The other day I sent out a tweet, saying “Gorgeous day and having a wonderful time in Buffalo.” A follower (and STE reader) replied, saying “You don’t hear that often!” I’m afraid Buffalo totally has a bad reputation for being snow-covered year round, which of course isn’t the case. I was only there for a couple of days, and yes I chose my timing well – summer, not winter – but found heaps of things to do and places to be explored. So, if you find yourself in Western New York, or looking for a travel destination in this area, I recommend Buffalo as the perfect city break or weekend getaway. Here are a few suggestions for Buffalo sightseeing and why I enjoyed it so much.
Without question, my number one top reason to go Buffalo sightseeing is for the architecture. WOW. I had a tip that you could do a great architecture walk around downtown, which I ended up doing and was just blown away by the interesting places. Buffalo’s architecture spans several decades and styles, so things from the world’s first electrified buildings to ornate domes and carvings that wouldn’t look out of place in Italy or Spain are on every corner. Visit the tourism center before you depart to pick up a free brochure that will highlight the buildings of interest.
Just north of downtown you have a couple of public parks that are excellent for a long walk or stroll. You can bring a picnic lunch, or just grab an iced coffee on your way down the trail. My Buffalo sightseeing vote has to go for Delaware Park, which has the benefit of having the Buffalo Zoo on one end, and two of the city’s main art galleries on the other. It’s separated into to halves by a major street, which has tunnels and pedestrian overpasses, so it’s easy to get across.
Elmwood Village has been consistently voted as one of America’s most liveable neighborhoods, and once you visit, you’ll see why. Every building is brightly coloured and decorated, people seem happy and are smiling (wonder if they’re like that in winter?), and you can wander down the main street from shop to gallery to cafe. The Buffalo sightseeing starts at the top of Elmwood Avenue, where you have two major art galleries, The Burchfield Penny Art Center and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. From there heading south, you’ll hit great places like Spot Coffee (highlighted in our best restaurants in Rochester piece) and Sweet Tooth (milkshakes anyone?).
Give yourself plenty of time to walk Elmwood Ave. Linger. Poke your head in every storefront that looks interesting. You have no idea who you’ll meet.
At no point during your Buffalo sightseeing tour will you go hungry – this town knows how to eat. Highlights:
- Anchor Bar: This establishment is recognised as the home of the original Buffalo wings. I’m not a huge wings can, so I can’t claim to note any difference in taste, but some people swear by this place. You should check it out.
- Pearl Street Brewery: When I asked around for suggestions on places to eat in Buffalo, this brew pub came up consistently, and that’s because they have atmosphere, tasty food, and fresh beer all in good supply. What’s not to like?
- Cafe Aroma: Another hot pot, located up in the previously mentioned Elmwood Village.
If you can make it in July, you’ll be able to enjoy the Taste of Buffalo extravaganza. Two streets of downtown Buffalo are turned into a foodie’s paradise, and it makes it disturbingly easy to sample all of the wares of Buffalo kitchens across town.
Where To Stay
Regardless of your Buffalo plans, I strongly recommend basing yourself in downtown for the best Buffalo sightseeing experience. There are several hotels in the area, but my stay in the Comfort Suites couldn’t have been nicer. It’s just next to the mini-metro line and bus routes, and the hotel itself recently went under major refurbishments, so my room (which was, I’m afraid to say, almost bigger than my flat here in the UK) was very comfortable after a busy day of exploring Buffalo.
So, if you want to base yourself for a few days in Buffalo, sightseeing doesn’t just end there. Three top Buffalo daytrips that you can easily accomplish:
- Niagara Falls: The falls are not more than a half an hour from Buffalo, and if you haven’t seen them, you simply must! Remember that Niagara lies on the American/Canadian border, which makes things tricky. If you are driving from Buffalo, it might be easier to drive and explore the park on the American side, then walk across with your passport, which is required, and get the great view from the other side. To do everything, though, you’ll need a couple of days.
- Lockport: Lockport is an Erie Canal town, and quintessentially Americana, a short 45 minute drive away. This area is known for great walks, good food, and just relaxation.
- Rochester: It’s about 90 minutes away, but if you are in the area, I do suggest some Rochester sightseeing as well.
Editorial Disclosure: Portions of this trip were sponsored by the State of New York tourism. This sponsorship in no way affects the editorial content of this piece.
All photos by author.