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    Maid of the Mist

Spotlight: Buffalo & Niagara Falls

Explore the colorful cityscape and lively waterfront of Buffalo-Niagara. From the rhythmic beat of Canalside concerts to sizzling cuisine at farm-to-table restaurants and historic museums—there is something for everyone to love.

Why you'll love it:

After undergoing a remarkable transformation in recent years, Buffalo-Niagara is a cultural hotspot home to art galleries, a burgeoning craft beer scene and dotted with architectural gems throughout its historic neighborhoods—and it was named one of the top 52 places to visit in 2018 by the New York Times. So start exploring, here's what you need to know for your trip to the Greater Buffalo-Niagara region. 

Jump to: Spend a day | Spend a weekend | Spend a week | Where to stay | Where to eat | Cool things to know | Getting there

Three things you can't miss:

1. Canalside: Redeveloped from its glory days as the Western terminus of the Erie Canal, Canalside hosts over 1,000 annual events—from summertime concerts and recreation, to ice skating and sports in the winter.Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours Photo Courtesy of Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours

2. Darwin D. Martin House: Constructed between 1903 and 1905, the Martin House is ranked as one of Frank Lloyd Wright's finest residential works. Tour the grounds of the complex, in the final stages of a $50 million restoration, and gawk at the attention to detail of this architectural master.

3. Niagara Falls Jet Boats: The Lower Niagara River offers two unique jet boats that will get your heart racing and take you up closer to the raging rapids then you ever thought possible. Niagara Jet Adventures and Whirlpool Jet Boats will plunge you through white water, class V rapids safely and give you that once-in-a-lifetime experience! 

Family-style Fun

Penn Dixie Paleontological & Outdoor Education Center

Explore & More Children's Museum—Founded on the principle that play is essential to growth, health and above all, fun, this award-winning museum brings joy to learning through interactive exhibits and programs. Click here for their current play zones and exhibits.

Penn Dixie Paleontological and Outdoor Recreation Center—Ranked as the #1 fossil park in the United States, this geologic hotspot is a nature preserve as well as a quarry to collect and keep fossils from the shallow ocean environment. Providing unique, hands-on learning opportunities in the study of ecology, astronomy, geology, and ornithology.

Buffalo Museum of Science—Exploring natural history and life sciences, this museum's immersive exhibits promote family fun and interactive learning. With a broad range of rotating exhibits, as well as their newly added Explorations early childhood gallery and National Geographic 3-D Cinema, this award-winning museum is fun for the entire family.

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Spend a day

Canalside Waterfront Project in Buffalo

• Start the morning with Explore Buffalo and let highly knowledgeable tour guides show you the city's architecture by bike, boat, kayak, or foot. Dive into Buffalo's rich history and view America's great architectural wonders including historic Silo City and Gilded Age mansions on this in-depth journey. Fuel up with lunch at Anchor Bar—home of the original Buffalo chicken wing. Try the classic hot sauce or test your limits with their spiciest wings!

• Head over to Canalside, Buffalo's lively waterfront where sailing, shopping, and outdoor concerts make it one of the top places to be downtown. Check their daily events schedule for the latest activities including yoga, art galleries, and kid-friendly festivals. In the evening, drive to Niagara Falls for the Illumination light show where the cascading falls are lit up in a rainbow of colors.

Spend a weekend

Darwin Martin House Complex• Start with a morning tour of the Darwin D. Martin House, a masterpiece of 20th-century architecture and one of Frank Lloyd Wright's most notable creations. Led by highly knowledgeable guides, the 90-minute museum tour will take you through the estate complex and architectural history of America's Prairie School era.

• Travel the Buffalo Wing Trail for lunch and dinner to get a true taste of this regional specialty. Try the original recipe at Anchor Bar or the wings at local favorite Nine-Eleven Tavern. Don't miss creative varieties at Doc Sullivan's, with its beef on weck wings, and at Bar-Bill Tavern, with different sauces including honey dijon, zesty honey pepper, Cajun, and Sicilian.



Maid of the Mist• The Niagara Falls USA Discovery Pass is the perfect way to experience the beauty of Niagara Falls State Park in a day. Start with the Niagara Adventure Theater, an IMAX-style film featuring an exhilarating perspective of plunging over the Falls. Enjoy a ride on the famous Maid of the Mist or get soaked on the Cave of the Winds tour that takes you 175 feet down to Niagara Gorge and up close with the cascading falls and stop for some magnificent views on the Observation Tower.

• People unafraid of getting a little wet should check out the Whirlpool Jet Boat Tour. If you want to keep your clothes dry, explore the Aquarium of Niagara for shows and exhibits. Grab dinner and a fresh pint at The Griffon Gastropub. This popular eatery puts a creative twist on American cuisine and offers 150 beers on tap at two Buffalo locations.

Spend a week

Buffalo Zoo giraffe Photo by NYS ESD

• Animal lovers will enjoy the Buffalo Zoo, which hosts a range of species including lions, elephants, and giraffes. Explore the grounds and check out awesome exhibits including the Reptile House and Gorilla Exhibit.

