What To Do In Buffalo and Niagara Falls

What To Do In Buffalo and Niagara Falls


When people say “Buffalo”, they are usually referring to the eight counties of Western New York (Erie, Niagara, Genesee, Wyoming, Orleans, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus and Allegany). There are so many things to do in Western New York that I cannot possibly list them all. I am once again concentrating on Erie and Niagara County, New York. At the end of this post I do list some popular area attractions outside these two counties under “other”. If you have anything you would like to see added to this list for Western NY, please leave a comment and I will update the list!

Buffalo

• Buffalo Architecture – known worldwide for its world class architecture, Buffalo is an architectophile’s dream from Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fontana Boathouse to his Darwin Martin House along with the Richardson-Olmsted Complex (the old psych center) to Millionaire Row on Delaware Ave, there are hundreds of turn of the 20th century buildings to be viewed in Buffalo in the surrounding areas. If you are interested, the Hotel at the Lafayette has been recently restored at a cost of over 40 million dollars. Buffalo Architecture is so outstanding, the National Preservation Conference was held in the city in October 2011 to rave reviews! This is an excellent list of architecturally significant buildings in Buffalo and those that give indoor tours.

• Buffalo Botanical Gardens

• The Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society – This is the only non government entity owning a presidential assassin weapon. While it is on permanent display, it is viewed by request only. And to go along with that, there is the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site aka the Wilcox Mansion. This is where Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated after William McKinley was assassinated during the Pan American Exposition in 1901.

• Albright Knox Art Gallery – This is a world class modern art museum. On the first Friday of the month, from 10-10, courtesy of M&T Bank, there will be free admission

Black Rock and Riverside Tour of Gardens August 3rd, 2013

Buffalo Garden Walk – July 27th and 28th, 10am-4pm

Buffalo Lighthouse

• Buffalo Museum of Science – a year round pass is the most economical way to see the Science Museum. Twice and it is paid for!

• Buffalo Naval Park

• Burchfield Penny Art Center – Across the street from the Albright Knox, it has really come into its own in recent years.

Buffalo Religious Arts Center

• Buffalo Zoo – This is the third oldest zoo in the country.

• Central Terminal Tours – This is the old train station on the East Side. If you have never seen it, I urge you to take the opportunity and see what this Art Deco train station built just before the Depression began, looks like.

• The Colored Musicians Club – According to my uncle (who frequents the club), your best night to go is Sunday at 8PM. The other bands listed are practice sessions. You go in the door on the far left. Ring the “door bell” buzzer and wait for the “click” then pull. Plenty of parking in the area.

Erie Basin Marina and Erie Basin Marina Gardens

• Erie Canal Harbor

• Forest Lawn Cemetery Tours – Notable graves include US President Millard Fillmore, Seneca Indian Chief Red Jacket, as well as Song Writer Rick James. Fascinating and beautiful.

Grain Elevators

• Forgotten Buffalo Bus Tour

Iron Island Museum

• Olmsted Park System Golf courses, running tracks, tennis courts, Japanese gardens, swing sets and more. You name it and the Olmsted Park system has it, including free Shakespeare in the Park performances beginning June 20th in Delaware Park (near the Marcy Casino).

• Pierce Arrow Museum My father and grandfather both raved about this place! Apparently it is a showcase for old Pierce Arrows (duh) as well as early automotive inventions.

Preservation Buffalo Niagara Tours

• Pumping Station Pump House Tour – People come from all over the world for this one!

• Thursday in the Square – Free downtown concerts This also lists the schedule for Buffalo Place Rocks on Fridays (those are not free)

• Tifft Farm Nature Preserve

• Ulrich’s Tavern – Open over 50,000 straight days (that is over 140 years folks), it is the oldest continuously open tavern in Buffalo

• Underground Railroad Tours – Trace the route black slaves used to make their way to freedom in Canada (remember if you plan on going into Canada you need a passport or enhanced driver’s license)

Festivals

While there is a festival (or three) every weekend in the city of Buffalo, these three of note are:

• Allentown Art Festival – June 8th and 9th

• Taste of Buffalo – July 13th and 14th

• National Chicken Wing Festival – August 31st and September 1st

Water Activities

• Buffalo Water Taxis are being operated by Buffalo Sailing Adventures 

• Catamaran

• Historic Buffalo River Tours

• Kayaking

Queen City Ferry Company – Narrated Buffalo River History Tours are available daily from 10:30am-12pm for $14 adults and $10 for children.

