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The Ultimate Guide to Visiting Buffalo in the Winter: Fun Activities, Delicious Food & More

November 30, 2023

From the smell of cheerios wafting out of the General Mills Factory to the pride in the Buffalo Bills, Buffalo New York is a city full of personality. While my wintertime visit had mostly gray skies, the city is full of cozy pubs and plenty of indoor adventures to stay warm. At the same time, they don’t shy away from the cold. You’ll also find outdoor markets, ice skating rinks and indoor-outdoor walking tours. Dress warm and you’re sure to enjoy a winter visit as much as I did.

Buffalo offers interesting architecture and culture, but I was most impressed by the food. From Buffalo wings to sponge candy to the best veggie dog I’ve ever had, Buffalo is an amazing place to eat. While the most iconic cuisines include meat, I found no shortage of great vegetarian options.

Looking down the street at a view of Buffalo City Hall, a tall building that is light brown in color. A tall white pillar is outside of the building in the center.
Buffalo City Hall
Lydia standing in front of a waterfall that has a bridge over it. There is a light dusting of snow and ice covering the rock face.
Letchworth State Park

Buffalo is a worthy destination on its own, but it also makes a great base for exploring Niagara Falls and Letchworth State Park. Niagara Falls is certainly a place everyone should see at least once, and Letchworth is a hiker’s paradise with its own epic waterfalls.

This blog is based on my experience exploring Buffalo over 2 weeks in December 2022.

Keep reading to discover the best things to do in Buffalo in the winter, delicious Buffalo eats, a guide to taking a day trip to Niagara Falls and more.

Full disclaimer – This is a sponsored blog post by Visit Buffalo Niagara. As always, my opinions are unbiased and my own. I want to thank all participating partners and the Buffalo tourism board for their generosity!

What to Expect from Buffalo in the Winter

Buffalo Winter temperatures can be very cold. January and February typically bring lows from 18-19 °F and highs in the low 30’s °F. Of course, it could be much colder on some days. I visited in December and the weather was mostly in the 40’s and 30’s °F, so it was very manageable.

A glass greenhouse with snow on the ground outside.
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

Buffalo also can receive intense snowstorms, although the worst ones are rare. Lake Erie is the only Great Lake capable of freezing over completely, which can cause lake-effect snowstorms. These storms will sometimes dump several feet of snow on Buffalo. You’re unlikely to experience this, but be sure to check the weather forecast and conditions before your trip and come prepared.

I arrived in Buffalo about a week after a major snowstorm, but almost all of the snow had melted. Overall, it seemed like the people in Buffalo really embrace the winter and don’t shy away from outdoor activities, but with plenty of heating options. Come prepared with a warm coat and gloves, and don’t be afraid to do some things outside.

The Best Winter Activities in Buffalo

Here are some of the best things to do in Buffalo if you visit around the holidays!

Ice skating at Canalside

There are plenty of fun activities to ring in the holiday season in Buffalo. If you enjoy ice skating, Canalside is the place to be. And they even have some other options if ice skating isn’t your forte.

Lydia ice skating using a walker. There are hanging lights and a bridge above the rink. Lydia wears a red coat and green hat.Lydia ice skating wearing a red coat and green hat.
Ice skating at Canalside

They rent two types of ice skates - figure skates and hockey skates. Figure skates tend to be more beginner friendly. Plus, they have walkers that beginners can use out on the ice. I’m not super comfortable ice skating so the walker was a huge help.

In addition to ice skates, you can also ride an ice bike, practice your curling skills or slide around in ice bumper cars. The ice bikes are great for those who don’t want to balance on their own and the ice bumper cars are just fun. Canalside is the perfect place to spend an evening in the winter.

Tip: Take a photo with the Shark Girl Statue! It was created by artist Casey Riordan in 2013.

Visit the Buffalo Hofbrauhaus Holiday Market

Visiting holiday markets is also a great winter activity in Buffalo. The city has a handful of holiday markets that you can visit for local gifts.

I visited the Hofbrauhaus Market and was instantly put in the holiday spirit from their Christmas tree made of barrels, holiday lights and festive booths. Be sure to pick up a hot chocolate (spiked or not) or a mulled wine in a souvenir mug to sip while you shop.

