Buffalo is a city on the shores of Lake Erie, upstate New York. Also known as “The Queen City”, “The City of Good Neighbors”, and “The Nickel City”, the state has a history involving the grain, steel and automobile industries.
Closer to Toronto than New York City itself, this state has plenty to offer in terms of nature trails, sailing opportunities, and winter wonderlands of snow. And like their name suggests, Buffalo Wings actually originate from Buffalo!
Situated right at the head of the Niagara River, thousands of visitors travel to Buffalo to visit the famous Niagara Falls. Often, tourists stay in Buffalo as a base and explore the area through the various day-trip options, enjoying the other side of Buffalo that cannot be experienced within the city.
Experience what the state has to offer by checking out these five must-take day trips from Buffalo:
A paradise for lovers of the outdoors, Ellicottville is home to a ski resort and offers a range of sporting activities all year round. Filled with biking and hiking trails, the town is well-known for its winter and summer sports camps. Just over an hour away, it makes for a perfect day-trip destination from Buffalo.
The local town of Ellicottville is easy to navigate and features plenty of quaint shops and restaurants that boast of pocket-friendly prices for your souvenirs.
For those visiting during the warmer seasons, there is plenty of lush greenery and areas to explore for the happy hiker. Close enough to Allegany State Park, the nation’s 3rd-largest outdoor recreation spot, there are camping grounds, hiking and biking trails, lake swimming activities, and, for golfers, the 18-hole course at the Holiday Valley Resort is just a stone’s throw away from the centre of Ellicottville.
If you’re visiting in the winter, you’re in for a treat! Holimont Ski Resort offers downhill skiing and snowboarding for the avid adventurer. Don’t know how to do winter sports? No problem! There are certified professional instructors waiting in the wings.
Also famous for its Salt Cave and Halotheraphy Spas, Ellicottville Salt Cave boasts a unique facility that helps to dispel negative ions through a 45-minute session spent relaxing in their one-of-a-kind salt room. Constructed of natural salt, water, and wood, this cave simulates the natural salt mines throughout the European Himalayas. It is here that you can strike a complete balance between the mind and body.
Ellicottville Salt Cave
Address: 32 West Washington St., Ellicottville, NY 14731
Price: from 30 USD
Opening Hours: Mon - Sat (10.00 am - 5.00 pm), Sun (11.00 am - 4.00 pm), Closed on Tuesdays
Duration: around 2 hours required
Website: Ellicottville Salt Cave
2. Letchworth State Park
Letchworth State Park, otherwise known to locals as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, is one of the most stunning areas in the eastern US region and is also the Number 1 state park in the USA.
With the Genesee River roaring over the three gigantic waterfalls, the sound is truly deafening and the view is simply amazing. Some of the cliffs are as high as 600 feet (183 meters) and are surrounded by lush greenery and hiking trails for the adventure seeker. Hikers can choose among 66 miles (106 kilometers) of hiking trails, providing some of the most taxing but rewarding experiences for the avid hiker.
If hiking isn’t really your thing, there are dedicated trails for horseback riding, biking, and cross-country skiing (during the right seasons). Tourists looking to get the most out of their experience at Letchworth State Park can splurge on paid activities such as white-water rafting, kayaking, or even hiring a hot-air balloon to glide over the magnificent falls.
The exclusive company to launch within the Letchworth State Park, Balloons over Letchworth, offers the most memorable experience and spectacular views of the “Eastern Grand Canyon”.
Letchworth has a nearly endless variety of activities to keep you occupied and happy. If you’re around in summer, attend the annual Summer Family Walks & Talks to have that mandatory bonding time with the family from 2 pm to 4 pm.
Otherwise, appreciate the night sky with its outline of stars at the Night Sky Observatory from 7 pm to 9 pm, every first and third Saturday of the month.
Letchworth State Park
Address: 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427
Opening Hours: 9 am - 6 pm. Closed on public holidays
Duration: around 1 day required
Website: Letchworth State Park
3. The Finger Lakes region
Famous for the meandering lakes and sprawling vineyards, the Finger Lakes region is the perfect day-trip destination for those looking to get a few sips of the area. With plenty to do, the area boasts rich cultural experiences and hiking trails for the interested day-tripper.
Water you doing?
Six major lakes and 124 thousand acres (50 thousand hectares) of water bodies invite you to spend a day in the summer on various activities offered within the region. Take the chance to kayak along the river, or just get that fishing gear you’ve been eyeing and do some fishing for dinner. Be amazed by the sheer number of lakes and rivers in the area and the beautiful scenery of lush greenery that surrounds them.
Wine(ing) at life!
If wine is more of your thing, look out for the Owl Wine Company in the Fingers Lake region. With more than 1,000 wineries in the area, it is difficult to discern which to visit. At the Owl Wine Company, the summer patio overlooks the vineyard and Cayuga Lake, so while sipping your glass of red wine, be awed at the sheer number of vineyards that cover the land.
Nearer to the Watkins Glen area is Glenora Wine Cellars. Conveniently located just up the road from the famous Watkins Glen, it is a great place to drop by for a couple of sips after that hike you’ve accomplished. Wow at your great photo-taking skills with a glass in hand, a perfect afternoon for the summer.
