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    The Ice at Canalside; Credit: Joe Cascio

Spotlight: Buffalo & Niagara Falls

Explore the colorful cityscape and lively waterfront of Buffalo, then visit Niagara Falls!

After undergoing a remarkable transformation in recent years, the city of Buffalo, New York is a cultural hotspot—home to art galleries, a burgeoning craft beer scene, and dotted with architectural gems throughout its historic neighborhoods. Add Niagara Falls, one of the most beautiful and iconic state parks in the US, to your trip and you can't go wrong! Here's what you need to know for your visit to the Greater Niagara region.

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Three Things You Can't Miss

Buffalo Canalside - Photo Courtesy of Visit Buffalo Niagara
Credit: Visit Buffalo

Canalside

Redeveloped from its glory days as the western terminus of the Erie Canal, Canalside hosts more than 1,000 annual events—from summertime concerts and festivals to recreation like ice skating and ice bikes in the winter. Endless fun awaits along this scenic waterfront—try rock climbing at Buffalo RiverWorks, kayaking on the Buffalo River, or sailing on the Spirit of Buffalo. Don't miss a selfie with the iconic sculpture, Shark Girl.

Frank-Lloyd-Wright-s-Darwin-D

Darwin D. Martin House

Constructed between 1903 and 1905 for a wealthy local businessman, the Darwin D. Martin House is ranked as one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright's finest residential works. The home and grounds completed a two-decades-long restoration in 2019 so now is the time to tour the grounds of the complex and gawk at the attention to detail of this architectural master.

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours - Photo Courtesy of Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours - Alex Eddie - Digital Media M
Credit: Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours - Alex Eddie - Digital Media M

Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours & Niagara Jet Adventures

Go from zero to pure adrenaline on a fully guided whitewater tour through Class V rapids of the Niagara River. Each of these tours offers a pulse-pounding way to get an up-close view of the Niagara Gorge that is as thrilling as it is breathtaking.

family fun

Kids play at Explore & More in Buffalo
Credit: Drew Brown

Explore & More - The Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Children's Museum at Canalside

Founded on the principle that play is essential to growth, health and above all, fun, this world-class museum brings joy to learning through interactive exhibits and programs. Learn more about the story of Buffalo in seven play zones: learn about the agricultural history of the city, see how locks work, and take in the stunning city skyline view from the fourth-floor terrace.

Buffalo Zoo
 

Buffalo Zoo

The third-oldest zoo in the US and home to exotic, endangered, and local wildlife, the Buffalo Zoo is a must for all animal lovers. Enhance your experience by feeding the giraffes or attending a behind-the-scenes tour of the rhino barn. Daily programming includes gorilla feedings, sheep parades, and animal keeper talks about sloths, sea lions, Komodo dragons, and more.

Buffalo Museum of Science
Credit: Buffalo Museum of Science

Buffalo Museum of Science

Exploring natural history and life sciences, this museum's immersive exhibits promote family fun and interactive learning. This award-winning museum has experiences perfect for everyone: record your own weather forecast, take in a film about our world in the National Geographic 3D Cinema, learn about health and wellness in the Explore YOU exhibit, and design your own building.

spend the day

Niagara Falls State Park at night

Start the morning with Explore Buffalo and let highly knowledgeable tour guides show you the city's architecture by bike, bus, 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 and part of the Buffalo Wing Trail. 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 (pictured) for the Illumination light show, where the cascading falls are lit up in a rainbow of colors.

spend the weekend

The Martin House Complex

Saturday

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. Choose between the one-hour or the two-hour tour and the highly knowledgeable guides will take you through the estate complex and discuss the architectural history of America's Prairie School era. The Martin House, the Barton House onsite, and the beautifully landscaped grounds completed a massive renovation in 2019.

Pause for lunch at Parkside Meadow and head to the Buffalo Zoo to marvel at tigers, sloths, and wolves.

Travel the Buffalo Wing Trail for 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.

Close out your evening with a stroll along the Canalside waterfront.

