Buffalo, NY

Destination Location

  • 42.886447, -78.878369:primary
  • 42.940417, -78.730582:secondary

Overview

Buffalo was once a quintessential 19th century boomtown, but this city is now a modern-day metropolis of culture and outdoor adventure waiting to be discovered. From exploring the nearby Niagara Falls to taking in the architectural wonders, Buffalo offers up a plethora of things to do on any trip.

Quite naturally, any visitor's top activity in Buffalo should be the spectacular Niagara Falls. Just a 20-minute drive from downtown Buffalo, the falls are a staggering display of the force and beauty of nature, and are sure to awe any observer. The roaring phenomenon can be heard from afar, and offers endless photo opportunities. On the Cave of the Winds tour, a 175-foot elevator takes you into the Niagara Gorge where you cross a wooden walkway to the Hurricane Deck, which navigates you within 20 feet of Bridal Veil Falls.

With over 20 professional theatre companies, there are plenty of opportunities to experience live performances while visiting Buffalo. Broadway musicals and European-style opera houses in no shortage of grandeur and vintage charm offer both classic and contemporary musicals. Perhaps unknown to many wine enthusiasts, Buffalo is located between two wine trails. Due to the ideal microclimate and soil condition that exist along Lake Erie, the Niagara Escarpment and Lake Ontario, Buffalo is the perfect place for wine tours. Located just south of Buffalo is Lake Erie Wine Country, which boasts the largest grape growing region east of the Rockies. The Niagara Wine Trail is located to the north, and features a list of world-class wines.

But don't let the awe-inspiring grandeur of the falls and winery options distract you from the cultural gems the city has to offer. While this is a modern, working-class city, Buffalo is also full of American history, and exploring it is a must on any list of activities when visiting. Home to a notable collection of 19th and 20th century architecture, including the Frank Lloyd Wright created Darwin D. Martin House Complex, this city also boasts the National Historic Landmark of Roycroft Campus. No other community had as strong an influence on the development of American architecture and design in the early 20th century than Roycroft.

Whether it's outdoor adventure, contemporary culture, or historical architecture, Buffalo is a destination that can truly offer something memorable to any visitor.

WestJet is pleased to offer service to this destination through our code-share agreement with our great airline partners.

Destination basics

Buffalo has a reputation for snowy winters usually spanning from mid-November to mid-March. Average temperatures for this time of year range from 8 C (48 F) to -7 C (20 F). Buffalo has the sunniest and driest summers of any major city in the northeastern United States, but still has enough rain to keep vegetation green and flourishing. Summers are marked by plentiful sunshine and moderate humidity and temperatures ranging from 15 C (58 F) to 27 C (80 F).

Dining out in Buffalo is more than just chicken wings. In fact, there are more than 1,400 restaurants, bistros, cafes, pubs and grills in the Greater Buffalo Area. That figure doesn't include the annual food festivals where thousands come out to taste local specialties such as Beef on Weck.

Downtown
Buffalo's downtown offers an eclectic mix of dining styles and cuisines, ranging from the Towne Restaurant, which is open 23 hours a day (it's closed one hour for cleaning) and the as-popular-for-the-crowd-as-for-the-food EB Green's Steakhouse in the Hyatt Regency, rated Western New York's only four-star steakhouse with choices such as a 24 ounce porterhouse and a three pound Maine lobster.

If you're looking for some pre or post-theater dining, you can't go wrong with the Bijou Grille. At Desiderio's, located where the Theater District overlaps the Chippewa Club Zone, you can actually mingle with crew and cast members from the Alleyway or Irish Classical theaters.

Gallery 101 Bistro combines art with fine dining by featuring local artists and Pacific Rim cuisine, mostly Thai and Vietnamese with a little Italian mixed in. Speaking of Italian, Romanello's Roseland is not to be missed, as much for its historical landmark location as for the American-Italian cuisine and table-side cooking. Frank's Sunny Italy is a good choice for families.