Holding up a mug that reads 'Christkindlmarket Buffalo 2022' inside the Buffalo Holiday Market.
Hofbrauhaus Holiday Market
Holding up a tall stein of beer from the second floor inside of the Hofbrauhaus
Hofbrauhaus Buffalo

In the market, I found gnomes, ornaments, popcorn, spirits and more. My personal favorite was Dragonfly Jams and Jellies. Their handcrafted jams use real fruit grown locally and they have a great variety of flavors. The Spicy Mango Tango is the perfect addition to a charcuterie board.

After you’re done shopping, head inside Hofbrauhaus for their wide menu of German food and a liter of beer in a beer stein. It’s a huge space and great for watching the game or listening to live music. You can’t go wrong with their jumbo soft pretzels.

The Best Indoor Activities in Buffalo

Here are some of the best indoor and year round activities to enjoy during your trip to Buffalo.

Burchfield Penney Art Center

The Burchfield Penney Art Center is a wonderful destination to see some art. The museum holds the largest collection of works by Charles E. Burchfield, a painter who lived in Western New York.

Five colorful and round sculptures outside of the Burchfield Penney Art Center in Buffalo.
Burchfield Penney Art Center

The museum has two levels and can be seen in a couple hours. In addition to works by Burchfield, there are always new exhibitions to explore.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

The Buffalo Botanical Gardens are a beautiful place to explore for an afternoon. The first thing you’ll notice is the architecture - the glass domed building design is based on the Crystal Palace in England. The gardens first opened in 1900 and exhibit flora and fauna from all over the world.

Looking straight at the Buffalo Botanical Gardens builidng, which is a glass greenhouse. There is a bit of snow on the ground on top of the garden beds outside of the building.Several cacti and desert plants inside of the Buffalo Botanical Gardens.
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens

In the winter, the gardens are decorated with beautiful placements of poinsettias and a fun holiday train display. I was also excited to see three rare corpse flowers that bloom every three to seven years. They are known for their intense smell of rotten flesh. They weren’t in bloom during my time in Buffalo, but it’s worth seeing if their blooms will align with your trip.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House

The Martin House in Buffalo was definitely a highlight of my time here. The home was built in the early 1900’s early in Frank Lloyd Wright’s career. It was built for his friend, Darwin Martin. Martin had a large budget, so Wright was able to really bring his vision to life for a single family home.

A partially outdoor hallway lined with brick pillars. At the end of the hallway is a white statue.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House

The house fell into disrepair after the Great Depression. Part of it was even torn down to build apartments with the land. But in the 90’s, restoration began and today it very closely resembles Wright’s original intention.

Photos are not allowed inside, but you can take a tour and see the Art Glass windows with the “Tree of Life” design, the massive central fireplace, the pier and cantilever structural system and the open floor plan with elements inspired by nature.

After exiting the main house, you’ll also be impressed by the open air walkway. It leads back to a conservatory full of tropical plants and a replica of the classical sculpture of the Winged Victory of Samothrace.

There are two versions of the tour, a main tour and an extended version that will take you into additional houses on the complex. They also have various events throughout the year, like workshops for creating holiday centerpieces and candlelight tours. This admirable and historic piece of architecture is definitely worth a visit while you’re in Buffalo.

City Hall Observation Tower

For a free weekday activity, you must take in the views from the top of Buffalo City Hall. It’s such a great experience to see the city from above.

A view from the observation deck of the City Hall Observation Tower in Buffalo. A sheet of glass is between the viewing deck and the open air.
City Hall Observation Tower

This is the highest point in the city with public access and you can see miles in all directions. You’ll see Canada, Western New York and the radial design of the city streets. There are signs at the top that label surrounding buildings and tell some history of the area.

To visit, you’ll need to go through security and then take the elevators on the right to the 25th floor. From there, you will climb three flights of the stairs to the 28th floor to reach the top. The observation deck is outside but there is a tall wall of glass to prevent you or your things from falling.

I always love seeing cities from above and this is definitely worth the trip while you’re in Buffalo!

Tip: You may want to avoid this if you’re afraid of heights!

Shop and Explore Elmwood Village

Elmwood Village is a Buffalo neighborhood full of local shops, public art, restaurants and more. It’s a great place to grab some coffee and do some shopping year round.

Holding up a white coffee to go mug that reads 'Tipico.' There is a colorful mural in the background that depicts a honeycomb, a bee and flowers.
Tipico Coffee
A red shelf full of mugs and a few plants inside of Buffalo ShopCraft.
Buffalo ShopCraft

Start your outing with a trip to Tipico Coffee. This light-filled shop serves local coffee along with a great selection of breakfast sandwiches, burritos and pastries. There is also a beautiful mural right outside.

