Have you ever wanted to leave Buffalo, New York, for a day or two? Perhaps you are a dog owner or a bird watcher, or maybe you are simply a nature lover. There is plenty to see and do, so let’s look at some of the best day trips from Buffalo, New York.
Buffalo, New York, is a vibrant city with plenty to offer its residents and visitors. But sometimes, you may want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and explore the surrounding areas.
When it comes to day trips from Buffalo, the options are endless. The best part is that these day trips are all within a few hours’ drive from Buffalo, making them perfect for a quick getaway.
Whether you’re looking to experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Niagara Falls or soak up the charm of a small town like Ellicottville, you’ll find plenty of options for day trips from Buffalo. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to explore all that Western New York State offers.
Table of Contents
Best Day Trips from Buffalo, NY
1. Niagara-on-the Lake, Canada
If you’re looking for a memorable day trip from Buffalo, New York, consider heading across the border to Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada. Just a short drive away, this charming town offers a unique blend of natural beauty, historic sites, and cultural experiences.
This is another one of those places a few minutes away by car or train from Buffalo. Niagara on the Lake is located on the edge of the Niagara River. The town is known for its stunning architecture and has a relaxing atmosphere to it. Niagara on the Lake has many upscale eateries, spas, and boutique shopping stores.
The town is great for sightseeing, and any architecture lover will thoroughly enjoy a day here just walking around and taking in all the sights. However, the town also hosts the Shaw Festival, North America’s largest and finest outdoor drama festival.
This picturesque town is known for its stunning vineyards and wineries. Take a wine tour and sample some of the region’s finest wines, or enjoy an easygoing amble through the town’s charming streets with quaint shops and restaurants.
Don’t miss the opportunity to catch a performance at the world-renowned Shaw Festival Theatre. This theatre company produces various plays, from classic works to contemporary productions. Check their schedule beforehand to see what shows are playing during your visit.
For history enthusiasts, a visit to Fort George National Historic Site is a must. Explore the exhibits and learn about this fort’s role during the War of 1812. Take a guided tour or wander around the grounds and soak in the history. A day trip from Buffalo to Niagara on the Lake offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and culinary delights.
See Related: Best Bus Tours in Buffalo, New York
2. Niagara Falls
No trip to Buffalo is complete without a visit to Niagara Falls. Located just a short drive from the city, Niagara Falls is one of the natural wonders of the world and a must-see attraction.
To drive to Niagara Falls from Buffalo, New York, takes around an hour and fifteen minutes. While you can drive, you can also take the train. The Niagara Falls train station is located just outside of downtown Buffalo.
Niagara Falls is the 3rd largest waterfall in the world. There is so much to see and do here, in fact, it would take several visits over a week to see everything there is to see. Take in the sights up high on the Skylon Tower or go for lunch at the Skyline Restaurant or Journey Behind the Falls.
Start your day with a visit to the Niagara Falls State Park, where you can get up close and personal with the falls. Take a boat tour on the Maid of the Mist or go behind the falls on the Cave of the Winds tour. Both tours offer breathtaking views of the falls and an experience you won’t soon forget.
After exploring the falls, head into the town of Niagara-on-the-Lake in Canada. This charming town offers beautiful views of Lake Ontario and is known for its wineries and theaters. Take a stroll through the town’s historic streets, visit a winery for a tasting, or catch a play at one of the local theaters.
If you’d rather experience it from the water, there are several tours available and the option of visiting the Falls by kayak or paddleboat.
If you’re more adventurous, why not take a helicopter ride over the falls? It’s an unforgettable experience that offers a unique perspective of this natural wonder.
After a day of adventure and sightseeing, indulge in some delicious food. Niagara Falls has many restaurants offering everything from fine dining to casual fare. Try local specialties like buffalo wings or poutine, or enjoy a romantic dinner overlooking the falls.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Lucerne, Switzerland
If you live in the Buffalo area, then you’ll probably never need to take a day trip to Toronto. However, for those of you who live in Buffalo and are into shopping, Toronto has some incredible shopping destinations. There are also plenty of fun things to do in the city.
One of the best day trips from Buffalo, New York, is to take the train to Toronto. The train ride from Buffalo to Toronto is comfortable and takes about an hour and a half. When you arrive in Toronto, there are several options for staying and daytime activities.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Madison, Wisconsin
4. Zoo Niagara
Buffalo, New York, is home to Zoo Niagara. The zoo is located between the Buffalo Zoo and the Buffalo Museum of Science.
