Buffalo is a laidback city on the shores of Lake Erie with an unorthodox art scene and gorgeous Art Deco architecture. The city boomed during the 19th century as a key part of the Great Lakes shipping industry, but today the warehouses and silos have been repurposed as craft breweries, cosy taverns and contemporary art galleries.

    With its revitalised waterfront and extensive park system, Buffalo offers plenty of outdoor activities for the adventurous. And in spite of being the 2nd biggest city in the States, there's definitely a friendly, small-town feel here. Ready to explore Queen City? Check out our guide to the best things to do in a day in Buffalo.

    What are the best things to do in Buffalo, New York?


    Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House Complex

    Explore the 15,000-sq-ft complex of 6 interconnected buildings

    • Families
    • History
    • Photo

    Designed for a wealthy local businessman in 1903, Frank Lloyd Wright considered the Martin House Complex his masterpiece. The light, open-plan buildings give nearly every room views over the sweeping gardens, but the showpiece is undoubtedly the 400 intricate and colourful stained-glass windows which took years to complete.

    Wright designed every part of the complex himself, from the furniture to the light fittings. 1- and 2-hour guided tours of the interior are available, while separate tours take you around the historic grounds and conservatory.

    Location: 125 Jewett Parkway Buffalo, NY 14214, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 3 pm (tours leave every hour)

    Phone: +1 716-856-3858


    photo by Marjoram51 (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified


    Niagara Square

    Charming architecture and killer views in the heart of Buffalo

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    • Photo

    Niagara Square is the central hub of Buffalo's radial street pattern and the oldest part of the city. There is a small, peaceful garden with numerous signs explaining the history of the beautiful Art Deco buildings surrounding the square.

    Stop in at City Hall before you leave to admire the beautiful murals in the grand lobby. Then climb up to the viewing platform on the top floor (Monday-Friday from 8am to 4pm), where you can see the whole of the city laid out along Lake Erie. On a clear day, you can even make out the city of Niagara Falls on the horizon.

    Location: Buffalo, NY 14202, USA

    Phone: +1 716-851-4200


    photo by Andre Carrotflower (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Albright-Knox Gallery

    Browse an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art

    • History

    Albright-Knox Gallery has been actively collecting since 1862. Their remarkable collection includes work by artists like Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, and Frida Kahlo. Temporary exhibitions showcase cutting edge photography and thought-provoking works by contemporary artists.

    Located in Buffalo's cultural district, the gallery has a sculpture garden where you can see some of the larger pieces. Public tours with knowledgeable guides are offered from Thursdays to Sundays. Finish up with a glass of wine on the cafe terrace and admire the artsy view across the grounds.

    Location: 1285 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 716-882-8700


    photo by Dave Pape (CC0 1.0) modified


    Market Arcade

    Buy vintage and local crafts in a historic Beaux-Arts building

    • Shoppers
    • Budget

    Market Arcade is a Beaux-Arts building dating from 1892 that houses a collection of Buffalo's finest independent and boutique shops. Stores across 3 floors sell everything from jewellery handmade by local artisans at Buffalo Adore to Rust Belt Love's custom-made stationery.

    When you're all shopped out, grab a coffee and crepe at Maison Le Caer patisserie. You can also wander around three floors of free public art which rotates monthly. And the building's architecture is a work of art in itself – check out the bison sculptures on the front facade that proclaim the building's civic pride.

    Location: 617 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14203, USA

    Open: Monday–Friday from 8 am to 9 pm, Saturday from 9 am to 5 pm, Sunday from 10 am to 2 pm.

    Phone: +1 716-220-8468


    photo by Andre Carrotflower (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Buffalo Botanical Gardens

    A tranquil refuge from the city's bustle

    • Families
    • Couples
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    Buffalo Botanical Gardens combines extraordinary architecture and landscaping with trees and flowers from all over the globe. The 19th-century conservatory shelters warm weather plants like fruit trees, palms and orchids and provides a little taste of the tropics even in the depths of winter.

    There are exhibitions on the history of the garden, displays of medicinal plants, and an aquatic garden with ponds full of koi carp. There are 1-hour guided tours available with advance bookings as well as hands-on activities for kids in Wegmans Family Garden.