• Refuel at Ashker's Juice Bar and Cafe, where the menu is full of tasty eats like warm paninis and fresh fruit smoothies served in mason jars, giving an artistic flare to your lunch retreat. Spend the rest of the day getting lost in Elmwood Village, a colorful neighborhood dotted with historic Victorian homes and quaint boutiques.

Albright-Knox Gallery - Photo by Tom Loonan• Explore the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, home to world-renowned collections of modern and contemporary art, including Andy Warhol, Arshile Gorky, and Jackson Pollock. Located next to Buffalo State College and Delaware Park, you'll want to take time to walk by the water and explore the colorful neighborhood after the museum. Stroll through the Forest Lawn and check the events page for outdoor concerts and summer Shakespeare in Delaware Park performances.

• Head to Larkin Square for Food Truck Tuesday, where dozens of New York's best food trucks are serving up endless options from gourmet mac & cheese to smokehouse barbeque. Enjoy beer, wine and live music every Tuesday evening April through October.

Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruise• Cruise through the only set of double locks on the Erie Canal with Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises or squeal with excitement as you zip-line 85 feet over the canal on the Niagara Zipper.

• Whether you’re a kid or just one at heart, hop on a carousel at Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, one of America’s last-standing examples of a carousel production house. Peek through the windows at Platter’s Chocolate Factory to see master chocolatiers craft culinary delights (like the region’s famous sponge candy). Complete your day at Woodcock Bros Brewing Co., at their North Tonawanda location. You won’t be disappointed with one of their many wood-fired specialty pizzas or hand-crafted microbrews—especially while enjoying their beer garden.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens Photo Courtesy of Botanical GardensThursday:
• Smell the floral aroma at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, a living museum hosting a rainbow of gardens, exotic plants, and exhibits. Refresh with a craft beverage at Resurgence Brewery, pouring a wide selection of creative brews like their signature IPA and Blood Orange Saison. Pair your beer with one of their artisan pizzas, burritos, or their meat and cheese board and enjoy your night in Buffalo.

• Enjoy breakfast at Betty's, a charming eatery displaying local art and serving up creative cuisine with an international flare. Spend the day exploring Allentown, one of Buffalo's many eclectic, historic neighborhoods known for its community of artists, local boutiques, and antique shops.

• Catch a Broadway show at Shea's Performing Arts Center, a handsome 1920s venue that was designed like a European opera house. It's one of Buffalo's flagship landmarks and hosts musical artists from around the world.

Niagara Wine Trail

• The region features a dream convergence of climate and soil that makes it ideal for winemaking. And with more than 22 wineries, breweries, and cideries to explore on the Niagara Wine Trail, USA, there is something to delight every palate.

• Situated near the banks of Lake Ontario, Black Willow Winery offers wine and chocolate pairings, or sample from their award-winning lineup of mead. If you are more of a beer drinker, head to Live Edge Brewing Company. The brewery offers unique craft beers and a creative menu.

• Browse the Lakeview Village Shoppes, an eclectic collection of quaint and colorful village shops nestled on the boardwalk in Olcott Beach.

Old Fort Niagara - Photo Courtesy Niagara USA  Tourism & Convention• Experience Niagara’s rich history and the thriving culture and communities along the Niagara River with the convenience of the Discover Niagara Shuttle.

• Hear authentic stories of secret-agent waiters and view the striking images of the men and women who fled slavery—and those who assisted—at the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center.

• Tour the grounds and buildings of Old Fort Niagara, where costumed re-enactors and history experts work tirelessly to bring this 18th-century fort to life. From artillery demonstrations to living history programs, here you’ll witness life as it was centuries ago.


Where to stay


Swiss Cottage Inn: Offering great value and clean, comfortable, basic rooms. Perfect for a shopping getaway located just minutes from the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA. Outdoor pool, free parking, and free internet.

Moonlite Motel: With fantastic management, Moonlite Motel offers a simple stay in a great location. Just five miles from the Falls with trolley stops to the Niagara Falls State Park right at the hotel. Free continental breakfast, outdoor pool, and other basic hotel amenities.


Niagara Falls State Park Lotto ImageSheraton at the Falls: Located within walking distance to the State Park and many attractions, this hotel is in the heart of downtown Niagara Falls. With a TGI Fridays, Rainforest Café, Sweet Treats candy shop, and Starbucks right on property.

Holiday Inn Niagara Falls: Renovated in 2014 and just a short walk away from all the bustling activity of Niagara Falls. Anchor Bar Niagara Falls and Great American Arcade located on property, with free parking, free internet, and indoor pool available year round.

The Buffalo Marriott HARBORCENTER: Located in downtown Buffalo at the Canalside entertainment district and attached to First Niagara Center, it's the home of the Buffalo Sabres and a relaxing retreat that is walking distance from the scenic small boat harbor, Lake Erie, and the historic Erie Canal.


