Most Popular Day Trips from Buffalo, New York

Want to explore more of the Northeast? Spice up your itinerary with some of the best day trips from Buffalo, NY. Surrounded by outstanding natural beauty and just a stone’s throw from Canada, Buffalo is a fantastic launchpad for outdoor adventures, historic towns, and tasty food.

Cross the border and explore the cosmopolitan city of Toronto, the quaint town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and the epic Niagara Falls. Or stay stateside and linger in the dreamy towns of Finger Lakes and bask in the natural beauty of the impressive Watkins Glen State Park.

Ready to see a different side of New York State? Make your stay exceptional with this guide to the most popular Buffalo side trips!

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Niagara Falls, ON

Niagara Falls needs no introduction. If you’re in the area, it’d be crazy not to make the 30-minute drive to this iconic natural wonder. Spanning across the USA and Canada, these three waterfalls are one of the world’s most breathtaking sights.

You can view Niagara Falls from the observation decks, where you’ll witness the vast curtains of water. Horseshoe Falls is the largest of the falls, towering at 167 feet while taking up a whopping 2,700 feet across.

Niagara Falls, ON

Rather get to the heart of the thundering action? Board the famed Maid of the Mist tour boat and venture through the crashing whitewater of the Horseshoe Falls basin.

Take in the awe-inspiring sight from above on the Niagara SkyWheel, one of Canada’s largest observation wheels. You’ll have panoramic views of Niagara Falls and the dramatic surrounding landscape. For an even bigger spectacle, board the wheel at night and watch the falls illuminate with hundreds of colorful lights. The color scheme is inspired by other natural beauties like sunrises and the northern lights.

To make your visit even more epic, why not see the falls while flying through the air? The 2,200-foot zipline will rip you over the Niagara River at 70 km (44 miles) per hour.

Ellicottville, NY

Around an hour’s drive from Buffalo is the adorable town of Ellicottville. This cute ski hub is an all-around crowd-pleaser. Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, or a shopaholic, you’ll be in for an action-packed day here!

Ellicottville is a mountain-lovers paradise. With two ski resorts to choose from, you’ll have a fantastic base for carving across the slopes. In the warmer months, you can throw yourself into hiking and mountain biking. Ride the chairlifts to the peaceful mountain lakes and drift in the sunshine on a kayak or paddleboard.

If you’d rather stay in town, you can lose yourself in Ellicottville’s charming village feeling. Peaceful gardens and a pretty historic district set a dreamy scene. Stroll through the walkable town center and indulge in some retail therapy. It’s a wonderful place to pick up unique souvenirs, with a refined selection of specialty boutiques and antique stores.

RELATED: Popular Tourist Attractions in Buffalo, NY

If you’ve worked up an appetite, you’ll find a mouthwatering selection of cafes and restaurants. Katy’s Cafe is a great spot for a hearty lunch. Or graze a wine flight and charcuterie board at the Winery of Ellicottville.

Letchworth State Park, NY

Soak up incredible outdoor scenery at Letchworth State Park. The park is known as the Grand Canyon of the East, thanks to its colossal gorge that tears through 17 miles of the landscape. With three waterfalls and 14,000 acres to explore, this is an opportunity to take in everything that mother nature has to offer.

Getting to Letchworth State Park takes around one hour and 20 minutes in the car from Buffalo. If you’re up for a New York road trip, there are plenty of scenic drives you can do when you get there. Pack in the highlights of the park as you cruise past impressive overlooks, waterfalls, and the rushing Genesee River.

Letchworth State Park, NY

Get deep into the treasures of Letchworth State Park by exploring the diverse range of trails on foot, bike, or horseback. If you need to cool off, there are fantastic canoeing and kayaking opportunities.

For a once in a lifetime experience, explore Letchworth State Park by hot air balloon. Drift over a patchwork of rushing water, dramatic cliff faces, and lush vegetation. Before descending deep into the Genesee River Gorge.

Toronto, ON

Drive two hours across the border, and you’ll reach the buzzing metropolis of Toronto. Canada’s largest city has a towering skyline, distinct neighborhoods, and a vibrant cultural scene. Set off early because, with so much to do in Toronto, you’ll always have an excuse to stay longer.