When it comes to shopping, don’t miss Buffalo ShopCraft. Every single one of the 3,000+ items in this shop are made in Western New York. You can find Buffalo themed magnets, jewelry and mugs, delightful smelling candles, a variety of clothing, greeting cards and much more. This is the perfect place to buy a Buffalo souvenir or a gift.

If you love home decor, also be sure to stop at . The shop offers a mix of vintage pieces and furniture and home decor with a focus on minimalist, calm living. It’s a beautiful place to browse.

Also in Elmwood, pop into Watson’s to pick up some famous Buffalo sponge candy! Learn more about sponge candy in the food section below.

Finally, The Place (also discussed in the food section) is also in Elmwood Village. It’s the perfect place for a comforting meal or a warm winter cocktail after a day of shopping.

The Best Outdoor Activities in Buffalo

Explore Buffalo Tour

Taking a tour with Explore Buffalo is the best way to learn about the history of the city and peek inside some buildings that you probably didn’t even know about. They have several tours to choose from, so some are indoor while others include outdoor portions.

A two toned van that is blue on the bottom and white on the top that reads 'Seneca One.' There is Christmas decor inside and around the van, including small Santa Clause statues.
Seneca One Building
A tall brown buillding next to a white building in downtown Buffalo.
Downtown Buffalo

Tours are offered in several neighborhoods around the city. I took the South Downtown tour and it included the Seneca One building, Old Post Office, the Ellicott Square Building and more. It was fascinating to see these downtown Buffalo buildings with a new lens and learn about their architectural styles, history and current plans in the works.

I thought the Seneca One building stood out from the other stops on the tour. The lobby is open to all and includes a bar that was in The Sopranos, a Volkswagen bus and fantastic views of the city.

As a visitor to Buffalo, the tour was also great to learn more about the city from a local (the tour guides for Explore Buffalo are almost all volunteers). One interesting tidbit that I learned was that they block off the Skyway bridge once a year for a free bike ride.

No matter which tour you choose, a tour with Explore Buffalo is a fantastic way to learn more about the city.

Forest Lawn Cemetery

The Forest Lawn Cemetery is one of the first deliberately designed rural cemeteries in the United States and has been burying people since 1850. The cemetery is over 250 acres and is home to some famous figures in Buffalo.

Several gravestones and a deer in the Forest Lawn CemeteryAn open air mausoleum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. The mausoleum looks a bit like steps.
Forest Lawn Cemetery

There is a great audio tour to use while exploring the cemetery and the most famous sites have QR codes to pull up information on your phone. There are also tours offered between June and October.

Famous sites to visit include the resting places of Millard Fillmore (13th US president), Rick James (singer-songwriter) and William Letchworth (donated the land for Letchworth State Park). And there are many more!

It’s also worth seeing the Blue Sky Mausoleum, an open air mausoleum designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It is certainly a unique take on traditional mausoleum design.

The cemetery is great for a long walk, or you can drive between the various points of interest.

Murals in Buffalo

Buffalo is a city full of colorful murals! As a result of an initiative from the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, muralists from Buffalo and around the world have painted so many vibrant artworks in recent years.

A white wall that reads 'Keep Buffalo a Secret' in large blue letters.
Keep Buffalo a Secret Mural

Here are my favorites from my time in Buffalo:

  • Love Black, by Edreys Wajed and James “YAMES” Moffitt, 712 Main St
  • Keep Buffalo a Secret, 836 Main St
  • Wildflowers for Buffalo, by Louise Jones, 465 Washington St
  • Noodle in the Northern Lights, 710 Main Theater

There are so many more around the city! Check out this mural guide to see more.

Food in Buffalo

Buffalo has no shortage of delicious food! Whether you are a foodie who loves to try new the local dishes, vegan or somewhere in between, there is something for everyone.

Food specialties in Buffalo

Buffalo Wing Trail

Did you know that buffalo wings were invented in Buffalo? The story goes that in 1964, Dominic Bellissimo was working at Anchor Bar and asked him to prepare his friends a late night snack. She deep fried chicken wings, a part of the chicken that usually went into a stock pot, added a secret sauce and the rest is history.

Two plates of chicken wings that include celery and a white dipping sauce.
O'Neill's Stadium Inn
A salad with croutons and a plate of wings in the background.
Blackthorn Pub

Today, the buffalo wing craze has spread all over the world. And Anchor Bar isn’t the only place in town that has some delicious wing offerings. There are 14 restaurants on the official Buffalo wing trail and you can even earn prizes by checking them off your list.