Are you a fan of waterfalls and nature trails?
You have two options: see the stunning 19 waterfalls in one area or marvel in awe at the unique geological formation that is 33 feet (10 meters) taller than the famed Niagara Falls.
The Watkins Glen State Park, within the Fingers Lake region, is located on the south side of Seneca Lake and features three trails where you can descend or ascend the gorge. If waterfalls are your thing, take the Gorge Trail that runs closest to the streams and runs over, under, and along the 19 waterfalls. It is definitely a refreshing way to own the afternoon.
If tall and magnificent is on your list, the Taughannock Falls State Park is the definition of ‘quality over quantity’. The Taughannock Falls is 33 feet (10 meters) taller than the Niagara Falls and it is the highest vertical single drop in the Northeastern US. With two lookout points, one below the ending of the Gorge Trail and the other above the falls, you can fully appreciate its magnificent structure towering over the other greenery spots in the park.
Address: Finger Lakes, New York, USA
Price: from 117 USD
Duration: around 5 hours required
Nearby Food: FLX Weinery on Seneca Lake (hot dog shack)
4. Toronto, Canada
Fancy leaving Buffalo for somewhere slightly more active? Tired of seeing Niagara Falls from the same lookout?
Then Toronto is just the place. With attractions such as the CN Tower, shopping streets that go on for miles, and grand castles to boot, it is no wonder many tourists head over to Toronto for a day trip.
Niagara from the Canadian Border
Despite Niagara Falls being a good 90-minute drive from the city center, it is well worth the trip. It definitely looks different from the Canadian border as compared to the NY fringe. From the Canadian side, you can stand at the edge of Horseshoe Falls and be just under a meter away from the 750,000 gallons (almost 3 million liters) of water hurtling over the cliff side.
If that sounds very much like what you would see in Buffalo, take a helicopter flight over the falls and be awed by the sheer size and volume of Niagara, definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity while in Toronto.
Eaton Centre & Craft Market
Otherwise, wander around Toronto’s Eaton Centre where shops line the streets. From high-end brands to local designers, there is plenty to look around and see. Still looking for some unique tourist souvenirs? Look out for the One of a Kind Show, a consumer craft show in North America, where you are bound to find something whimsical and fitting for a gift.
Do note that the market only happens twice a year, so check their page for more information.
From the top of the tower: CN Tower
It is impossible to say you’ve been to Toronto without having visited the CN Tower.
Considered one of the main attractions of the city, it stands at 553.33 meters (1,814 feet) high and dominates the Toronto landscape, not forgetting its pointy tip that lights up the nightscape. A standout among the skyline, some consider it to be one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World.
There are several observation areas to choose from, including the Glass Floor room, the LookOut Level, and the SkyPod, the highest observation deck for visitors, 1,465 feet (4,806 meters) in the air.
Open to the public daily, with the exception of Christmas, it is one of the iconic sites to visit when touring Toronto for a day trip. Plus, it doesn’t require much time, so give it a go!
Address: 301 Front St. West (& John St.)
Price: from 33 USD
Opening Hours: 9 am - 10.30 pm. Closed on Christmas Day
Duration: around 1 hour required
Website: CN Tower
Check out some other things to do in Toronto here: Discover More Than Niagara Falls with these Day Trips from Toronto, Top Toronto’s Attractions: A Myriad of Diverse Culture, Art & Food, Be Charmed by the Diverse City: 20 Romantic Things to do in Toronto,
The last on the list but one of the must-visits when in the area is the Niagara Falls. In fact, no list of day trips from Buffalo is complete without this stunning attraction.
Enjoy a different view of the Niagara Falls from the Observation Tower. The stunning views of the falls continues with the Bridal Veil Falls, otherwise known as Luna and Iris Falls, where you will feel the cold mist blow in all directions. Though it’s the smallest of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls, it is located on the American side and separates it from the famous Horseshoe Falls.
Do check out the Horseshoe Falls and treat yourself to the famous Maid of the Mist boat ride where you can take in the wonderful views of the falls up close. In the same area, Goat Island and Whirlpool State Park are must-see attractions for tourists.
A stunning but often dangerous part of Niagara Falls, the Whirlpool is a beautiful swirling vortex that engulfs things, sending them close to 200 feet (61 meters) below the water surface.
A visit to Niagara Falls can be coupled with the trip to the Canadian side to save some time, though do note that this would take at least one day to fully enjoy and admire the views. If you can stay the night, visit the falls in the night to see them lit up in a rainbow spectrum of colors, a truly fitting display for the natural beauty.
Niagara Falls (NY)
Price: from 120 USD
Duration: around 4 hours required
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Surprisingly, the above heading forms a legitimate and grammatically correct sentence in American English.
The word ‘Buffalo’ is representative of a noun (animal), proper noun (city), and verb (to intimidate) and hence the sentence can mean, “Bison from Buffalo, New York, who are intimidated by other bison in their community, also happen to intimidate other bison in their community”.
Confused? So are we! Get over the confusion by stretching those legs, taking some time to think it through, and maybe a breath of fresh air will help you get it too! Check out the 5 must-take day trips from Buffalo, get packing, and get moving!