10 Best Attractions in the Buffalo, New York Area



The Silo City is full of cultural treasures and is currently seeing a movement to preserve a number of historical buildings from the 19th century. Many visitors are also attracted to the more modern works of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, who has several famous homes in the area.

Neighboring Lake Erie (with Lake Ontario not far away), waterways have played an important role in Buffalo's development. For a chance to see the city from the water, set sail on the Spirit of Buffalo for a scenic day cruise or evening sunset sail. Buffalo serves as the gateway to the world-famous Niagara Falls, with the state park offering sweeping views of the falls and a chance to feel the mist without the need for a passport.

Nearby, the Niagara Wine Trail is being touted as one of the up-and-coming wine regions and several wineries are open to the public for tastings and tours. Sports lovers can take in a Buffalo Bills game at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the only professional NFL football stadium in New York State.

To make your decisions easier, we've narrowed down a list of 10 of our top choices for activities and attractions in the Buffalo area. These must-sees are vetted by local experts who share their wealth of knowledge on what to do in Buffalo, New York.



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The third oldest zoo in the United States, this 23-acre park is dedicated to the preservation of wild species from around the world and is a participant in global conservation efforts. More than 1,000 animals are housed here, among them are the potoroo, a marsupial from Australia, and the lesser galago, a small bushbaby from Africa. Other animals include grizzly, Kodiak, and polar bears (including two new cubs that made national news); red pandas; reindeer; tamarins; Indian rhinos and meerkats, as well as an array of reptiles and birds. A Children's Zoo, the interactive World of Wildlife Discovery Center, and a handful of small amusement park rides also featured at this park.


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Eternal Flame Falls
Photo courtesy of Bob Lennartz


 

Hidden deep in Chestnut Ridge Park, the Eternal Flame Falls are a natural phenomenon and make a memorable day hike for visitors. As one of a few hundred "eternal" flames worldwide, it is fed by a natural gas seep that breaks through the earth's surface. The park also has bicycle and hiking trails, picnic Areas, playgrounds, tennis courts, and a disk-golf course. In the winter, it is ideal for cross-country skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, and is even equipped with two towers and four chutes for tobogganing. The Eternal Flame hiking trail is a little challenging, but clearly marked and fun for the kids.


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The micro-climate near the Great Lakes allows for the production of fine wines including Riesling, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Syrah, and ice wines. As a bonus, Western New York also has a wide selection of fine cheese, so you can pair your selections from local wineries. There are currently 19 wineries within a short drive from Buffalo, and plenty of B&Bs and restaurants for an overnight getaway. The Niagara Wine Trail has been steadily growing each year, and now includes many award-winning wineries, an "urban" winery located on the Erie Canal, a "haunted" winery, and even a cidery (featuring hard apple ciders).


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This oasis will surprise and makes a perfect reprieve on a cold day in the city. As visitors enter, they are greeted by the 67-foot Palm Dome that is full of palms and tropical fruit trees. Wander through different ecosystems including the Florida Everglades and the cloud forests of Panama. The desert house showcases species from the American and African deserts, including a giant cacti and agave plant, while the centerpiece of the Fem House and Ancient Rainforest is a 30-foot waterfall surrounded by banana trees. Don't miss the medicinal plant house to get a better understanding on how they are used in traditional, herbal and modern medicines.


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Founded officially in 1862, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is among the world's leading collections of international sculptures and paintings, including works from the 20s and 30s that showcase Cubism, Surrealism, and Constructivism. This museum houses a formidable lineup of artists, including Picasso, Renoir, Monet, Matisse, and Van Gogh. The gallery's collection is especially rich in post-war American and European art, but in recent years it has been significantly increasing its number of modern art pieces as well. A restaurant and gift shop are also on-site, drawing classes are held for children, and public tours are available Thursday through Sunday. Be aware that they are closed on Monday.


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Buffalo is proud to be home to the NFL's Bills, the team that went to the Superbowl four times in a row (and lost). The Bills are housed at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and win or lose their die-hard fans are going to celebrate. If you're in town during football season, home games are a must-see and even last-minute tickets are usually quite reasonable. The Gameday Experience (staged in the field house by the stadium), consists of several hours of entertainment, interactive games and youth competitions prior to the big game. Training camp is located at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.


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Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House


 

Built in 1904, this house showcases the talents of one of America's premiere architects. Frank Lloyd Wright designed the home, which has a 100-foot covered arbor, a glass roof conservatory, and a classic horizontal streamlined design. In 2013 the home saw a $50 million restoration effort so it is even more stunning, and features long banded windows, pitched roofs, and distinctly over-hanging eaves. The Martin House is over 10,000-square feet and features Wright's "Prairie House" concept and is referred to as his "opus." Reservations are strongly required. The all-inclusive day tour includes a trolley ride to six of Wright's visionary designs around the Buffalo area, but is only available on select dates throughout the year.


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The fort, which sits on the head of the Niagara River, shares a tri-cultural history. First held by La Salle and his French troops in 1678, the fort eventually was a stronghold for both the British and Americans. The oldest structure on the grounds dates back to 1726, and visitors can explore almost every inch of it - like the bunkers and the French castle. Special events are planned during the summer months and include cannon and musket firing demonstrations, reenactments, and guided tours. Watch artisans at work and learn about life on the Niagara Frontier during the 18th and early 19th centuries.


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Spirit of Buffalo
Photo courtesy of Amber Nolan


 

Inspired by the schooners and sunset voyages in Key West, Florida, the Spirit of Buffalo is a relaxing and fun-filled adventure on Lake Erie. Operated by the Hilliman family who have a lifetime of sailing experience, every inch of the vessel has a personal touch - right down to the teak and mahogany woodwork. Several types of cruises are available on the tall sailing ship, including the "Wind and Wine" cruise with tastings from the local Niagara Wine Trail, as well as a chance to see some stunning sunsets. Kids will love the pirate cruise, with swashbuckling stories, face painting, a treasure hunt, and music - hosted by professional pirates.


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Niagara Falls State Park
Photo courtesy of Niagara Falls State Park


 

Considered one of the "Wonders of the World," this state park is America's oldest, and each year tourists make the short drive from Buffalo to watch more than 750,000 gallons rush over the edge each second. The park includes the entire expanse of land that borders the American side of Niagara Falls, where in 2012 onlookers gathered to watch daredevil Nik Wallenda walk across the falls to Canada on a tightrope. The park is highlighted by Three Sisters Island, Prospect Point, Goat Island, and Luna Island at Bridal Falls and features a visitor's center, the Niagara Falls Discovery Center, and an observation tower. It is open year round for hiking, biking, fishing, and cross-country skiing.


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Meet Amber Nolan

Originally from upstate New York, this restless traveler has a knack for befriending interesting characters. You can usually find her just about anywhere that has a hammock. Amber's favorite...  More About Amber

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