    Location: 2655 South Park Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14218, USA

    Open: Tuesday from 10 am to 9 pm, Wednesday–Monday from 10 am to 4.30 pm

    Phone: +1 716-827-1584


    photo by Daderot (CC0 1.0) modified


    Buffalo Zoo

    A huge diversity of animals in naturalistic surroundings

    • Families
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    Kids will be entranced by the fascinating animal exhibits at Buffalo Zoo, which include lions, giraffes, red pandas and cute capybaras. The Rainforest Falls exhibit, which mimics conditions in the South American jungle, is particularly popular, as is the newly opened Arctic Edge exhibit and its resident arctic foxes and polar bears.

    Workshops are available with zookeepers involving hands-on activities behind the scenes, and there's even the opportunity to camp out overnight in the Ecostation Exhibit and observe the secret life of nocturnal animals.

    Location: 300 Parkside Avenue, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA

    Open: Daily from 10 am to 5 pm

    Phone: +1 716-837-3900


    photo by Jim Bowen (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Take a cruise around Buffalo Harbor

    See a whole new side to the city

    • Families
    • Photo

    Enjoy a relaxing tour of Buffalo from the water and learn more about the city's maritime history. Several local companies run 1- and 2-hour cruises around Lake Erie and along Buffalo River.

    Take a narrated tour that explains the history and architecture of sites like Black Rock Lock and Silo City, or go on a party trip around the lake with a fully stocked bar, cocktails and live music. There are also traditional red-sail schooners that offer peaceful sunset sails and pirate adventures for kids. Most cruises depart from Prime Street’s Canalside at the south end of the waterfront.

    Location: Canalside, Prime Street, Buffalo, NY 14202, USA


    photo by JimsFlicker (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Eat beef on weck

    The quintessential Buffalo dining experience

    Beef on weck is a Buffalo speciality, consisting of roast beef on kummelweck (a bread roll topped with kosher salt and caraway seeds). This dish was most probably brought to the city by German immigrants in the 19th century. Nearly every eatery in Buffalo serves this popular dish, but there are a handful of places that stand out.

    Grab a quick lunch at Charlie the Butcher's, run by celebrity chef Charlie Roesch, where the chefs carve up the meat right in front of you at the counter. Schwabl’s, in West Seneca, is a Buffalo institution that has been serving sandwiches topped with their special horseradish since 1942. Or, if you like German-influenced menus and imported European beers, satisfy your cravings at Ulrich’s Tavern on Virginia St.

    photo by Nick Gray (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified


    Snack on Buffalo wings at Anchor Bar

    The bar food that made Buffalo famous

    You might be able to eat them at any pub in American, but Buffalo wings were invented right here at the Anchor Bar in 1964. The sauce is made using a secret recipe, which means you're getting the original, authentic taste.

    Anchor Bar offers a full menu of bar food and a range of draft beers, and you can listen to live jazz on Friday and Saturday nights. You can also buy bottles of the sauce in 6 different flavours to take home with you.

    Location: 1047 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14209, USA

    Open: Monday–Thursday from 11 am to 10 pm, Friday from 11 am to 11 pm, Saturday from noon to 11 pm, Sunday from noon to 10 pm

    Phone: +1 716-883-1134


    photo by Yuri Long (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Buffalo's brewery district

    Unwind at Pearl Street Grill & Brewery with a glass of local brew

    • History
    • Photo

    Buffalo's brewery district has experienced a resurgence in recent years, with the renovations of several craft breweries and taprooms. One of its standout venues is Pearl Street Grill & Brewery, a beautifully restored brewpub in a historic converted warehouse building.

    There are 8 bars within the 4-floor venue, where you'll find signature beers brewed on-site, seasonal options, and a pub menu of burgers and wings. When the weather is nice, make sure to get there earlier in the evening to grab a seat on the wrap-around patio.

    Location: 76 Pearl Street, Buffalo, NY 14202, USA

    Open: Daily from 11 am to 1 am

    Phone: +1 716-856-2337


    photo by Reading Tom (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Victoria Hughes | Contributing Writer

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    Attractions and experiences recommended in our guides may be affected. Please check local guidance before you travel.

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