After visiting four spots on the wing trail as a vegetarian, I most recommend Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub. This Irish pub in South Buffalo is known for their “South Buffalo Wing” style made with extra spices. Along with wings, they have a large menu with salads, burgers, pastas and more. I really enjoyed the Irish Beer Cheddar soup, the drink selection and the atmosphere.

If you love wings, it’s definitely worth visiting Anchor Bar and at least one or two other spots on the trail to compare for yourself.

Buffalo Sponge Candy

While the chicken wings get the most hype, Buffalo is also known for a unique sweet treat. Sponge candy is light, crunchy, chocolatey candy known for its airy texture that is similar to honeycomb. It is typically covered in chocolate and can also be orange-flavored.

The exterior of a vintage building that reads 'Parkside Candies: Ice Cream, Candies, Luncheon'
Parkside Candy

I tried sponge candy at two of the most famous places - Watson’s and Parkside Candy. Watson’s has been considered a local favorite since it first opened its doors in 1946. The business is family owned and has a commitment to high quality chocolate and using the most tender part of the sponge candy.

The interior of Parkside Candy, which includes a black and white checker floor, intricate detailing on a green wall and a white ceiling and a wooden built-in cabinet that reads 'ice cream.'
Parkside Candy
A box full of several pieces of buffalo sponge candy. They look like chocolate squares with rounded edges.
Sponge candy from Watson's

Personally, the sponge candy at Watson’s was my favorite, but the atmosphere and additional choices at Parkside Candy can’t be beat.

Tip: If you eat meat, the Beef on Weck is another famous Buffalo dish to look for (it’s a sandwich made with roast beef on a kummelweck roll).

The Best Restaurants in Buffalo

Keep reading for some of the best food in Buffalo! From breakfast sandwiches to a vegan chicken sandwich, Buffalo has delicious food no matter your tastes.

Remedy House

Remedy House is a wonderful place for breakfast in the Five Points neighborhood of Buffalo. They call themselves “Buffalo’s Coffee Bar” and have a commitment to community, high quality ingredients and espresso. Plus, they are open into the evening and serve hard beverages as well.

A breakfast sandwich made with a fluffy roll and filled with egg and melted cheese.
Egg on a Roll from Remedy House
A narrow blue building on a corner with yellow awnings and outdoor tables on the sidewalk.
Remedy House

I absolutely loved their “egg on a roll” breakfast sandwich. Egg and cheese, plus meats or toppings of your choosing, are served on a house made roll. The bread was perfectly fluffy and the egg was perfectly cooked. It’s the perfect hearty sandwich for breakfast or lunch.

Five Points Bakery

Five Points Bakery is a wonderful spot for light breakfast and lunch offerings. It’s the kind of place that is perfect for a coffee date with an old friend.

Bagged breads and pastries sitting on top of a wooden counter inside of Five Points Bakery.
Five Points Bakery
Four slices of bread that have cheese baked into them, served with hot sauce, pickles and a white sauce.
Cheddar Toast

I was especially impressed with their toasts. If you order cheddar toast, you’ll receive fresh baked bread where the cheddar has actually been baked into the bread (along with sides of hot sauce, pickles and sour cream). I had never had anything quite like it.

Whether you’re dining in or picking up a loaf of bread to take home, this bakery is worth a stop.

Wonder Coffee House

Wonder Coffee House is a unique little spot surrounded by colorful shipping containers. During warmer months, the shipping containers form beautiful outdoor patio spaces where you can spread out with your coffee and food. In the winter months, the indoor space is cozy and full of fun decor.

Lydia holding a coffee and standing in front of a display with 3 shipping containers, which are yellow, red and white. The red one reads 'Wonder' and is partially covered with greenery.Two waffles on paper plates, along with two coffees inside of Wonder Coffee House.
Wonder Coffee House

Wonder Coffee House is most known for their creative waffle combinations. You can enjoy a variety of sweet and savory concoctions all served atop their house-made Belgium waffles. Whether you prefer a savory avocado and egg combinations, a sweet nutella and fruit breakfast or something unique like blueberry and brie, Wonder has you covered.

A black shipping container stacked on top of white shipping containers. The black one reads 'Coffee & Waffles Wonder City'
Wonder Coffee House

While you’re here, take a look at the Buffalo Riverworks across the parking lot. There is a ferris wheel, rock climbing on silos, a multi-level zipline course, a double decker bus and more. It’s closed in the winter, but this is a really fun place to visit in the summer.


