17 Cool Things to Do in Buffalo On Your Upstate New York Vacation

Planning an excursion through Western New York? Take this chance to experience all the best things to do in Buffalo, NY! Nestled on the shores of Lake Erie, Buffalo is teeming with Upstate New York culture, lush natural beauty, and fascinating historic sites.

Architecture aficionados will have no shortage of sightseeing and tourist attractions to check out, from City Hall to the original Prairie House. Traverse state and local parks, then watch sailboats by the Canalside. Immerse yourself in maritime history at the Buffalo Naval Park and cruise by the Pierce-Arrow Museum to peruse the collection of classic cars.

Having trouble deciding what to do? Use this complete guide to map out the best places to visit in Buffalo, New York!

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The Buffalo Zoo

Traveling with wildlife lovers? Save a few hours in your itinerary to meet over 1,200 animals at the Buffalo Zoo. Little zoologists in your family will have a ball galavanting through the immersive exhibits and diverse species at the third-oldest zoo in the nation.

The Buffalo Zoo

Start your Buffalo Zoo visit by joining feeding demonstrations in Sea Lion Cove, watching the goofy aquatic mammals splash about. Cool down in Arctic Edge, and say hello to Luna and Sakari, the polar bears.

Things get steamy as you’re transported to the Amazon in Rainforest Falls. Observe the colorful birds flitting about as the call of the white-faced saki echoes through the trees.

Take a break to let the kids burn off some energy at the playground. Then, stop by the Big Cats habitat and spot the majestic lions and tigers prowling about.

After roaming the zoo, head to Jam Parkside for a spiced chai latte or unique coffee creations like their orange mocha.


Whether you plan to spend a few hours or a full day, fun times await at Canalside. There’s truly something for everyone at this revitalized waterfront. From outdoor recreation to local restaurants, shopping, and live entertainment, this corner of Buffalo has it all!

Fuel up at Spot Coffee with freshly roasted coffee, then enjoy freshwater fun at Canalside Beach. Build sandcastles, climb the rocks, and let little ones roleplay in the tugboat.

Get out on the Erie Canal in a kayak, on a paddleboard, or take a bike ride along the boardwalk. Pop into the Longshed and witness the building of a canal boat replica from 1825.

Just before sunset, trek down to the Outer Harbor. This jetty of land offers unbeatable views of the sunset across Lake Erie. Grab a seat on the Adirondack chairs, kick back, and relax with panoramic views of the golden sunset.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Looking for a respite from Buffalo’s bustling downtown? Find harmony among the flourishing local and exotic flora at The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens. This one-of-a-kind greenhouse is more like a castle for plants, offering a series of interconnected exhibits.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Notice the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens’ likeness to a crystal palace with immaculate, domed greenhouses flanked by manicured greenery. Enter the Palm Dome, and take in the exotic atmosphere of palms, chocolate trees, and Ponderosa Lemon trees.

Pass by the koi pond in the Aquatic Garden, following the sounds of the waterfall into the Asian Rainforest. Feel at peace among blooming orchids and sturdy bamboo.

Relax by the world’s largest public ivy collection, waiting for the Venus Fly Trap to catch some dinner. Let your young ones explore the Children’s Garden and engage their senses by digging, smelling herbs and flowers, and making friends in the butterfly garden.

Buffalo Museum of Science

Searching for ways to keep your family entertained while in Buffalo, NY? Teens and toddlers alike will be fascinated by the array of immersive exhibits at the Buffalo Museum of Science. Over 700,000 artifacts and hands-on experiments inspire curiosity for all ages.

Watch your children’s eyes widen in wonder as they enter the Buffalo Museum of Science and are faced with massive skeletons of Seymour the Mastodon and his buddy, Stanley the Albertosaurus. Make your way to Our Marvelous Earth and experience storms in the wind chamber, then engineer a wall of gears in Motion Studio.

If you’re brave enough, touch creepy crawly insects and learn about their unique body parts in Bug Works, then catch a flick in the National Geographic 3D Cinema.

Young learners will find endless fun in SensERIE, where they’ll get their hands wet at the water table and play with light and shapes on the light board.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House

Architecture fanatics will want to set aside an afternoon to tour Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House. Learn about the origins of the Prairie House and the man who invented this classic American style. Don’t miss the chance to see the original Prairie House design in the quaint Parkside neighborhood.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House

Begin your estate escapades at the Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion, the welcome center for the campus. Meet with knowledgeable docents, browse exhibits about Buffalo architecture and the Martin family, and watch a short film about the making of the Martin House.

Wandering the property, you’ll see that Wright’s style was influenced by the natural colors and shapes of the Midwest. Appreciate the thin, earth-toned bricks of the mansion, surrounded by flourishing gardens.

Follow a guide through the open space plan, admiring the seemingly effortless flow of one room to the next. Bask in the natural light streaming in through the 16 unique stained glass windows.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

Curious about the top spots in Buffalo for history buffs? Visit the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site to take a time machine to 1901. Experience the day Theodore Roosevelt was elected as the 26th president, see the Gilded Age through a new lens, and discover the stories of this historic site.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site

Feel the history around you as you walk the same path Theodore Roosevelt once took toward the grand Colonial-style building. Pass by the imposing columns and into the opulent space, lavishly decorated with 20th-century decor. The ornately carved wooden fireplace, shelves stocked with antique books, and the dining room set for dinner make it easy to imagine the home as it was in the 1900s.