Maid of the mist
Credit: Destination Niagara USA

Sunday

Get closer than you ever thought possible to the grandeur of the Falls at Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the US. Cruise into the heart of the American and Horseshoe Falls on the legendary Maid of the Mist. Learn how Nikola Tesla harnessed the power of the Falls to create alternating current, then descend into the Niagara Gorge and follow a series of wooden walkways to the Hurricane Deck at the Cave of the Winds & The World Changed Here Pavilion.

Grab a bite to eat at the Top of the Falls Restaurant, overlooking Terrapin Point and featuring panoramic views of the Horseshoe Falls. After, hop on the Niagara Scenic Trolley, a guided, eco-friendly ride offering an overview of the Park, along with fun facts too. From Humboldt penguins to jellyfish, learn about your favorite sea creatures and discover the incredible wonders of the ocean at the Aquarium of Niagara.

See Niagara Falls in the most unique and thrilling way with Rainbow Air Inc., Helicopter Tours. Soar above the Niagara River, Goat Island, and of course, the iconic Falls!

spend the week

Buffalo Zoo - Lions
Credit: Nancy J. Parisi

 

Monday

Animal lovers will enjoy the Buffalo Zoo (pictured), which hosts a range of species including lions, giraffes, and polar bears. Explore the grounds and check out awesome exhibits including the Reptile House and Gorilla House. Special encounters include giraffe feedings and don't miss talks by the animal keepers featuring special guests!

Refuel at Ashker's Juice Bar and Cafe, where the menu is full of tasty eats like warm panini sandwiches and fresh fruit smoothies served in mason jars.

Spend the rest of the day getting lost in Elmwood Village, a colorful neighborhood dotted with historic Victorian homes, quaint boutiques, coffeehouses, and farmers' markets.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Tuesday

Explore the Albright-Knox Art Gallery (pictured), 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 along Hoyt Lake and explore the vibrant neighborhood after your museum visit. 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 of tasty street food from gourmet mac & cheese to smokehouse barbeque. Enjoy beer, wine, and live music every Tuesday evening April through October.

Lockport Locks on Erie Canal, Lockport, NY- Niagara County

Wednesday

Cruise through the only set of double locks on the Erie Canal with Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises (pictured) or squeal with excitement as you zipline 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 craft brews—especially while enjoying their beer garden.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
Credit: Paul Scharf, Photo Courtesy of Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Thursday

Smell the floral aroma at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens (pictured), a living museum hosting gardens, exotic plants, and exhibits. Spend time exploring the 11.4 acres filled with tropical plants across three glass domes and nine greenhouses.

Visit the Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve, a nature preserve and quarry, to collect and keep fossils from the shallow ocean environment that formed 380 million years ago.

Refresh with a craft beverage at Resurgence Brewing Company, 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.

Shea's Performing Arts Center

Friday

Enjoy breakfast at Betty's, a charming eatery displaying local art and serving up creative cuisine with an international flair.

Spend the day exploring Allentown, one of Buffalo's many eclectic, historic neighborhoods known for its community of artists, local boutiques, and antique shops. The annual Allentown Art Festival, started in 1958, is a must if you're in town that June weekend.

Catch a Broadway show at Shea's Performing Arts Center (pictured), a handsome 1920's 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.

Arrowhead Spring Vineyards - Photo provided by Arrowhead Spring Vineyards for Niagara Wine Trail USA
Credit: Arrowhead Spring Vineyards for Niagara Wine Trail USA

Saturday

The region features a dream convergence of climate and soil that makes it ideal for winemaking. And with more than 22 wineries (including Arrowhead Spring Vineyards, pictured), 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, a collection of quaint and colorful village shops nestled on the boardwalk in Olcott Beach.

Old Fort Niagara

Sunday

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 (pictured), 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.

Hotels and Stay

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Where to Eat

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getting there

By Train

Take 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. The Exchange Street station is walking distance from downtown Buffalo and Canalside.

By Plane

Start your journey by flying into Buffalo Niagara International Airport, located just 15 minutes east of downtown Buffalo.

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 Bus

Greyhound to Buffalo or Niagara Falls, NY stations.