Other Italian restaurants in the Greater Buffalo Area include Ristorante Lombardo, tucked in a landscaped private courtyard and Andy DiVicenzo's Billy Ogden's tavern-cum-restaurant. If you've still got the munchies after all that, the place to go is La Nova, recently ranked number one among independently owned pizza restaurants by Pizza & Pasta Magazine.

Elmwood and Delaware
While Italian may dominate the ethnic cuisine landscape, Buffalo is also home to many fine restaurants from other parts of the world. The delights of India Gate with its $5.95 lunch-time buffet special, are a must. For a bit of upscale Greek in a friendly and cheerful ambiance, try Ambrosia, recently picked as a top choice by the Buffalo News food critic.

Often maligned as stodgy, Buffalo has managed to build up a fair number of "cool" spots where the "in" crowd can be found. Start at the Caffe Aroma for an afternoon cappuccino and jazz, or check out Panos On Elmwood for some Greek diner food.

For a chance to try out all of Buffalo's culinary delights at one time, you've got to attend A Taste of Buffalo festival in mid-July. You can sample more then 150 dishes from Western New York's top restaurants, all priced between 50 cents and three dollars.

Surrounding Suburbs
You can get Beef on Weck and a Friday fish fry in just about any place in the city, but for authentic atmosphere try the Buffalo Brew Pub with its dart tournaments and English-style beer brewed on the premises. Tandoori's, rated among the top 20 restaurants of Western New York, can be found in quiet suburb of Williamsville.

Walden's is located in the Four Points Hotel Buffalo Airport and next to the Walden Galleria Mall. It features certified Angus beef in a dining room that overlooks a tropical courtyard.

One of the top restaurants in all of Western New York can be found on the northern edge of Buffalo in Kenmore. .

Or go to the Shannon Pub in Amherst, a genuine Irish pub. The pub claims to pour the best pint of Guinness in North America and it also attracts some of the finest Celtic performers this side of the Atlantic for all the "craig" (that's fun) you can handle.

From the renaissance of the Waterfront and downtown's steady growth, to the major airport expansion and a revived arts and cultural scene, New York's second-largest city is booming again.

Buffalo's ethnic diversity includes people of Greek, Irish, Italian, African American, Polish, Scottish, Latino and German decent, to name a few. That, combined with a blue-collar mentality, creates a solid foundation for the community to build and re-build. And that it has, by pumping millions into its downtown showpiece Theater District, by expanding the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, by creating waterfront housing and establishing a Metro Rail line from HSBC Arena to the South Campus of the State University at Buffalo. It has diversified its economy, moving from strictly "rust belt" industries to services and tourism, then to high tech and fiber optics. It has put up hotels, banks, office buildings and a state-of-the-art convention center.

Allentown, Bailey-Lovejoy and Delaware
The National Historic District of Allentown is home to both the Wilcox Mansion (where Teddy Roosevelt was inaugurated) and the Allentown Art Festival. It's also where you can find popular local haunts like The Old Pink, Gabriel's Gate and the Allen Street Dress Shop.

Bailey-Lovejoy is committed to preserving its railroad-rich past through the Iron Island Museum and the annual neighborhood festival. Places like Hennepin Park and the Buffalo Fire Historical Museum are major draws for people in surrounding neighborhoods.

Delaware Park is the jewel of the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park system, the historic Forest Lawn Cemetery, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Cofeld Judaic Museum of Temple Beth Zion are all a part of the Delaware District. Polonia features traditional Broadway Market food vendors and the New York Central Terminal.

Downtown
It is here that the 1929 Art Deco masterpiece, Buffalo City Hall, rises high above the tree tops. Also note the French Renaissance-style Ellicott Square Building finished in 1896 as the largest office building in the world at that time.

Within the compact downtown is where you'll find the hive of performing arts activity known as the Theater District. Shea's Performing Arts Center, with its classic Baroque interior, serves as an anchor for the 20-block Theater District. You'll find plenty of night life in the Chippewa Club Zone, which rose from the ashes of the former red light district. Buffalo Place has a pedestrian mall and a reputation for being festival central. If ice hockey's your thing, you'll be interested to find the HSBC Arena (formerly the Marine-Midland) where the NHL Buffalo Sabres skate.