In the Pan-American Exposition exhibit at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, your docent will discuss the political tensions of the time and encourage you to think about the parallels between then and now. This thought-provoking tour inspires conversation and contemplation.

Buffalo Naval Park

Military history fans are in for a treat at the Buffalo Naval Park. Situated on the Canalside, visitors can witness four mighty naval vessels, fighter jets, a tank, and much more. Immerse yourself in maritime history at the country’s biggest inland naval park.

Buffalo Naval Park

At Buffalo Naval Park, you’ll pass by the USS Croaker, an iconic WWII submarine that once carried 80 crewmembers through the Pacific theater, and her dockside neighbor, USS The Sullivans. Take your time touring each of these ships, visualizing what it was like to live and serve aboard.

Gaze at the intricate web of satellite towers and radars atop the USS Little Rock. Climb inside and test the Maritime Simulator to learn how to operate this massive ship.

Wander the yard and stare in awe at the sheer enormity and grandeur of the aircraft and 22-ton M-41 tank. Inside the museum, browse the military artifacts, patches, medals, and a P-39 Airacobra jet hanging from the ceiling.

Delaware Park

Delaware Park is one of Buffalo’s most beautiful areas for embracing the great outdoors. Whether you’re in need of a tranquil garden or some recreational fun, this park has it all. As it’s just south of the Buffalo Zoo, you could easily combine these two popular Buffalo day trips for a full day of fun.

Delaware Park

Meander through 350 acres of well-manicured trails at Delaware Park, passing the Scajaquada Creek and blooming local flowers. Make your way to the serene waters of Hoyt Lake, graced by willow trees along its shores. Rent a quirky flamingo boat at Hoyt Lake Row Boats or something more traditional. Avid golfers will be delighted to practice their swing at the Delaware Park Golf Course.

Grab a table at The Terrace and indulge in lobster rolls and a glass of wine with views of the lake. Then, stroll over to the Buffalo History Museum or one of the many art museums to the west of the park.

Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum

Antique car devotees are in luck: The Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum is the perfect place for automobile enthusiasts to spend a few hours in motorcar heaven. Browse the finest cars manufactured in Buffalo and an array of other related artifacts and exhibits.

Jim and Mary Ann Sandoro have worked for decades to perfect the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum, traveling the country to curate a totally unique collection. Ogle at Buffalo-made luxury automobiles from Pierce Arrow Motor Car Company and Thomas Flyer. These early 1900s cars gleam proudly, restored back to their former glory.

American history seeps from the Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum, from the 1900 Jell-O wagon and 1950s muscle cars to the high-wheel cycles and velocipedes.

Frank Lloyd Wright fans will be awestruck by the museum’s full-size gas station, made with the architect’s original plans. This 1927 design was complete with Wright’s vision of copper roofs and a fancy upstairs sitting area.

Buffalo City Hall

Interested in jaw-dropping architecture or unbeatable city views? During a downtown excursion, make a stop at the Buffalo City Hall. Come for the glamorous Art Deco-style construction, and stay for the stunning views from the top.

Buffalo City Hall

Even blocks away, you can see the tip of the Buffalo City Hall shooting 398 feet into the sky. Admire the iconic Art Deco design of the building, ornate carvings, and detailing of the foyer inside.

Ascend the 28 floors, and be greeted with stunning sights on the Observation Deck. Soak in the panoramic views, with downtown to the east and Lake Erie to the west. Read the guides inscribed on the windows to understand what you’re looking at outside.

Cut through Niagara Square, heading towards Osteria 166 for an authentic Italian dinner. Dig into rich risotto, flavorful chicken parmesan, and creamy carbonara. Swing by on a Thursday or Friday for added ambiance with live music.

Buffalo Harbor State Park

Looking for a family-friendly outdoor destination in Buffalo? Ideal for a morning stroll or a lakeside afternoon, Buffalo Harbor State Park hosts a number of outdoor activities and lovely views. Combine a trip to this park with your adventure through the neighboring Tifft Nature Preserve.

Mosey or bike along the paved path at Buffalo Harbor State Park, bordered by a charming rock wall and the sparkling waters of Lake Erie beyond. Stop to rest by Small Boat Harbor, people-watching the local fishermen and checking out the sailboats. Let your little tykes tackle the fish-themed playground, then rent a kayak or paddleboard and ride the harbor’s calm tides.

Comb the shores and climb the rocks at Gallagher Beach. Perch yourself on one of the picnic tables and look out at Buffalo Outer Harbor. Take in the picturesque scenes of the waves lapping at the shore and the Buffalo Harbor Lighthouse across the way.

Eternal Flame Falls

A miracle, a prank, or an act of nature? Witness the ever-glowing flame at Eternal Flame Falls. This majestic yet mysterious natural wonder is about 20 minutes south of Buffalo and is a must-see while in upstate New York.