Zoo Niagara is home to over 700 species with a variety of different animals from rare monkeys to Tasmanian devils. A visit to Zoo Niagara offers your family the opportunity to experience what it’s like to live alongside our animal friends.
See Related: Best Day Trips from Birmingham AL
5. Visit Skylon Tower
The Skylon Tower is located just outside Niagara Falls and is also known as the observation tower. The Skylon Tower is the tallest freestanding structure in the Western Hemisphere.
The Skylon Tower offers spectacular views of Niagara Falls and the surrounding areas and is a great sightseeing destination. You can experience some amazing views from the Skylon Tower and visit the tower’s restaurant to enjoy a meal or a drink and enjoy the stunning views of the famous Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Goat Island, and the Whirlpool.
To try out any of the above day trips from Buffalo, New York, we recommend checking availability with VRBO. In many places, you can make a reservation for a day trip which will show you the owner’s availability. Alternatively, you can look for a hotel offering an overnight stay with a package deal; this could save you a bit of money.
6. East Aurora, NY
East Aurora is a hidden gem that offers an extensive itinerary for a day trip from Buffalo, New York. Located an hour and a half west of Rochester, 30 minutes south of Buffalo, and 10 minutes east of Orchard Park, this charming small town is well worth a visit.
Start your day trip by exploring Main Street in East Aurora, which boasts a variety of shops, restaurants, and historical landmarks. Visit Vidler’s 5 and 10, a historic five-and-dime store since 1953. Sample some local brews at 42 North Brewing Company or explore the history of Fisher-Price at the Fisher-Price Toy Store.
Enjoy a meal at Bar Bill Tavern or The Roycroft Inn for a taste of local flavor. Afterward, catch a matinee at the stunning Aurora Theatre, and be sure to check out the extraordinary historic organ in the lobby.
If you’re interested in history, visit the nearby Roycroft Campus. This National Historic Landmark provides insight into the successful community that once thrived here. Explore the nine original buildings on the campus, including the inn, chapel, and workshop buildings.
For outdoor enthusiasts, head to Knox Farm State Park just a mile west of East Aurora. Wander through the park’s walking paths and around the magnificent residence with its abandoned swimming pool overtaken by nature. The park also offers an expansive dog park with sections dedicated for dogs of varying sizes.
Finish off your day trip with a delicious meal at Elm Street Bakery or Riley Street Station. If you want to bring home a taste of East Aurora, pick up a frozen entrée from Petrichor Pasta before departing.
7. Finger Lakes Region
The Finger Lakes Region, situated within the vast expanse of Lake Ontario, is renowned for its breathtaking natural beauty. The area is home to a stunning array of canyons, majestic waterfalls, and lush forests, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.
If you find yourself in Buffalo at 2:30pm, you’ll be delighted to discover that the Finger Lakes region is just a stone’s throw away, offering a plethora of exciting opportunities for exploration and relaxation.
No matter if you choose to leisurely stroll along the picturesque shores of the lake, taking in the awe-inspiring scenery, or embark on a slower-paced adventure of shopping and uncovering hidden gems in charming towns, there is no shortage of activities to satisfy your wanderlust. The Finger Lakes region truly is a haven for both the adventurous and those seeking a tranquil vacation experience.
Recommendations for Hotels Nearby: Microtel Inn & Suites by Hyndham– Penn Yan
If you’re looking for a refreshing day trip from Buffalo, look no further than Ellicottville. This small town is known as Western New York’s playground for outdoor fun and adventure. From hiking and biking to skiing and snowboarding, Ellicottville offers a wide range of activities for everyone to enjoy.
Start your day with a hike on the trails at Chestnut Ridge Park. The park offers beautiful scenery and a relatively easy trail along the creek bed. Don’t forget to check out the natural gas fissure behind the waterfall, which always stays lit.
After your hike, head into town and explore the historic charm of Ellicottville. Take a boat tour through the Erie Canal and learn about the area’s history. Stop by Flight of Five Winery for a wine tasting while watching the canal locks in action. And don’t forget to treat yourself to some delicious ice cream at Lake Effect Artisan Ice Cream.
If you’re a fan of craft beer, make sure to visit Ellicottville Brewing Company. They offer a wide selection of beers brewed on-site, and their newly expanded brewery is worth checking out.
Finally, end your day with a relaxing dinner at one of Ellicottville’s many restaurants. Whether you’re in the mood for pizza, steak, or something more exotic, you’ll find it all on Main Street.
