Buffalo is a city on the shores of Lake Erie, in upstate New York. Also known as “The Queen City”, “The City of Good Neighbors”, and “The Nickel City”, this place has a history involving the grain, steel, and automobile industries. Sitting closer to Toronto than New York City itself, Buffalo has plenty to offer in terms of nature trails and sailing opportunities. And, like their name suggests, buffalo wings actually originated from Buffalo!
Situated right at the head of the Niagara River, thousands of visitors travel to Buffalo to visit the famous Niagara Falls. Tourists can stay in Airbnb vacation rentals or hotels with indoor pools in Buffalo and venture out from there. Experience what Buffalo, New York state, and the surrounding areas have to offer by checking out these must-take day trips from Buffalo, NY.
1. Ellicottville, NY
A paradise for lovers of the outdoors, Ellicottville is home to a ski resort and offers a range of activities all year round. Just an hour’s drive away from Buffalo, it makes for a perfect day-trip destination. Ellicottville is easy to navigate and features plenty of quaint shops and restaurants that boast pocket-friendly prices.
In the summer, happy hikers will find plenty of lush greenery and areas to explore. Close enough to Allegany State Park, the nation’s third-largest outdoor recreation spot, visitors can make use of camping grounds and hiking and biking trails. Golfers can check out the 18-hole course at Holiday Valley Resort. If you’re visiting in the winter, you’re in for a treat! HoliMont Ski Resort offers downhill skiing and snowboarding. Ellicottville is also famous for Ellicottville Salt Cave, where guests can enjoy a relaxing, 45-minute-long session in the salt room.
2. Letchworth State Park in Castile, NY
Letchworth State Park, otherwise known to locals as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, is one of the most stunning places in the eastern US region. Visitors will see some incredible waterfalls along the Genesee River. Hikers can choose among 66 miles (106 kilometers) of hiking trails, but if hiking isn’t really your thing, there are dedicated trails for horseback riding, biking, and cross-country skiing during the winter. 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 with Balloons Over Letchworth.
If you’re around in the summer, attend the annual Summer Family Walks & Talks to enjoy bonding time with the family. Otherwise, appreciate the night sky and the view of the stars at the Night Sky Observatory. From Buffalo, Letchworth State Park is 59 mi (95 km) away.
Letchworth State Park
Address: 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427
Website: Letchworth State Park
Opening Hours: 6am - 11pm (daily)
Famous for its meandering lakes and sprawling vineyards, the Finger Lakes Region is the perfect day-trip destination for those looking to enjoy stunning nature views. With plenty to do, the area boasts rich cultural experiences and hiking trails for the interested day-tripper.
From Buffalo, NY, Finger Lakes is a 2-hour drive away, covering a distance of 124 mi (200 km).
Farms, Flights: Finger Lakes Brewery Tour
Duration: 7 hours 30 minutes
Kayak and enjoy various water activities
6 major lakes and 124,000 ac (50,000 ha) of water bodies invite you to spend a summer day in the region. Visitors can enjoy kayaking or fishing while they’re here. Be amazed by the sheer number of lakes and rivers in the area and the lush greenery that surrounds them.
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Visit vineyards and wineries
If wine is more of your thing, look out for Thirsty 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 Thirsty Owl Wine Company, the summer patio overlooks the vineyard and Cayuga Lake, so while sipping your glass of red wine, you can enjoy a spectacular view.
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. Take lots of photos and soak in a perfect summer afternoon.
Embark on a waterfall hike
Are you a fan of waterfalls and nature trails? You have two options: see 19 waterfalls in one area or marvel in awe at the unique geological formation that is 33 ft (10 m) taller than the famed Niagara Falls.
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.
Another option is Taughannock Falls. This waterfall is 33 ft (10 m) taller than 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 spots in the park.
4. Toronto, Canada
If you want to get away from Buffalo for something more cosmopolitan, why not try taking a road trip to Toronto, ON. The drive to Toronto takes just under two hours in the car, so it is very convenient to get there in comparison with New York City which would take over six hours.
Enjoy the view from CN Tower
Of course, your trip should start off with a visit to CN Tower (unless you are afraid of heights). It stands at 1,814 ft (553.3 m) and is the 3rd tallest tower in the whole world. If you want a beautiful view of the city, CN Tower is definitely a place to see the Toronto skyline during day or night.