Eternal Flame Falls

Lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails. Trek through the pine forest along the moderately difficult Eternal Flame Trail. Stamp up steep slopes, down slippery patches, and sometimes through the creek. Eventually, you’ll hear the roar of the waterfall in the distance. As the trees open up to the Eternal Flame Falls grotto, you’ll spy the orange flame flickering from behind the screen of water.

Caused by a natural (safe) gas leak in the rock, this self-fueled flame ceaselessly burns inside its rocky cavern. Splash about in the water, then continue on through the trails. Advanced hikers can take the Orienteering Trail for a challenge or the Reservoir Trail for a leisurely walk.

Sahlen Field

Minor League fans will find baseball bliss at Sahlen Field. Catch a game at one of the country’s iconic minor league baseball fields and home to the Buffalo Bisons. Families will love the lively ballpark atmosphere laden with history.

Sahlen Field

Walking into the classic retro ballpark, feel the buzz in the air as spectators prepare to cheer for their team. As you head to your seat, energized by the vibrant green field, you’ll understand why Saheln Field inspired the construction of many others countrywide. Hoot for your team as the players round the bases and say hello to the mascot, Buster T. Bison.

Enjoy dinner and a show at Pub at the Park. Grab a seat at this mezzanine-level ballpark eatery, make your way through the buffet, and swig some local brews on tap. Or, for a more intimate way to view the game, head up to the Bully Box, the stadium’s full bar.

Burchfield Penney Art Center

Eager to dive into Buffalo’s vivacious art scene? Spend an afternoon immersed in fascinating art at the Burchfield Penney Art Center. From 19th-century masterpieces to performative and modern art, this center encourages visitors to interpret the messages of the works.

Follow peaceful, winding paths sandwiched between Delaware Park to the east and the sprawling Buffalo State University campus to the west. At the Burchfield Penney Art Center, wander through the 16 rotating and permanent art galleries or follow a docent for specifics about the artists and pieces.

Browse the world’s largest collection of Charles E. Burchfield’s watercolor pieces and sketches. Tour the Totemic exhibition and ponder classic Indigenous totem pole-inspired art designed with a modern perspective. Consider what it means to be royalty in Taeyoul Ryu’s Royalty exhibit, browsing larger-than-life crown-like sculptures. Reflect on LEROI’s Living in Color as you gaze upon his vivid acrylic on canvas paintings.

Big Ditch Brewing Company

Hunting for Buffalo’s finest brews? Nestled in the heart of downtown, Big Ditch Brewing Company offers legendary craft beer in an unbeatable vibe. Craft beer connoisseurs will rave about Big Ditch brews long after leaving Buffalo.

An industrial garage-turned brewery, Big Ditch Brewing Company boasts a laid-back atmosphere. Choose first-floor high-top seating or spread on the second floor at a dining room table. Hungry? Order comfort food with a twist. Try the crab rangoon flatbread, a classic Reuben sandwich, or homemade mac and cheese.

Sip on one of their signature brews or choose a flight of five mini glasses to sample the different beers. Hop obsessed? Grab the Hayburner, an IPA with hints of citrus, or the Excavator, a malty brown ale.

Big Ditch brewmasters also love experimenting with seasonal flavors. Quench your thirst with the summer-themed Dock Jams hibiscus and grape jelly sour or the cozy Cinnamon Apple Amber Ale in the autumn.

Tifft Nature Preserve

Connect with Mother Nature at the Tifft Nature Preserve. Spend a couple of hours following hiking trails past marshes and meadows, likely meeting wildlife along the way. Nature lovers will find peace at this sanctuary, and families will find a whole lot of outdoor fun.

Take the Mounds ByPass Trail through the woodlands of the Tifft Nature Preserve. Eventually, it opens up to a lush meadow, where you may encounter rabbits and deer if you tread quietly.

Loop around the Heritage Boardwalk Trail, trekking through forested paths that lead to a wooden boardwalk over the wetlands. Bring a pair of binoculars and mosey around the cattail marsh, spotting local species of waterfowl, herons, osprey, and more.

In the winter, stop by the Education Center and rent some snowshoes to march around the snowy preserve. Cross the road to Buffalo Harbor State Park, where you can take in the jaw-dropping views across Lake Erie.

Anchor Bar

Buffalo wings: They’re tangy, spicy, dipped in bleu cheese, and a true icon. Ever stop to wonder where they came from? Learn the origin story and taste the original buffalo wings at Anchor Bar. Prepare to have your taste buds blown away by the secret family recipe.

Anchor Bar

Head down Main Street and pull into the Anchor Bar, a low-key brick building. Inside, your eyes will be drawn to the eclectic collection of vanity license plates and Americana memorabilia adorning the walls.

Start off with a themed cocktail like the fruity Buffalo Blitz, the Anchor Bar Bloody Mary, or a refreshing draft beer.

After ordering drinks, the moment of truth has arrived: It’s time to taste those glorious wings. Dig into their legendary wings or try out other popular dishes like coconut shrimp fried green beans, or pizza.

If you fall in love with the wing sauce, one of the best things to do in Buffalo, NY, is to bring a bottle home with you as a delectable souvenir.


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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