And it's true: Buffalo chicken wings actually were created here, thanks to a stray shipment of wings that made its way to the Anchor Bar in the mid-1960s. Buffalo is also home to the Beef on Weck sandwich and it is the Friday fish fry capital of the world.

North Buffalo
Not to be overlooked, Buffalo is a mere 25 miles from what has been called one of the seven natural wonders of the world. For 11 million visitors a year, the breath-taking Niagara Falls are attraction enough to check out Buffalo.

The "City of Good Neighbors" offers all of its visitors small-town hospitality in a big-city environment. Explore the ethnically-diverse cuisine, high-caliber theater, the mansions of Elmwood Avenue and the Chippewa Club Zone's sizzling nightlife.

Surrounding Suburbs
With Lake Erie and Canada to the west, Buffalo is bordered on its other three sides by suburban areas that are also rich in history and heritage. To the north and northeast lie Tonawanda and Amherst, the first combines a strong industrial base with beautiful parks and natural scenery and the latter is home to the huge University at Buffalo North Campus.

To the east is Cheektowaga, "Land of the Crabapple," with the Buffalo Niagara International Airport and the Walden Galleria Mall, the largest mall in Western NY. To the south and southeast lie the aptly named South-towns: Lackawanna, Hamburg, West Seneca, Orchard Park and East Aurora, that combine a range of heavy industry and farms, shopping malls and village boutiques, modern condos and 19th century architectural gems.

Art, music and theater, historical sites and museums, pro sports and recreation, night clubs and festivals: you name it and The Queen City has it, including that great thundering attraction 25 miles to the north!

Music and Theater
The natural place to start on any Buffalo entertainment quest is the Theater District, a 20-block area of downtown that's jam-packed with the second-largest concentration of performing arts venues in the state (next to NYC, of course).

As a National Historic landmark, Shea's Performing Arts Center (opened in 1926) is home to the Irish Classical Theatre Company, the Alleyway Theatre complex and the state-of-the-art Studio Arena. Here you will find every type of theatrical performance from operetta to full Broadway productions, avant-garde drama to modern classics.

Another performing arts hub is the State University of New York at Buffalo campus in Amherst. The Center for the Arts is home to four theater venues including the 1,750-seat Mainstage, the only one of this size operating year-round in western NY. The 400-seat Drama Theater is ideal for musicals, the 180-seat Black Box is an experimental space and the 370-seat Katharine Cornell Theater was named after one of Buffalo's leading ladies.

Buffalo's musical tastes can best be described as eclectic, ranging from the Buffalo Philharmonic, considered one of the best in the country and playing out of the acoustically-perfect Kleinhans Music Hall, to blues and jazz, with native sons such as Grover Washington Jr., Bobby Millitello, and Spyro Gyra. In fact, Millitello gets to blow his own horn at the family-owned Tralfamadore Cafe, one of literally dozens of pubs and clubs where jazz is part of the menu.

Museums and Galleries
For a town that has spent most of its existence doing heavy industrial work, Buffalo has more than its fair share of art facilities. Start with the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, world-renowned for its collection of impressionistic and abstract works including Picasso, Van Gogh and Warhol. Then on to the Burchfield-Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College with exhibits by watercolorist Charles E. Burchfield as well as regional artists.

Other important Buffalo galleries and exhibit halls include the Anderson Gallery, CEPA, Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center and the African American Culture Center, which sponsors African-American visual and performing arts and is home to the Paul Robeson Theatre.

For the true arts and crafts believer, no trip to Buffalo is complete without a visit to the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora. Site of the crafts colony founded by Elbert Hubbard in the late 1800s, the campus today carries forth the original spirit with the Elbert Hubbard Roycroft Museum, Roycroft Shops, Roycroft Inn and Roycroft Potters. Another great shopping stop is the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls.