Betty’s is a great neighborhood restaurant to enjoy breakfast cuisine or comforting lunch items. They have a selection of vegetarian food and have been serving the neighborhood since 2004. I enjoyed a breakfast scramble full of veggies and the buzzy atmosphere.

A red building that reads 'Betty's' in an oval near the top of the exterior front.A plate of hashbrowns, scrambled eggs and toast next to a mug of coffee.

Betty’s also has a dinner menu with vegan versions of famous Buffalo cuisine (wings, Beef on Weck and bleu cheese), but dinner isn’t being served as of this writing.

Butter Block

If you love a high quality pastry, Butter Block is the place to go for croissants, breads, eclairs and more made with traditional French techniques. The shop is located in the Five Points Neighborhood, very close to Remedy House and Five Points Bakery.

Three pastires in a to-go box. There is a chocolate eclair, a chocolate pop tart and focaccia bread.A rounded wooden counter top and a black and white tile floor inside of Butter Block.
Butter Block

I really enjoyed a chocolate eclair, focaccia bread with onions and sun dried tomatoes, and a delicious poptart. The menu changes daily and seasonally, so you never know what pastries you’ll find. You can also preorder treats here for the holidays.

Hot Mama’s Canteen

If you’re a vegetarian but still want to participate in the wing madness, you must try the eggplant wings at Hot Mama’s Canteen! Hot Mama’s is a bar that is great for watching a Bill’s game, catching some live music or just going out to dinner. They describe themselves as a playground for adults and are 21+.

Holding up a glass with wine inside of a dimly lit bar with red lights.A plate of eggplant wings and a red sauce from Hot Mama's Canteen
Hot Mama’s Canteen

I really enjoyed the eggplant wings; they were perfectly crispy and I had never had wings in that form! Plus, the sauce had the perfect amount of spice (they also have their own line of hot sauces). In addition to the wings, I really enjoyed the Mama Bomb (a rice ball stuffed with panko and veggies). The bar has a great atmosphere and is perfect for a night out.

The Place

If you’re looking for a cozy, local spot to drink a cocktail and catch up with friends, The Place is a must! This neighborhood establishment has been a fixture since the early 1940’s.

A plate of vegtables covered in sauce next to a cocktail glass with a winter cocktail.
The Place
Holding up a mug full of an eggnog cocktail. The white mug reads 'The Place' in green letters.
Tom & Jerry cocktail

The restaurant looks like a home with green paint, a large porch and vintage decor that reflects Buffalo’s past. A few drinks and menu items have been served here since the 1940’s, such as the Tom & Jerry cocktail. This eggnog cocktail is a winter tradition and you even get to take home the mug!

As for food, I really enjoyed the spaghetti squash and the mac and cheese. The mac and cheese is served in a cast iron skillet and is the ultimate winter comfort food.

I was also impressed that they had a heated porch and outdoor seating with fire pits in the winter months. This is the perfect place to spend a winter evening. I recommend making a reservation because it gets crowded!

Big Ditch Brewing Company

Inspired by the engineering feat of the Erie Canal, Big Ditch Brewing Company honors an important part of Buffalo history. All beers are produced on-site and made with high quality ingredients and innovative technology. The Big Ditch taproom opened downtown in 2015 and has been serving great beer and food ever since.

Holding up a glass with red beer. A mural in the background reads 'Strength, Pride, Ambition'A plate of green wrap next to french fries. In the background there is a plate with a burger and fries.
Big Ditch Brewing Company

There is always something new at Big Ditch with a variety of limited releases and seasonal beers, in addition to the mainstays. I loved the Dock Jams sour fruit beer and the Cinnamon Apple amber ale.

The food menu is expansive here too. My favorite part was that they have several signature sauces to choose from if you order fries - I really enjoyed the Roasted red pepper balsamic ketchup.

Whether you’re coming to have a drink and watch the game, or for brunch with family, Big Ditch is a great place for local beer in Buffalo.


If the combination of house made sausages (plus a vegetarian version) and hand crafted cocktails sounds appealing to you, then you must add Ballyhoo to your Buffalo itinerary. The restaurant is small and it’s a great spot to have dinner or enjoy a game.

