It’s funny how when you travel, your plans can suddenly change and everything ends up even better than you expected. I rarely plan ahead when I travel, because that way I can embrace opportunities when they present themselves.
Originally, I thought I would travel to NYC from Ithaca and from there to Nashville. But there turned out to be a much better bus connection through Buffalo. So, I booked a bus ticket to Buffalo, found a Couchsurfing host and made my way over there without really knowing what to expect.
Buffalo might not be high up on many people travel bucket list, but it should be! Buffalo does not get the love it deserves. It’s generally known as a boring place, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Buffalo is a hip and fun place, with lots to do. If you like good food, a friendly atmosphere, beautiful architecture and nature, than you should visit Buffalo. I ended up staying for five days, and here are my favorite things to do in Buffalo:
Marvel at the Niagara Falls
If people do visit Buffalo, it is usually to see the Niagara Falls. World famous as these waterfalls are, they are much less impressive than you might think. The Niagara falls are not particularly high (they don’t even make the top 50 in the world), but they are very beautiful. The view from the US side of the falls is decisively less pretty than the Canadian side. Luckily, there is a bridge you can cross by foot or car.
I got extremely lucky because my Couchsurfing host had a small airplane. So I got to see the falls from the very best vantage point: above. We flew over the falls twice, once during the day and once at night. It was incredible!
We also hiked the trail running along the Niagara river. The Niagara Gorge Trail is a fun and easy trail to hike on a sunny day. You get to walk along the ridge and along the bottom of the gorge. The trees on side, the gurgling, swirling river on the other. The water in the Niagara river is very clear and blue. As an added bonus, it is funny to literally see a different country across the river.
Check out Downtown Buffalo
Downtown Buffalo is home to some of the most impressive Art Deco architecture outside of NYC. Several skyscrapers, hotels and office buildings were built in this style in the 1920s and 1930s as industry in Buffalo flourished. The absolute highlight is the massive City Hall building. There is a free tour in City Hall every day at noon where you can learn more about the history of the city and Art Deco. The tour finishes at the observation deck where you get a 360 view of Downtown Buffalo. If you’re into history and architecture, this is one of the best things to do in Buffalo.
You can also stroll around the city center to look at all the beautiful buildings and street art. There are also plenty of great places to eat around there and don’t forget to check out the Theater District. On a sunny day, Canalside is the place to hang out by the water.
Explore hip Allentown and Elmwood
Buffalo is a young and hip town and nowhere is that as obvious as in the Allentown and Elmwood Village neighborhoods. Trendy coffee shops, vegan cafe’s, vintage boutiques and art galleries stand side by side here. Allentown has a strong LGBTQ+ pride presence and Elmwood Village is more artsy.
There are also several good museum and parks in Elmwood and Allentown. If you want to experience the modern side of Buffalo, this is where you should stay.
Join the Slow Roll
Buffalo has a great sense of community. It’s a small city where people know each other and actually like to hang out. Proof of this is the weekly Slow Roll. During the Slow Roll, hundreds of people take a leisurely bike ride through the city together. There is a different route every week and even the cops helps by blocking roads and traffic.
Sounds crazy? Well, it is. Crazy fun that is. Sing up through the Slow Roll Buffalo website and join hundreds of people for a ride and a chat and a beer afterwards.
Eat some wings
Buffalo has a great food scene. International cuisines, vegan cafe’s and lot of farm to table restaurants. Of course, the pinnacle of Buffalo cuisine are the Buffalo wings. The undisputed king of wings in Buffalo is Anchor Bar. If you want to try all the best wings and decide for yourself, there is a Buffalo Wing Crawl mapped out. Non-meat eaters don’t have to miss out, because Amy’s Place serves delicious vegan versions.
Planning a trip to Buffalo soon? Let me know if you need any more info in the comments.
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