The shining jewel of the Toronto skyline is the CN Tower. The elegant circular spire cuts 1,820 feet into the sky. If you have vertigo, you might want to give its observation deck a miss. Sprawling views give you a vantage point for the city, Lake Ontario, and even Niagara Falls. With glass floors and floor-to-ceiling windows, you’ll feel like you’re floating above the skyscrapers.

Kensington Market in Toronto, ON

Toronto is famous for its diverse neighborhoods, each offering a window to different food, culture, and style. Get a taste of the world in areas like Greek Town, Little Jamaica, or Little Tokyo.

A must-see with just a day in Toronto, the dreamy Distillery District is full of artistic soul. Stroll through cobblestone streets and Victorian architecture as you browse galleries and boutiques. Or jump into the colorful street murals and boho style of Kensington Market.

Finger Lakes, NY

Spend some time exploring New York’s picturesque Finger Lakes region, comprising 11 slender lakes. Native American legend says the picturesque lakes were etched into the landscape when the creator reached down and blessed the earth with his hand. It’s a delight to visit, with stunning natural beauty, cute towns, and lots of outdoor fun.

Finger Lakes is two hours from Buffalo. But you might be fighting over who gets to be the designated driver! The area produces world-class wines and is home to over 400 wineries and vineyards. Lose yourself in endless tasting experiences among charming scenery and traditional interiors.

Hector Falls in Finger Lakes, NY

If you haven’t already guessed, there’s an abundance of waterside activities at Finger Lakes. Laze on sandy beaches and cool off in crisp water. Or throw yourself into watersports like canoeing and paddleboarding. Go on a boat tour or charter your own sailboat. Rather stay on dry land? Suss out a route on the beautiful network of trails.

Don’t forget to make pit stops in the adorable towns en route. Skaneateles is a pretty lakeside paradise, full of boutique stores and historic homes. While Geneva has a rich heritage and stunning landmarks.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

After your visit to Niagara Falls, why not drive the extra 25 minutes and stop at Niagara-on-the-Lake? The cute Ontario town is just an hour back to Buffalo and offers an idyllic respite after being at one of the world’s most famous attractions. The tourist buzz will feel miles away as you stroll down Victorian streets, sip on excellent wine, and gaze across Lake Ontario.

Many people say Niagara-on-the-Lake is the prettiest town in Ontario. This quaint 19th-century village will captivate you with its white verandas, blooming flowers, and wrought iron street lamps. To really step back in time, explore it by horse and cart. Or wander past the adorable vintage-style storefronts. Rummage for antiques and browse the artisan stores for fudge, cheese, and jams.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON

Niagara-on-the-Lake is also the gateway to Ontario Wine Country. The area has around 40 wineries, and they continue to collect an impressive pile of awards for the exquisite wines they produce.

Sun-soaked vineyards sweep across the hills, offering a tranquil setting for an afternoon treat. Make it a wholesome day by cycling between wineries or book a tour to get as much cork as possible out of the day.

Watkins Glen State Park, NY

Watkins Glen State Park is a shining example of the landscapes on offer in the Finger Lakes region. It’s a two-hour and 30-minute drive from Buffalo. The star of the park is a 400-foot-deep gorge left as a souvenir from the ice age. On arrival, you’ll be greeted with lush greenery, rugged cliffs, and rushing waterfalls.

Rainbow Falls in Watkins Glen State Park, NY

The most popular activity at Watkins Glen State Park is the Gorge Trail. Clamber up over 800 stone steps and bridges. The trail weaves its way through the landscape etched by the power of Glen Creek. Take in the cool air of this moss-encrusted world of looming cliffs. Walk past, over, and even under trickling water as you discover the 19 waterfalls on route. It’s a wonderful chance to take in the majesty of mother nature’s artwork.

Along the way, there are lots of smaller trails branching off to different marvels and fun activities. Find stunning viewpoints and make a splash in the Olympic-sized pool. You can also pack your fishing gear and catch rainbow trout at the nearby Seneca Lake. If you want to linger at Watkins Glen State Park, make it an overnight trip and stay at one of the campsites.

Fort Niagara State Park, NY

Outdoor lovers and history buffs won’t need to compromise on a day trip to Fort Niagara State Park. Drive 40 minutes to the dreamy shoreline of Lake Ontario, where you’ll find a preserved fort that has preserved great battles fought centuries ago.