Two hot dogs made with grilled bread, served with chips. There is also a cup of mac and cheese and two cocktails on the table.Holding up a cocktail inside of Ballyhoo. Colorful lights outline the corners of the walls and the wall reads 'You're So Money'

I really enjoyed the Veggie Reggie. This vegetarian hotdog is made with mushroom and soy and topped with goat cheese, chimichurri and roasted corn. It was full of flavor. And don’t skip the mac and cheese, it is perfectly creamy and you’ll want to have it again and again.

The cocktail menu is extensive and you can order just about any classic cocktail you can think of. They are also known for their Jam Session cocktails - locally made jams mixed with your choice of spirit.

Whether you’re drawn in by the colorful lights, the drinks or the food, Ballyhoo is casual and feels welcoming to all. Come for the food and drinks, but stay for the atmosphere.

Lloyd Taco Factory

For scratch made tacos, Lloyd Taco Factory is a Buffalo staple. What started as a food truck in 2010 has now expanded to have two brick and mortar locations in addition to the truck.

Three paper plates with cauliflower, egg rolls and tacos from Lloyd Taco Factory.A close up view of egg rolls and a red sauce.
Lloyd Taco Factory

You’ll pick between old school or new school on the menu - old school encompasses your classic taco flavors, while new school brings in fresh combinations such as a fried chicken and waffle taco, a thai taco with tofu and crispy fish.

I really enjoyed the Skinny Thai taco and was really impressed with the sides. I tried the Bang Bang 2.0 Cauliflower (pickled cauliflower, piquillo romesco, mayo, pumpkin seeds) and the Mexicali Spring Rolls (charred poblano, roasted ‘shrooms, chihuahua cheese, roja, lime). Both were like nothing I’ve ever had.

Lloyd Taco Factory also serves desserts and a variety of cocktails. It’s a great place to order take out or eat in for lunch or dinner.

Imperial Pizza

Don’t leave Buffalo without giving Buffalo-style pizza a try! Buffalo pizza is characterized by light and fluffy crust, a semi sweet sauce and the use of cup-and-char pepperoni. While I skipped the pepperoni, I very much enjoyed the crust, sauce and cheese from the pies at Imperial Pizza.

The interior of Imperial Pizza with Christmas decor.Half a pizza, garlic bread and cauliflower rings from Imperial Pizza
Imperial Pizza

In addition to the pizza, Imperial Pizza also serves wings, and I was so excited that they had a battered cauliflower dish!

You can eat in and catch the game, or Imperial Pizza is perfect to bring home. After over 26 years in business, it’s no wonder many believe that Imperial Pizza has the best pizza in Buffalo.

Strong Hearts Buffalo

If you’re vegan, Strong Hearts should be on your list! This local spot is one of the best vegan restaurants in Buffalo. They serve a variety of vegan comfort food, from burgers to mac and cheese to chicken wings. Everything is made from scratch in house.

A colorful wall that reads 'Strong Hearts' in abstract letters.A vegan buffalo chicken sandwich served with macaroni.
Strong Herat Buffalo

I enjoyed the buffalo fried chicken and the bright atmosphere.

The Little Club

If you’re looking for fine dining during your trip to Buffalo, The Little Club is the place to be. This farm to table restaurant and wine bar serves unique dishes in an elevated yet laid back atmosphere.

A white building that reads 'The Little Club.' There are Christmas trees outside of the doorway.Three small plates from The Little Club. There is a ravioli plate, a cauliflower plate and a plate with vegetables and an orange sauce.
The Little Club

The menu changes seasonally, but I was really impressed with the fennel & chili butter and the caraflex cabbage. The fennel had the perfect amount of spice and was complimented nicely with goat cheese. The caraflex cabbage was creamy and sweet potatoes added some sweetness. I don’t think you can go wrong no matter which dish you pick.

This is a great place to go with a group and share a bottle of wine with multiple small plates. Be sure to make a reservation in advance.

Day Trips from Buffalo

It's hard to visit Buffalo for the first time without visiting Niagara Falls! But it's not the only fun winter day trip from Buffalo. Keep reading to learn about all of the top day trips I recommend taking from Buffalo.

Niagara Falls in the Winter

No matter what time of year you visit, Niagara Falls is a bucket list destination! Personally, I had a great experience visiting Niagara Falls in the winter. While a couple areas were closed off, it was much less crowded than it would be in the summer months. If you are looking for a more solitude experience, winter is the best time to visit!

Looking at American Falls, a large waterfall. There is a light dusting of snow next to the water.
American Falls

Niagara Falls: US Side

If it’s your first time visiting Western New York, you can’t leave without witnessing the power of Niagara Falls! Personally, I think it’s worth spending a day each on both the US side and the Canada side.

