Buffalo Travel Guide

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Best Things To Do in Buffalo

Buffalo is home to a variety of attractions. In fact, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most treasured structures is located here, and the Shea's Performing Arts Center — one of several notable theaters in the city — is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Buffalo is also a huge sports town. Visitors can choose from baseball at Coca-Cola Field, hockey at the First Niagara Center or football at the Ralph Wilson Stadium. And for a birds-eye view of Lake Erie and the Buffalo River, head to Buffalo City Hall's free observation deck. Plus, the awe-inspiring Niagara Falls is a mere 20 miles away.

How we rank Things to Do

Updated January 22, 2014

  • #1
    Things to do in Buffalo
    View all Photos
    #1 in Buffalo
    Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Natural Wonders, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area
    TYPE
    Half Day to Full Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Just about 20 miles north of Buffalo, Niagara Falls makes for a great day trip. One of the world's most awe-inspiring waterfalls, Niagara Falls straddles two countries and drops waters over the cliff-face at speeds of 20 to 68 mph. It's no wonder that visitors find the falls euphoric. To view them, you have many options, from a Maid of the Mist boat tour to a walk behind the falls. Keep in mind that many Niagara Falls attractions close in the winter months due to inclement weather.

    One TripAdvisor user makes a good pitch for visiting Niagara Falls and staying in a hotel in Buffalo, saying the "Falls are unbelievable ... However, [the] town is [a] tourist trap."

  • #2
    Forest Lawn
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    #2 in Buffalo
    Monuments and Memorials, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Monuments and Memorials, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing, Free
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    Although Buffalo's Forest Lawn is a cemetery, it's such a beautiful one that many people visit for contemplative walks, peaceful picnics or even jogs. Many famous people — including former United States President Millard Fillmore and "Super Freak" singer Rick James — have been laid to rest here. For this reason, many visitors recommend you book a tour so that you can make sure to hit the cemetery's highlights.

    Visitors to the cemetery especially enjoy its park-like setting. One TripAdvisor user says: "The lawns, roads, ponds, are immaculate. We felt like we were in a park not a cemetery."

  • #3
    Kleinhans Music Hall
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    #3 in Buffalo
    Entertainment and Nightlife
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Kleinhans Music Hall was the dying wish of both Edward and Mary Seaton Kleinhans, who passed away within three months of each other in 1934. The couple, who had made a small fortune with a high-end clothing store, made a bequest in their will "to erect a suitable music hall … for the use, enjoyment and benefit of the people of the City of Buffalo." Just about six years later in 1940, the Kleinhans Music Hall debuted with a concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic. Since then, a number of big names have performed in the Hall's three auditoriums, with acts ranging from Yo-Yo Ma to Ben Folds.

    One TripAdvisor user says that Kleinhans is "one of the best performance halls in the world!" going on to say that all of the seats offer great views of the stage and that the acoustics are excellent.  

  • #4
    Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin House Complex
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    #4 in Buffalo
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Historic Homes/Mansions, Sightseeing, Tours
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright called this complex of structures he designed in the early 1900s for New York businessman Darwin D. Martin "the opus," believing it exemplified his prairie house architectural ideal. More than a century later, the organic architecture has been rebuilt to its former grandeur and continues to enchant guests who come from all around to view the "domestic symphony," as Wright called it. The structures include the main house, the pergola, the conservatory, the carriage house and the Wisteria Museum Shop.

    Visitors really appreciate the wealth of information that the docent-led tours provide. One TripAdvisor user calls this complex a "fabulous venue," recommending that visitors take the two-hour tour: "[It's] well worth the extra dollars to see all the rooms on the property."

  • #5
    Shea's Performing Arts Center
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    #5 in Buffalo
    Entertainment and Nightlife
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    If you want a little Broadway on your Buffalo vacation, look no further than Shea's Performing Arts Center. Opened in 1926 as a venue for silent films, the center hosts touring Broadway troupes and other special events. Several decades ago, a group of community leaders saved the building from destruction by getting it listed on the National Historic Registry. Today, the theater continues to be renovated, but even still, the interior is pretty magnificent — you'll see a sea of plush red seats surrounded by a lavish stage and a richly colored ceiling.

    One TripAdvisor user recommends stopping by the theater even if you don't have time for a show: "Just take a look at the stage and facilities ... You'll think you stepped into a theater in Paris. It's over the top ornate and a true gem."