Seneca Niagara casinoSeneca Niagara Resort & Casino: Niagara County's AAA four-diamond award-winning hotel with spectacular views, spa, and salon, fitness center, indoor pool, and 10 dining locations. Part of World-Class gaming and entertainment resort with 4,000 slots and 100+ game tables. Open year round, room service, Jacuzzi rooms, indoor pool, meeting facilities, and free parking.

Mansion on Delaware: The Mansion on Delaware Avenue is a joyous renovation of architect George Allison's Second Empire Structure. Buffalo's AAA-rated four-diamond hotel, with service and amenities setting the benchmark for luxury.

Hotel @ The Lafayette: A historic landmark, this stylish red brick and white terra cotta French Renaissance-style building was designed by architect Louise Blanchard in 1904. Restored to its original grandeur, the Lafayette's opulent interior features a splendid crystal chandelier-hung ballroom and luxurious accommodations that reflect early 20th-century glamour.

Where to eat

$Black Bean Tricked Out Nacho - Photo Courtesy of Lloyd Taco Factory
Scripts Cafe: Located on East Ave. in Lockport, Scripts Cafe serves up a variety of specialty items for breakfast, lunch, or an early dinner. Enjoy freshly made quinoa bowls, sandwiches, wraps, or paninis, homemade soups and salads, and a variety of homemade baked goods that change daily.

Lloyd Taco Factory: The first of its kind in Buffalo, this colorful eatery combines everything you love about street food with a fully stocked cocktail bar. It's the only restaurant from Chicago to NYC that makes their own corn tortillas using the nixtamalization process—so come in to enjoy authentic, fresh tacos, and craft cocktails at this foodie hotspot.

Brickyard Pub & BBQ: Located in Lewiston, the Brickyard Pub has some of the best wood-fire cooking around. Everything is slow-smoked with a blend of hickory and fruit woods for up to fourteen hours in the authentic wood pit BBQ smoker. Make it a sandwich or a platter, either way it will be fall-off-the-bone delicious!

Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant - Photo Courtesy of Bacchus Wine Bar & RestaurantThe Como: A Niagara Falls staple and local favorite since 1927. Sit back and enjoy some family time, have a drink with friends and fill up on a hearty Italian meal. The Como has been proudly serving traditional dishes from the south of Italy for decades and continues to serve up a cozy atmosphere and a delicious menu.

Bacchus Wine Bar & Restaurant: A stylish eatery in the heart of Buffalo's historic entertainment district where guests enjoy flavorful cuisine and an award-winning wine list. Recognized by Wine Spectator for 10 consecutive years and named for Best Waitstaff/Service 2014 by Buffalo Spree magazine—this is the place to be for excellent wine and dining.

La Cascata: Fine Italian dining located inside the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino. Enjoy this sought-after dining experience in Niagara Falls, NY where the air is filled with the tempting aromas of bubbling marinara, house-made sweet sausage, and an array of mouthwatering pasta, meat, and seafood dishes.

Wine glasses - Photo Courtesy The Black Sheep

The Black Sheep: An intimate spot located on Buffalo's west side that's serving up daily specials, small and large plates crafted with fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Enjoy farm-to-table dining paired with food-friendly wines and local brews.  

Carmelo's Restaurant: Carmelo's, located in Lewiston, just 15 minutes north of the Falls, serves up a fresh menu that varies from day to day. Enjoy staples like New York Strip and Atlantic Cod cooked up by Chef Carmelo Raimondi. Dining at Carmelo's is an adventure, using only the freshest, in-season ingredients.

Cool things to know

Garden Walk Buffalo - © D. Zinteck, Photographics 2

• The Taste of Buffalo is the largest two-day food festival in the United States, hosting more than 50 restaurants, several wineries, and nearly half a million guests.

• Garden Walk Buffalo is one of the largest garden tours in the US, featuring nearly 400 different public and private gardens.

• 75,750 gallons of water surges over the crest line of the American portion of Niagara Falls every second.

Getting there

By train:

Amtrak TrainTake Amtrak to any of three regional stations including Buffalo Exchange Street (BFX), Buffalo Depew (BUF) and Niagara Falls station (NFL). Taxi service is available upon arrival at Depew and Niagara Falls stations. And the Exchange Street station is walking distance from downtown Buffalo and Canalside attractions!

By car:

• From New York City: 6 hours
• From Albany, NY: 4.5 hours
• From Boston, MA: 7 hours
• From Philadelphia, PA: 6 hours
• From Cleveland, OH: 3 hours
• From Toronto: 2 hours

By plane:
If you're flying Jetblue, visit Jetblue.com/ILOVENY for special promotional offers to upstate New York! Start your journey by flying into Buffalo Niagara International Airport, located just fifteen minutes east of downtown Buffalo. 

By bus:
Greyhound to Buffalo or Niagara Falls, NY stations.

More fun in Buffalo-Niagara