Cave of the Winds

On the US side, be sure to visit Cave of the Winds. You’ll take an elevator 175 feet down and exit at the bottom of Bridal Veil Falls. There is a platform that will lead you close to the waterfall and you’ll feel the powerful mist of the falls.

They actually rebuild the platform every year so it is different in the summer and winter. In the winter, you cannot get as close, but it’s still worth seeing. The surrounding rocks were covered in a beautiful sheet of ice and the staff kept putting down salt so that the platform did not get too slippery. Cave of the Winds is a must-visit year round.

Lydia standing next to a red fence and wearing a red jacket at Cave of the Winds in Niagara Falls.
Cave of the Winds
American Falls lit up with rainbow lights at night.
Niagara Falls at Night

Niagara Falls State Park Observation Tower

Along with Cave of the Winds, there are various viewpoints of the falls in Niagara Falls State Park. The best in my opinion is the Observation Tower. You can walk out a bit over the river and see the falls from a better angle.

There are viewing platforms to get right above the falls, but the best areas are closed off during the winter months due to ice.

Three Sisters Islands

Another place to visit year round is Three Sisters Islands. Here you can walk out onto some small islands via bridges. You’ll see some tiny waterfalls and the powerful rapids in the river before the water plunges down Horseshoe Falls. It provides a unique perspective to see the rushing water in this area.

If you enjoy seeing the rapids, it’s also worth seeing the American Rapids before the water plunges down American Falls.

You can either walk or drive to reach these various viewpoints around the park. Cave of the Winds is an extra fee and there is a parking fee for the main parking areas, but the other viewpoints are free in the winter.

Unfortunately, the famous Maid of the Mist boat ride does not run during the winter months. But if you’re visiting between May and November, this is another amazing way to see the falls. (It also may be open in April depending on conditions).

A small cave with a few instances of graffiti on the rocks.A wide river seen along the trail at Devil's Hole State Park.
Devil's Hole State Park

Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool State Park

If you enjoy hiking and have extra time, drive a few miles downstream of the falls and visit Devil’s Hole and Whirlpool State Park. You can hike down into the gorge, see a giant whirlpool in the Niagara River and explore a few caves along the way.

I hiked a 3.7 mile loop beginning in Devil’s Hole and entering Whirlpool State Park. Starting in Devil’s Hole is the only way to reach the gorge trail in Whirlpool. It was a fun trail and a great way to get a new perspective of the Niagara River.

Niagara Falls: Canada Side

Because of the location of the falls, you’ll get a better view of the falls from Canada. I also found there to be a lot more going on in Canada during the winter. So if you only have time for one, I recommend visiting Canada!

The two biggest attractions you should visit in Canada are the Power Station and Tunnel, and the Journey Behind the Falls. Note that you’ll save money by purchasing a combo ticket that includes these attractions as well as others.

A view of Horseshoe Falls with a rainbow on the left side of the photo.
Horseshoe Falls

Niagara Falls Power Station and Tunnel

The Niagara Parks Power Station includes an informative museum upstairs and a tunnel that leads out to the falls (brand new in 2022!). The building is located in the former Niagara Falls Power Station which was in operation from 1905 to 2006. In the museum area, there is so much to read and learn about the history of hydroelectricity and its relation to Niagara Falls. They also have a large amount of the real machinery that was used in the power station.

The power station tunnel was originally used to discharge water from the power station turbines into the river down below. Today, you can walk through it for a view of the falls from below. The tunnel was much longer than I thought it would be - it is almost half a mile, so be prepared to walk. It’s a really neat experience to take in the surrounding views as you reach the end of the tunnel.

A warehouse with large, light blue pieces of machinery
Power Station Museum
A view of the start of the tunnel that you can walk through for a view of the falls.
Power Station Tunnel

Journey Behind the Falls

The Journey Behind the Falls is also a great experience to have in Canada. You’ll take an elevator 125 feet down and get to explore tunnels that are over 100 years old. The main area will lead you out to a two level viewing platform right next to the base of the Horseshoe Falls. You’ll have a great view of Horseshoe Falls and American Falls across the river.

The part of Journey Behind the Falls that is extra unique is that tunnels will also lead you to two portals directly behind Horseshoe Falls. You can really hear, feel and see the road of the waterfalls from deep within the bedrock right behind them! The experience is really neat.