Ellicottville is just a short drive from Buffalo, making it an ideal day trip destination. So grab your friends or family and enjoy all that Ellicottville has to offer. You won’t be disappointed.
Rochester, New York, is an exceptional day trip destination from Buffalo, packed with a rich mix of arts, culture, and outdoor activities. The city hosts several museums and art galleries, such as the exciting Strong National Museum of Play and the sophisticated Memorial Art Gallery, offering a deep dive into a blend of art, culture, and history.
Outdoor enthusiasts will relish the beautiful trails and parks like the majestic Letchworth State Park, famously known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” and the enchanting Highland Park’s Sunken Garden. Rochester also hides a number of secret spots waiting to be discovered, adding to the thrill of your trip. While in town, don’t miss the chance to savor local favorites like the Garbage Plate and explore diverse restaurants.
Lastly, Rochester’s amazing shopping and entertainment scene, especially the lively arts and music vibe on East Avenue, ensures a day well-spent.
10. Go hiking at Watkins Glen State Park
One of the main attractions at Watkins Glen State Park is its famous hiking trail. The Gorge Trail takes you through breathtaking waterfalls and stunning rock formations. As you hike along this trail, you’ll be surrounded by lush greenery and the soothing sound of cascading water. The trail is well-maintained and offers stunning views at every turn.
In addition to hiking, Watkins Glen State Park also offers picnicking, fishing, and camping opportunities. You can relax by the picturesque Seneca Lake or explore the nearby Catherine Creek for excellent fishing spots. The park also has picnic facilities where you can enjoy a meal surrounded by nature.
Camping is available at Watkins Glen State Park for those who want to extend their stay. The park offers tent and trailer campsites with showers and restrooms. Camping is a great way to fully immerse yourself in the park’s natural beauty and spend quality time with family and friends.
Watkins Glen State Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Its stunning hiking trails, beautiful waterfalls, and serene atmosphere provide a perfect escape from the city.
11. Corning, NY
If you’re looking for one of the best day trips from Buffalo, NY, a visit to the charming town of Corning should be on your list. One of the main attractions in Corning is the Corning Museum of Glass. Known as the world’s best glass museum, it offers a unique and educational experience.
You can explore an extensive collection of glass art and artifacts from different periods and cultures at the Corning Museum of Glass. The museum also offers live glassblowing demonstrations, where you can witness skilled artists creating beautiful glass pieces right before your eyes.
Aside from the museum, Corning itself is a picturesque town to explore. You can wander through its charming streets with historic buildings and browse local shops showcasing glass art and other handmade crafts. The town also offers a variety of restaurants and cafes where you can grab a bite to eat or enjoy a cup of coffee.
In addition to the Corning Museum of Glass, there are other attractions in the area that you can explore during your day trip. The Rockwell Museum is located nearby and features American art and artifacts. You can also stroll along the Gaffer District, known for its beautiful architecture and vibrant arts scene.
A day trip to Corning, New York offers a unique blend of culture, history, and art. Whether you’re interested in exploring the Corning Museum of Glass, discovering the town’s charming streets, or immersing yourself in the local arts scene, there is something for everyone to enjoy.
12. Seneca Lake and Geneva
Planning an escape from Buffalo, New York, can lead you to incredible destinations. One of the absolute must-tries is taking a day trip to Seneca Lake and the small, picturesque town of Geneva, located on the northwest side of Seneca Lake.
Seneca Lake is known as the deepest of all Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake stretches across 38 miles of stunning blue water. It is home to many impressive wineries and eateries for you to explore. Go sailing or fishing on its calm surface, or relax and enjoy the view.
Also, nestled on the east side of Seneca Lake is Watkins Glen State Park, a hidden gem featuring an awe-inspiring waterfall trail. The trail takes you to 19 waterfalls – a perfect delight for nature enthusiasts!
While you are here, make sure you taste Wine on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, so round off your day with a winery tour. You can sip through festive wine trails featuring 27 wineries, all sharing the tradition of warm hospitality and delicious wines.
Like dessert following an excellent meal, end your trip with a visit to the quaint town of Geneva. Revel in its historic charm and savor local food at several iconic restaurants.
13. Letchworth State Park
Are you residing in the Buffalo, New York, vicinity and looking for a scenic day trip away from the city? Letchworth State Park, often called the “Grand Canyon of the East,” catches your attention with its splendid cliffs, waterfalls, and woodlands. It is approximately 60 miles from Buffalo—making it perfect for an adventurous day trip.
