In Buffalo Niagara region, you are always close to a river, canal, creek, or lake. Water, shorelines, locks, marinas, and beaches are everyday sights around here.
The granddaddy of all of our water features is Niagara Falls. Take a 40-minute drive north of Buffalo to behold its thundering power. It’s an amazing spot for appreciating extreme nature as well as people-watching. There are even nearby hikes to take you into the Niagara Gorge.
Get a taste of history when you visit the Erie Canal and the locks that made it work. When you go through an actual lock on a guided boat tour of Lake Erie and the Niagara River, you’re experiencing the mechanism that made Buffalo a hub of commerce and one of the most vital and wealthy cities starting in the mid-1800s. Head to Lockport, NY, which is home to some of the best-preserved locks—a day-trip there helps you soak in the history even more.
Hit up Canalside. One of Buffalo’s newer attractions, Canalside does double duty, acknowledging history while joyfully pulling you into the present. At this playground for all ages, take a free wellness or fitness class, play a free game (giant chess or checkers, anyone?), and rent a kayak or bike. There are family activities, restaurants, the Naval Park, and concerts. It’s steps from downtown Buffalo, so you can stroll there in your downtime or meet friends for drinks after work.
While you’re down there, drive out or take the bike ferry across to the Outer Harbor. (You don’t need a bike to ride the ferry; it’s $1.) From there, access the trails, walking and biking paths, beaches, and parks that dot more than 200 acres of green space and reclaimed shoreline.
Along the Buffalo River and its connecting canals, amidst the crumbling yet splendid grain elevators, take a pedal boat ride. Quaff a beer or watch a roller derby practice from an outdoor bar at Riverworks. Ride the bike paths, enjoy the green space, and marvel at combination of history and development.
Visit the Tonawandas, including the City of Tonawanda, North Tonawanda, and the adjacent Town of Tonawanda. Kick back in the parks along the Niagara River, take in a festival or street fair, stroll along the Erie Canal on well-maintained paths, or try one of the range of eateries, from ice cream stands to lunch and dinner locations like Smoke on the Water, Prescott’s Provisions, or Remington Tavern—all with water views.
A trip to Chautauqua Lake, about an hour and a half southwest of Buffalo, puts you in the middle of lake country—where you can participate boat, stand-up paddle, loll, or drink at a distillery, winery, or brewery. This idyllic area is also known for the Chautauqua Institute, a historical literary, social, and cultural destination with ample educational programming to stimulate, inspire, and entertain you.