  • #6
    Buffalo City Hall
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    #6 in Buffalo
    Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sightseeing, Tours, Free
    TYPE
    Less than 1 hour
    TIME TO SPEND

    Buffalo City Hall, built after World War I, is the epitome of art deco design with features like a gorgeous stained glass ceiling and intricate geometric details. It's also massive. Rising 32 stories into the sky, the building has 1,520 windows that peer out into downtown Buffalo and beyond. In fact, it's not the architecture but the views that lure most visitors to City Hall. Take an elevator up to the 25th floor and walk up three more floors to an observation deck, which overlooks Lake Erie, the Buffalo River and the busy city below.

    One TripAdvisor user praises the sight from the observation deck: "After a trip in a rather scary lift, we got to the most amazing 360 degree view. Indeed you could see the mist at Niagara Falls."

  • #7
    Coca-Cola Field
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    #7 in Buffalo
    Sports
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sports
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Coca-Cola Field is home to the Minor League baseball team, the Buffalo Bisons. This stadium, which seats 18,025, is one of the first examples of a retro-style stadium in a city center. This sort of stadium design seeks to embrace its urban context, boasting real grass (not turf) and nostalgic features like green seats; this style has since exploded across the country. (Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore is another example.)

    One TripAdvisor user praises the field's layout saying, "There is not a bad seat in the house." Others are highly complimentary of the stadium's affordability, from parking to game-day ticket prices.

  • #8
    First Niagara Center
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    #8 in Buffalo
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sports
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Entertainment and Nightlife, Sports
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Home to the National Hockey League's Buffalo Sabres, the First Niagara Center is also a performance venue for groups like the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and singers like Justin Timberlake. The center can seat more than 19,070 for hockey games, and when the center is rearranged for concerts and other events, it can seat even more.

    One TripAdvisor user is very succinct in his comments about the First Niagara Center: "Free parking within a quarter mile, easy to get to third level on escalators, nice scoreboard, average food, currently a bad hockey team." Another TripAdvisor user was a bit more complimentary, saying: "This was our first time there and we were impressed by the layout of the seating ... even the bad seats were good."

  • #9
    Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park
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    #9 in Buffalo
    Museums, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND
    Museums, Parks and Gardens, Sightseeing
    TYPE
    1 to 2 hours
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park is a must-do for those interested in military history (or those with kids who like big boats and helicopters). The park contains two ships, a submarine and a handful of helicopters, plus a number of well-designed exhibits on everything from POWs to Marine Corps memorabilia.

    One TripAdvisor user says that the park was definitely worth the $10 admission price: "Explore navy ships, and take a step back in time. … Overheard two kids 8 or 9-ish saying how cool it was."

  • #10
    Ralph Wilson Stadium
    View all Photos
    #10 in Buffalo
    Sports
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Sports
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    Buffalo is a big sports town, and the National Football League's Buffalo Bills are one of the city's most beloved teams. The Bills hurl the pigskin over at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and their fans aren't fair-weather. Even though they've made it to the Super Bowl four times, the Buffalo Bills have never pulled through for a win. But the fans still love them, and that shows in the stadium.

    "Well no matter what the Buffalo Bills are ranking the fans definitely know how to show their support," said one TripAdvisor user. "We had a great time tailgating and being amongst fans." Others highlight the good food and fairly affordable tickets and parking rates. A smaller number criticize the craziness of the crowd, citing too much alcohol.

  • #11
    Buffalo Zoo
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    #11 in Buffalo
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND
    Zoos and Aquariums
    TYPE
    2 hours to Half Day
    TIME TO SPEND

    The Buffalo Zoo's starring attractions are two polar bear cubs called Luna and Kali. In addition to these cute little fur balls, the zoo houses a variety of mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. The eco-rainforest exhibit is a hit with visitors; many people say that the rope bridge across the exhibit offers a great view of the turtles and alligators below.

    Opening its gates back in 1875, the Buffalo Zoo is the third-oldest zoo in the country. As such, there are continuing renovations to the zoo that some visitors have found disappointing. Another TripAdvisor user praised its improvements: "It is amazing how far along the zoo has come over the years. There had been so many new attractions and exhibits and it looks like a world class zoo." Others were even more complimentary of the venue, citing its great staff and happy-looking animals.

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