When you are feeling hungry, why not grab some food at the 360 Restaurant? The restaurant rotates slowly so you can have unparalleled views of the skyline during your meal.
Visit Ripley's Aquarium of Canada
After going up CN tower, why not try something that is closer to the ground at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. Explore the different species of aquatic creatures from fish in North America to sea creatures in Australia. The best part is the underwater experience on the moving sidewalk that goes through a glass tunnel. You can see sea turtles, schools of fish, sharks, and many more creatures.
Catch a game at Rogers Centre or Scotiabank Arena
Depending on the time of year you’re visiting, you should definitely watch a sports game. Rogers Centre and Scotiabank Arena are conveniently located near CN Tower and Ripley’s Aquarium.
If you are visiting in the summertime, be sure to catch a Blue Jays game at Rogers Centre. From fall to mid-winter, you can watch the Raptors play during basketball season at Scotiabank Arena, and in the winter take in a hockey game with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Shop at Eaton Centre
After a long day of touring downtown and trying out various things to do in the city, you should take a walk or subway ride up Yonge Street to do some shopping at Eaton Centre. Eaton Centre is a major attraction of Toronto. It is such a large mall that it has two different subway stops at either end. This mall has many high-end stores and, of course, affordable ones as well. There is something for everyone here.
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,
One of the must-visits in New York is Niagara Falls. In fact, no list of day trips from Buffalo is complete without this stunning attraction. It’s less than 30 minutes away by car from Buffalo! Enjoy a different view of Niagara Falls from the Observation Tower. The stunning views of the falls continue with Bridal Veil Falls, formerly known as Luna Falls and Iris Falls. 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.
Book a boat tour with Maid of the Mist Boat Tour where you can take in 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 swirling vortex that engulfs things, sending them close to 200 ft (61 m) below the surface. A visit to Niagara Falls can be coupled with a trip to the Canadian side to save some time, though do note that this would take at least one day to fully enjoy. Don’t worry if a day is too short to enjoy the trip, though. You could always stay in one of the vacation rentals located in the area.
Niagara Falls, New York Day & Night Tour plus Dinner
Duration: 7 hours
6. Rochester, NY
Rochester, NY, is just a little over an hour away from Buffalo. If you’re planning to see all the big cities in New York, Rochester is third on the list after NYC and Buffalo, so make that 77-mi (124-km) drive while you’re at it! This city is home to beautiful parks, museums, and historic houses. For your day trip, visit Highland Park or go museum and gallery-hopping by checking out Memorial Art Gallery, George Eastman Museum, and The Strong Museum.
Foodies will love Rochester as it’s home to Abbott’s Frozen Custard, which has been serving delicious custards in the city for almost a century. Want to experience your first Garbage Plate? Head to Nick Tahou Hots on West Main Street.
7. Erie, PA
Cross over to Pennsylvania and visit Erie, a 1.5-hour drive from Buffalo via I-90 W. Situated along Lake Erie, this city has plenty to offer visitors from outdoor activities in various parks to interactive museum visits. Enjoy a day filled with recreational activities at Presque Isle State Park, or explore the many museums in the city, including Erie Art Museum, Erie Maritime Museum, Flagship Niagara League, and expERIEnce Children’s Museum.
If you want to get a good view of the lake before you leave, head to the observation deck of Bicentennial Tower, which stands 57 m (187 ft) tall.
8. Bemus Point, NY
Bemus Point is 71 mi (114 km) from Buffalo via I-90 E. One of the top attractions for families is Midway State Park, which offers all sorts of fun rides, including go-karts, slides, trains, and merry-go-rounds - some of the best things to do with kids near Buffalo, New York.
If that’s not your thing, head to The Ugly Peacock and browse a selection of unique gifts, from funny socks to beautiful candles. By including this in your weekend things to do, you’ll be sure to make your vacation a meaningful one. Prefer the outdoors? Head get to Long Point State Park on Lake Chautauqua. There’s a lovely hiking path that takes you past the marina to the beach.
Explore New York and beyond from Buffalo
While Buffalo is a great destination in and of itself, it’s also a great base to explore New York state and other cities nearby! If long vacations are not an option, there are plenty of things to do for 36 hours in Buffalo, New York. But if you want to see more places, check out these must-take day trips from Buffalo, get packing, and get moving!