Embrace the serenity of Mother Nature at Letchworth State Park, renowned for its 600 feet tall gorge carved by the Genesee River, dotted with waterfalls. The park offers breathtaking scenery for hiking, not least because of its over 60 miles of trails.
Arguably, the showcase of Letchworth State Park is its three majestic waterfalls—Upper Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Falls. However, do not overlook the many smaller ones along the riverbank – all equally enchanting. The most dramatic view can be caught from Inspiration Point: This overlook provides a stunning panorama of Middle and Upper Falls and is a must-see!
Additionally, visiting the Glen Iris Inn, formerly the country estate of Letchworth’s founder William Pryor Letchworth, presents an opportunity to delve into history. It now serves as a charming inn and restaurant and offers inspiring views over Middle Falls.
Lastly, if time allows, grace your trip with a visit to Mount Morris Dam. It is located on the northern boundary of Letchworth State Park and provides an amazing chance to learn about flood control engineering while enjoying an excellent view.
A trip to Letchworth State Park provides a respite from city life, immersing visitors in awe-inspiring landscapes that capture every season’s beauty. You’ll return to Buffalo refreshed and with myriad photographic memories!
14. Presque Isle State Park
Pennsylvania is home to many interesting places to visit, including Presque Isle State Park. Despite being a part of Erie, Presque Island is a separate tourist attraction that is definitely worth a visit.
One of the main reasons it is a popular day-trip destination is its beautiful beaches and trails. The 3,200-hectare peninsula curves around Presquishes Bay, providing visitors with stunning views of the surrounding area.
If you plan to visit Presque Island, having a map with you for public safety is advisable. This will help you navigate your way around the island and ensure that you don’t get lost. Additionally, consider renting an ocean boat from the Presque Isle Boat Rental to make the most of your visit. This will allow you to explore the waters around the island and enjoy the calm waves and hot sea breeze.
Overall, Presque Island is a must-visit destination in Pennsylvania due to its picturesque beaches, scenic trails, and opportunities for boating.
15. Griffis Sculpture Park
Nestled just 45 miles away from bustling Buffalo city, Griffis Sculpture Park offers visitors an enchanting blend of natural beauty and artistic wonders. As you enter the park, a refreshing burst of fresh air will invigorate your senses, leaving you feeling rejuvenated and energized.
Embark on an exciting adventure as you explore the vast network of hiking trails that wind through the park’s sprawling 400 acres, leading you through scenic landscapes and lush wetlands.
Each step you take in Griffis Sculpture Park is an opportunity to immerse yourself in a captivating world of art. With over 400 sculptures masterfully crafted and strategically placed throughout the park, you’ll encounter an impressive collection that creates a seamless fusion of nature and creativity. As you stroll along the trails, you’ll discover these magnificent works of art, each telling its own unique story.
For younger visitors, Griffis Sculpture Park is an educational playground that fuels their curiosity and sparks their imagination. The vibrant colors, intricate details, and larger-than-life sculptures will leave them in awe, nurturing a love for art and nature that will last a lifetime.
Meanwhile, adults can relish the sheer joy of experiencing these thought-provoking artworks, engaging in deep contemplation as they appreciate the skill and creativity of the artists. Griffis Sculpture Park is more than just a park; it’s a sanctuary of artistic expression and natural beauty that offers an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages.
16. Old Fort Niagara
Old Fort Niagara, situated in Youngstown, New York, is a richly historic site with a remarkable military background. As one journeys north from Buffalo towards Lake Ontario, one will encounter this fascinating fortress originally erected in 1726 on the remains of a French settlement. Fort Niagara has seen several conflicts throughout its existence and experienced the shifting of power between France, Britain, and the United States.
A significant event in the fort’s history occurred during the War of 1812 when Britain emerged victorious and took control of the fort. However, as the war ended, American troops recaptured Fort Niagara. This exchange of ownership further adds to the intrigue and charm of this historical site.
Aside from its captivating past, Fort Niagara displays impressive architectural design that mesmerizes visitors. Exploring the grounds, one can’t help but feel a sense of wonder and appreciation for the skill that went into constructing this stronghold. From its towering walls to its intricate details, every aspect of the fort reflects the dedication and ingenuity of those who built it.
For history enthusiasts, Old Fort Niagara is an absolute must-visit destination. Setting foot within its walls allows you to delve into the past and immerse yourself in the stories of those who lived and fought here.