Through it all, Buffalo hasn't forgotten its railroad and steel past. The Iron Preservation Society of Lovejoy runs the Iron Island Museum in honor of the community named for the fact it was surrounded by railroad tracks. In the same vein, the Lackawanna Public Library plays host to the Steel Plant and Local History Museum with photos, exhibits and memorabilia from the days when steel was king.

Festivals
If galleries, museums and architectural gems are the muscle and sinew of Buffalo culture, then the numerous festivals are most certainly its lifeblood. It starts with ringing in the new year followed by a number of winter carnivals so that Buffalonians can thumb their noses at the snow. The snow melts just in time for the June Allentown Art Festival, a street event that draws more than 600,000 to the downtown area.

July brings the two-day Taste of Buffalo along the Buffalo Place strip with music, arts and crafts and the opportunity to sample food from the city's top restaurants. August means Lovejoy's Iron Island Festival will celebrate this special Buffalo neighborhood.

Nightlife
If you can't wait for the festivals, there are plenty of hot nightspots to keep you moving. Buffalo's nightlife used to center around the Elmwood Strip but the place to be these days is on Chippewa, which borders on the Theater District. Once the city's red light district, Chippewa now sizzles with live music and dance clubs to suit every taste.

Perhaps the wildest club of all is Club Marcella, described as the best techno/trance/trip-hop place in the city, not to mention the compelling Saturday night drag queen shows. The Coliseum Entertainment Complex offers a progressive dance club, a disco, retro dance club and a cigar bar all under one roof.

Sports
A visitor doesn't have to stay long to realize Buffalonians are passionate about their sports teams. It's your choice to root for football with the NFL Bills, hockey with the NHL Sabres, the triple-A baseball Bisons, soccer with the Blizzards or lacrosse with the Bandits. This is the land of the Sunday afternoon tailgate party to root the Bills towards yet another shot at the Super Bowl.

As you can see, there's more to Niagara-area entertainment than the falls with their deafening roar. What you get is the complete recreational package with 75,000 gallons of water roaring over a 300-foot cliff each second as the icing on the cake!

Buffalo

State:New York

Country: United States

Buffalo By The Numbers
Population: 258,959 (city); 1,134,210 (metropolitan area)
Average Annual Precipitation: 40.5 inches / 102.9 centimeters
Average Annual Snowfall: 94.7 inches / 240.5 centimeters
Average January Temperature: 24.9°F / -3.9°C
Average July Temperature: 71.1°F / 21.7°C

Quick Facts
Electricity: 110 volts, 60Hz, standard two pin plugs

Time Zone: GMT-5

Country Dialing Code: 1

Area Code: 716

Did You Know?
Buffalo Wings were invented by Terressa Bellisimo in 1964 and first served to patrons of the Anchor Bar in downtown Buffalo.

Following the death of President William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as president at the Wilcox Mansion in Buffalo.

Orientation
A lake and riverfront town, Buffalo is located in proximity to Lake Erie, the Buffalo and the Niagara Rivers. Situated only 20 minutes from Niagara Falls and the Canadian border, Buffalo is a popular tourist destination that highlights winter activities such as skiing and ice fishing. Buffalo is 438 miles (705 kilometers) away from New York City and 260 miles (418 kilometers) from the state capital of Albany.

Compared to other cities in the original 13 colonies, Buffalo is relatively young. While French explorer Robert LaSalle is credited as the first white man to view the area in 1628, it would be another 130 years before the first permanent French settlement was established.

Control of the area was passed between the British and the Dutch several times before the turn of the 19th century. The land was eventually sold for development to a group called the Holland Land Company, which was led by Joseph Ellicott, known as the founder of Buffalo.

Ellicott named the settlement New Amsterdam to please his Dutch superiors, and began to plan the new village. The system of major arteries radiating from the central hub—what is now Niagara Square—was copied from the design of Washington, D.C.