• Spirit of Buffalo

Erie County

• Chestnut Ridge Park

• Eden Corn Festival – August 1st – 4th

• Erie County Fair – August 7th – 18th, this is the third largest county fair in the US

• Erie County Wine Trail

• Explore & More Children’s Museum – East Aurora

• Graycliff

• Kazoo Factory – I think this is something to encourage your school to plan a field trip rather than you taking a day with the kids. However, if you are passing by Eden, it is interesting.

• Lancaster Opera House

• The Lackawanna Steel Plant Museum

• Made in the America Store – This is the only brick and mortar general merchandise store in the U.S. that sells exclusively 100% American made products. The story is interesting – the manufacturers need to send along certificates that all ingredients, components, the packaging, the glue for the boxes – everything to do with the product needs to be made in the USA.

• Martin’s Fantasy Island – Amusement Park

• The Roycroft Inn

• Vidler’s 5 and 10 – yeah I know it is a store but it is super cool… and besides East Aurora works really hard at quaint, and succeeds!

Beaches

• Beaver Island State Park

• Bennett Beach

• Evengola State Park

• Hamburg Beach

• Wendt Beach

• Woodlawn Beach

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls Pictures

• The Falls – Ok raise your hand if the only time you go is when out of town company arrives! Take a day trip and see how truly majestic The Falls are, and stay for the night-time lighting.

• If you have a passport or enhanced driver’s license something fun to do is walk across the Rainbow Bridge to Canada. I believe the cost is still $2. When you do, the flags denotes the border. Take your picture with one foot in the US, and the other foot in Canada. Sure it is touristy, but it is also kinda neat!

• Cave of Winds – Prepare to be soaked!

• Goat Island – Take the walk to see the Bridal Veil up close, as well as the American and Canadian Falls. Goat Island is the oldest state park in the US.

• Maid of the Mist – You must go at least once in your life!

• Niagara Falls Aquarium

• Observation Tower

• Click here for more Niagara Falls attractions.

Niagara County

• Art Park note that this is the Tuesday $5 concerts

• Basilica of the National Shrine of our Lady of Fatima – My grandparents would go monthly. They thought the Basilica was beautiful.

• Bedford Beach, Somerset, New York

• Devil’s Hole – a NYS Park pretty much next door to the Falls. Great for an easy hike and to see the whirlpools that result downstream of the Falls.

• Lewiston Art Festival – August 10th and 11th

• Lockport & Erie Canal Tours -Warning, this really is a slow boat!

• Niagara Country Fair – July 31st – August 4th

• Niagara County Wine Trail

• Niagara Power Project Vista

• Olcott Beach – Cute shops, a beach and an adjacent park to picnic. I honestly can’t imagine swimming there as Lake Ontario is never warm! Krull Park

• Olcott Beach Carousel Park – 25¢ rides Thanks Rebecca

• Old Fort Niagara – I’ve gone during the spring, summer and for the haunting in late October.

Other

• Allegany County Fair – July 15th – 20th

• Allegany State Park

• Amish Trail – mainly located in Cattaraugus county

• Arcade & Attica Railroad – We went yearly when Sonny-boy was young – he absolutely loved it!

• Brown’s Berry Patch – Ice cream, U-pick, food, this place is a mob scene on the weekends.

• Busti Apple Festival – September 29th

• Cattaraugus County Enchanted Mountains

• Cattaraugus County Fair – July 29th – August 4th

• Chautauqua County Fair July 22nd – 28th

• Chautauqua Institute Thanks Marissa!

• Here is a link to the Chautauqua Wine trail Thanks Kim!

• Darien Lake – There is an amusement park, concerts and camping.

•  Genesee County Fair

•  Genesee County Village and Museum

• Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge (Alabama Swamps)

• Letchworth State Park – Absolutely beautiful.