Other things to do on the Canada side include watching the Niagara’s Fury 4D show, visiting the butterfly house, taking in the views from Skylon Tower, riding the ferris wheel and riding the incline railway.

A view of the Niagara River and several rainbows.A portal behind the falls at Journey Behind the Falls.
Journey Behind the Falls

Niagara Falls at Night

If you are visiting around the holidays, you can also see the Winter Festival of Lights! This free, outdoor light festival typically runs from November to February and has so many light displays that you can walk or drive between. Plus, there is a hot chocolate trail so you’ll know where to find warm beverages along the way!

Fireworks over the Niagara River with American Falls lit up in green and red lights to the right.
Fireworks next to American Falls

On either side of the border, stay until it gets dark to see the falls light up at night. Plus, you can watch fireworks on Friday and Saturdays during the winter.

East Aurora

East Aurora is a town in the Buffalo suburbs located about 30 minutes away. East Aurora was the home of former President Millard Fillmore and the birthplace of the Roycroft Arts & Crafts movement. It’s a great area to shop, eat and take in some history. You can easily spend a day here.

Vidler’s 5 & 10

If you like shopping, don’t miss Vidler’s 5 & 10. This the world’s largest 5 & 10 dime store, meaning they sell all kinds of affordable items. You can find Christmas decor, office supplies, kitchen supplies, toys and more. It’s a great place to buy gifts.

A green bridge that reads 'East Aurora' in yellow letters. The bridge goes over a large road.
East Aurora

Elm Street Bakery

When you work up an appetite, head to Elm Street Bakery for lunch. Not only do they serve fresh baked bread daily, but a full menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner items. I enjoyed a wood fired pizza full of flavor with confit tomatoes, red onion, calabrian chilis, kale and roasted sunchoke.

A buiding made of stones that is painted yellow at the top. A large chimney is on the edge of the building.A room with a stone fireplace, a chair and a symbol on the floor for Roycroft furniture.
Roycroft Campus

Roycroft Campus

To immerse yourself in the history of the area, be sure to visit the Roycroft Campus. This complex was where Elbert Hubbard founded the Roycroft Arts and Crafts movement, which was a center of craftsmanship and philosophy during the late 19th century. Craftsmanship that took place here (and still does) included high quality furniture, a printing press and other types of art.

The campus is now a National Historic Landmark and includes nine of the original 14 buildings, such as the Copper Shop, Print Shop, Inn and Chapel. I highly recommend taking a guided tour to learn more about the campus. This area of history was new to me, so I learned so much on the tour. If the tour times don’t work for you, there is a museum to explore too.

Along with touring the campus, be sure to stop by the Copper Shop. This store sells all sorts of beautifully crafted items from artists currently in the Roycroft Guild. You’ll find wooden boards, ornaments, paintings and much more.

Other things to do on the Roycroft Campus include having a drink (or staying) at the inn and visiting the antique store. There is also an artist in residence, Charlie Clough, who invites visitors to participate in community paintings.

Knox Farm State Park

If the weather is nice, it’s worth visiting Knox Farm State Park during your time in East Aurora. The park is 633 acres and is a great place to hike, cross country ski or go horseback riding. It is the former estate of the Knox Family and includes a collection of buildings and barns in addition to the rolling hills that make up the landscape.

Bar Bill Tavern

For dinner in East Aurora, check out a stop on the Buffalo Wing Trail, Bar Bill Tavern. The building has been standing for over 150 years and became Bar Bill Tavern in 1977. The bar is also known for its mug club, which has over 4000 members and has been operating since the 70’s. Note that this establishment is cash only.

Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park is a stunning park to visit for a day of hiking and epic waterfall views. Located on the edge of the Finger Lakes region and about an hour outside of Buffalo, the park has 66 miles of trails and is nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the East.”

A view of Upper Falls in Letchworth State Park. There is a dusting of snow and ice on the rocks next to the waterfall.
Upper Falls at Letchworth State Park

There are three major waterfalls in the park along with other, smaller falls along the way. Upper Falls and Middle Falls can be seen from short walks from the parking lots, while Lower Falls requires a short hike. During my winter visit, the trail to Lower Falls was closed.

Whether you hike or drive between the various viewpoints, it’s worth visiting this gorgeous park.

Final Thoughts

Whether you brave the winter or visit in a warmer time of year, I hope this helps you plan an epic trip to Buffalo! It’s a welcoming city that has something to offer no matter what your interests.

Thinking about a New York road trip? Check out my guide to the best hiking near Ithaca, New York for more inspiration.

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