In 1810, New Amsterdam had fewer than 500 residents, a newspaper, a few stores and "five lawyers and no church," according to the diary of De Witt Clinton who was finalizing the route for what would become the Erie Canal.

When the residents decided to rename the town Buffalo, Joseph Ellicott was insulted. He left to make his residence in Batavia, 30 miles east, and vowed never to return.

The derivation of "Buffalo" has never been fully explained. One thing's for sure: no buffalo have ever been sighted in the area. A popular theory is that the first settlers, upon sighting Native Americans in the area, gave the name Buffalo's Creek to what is now the Buffalo River. Another idea is that the French called the Niagara River beau fleuve or beautiful river, and this came to be mispronounced as "Buffalo."

By 1812, the United States was at war with Great Britain and Buffalo's border location would bring the war home. The British burned the city in December 1813, reprising their 1759 attack on the then-new French settlement.

By 1820, events started to fall into place for Buffalo. Construction of a harbor began, led by Samuel Wilkeson and financed by a $12,000 loan from New York State. The epitaph on Wilkeson's Forest Lawn Cemetery grave reads Urban Condidit, Latin for "He built the city."

The value of the harbor was not lost on New York State officials, who decided in 1822 that Buffalo, not the rival town Black Rock, should be the western terminus of the Erie Canal, linking the Hudson River and the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. The opening of the Erie Canal in October 1826 was probably the single most important event in the growth of Buffalo. Nearly all of the 2,400 residents turned out to see the first vessel enter the canal and the dumping of a bottle of Hudson River water into Lake Erie.

Buffalo, which would be incorporated as a city in 1832, was now set to become one of the country's most important transportation hubs. By the mid-1830s, grain pouring in from the Midwest was processed in Buffalo and shipped east via the canal. Grain elevators, invented in Buffalo, sprang up everywhere. By World War II, Buffalo would be processing 300 million pounds of grain annually.

Buffalo's growth continued through the 19th century. The arrival of the railroads spawned the development of heavy industries such as steel and auto manufacturing. At the railroads' peak, just after World War II, this city of 42 square miles had within its borders some 700 miles of track.

Two of Buffalo's native sons served as U.S. presidents in the 19th century. Millard Fillmore took office in 1850 upon the death of Zachary Taylor, and would subsequently be elected to his own term. Grover Cleveland, a Buffalo mayor, then New York governor, was elected to office in 1884. After losing a bid for re-election in 1888, Cleveland became the only president to serve non-consecutive terms with his victory in 1892.

The flow of electricity from Niagara Falls, 20 miles to the north, beginning in November 1896, continued Buffalo's spectacular economic growth. This plentiful supply of energy helped Buffalo land the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, fending off bids from larger cities like Detroit.

The Exposition grounds covered an area between Elmwood Avenue and Delaware Avenue, north of Delaware Park, the city's biggest green space. Park designer and renowned landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted also designed park systems in Chicago, Montreal and New York City. The last remaining building from the Exposition now houses the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society.

On September 6, 1901, tragedy struck at the Exposition. Anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot President William McKinley as he shook hands in the crowd. McKinley succumbed to his wounds early in the morning of September 14, and that afternoon Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as his successor at the Wilcox Mansion.

Although the Exposition lost money, it put Buffalo squarely on the map as one of the most important business centers in the country. This position continued through the first half of the 20th century, as Buffalo grew and prospered on its way to becoming the country's 15th largest city in 1950.

However, Buffalo was not immune to the regional trend of plant closings and relocations. Beginning in the mid-1950s, many businesses shut their doors or headed to the south and west, and the city's population declined by more than 150,000 before stabilizing by the mid-1970s.

More recently, in the early 1980s, the city has undergone a renaissance as old, "smoke stack" industries have been replaced with financial and high technology firms. Additionally, the waterfront has been developed more wisely, with housing, businesses, restaurants and recreation replacing the steel mills and factories.

Points of interest in Buffalo, NY

See all points of interest Buffalo, NY

Departing from:

^Total price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions.

*Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

Explore our world.

or find your dream vacation with our Vacation finder