• Lily Dale

• Lucy- Desi Museum

• Orleans County Fair – July 22nd – 27th

Rock City Park – Olean Thanks Stephanie!

• Seaway Trail – Here’s a map of how little or how much you can travel it.

• Wyoming County Fair August 11th – 18th

• Zoar Valley – If you are into hiking, this is a great place.


 


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Comments

  1. Stephanie K says:

    We discovered an awesome little place in Olean, NY. It’s called Rock City Park. It’s the world’s largest exposure of quartz conglomerate. We found it listed in an area guide three years ago and have been back multiple times bringing different members of our family to check it out. It does require a bit of walking, and not all of it is on completely level ground, so we aren’t going to be able to take my grandfather (he has a bad knee), but my grandma is tired of the kids telling her how cool the place is, so as soon as the weather is nice enough (they open in May) she wants to go. The park is privately owned and a bit odd (HUGE gift shop with “unique” items, and the strangest restrooms), but it’s so fun to walk between the cracks in the rock and climb on some of the formations. Anyone near the area should check it out rockcitypark.com

  2. My niece is getting married in Niagara Falls in May

  3. OOOH – Commenting to see what is added to the list… 🙂

  4. Where did you find the time to compile such an extensive list? I’d love to see some of the places mentioned and the American store sounds like fun. Maybe one day.

    • I hope you get the chance to visit, Christina! Everyone should see Niagara Falls at least once, and WNY is where to be weather-wise from May – October! The lake the gives cold winter winds also graces us with cooling summer breezes.

      Ann

  5. If it is winter time all you do is stand in 6′ of snow, if I remember Buffalo correctly. It is just like Worcester, Massachusetts where I was born and raised, snow every where.

    • Not really Candie. You may be thinking of the ski areas about 40 miles south of the city (the snowbelt starts at Rt 20 which is about 15 miles south of South Buffalo). I’m about 20 minutes from the airport (the airport is 20 minutes from downtown, downtown is 40 minutes from me) where the snow totals are kept, and I get more snow here than I ever did when I lived in the city. The more north you go in the area, generally the less snow you get. Niagara Falls never seems to get much, but the historic lists it around 67 inches. I have no idea when those inches fell up there (seriously).

      I’d like to see the last 10 or 20 years averages because I gotta tell ya, as much as I am not a January or February snow fan (I adore snow in November and December), we just haven’t gotten that much the last 10 years or so for me to complain about (and yet I bought a condo in Florida specifically for those months!).

      Global warming!

      Ann

  6. I think you have inspired a weekend trip this summer. Fantastic information and comprehensive, so much so I tweeted, stumbled and g+.

    • Thanks you so much! There really is a lot to do at this end of the state. It surprises people, but there is a lot to do in western New York, and of course Niagara Falls is not to be missed!

      Ann

  7. Pamela White says:

    We use to live in Sterling Heights, Michigan, and would cut across Canada to the Niagara Falls/Batavia, NY, area to see my husband’s relatives. I couldn’t find where your mentioned Niagara-on-the-Lake with all the beautiful flowers in the summer, the many theaters, the Canadian fort that is opposite from Fort Niagara and all the wineries in that region that also produces ice wine.

    Yes, we too have felt the “gentle spray” on our faces from the maid of the mist boat ride!! LOLL

    If you have this region already listed I am sorry for repeat information, BUT next time you are up there say hi for me!! Thanks.

    • Niagara on the Lake is lovely, Pamela… but it is in Ontario. This post is about things to do Buffalo and Niagara Falls New York as well as the rest of Western New York. 🙂

      Ann

  8. I’ve never been, but it looks amazingly beautiful! Hope I have the opportunity to visit sometime!

  9. We’re headed to the Buffalo Zoo this summer as a family (w/ two young kids). Any suggestions on how to make it a long weekend? Where to stay and such?

    • Hubby and I just went to the zoo this morning, Lindsey. We were there for 90 minutes. With 2 young children, I am assuming you could stretch it out to up to 3 hours.

      I am going to email you. 🙂

      Ann

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