was built in the 1800s. Abandoned for decades, the building was only recently given new life and is now one of Buffalo’s best hotels.
Original design elements like soaring windows, wide hallways, and high ceilings make the hotel a true beauty, while an on-site cafe, bar, and restaurant make it a popular destination even with the locals.
Located just steps from the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, and the rest of the charming Elmwood Village neighborhood, it’s perfectly located to enjoy all the best things to do in Buffalo.
Read More: The Richardson Hotel – A First-Hand Review
12. Visit the Botanical Garden
Buffalo is home to the impressive Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, yet another impressive mark on the city left by landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmstead. Explore beneath the unique Victorian tri-dome glass structures at the gardens and encounter flora and fauna from the world over.
The botanical garden is located south of the city in Lackawanna but is easily accessible from the rest of Buffalo. The gardens also host a number of events throughout the week, especially during the summer, with things like photography workshops, open-air art classes, and other kinds of fun events to draw visitors to the space.
13. Eat Your Way Through WEDI’s Downtown Bazaar
One of Buffalo’s coolest non-profits is WEDI, an organization removing systemic financial barriers to success through a variety of educational and financial assistance programs. One of WEDI’s key programs is small business assistance, and their bazaar is a great place to see budding businesses getting off the ground in Buffalo.
WEDI’s Downtown Bazaar has a number of great eateries offering delicious and authentic dishes from the incubator’s students from around the globe, with everything from Sudanese to Filipino bites available. You’ll also find students’ shops that sell a variety of products, as well as plenty of space to eat and connect over a meal.
WEDI is preparing to open its brand-new West Side Bazaar not far from the Elmwood Village area and the museum district. Be on the lookout for this exciting new expansion in Fall 2023, and make sure to add a visit to the new destination to the list of things to do in Buffalo on your itinerary.
14. Zipline Among Grain Silos at Buffalo RiverWorks
If ziplining only makes you think of jungle canopies and tropical climates, it’s time you try ziplining among Buffalo’s towering grain silos! Located along Buffalo’s redeveloped river space at Buffalo RiverWorks, ziplining stories above the ground among grain silos is the ultimate thrill.
Whether you’re interested in ziplining or not, a visit to the multi-use Buffalo RiverWorks is a must on your Buffalo itinerary. This exciting area is home to some of the most inspiring redevelopment projects in Buffalo and is home to what seems like an endless lineup of events and activities, with someone for everyone to enjoy.
In the summer, the extensive outdoor space hosts concerts and events and has tons of room to enjoy everything from backyard games and pickleball to watersports and rollerskating. In the winter, two ice rinks and the cozy RiverWorks Brewing Co. welcome just as many excited locals and visitors.
15. Explore Old Fort Niagara
Looking to experience one of the oldest parts of Buffalo’s history? Located on Lake Ontario, the colonial-era Old Fort Niagara is about a 40-minute drive from the city of Buffalo but is well worth a visit.
Explore this National Historic Landmark on guided tours or plan your visit to coincide with one of the many historical military reenactments that take place at the fort. Make sure to check the Old Fort Niagara website before planning your visit, as hours change seasonally. The fort is open daily between April and mid-October but is open on a much more limited basis during the winter months.
16. Explore Outer Harbor
Once the heart of Buffalo’s industrial area, the Outer Harbor is now one of the most interesting places to explore in the city. With a new concert venue slated to open along the water and an increasing number of things to do in this 200-acre green space, it’s an area of the city you won’t want to miss.
With so much green space and an increasingly impressive network of trails, the best way to explore Outer Harbor is by bike. From Wilkeson Point to the Lakeside Bike Park and beyond, it’s easy to navigate and with dedicated bike paths that make it perfect even for inexperienced riders.
Buffalo Bike Tours offers a historic Outer Harbor waterfront ride, which is the perfect way to get acquainted with both the natural beauty of the area and the new, exciting development and revitalization in Buffalo. We loved the experience and would recommend it as one of the best things to do in Buffalo!
17. Visit Buffalo Central Terminal
One of Buffalo’s most beloved and historic buildings, Buffalo Central Terminal is the city’s old train station, though it has so much more to offer. After it was abandoned in 1979, the building has largely fallen into disrepair, though occasional walking tours and events are a great way to get into the space and dream about its exciting new future.
While Buffalo Central Terminal is still in the process of redevelopment and likely has a few more years to go until it’s fully up and running as a mixed-use community and event space, keep an eye out for activities and events here. If you can time it right, your visit might become one of your favorite things to do in Buffalo.
18. Visit the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site
After the unprecedented assassination of U.S. President William McKinley at the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition in 1901, then Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn into office in the library of a friend’s home in the city. That historic mansion is now the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, one of the city’s most interesting museums.
History buffs will consider a visit to the mansion among the best things to do in Buffalo. The mansion is now home to a few beautifully-maintained original rooms as well as museum exhibits highlighting the McKinley assassination and the political career of Roosevelt, who went on to be one of the country’s most well-known presidents.
Visitors can get admission tickets with guided tour included online in advance of a visit. There’s a large parking lot behind the building for easy access.
19. Visit a Brewery
You might be surprised to learn that Buffalo has one of the strongest craft beer scenes in the entire country, with over 50 breweries in the area. Whether you’re a fan of beer or not, visiting at least one of the city’s breweries is one of the best things to do in Buffalo, hands down!
We tried a number of great breweries during our most recent stay in Buffalo, including the popular Resurgence Brewing Company and Larkinville’s Hydraulic Hearth. Both were fantastic, though if you have a nice-weather evening in Buffalo, Hydraulic Hearth’s massive outdoor patio can’t be beaten.
For the most comprehensive guide to the best craft breweries in Buffalo, check out the Visit Buffalo Niagara website to learn more about Ale Trail, including extensive guides to the newest and best in beer across the region.
20. Explore Delaware Park
Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, a famous landscape architect best known for designing New York City’s Central Park, Delaware Park is the green heart of Buffalo. This sprawling green space is home to gorgeous bike paths and pedestrian walkways and an endless list of summer activities and events that draw locals and visitors alike.
A favorite thing to do here is to rent paddleboats in the shape of pink flamingos, a new symbol of Buffalo that harkens back to Buffalo’s Polish American community’s historic embrace of the kitschy lawn ornaments.
End a visit to the park with lunch or dinner at The Terrace at Delaware Park. The restaurant’s expansive terrace overlooks the lake and faces the back of the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, making it the perfect place to sit out in the summer and enjoy the nice weather.
Bonus: Shop at Oxford Pennant
Oxford Pennant is one of the most unique and popular shops in Buffalo, offering a variety of handmade pennants, banners, decor, and apparel. Look out for their personalized banners and pennants throughout Buffalo; this homegrown favorite has supplied shops, restaurants, stores, and everything in between – we saw many during our visit.
Located on Main Street in downtown Buffalo, their store features ready-made best-sellers for sale and is a lovely spot to browse. You can also work with the team to design custom-made banners and more.
Oxford Pennant is quite special to us personally. We had some of our engagement photos taken inside the shop several years ago, and even used some of their pennants in our photos. We still have them at home and cherish them as one of the favorite items we saved from our wedding.
Whether you’re just looking to browse or are ready to find the perfect souvenir or guide from your time in Buffalo, visiting Oxford Pennant is an absolute must. It’s one of our favorite things to do in Buffalo, even if we’re just in town for an hour or two.