Visiting Buffalo - What to See and Do
(Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) Buffalo, New York, USA)
Tucked into the southwestern corner of New York state, the city of Buffalo is often overshadowed by its most glamorous neighbor Niagara Falls. However, this blue-collar city on the shores of Lake Erie has a refreshingly relaxed atmosphere to it and can certainly fit the bill when a quick weekend getaway is required.
Buffalo has a handful of cultural attractions like the city's philharmonic orchestra and the impressive Albright Knox Gallery. Add a solid dose of sporting excitement courtesy of the city's professional NFL football team the Bills, or its NHL hockey team the Sabres, and you are guaranteed some form of entertainment any time of year.
The city also has one of the nicest public parks systems in New York, woven right into the gritty industrial-era downtown. There are great restaurants, more than a few local bars to explore and several quality theaters where you can catch a play, a concert or other special cultural events.
Ten things you must do in Buffalo
- Let the ones who know give you the lowdown on the colorful history and period attractions of this industrial city. Buffalo Tours is a great outfit running guided tours that focus on the popular Millionaire's Row, Parkside neighborhood and waterfront district currently enjoying a major revival. Tour guides tell about the way things were during the glory days and can maximize the efficiency of your city sightseeing.
- The real treasure of Buffalo is the artwork contained in the Albright Knox Gallery. This incredible venue has over 5,000 pieces of priceless art to choose from, but its exhibits are perfectly balanced with just enough art to give visitors time to absorb it all. The gallery also attracts some of the best touring exhibits in the country, so be sure to plan a half day to explore the goods inside.
- There are some extraordinary homes in Buffalo, but the 1927 Graycliff home is a real gem. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and sitting on a cliff edge overlooking Lake Erie, this structure is as dramatic as they come. Graycliff epitomizes the concept of organic architecture, and visitors can choose the one-hour tour or sign up for the two-hour or four-hour tours that explore the home in great detail.
- Frank Lloyd Wright loved Buffalo, building his self-described 'opus' home here in 1906. The Darwin D. Martin House is an absolute marvel of Wright's architectural brilliance. The guided tours expose all the hidden nooks and subtle lines of the home and its property, which integrates nature into every angle. An equally impressive visitor center was recently opened on the site in 2009, to add even more background to this special home.
- Enjoy a cruise along Lake Erie's shoreline, one of America's Great Lakes, and get a whole new perspective on this city and its environment. The Miss Buffalo II is one of the more popular ships that take passengers out on half-day cruises along the city shore and beyond. Boats depart from the Erie Basin Marina in downtown for fun and informative tours.
- Of the many excellent public parks in Buffalo, Delaware Park is easily the best of the bunch. This 142-hectare / 350-acre beauty was designed by the same man who laid out New York City's Central Park. A perfect balance of open meadows and quiet paths create an atmosphere ideal for any mood. In summer, the park hosts frequent evening performances at its outdoor stage.
- You can get a look into the six Native American tribes who once lived in the area at the Seneca Iroquois National Museum. Though small, this museum has a number of interesting exhibits, including a replica longhouse and all kinds of beautiful beadwork and crafts. It doesn't gloss over the plight of the local Indians, however, telling the story of their displacement in a special, heart-wrenching exhibit.
- This city is very passionate about its two professional sports teams. The NFL Bills are one of the best American football teams in the league, playing their home games at the Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park. If hockey is your sport, then catch the NHL Sabres at the HSBC Center downtown during their winter season. Your hotel can often arrange tickets to these games.
- The Erie Canal literally transformed this region of America in its earliest days. You can experience the power and function of the canal on a two-hour boat cruise that passes through the Lockport Locks. Watch as your boat gets raised almost 50 feet / 15 meters up the Niagara Escarpment. The ride is very mellow, but passes by some truly beautiful scenery along the way.
- There is plenty to do after dark in downtown Buffalo, suiting those looking for after hours attractions and entertainment. Head straight to Chippewa Street for a round of fun rowdy bar-hopping or catch the renowned Philharmonic Orchestra playing at the acoustically brilliant Kleinhans Music Hall. Shea's Performing Arts Center is another fantastic venue for watching theater, music, dance and other special events.