The Buffalo Niagara region offers a world of exciting new experiences year-round. Here’s our list of fun things you can do with friends and a few other places you’ll want to show family when they are in town.
Chicken wings helped put Buffalo on the culinary map, and there are two restaurants that claim to serve up the best wings around: Anchor Bar, which invented the dish and is located in downtown Buffalo, and Duff’s, located in Amherst, N.Y., not far from UB’s North Campus. Try them both and declare your own wings winner!
Buffalo boasts three unique shopping districts lined with boutiques, restaurants and more:
The shops are a little edgier in this neighborhood known as the artsy part of Buffalo. If you’re looking for something a little different, you’re sure to find it here. A great way to end the evening is with a visit to Cantina Loco for fresh Mexican fare or live music at Nietzsche’s or Duke’s Bohemian Grove Bar.
Offering the best of city shopping, the independent boutiques that line the Elmwood Village — named one of the 10 best neighborhoods in the U.S. — are perfect for students. Get a unique gift at Everything Elmwood, or decorate your dorm room walls with a poster from Poster Art. Then head down the road for a fresh sandwich, soup or salad at the Globe Market.
A retail hub of some of the best stores in Buffalo, Hertel is known for its many restaurants and bars, extensive vintage antique offerings and bohemian fashions. Start at Mes Que, the place to watch football (soccer) in Buffalo, grab a taco at Lloyd Taco Factory and end with a sweet treat at Lake Effect Ice Cream.
You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to travel from Buffalo to major cities across the U.S. New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C., are all just a short flight away, making them affordable weekend getaways. Toronto, the cultural hub of Canada, is just a 90-minute drive north.
Buffalonians like a good cup of coffee, and we have plenty of coffeehouses that brew it up right. Spot Coffee is a favorite and has several nearby locations. For a great place to chat with friends or study, we also recommend Caffé Aroma, another soccer-friendly spot in the heart of the Elmwood Strip.
Buffalo sports fans are passionate about their two major professional sports teams — the Buffalo Bills (American football) and the Buffalo Sabres (ice hockey). But the area is also home to the Buffalo Bisons, the minor league affiliate of baseball’s Toronto Blue Jays; and the Buffalo Bandits, a professional indoor lacrosse team. Buffalo even has its own National Premier Soccer League (football) team, FC Buffalo.
Niagara Falls, one of the greatest natural wonders in the world, is located just a half-hour north of Buffalo. Every year millions of visitors come from around the world to see the falls, but there’s much more you can do there than snap photos. Take a ride on the Maid of the Mist, a boat that takes visitors near the falls for a spectacular view from the river, or, if you’re more adventurous, get an up-close view at Cave of the Winds or speed along the Niagara Gorge on a Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour. Over on the Canadian side of the falls is Clifton Hill, known for its entertainment, shops and restaurants.
Whether you need new clothes for a big event or casual weekend wear, Buffalo Niagara has two major shopping centers that will have exactly what you’re looking for. The Walden Galleria Mall has more than 200 retailers, including the biggest names in fashion, while the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls has 150 shops that offer discounts on designer and name-brand apparel. UB provides regular transportation from campus to the Boulevard Mall, located just a few miles from North Campus.
Buffalo’s waterfront is becoming an increasingly popular place: Visitors can soak up the sun while kayaking the Buffalo River, or enjoy one of the more than 800 events that happen at Canalside. Buffalo’s waterfront is home to century-old grain elevators, but also hosts some of the biggest names in rock, hip-hop and popular music through the Thursday at Canalside and the Buffalo Outer Harbor Concert Series.
Buffalo has lots of great ethnic restaurants, thanks to immigrants from around the world who continue to settle here. In the mood for Mediterranean cuisine? Try Amy’s Place, a favorite diner among UB students that serves vegan and vegetarian dishes. Want to try a Buffalo favorite? Head to Betty’s for brunch or Joe’s Deli’s two locations for a great sandwich. If you’re looking for Ethiopian, Peruvian or Burmese, check out the West Side Bazaar. For classic Italian cuisine, you can’t go wrong at the great Italian restaurants on Hertel and throughout the city.
When the snow starts to fall during the winter months, here are three really fun things you should do with your friends:
Ice skate at Rotary Rink, an outdoor ice rink at Fountain Plaza in downtown Buffalo. It’s one of the best winter scenes in Buffalo: The snow’s falling, people are smiling and having a great time, and you can see the lights all around from the buildings downtown.
Go sledding at Chestnut Ridge, located in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park. Chestnut Ridge’s sledding hill is one of the best around!
Snowboard or ski — or learn how to — at Holiday Valley, ranked among the top ski resorts in the Northeast.
Niagara Falls is a fun place to go with friends, and it’s also a great place to take your family. On the U.S. side of the falls, visit Niagara Falls State Park, home to more than 400 acres of lush landscape and protected wildlife. The Hard Rock Café and Top of the Falls Restaurant are nearby, and downtown Niagara Falls has plenty of good local restaurants. For a great history lesson, spend some time at Old Fort Niagara, where the U.S. fought to control the Great Lakes region of North America.
Or cross the border into Canada, and after you see a different view of the falls, be sure to visit culturally elegant Niagara-on-the-Lake, home to great theater, food, shopping and wineries
Explore your wild side with a trip to the Buffalo Zoo, located in the city’s beautiful Parkside neighborhood. Be sure to visit the polar bear exhibit and check out the zoo’s habitats for Siberian tigers and other exotic animals.
Buffalo is home to a bustling theater scene. Some of the best Broadway shows come through historic Shea’s Performing Arts Center. Buffalo has a strong theater scene with a range of productions at venues that include Alleyway Theatre, Buffalo United Artists, Irish Classical Theatre Company and Theatre of Youth.
Led by world-renowned conductor JoAnn Falleta, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra performs traditional and contemporary classical music at Kleinhans Music Hall, a National Historic landmark, and at outdoor venues around the region during warmer months.
Buffalo is home to some of the greatest American architecture of the late 19th- and early 20th-centuries. This isn’t our assertion — it’s from The New York Times! Get ready to experience multiple works by Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as Louis Sullivan’s ornate Guaranty Building. You can also take advantage of a number of free and low-cost walking tours of some of the city’s best-known places.
There are lots of fun places to take your family — all are just a short drive away. One of the best is Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” If you’re looking for even more thrills, ride a roller-coaster at Darien Lake, an amusement park 45 minutes east of Buffalo.
Buffalo’s Olmsted Parks System is a local treasure that was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York City’s famed Central Park. The crown jewel is Delaware Park, where you can set up a picnic lunch or take a leisurely walk along a route that passes the Buffalo Zoo. In the summer, the park is home to outdoor theater with Shakespeare in Delaware Park.
Next-door to Delaware Park is the world-renowned collection of modern art at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, and the best of Western New York’s art scene at the Burchfield-Penney Art Center. Then you can head over to the Buffalo History Museum and marvel at the beautiful Japanese garden and Mirror Lake.