The imposing limestone building was once a symbol of strength and protection and stands proud against the vast blue backdrop of the lake. Today, Fort Niagara State Park serves as an immersive history museum. Walk in the footsteps of Native American, French, British, and American soldiers as you tour the impressive 18th-century complex.

Fort Niagara State Park, NY

In the summers, you can get a sense of what life was like with live reenactments and artillery firing demonstrations. Cower in the thunder of the canons or watch artisans craft traditional goods.

Fort Niagara State Park’s lakeside location makes it a fantastic excuse to go on an adventure. Explore sandy shores and teeming woodlands on foot. Or get out on the water with fishing, swimming, and boating opportunities. Make sure you stay for the sunset; it’s one of the most picturesque places to watch the sun descend into Lake Ontario’s depths.

Erie, PA

Lose yourself in the pretty paradise of Erie. This Pennsylvania city is a one hour and 45-minute drive away. Resting on the shores of Lake Erie, the lakeside city offers a playground of outdoor opportunities.

The biggest attraction in Erie is Presque Isle State Park. The 3,200-acre peninsula is a sandy escape with enchanting beaches, adorable lighthouses, and relaxing hiking trails. It’s also a hot spot for migrating birds, and you’ll have the chance to spot over 300 different species.

Erie Art Museum in Erie, PA

Erie also has a colorful maritime heritage. Step on board the stunning U.S. Brig Niagara during your visit to the Erie Maritime Museum. It’s a reconstruction of the ship that helped lead soldiers to victory in the 1812 battle of Lake Erie. Learn about its history and construction with interactive and informative exhibits. Or experience life at sea in the 19th century for yourself. Sign up for their authentic sailing experiences, where you’ll be able to steer the ship and climb the rigging.

If the weather turns against you, there’s plenty to do in town. The Erie Art Museum has ancient artifacts and contemporary pieces from around the world. Treat yourself to a vibrant food scene and plenty of craft breweries and distilleries.

Allegany State Park, NY

Just over an hour from Buffalo, you’ll find the rolling valleys of Allegany State Park. The 65,000-acre state park is brimming with wildlife and outdoorsy fun. With two lakes and excellent recreational facilities, you’ll have infinite opportunities to take in the tranquil scenery.

Allegany State Park, NY

There are 18 hiking and nature trails in Allegany State Park. Varying in difficulty, the trails will take you through dense forests, bubbling creeks, and even mysterious caves. Keep an eye out for black bears, beavers, and bald eagles along the way.

In the winter, you can explore the area via cross-country skiing or snowmobiling. Cool off in the summers at Red House Lake and Quaker Lake. Still waters encased in dense green hills make this the perfect place to switch off your mind for the day. If you don’t feel like lazing on the sand, you can take to the water on a kayak, paddle boat, or stand-up paddleboard.

Canandaigua, NY

We already know that Finger Lakes is home to some of the most popular day trips from Buffalo. In the heart of the region, you’ll find the beautiful town of Canandaigua. Around an hour and 30 minutes from Buffalo, the historic town is rich in culture, while its lakeside surroundings offer scenic outdoor fun.

County Courthouse in Canandaigua, NY

As well as a vibrant food and wine scene, you’ll find plenty of cultural gems in Canandaigua. Admire the impressive mansions in the Historical District. Victorian and colonial architecture hosts a vibrant downtown of galleries and artisanal stores. Ganondagan State Historic Site explores the culture and history of the Seneca people that thrived there 350 years ago.

The star of the show is Lake Canandaigua. In the summer, the beaches are a hive of activity, with swimming, boating, and fishing on offer. It may be chillier out of season, but without the crowds, you can truly take in its tranquil beauty.


Ryan O'Rourke is a seasoned traveler and the founder & editor of Treksplorer, a fiercely independent guide to mid-range luxury travel for busy people. With over 20 years of extensive travel experience, Ryan has journeyed through over 50 countries, uncovering hidden gems and sharing firsthand, unsponsored insights on what to see & do and where to eat, drink & stay. Backed by his travel experience and in-depth research, Ryan’s travel advice and writing has been featured in publications like the Huffington Post and Matador Network. You can connect with Ryan on Twitter/X at @rtorourke.

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