I live in Toronto, ON, Canada, and plan road trips multiple times a year. Before the Labour Day long weekend in September, 2016, I told a co-worker that I was planning a road trip to Buffalo, NY, USA. She looked at me surprised and said, judgmentally, “Why?”. I realized then that a lot of people don’t realize how much Buffalo has changed in the last few years. So here’s a list of my top ten reasons for visiting Buffalo, NY.
On a side note, here are other road trip destinations that I’ve enjoyed with Toronto as a starting point: In Canada – Hamilton, Kingston, Picton and Prince Edward County, Collingwood (Blue Mountain), Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, cottage country north of the city (e.g. Muskoka, Algonquin, Wasaga). In USA – Watertown, Syracuse, Vermont, Detroit, New York City.
Ten Reasons to Road Trip to Buffalo, NY
The City of Buffalo has undergone a major revitalization over the past few years. I went to Buffalo three years ago with the intention of writing an article to help boost their tourism. I did not have a good experience and scrapped the idea. But in September 2016, I gave Buffalo another chance and had the best time. So if you’re looking for a new road trip destination from Toronto or a neighbouring city, consider Buffalo – it just might surprise you. If you’re already a regular cross-border shopper or sports fan, stay an extra night and explore the other great things that the city has to offer. Here are my top 10 favourite reasons for road tripping to Buffalo, NY.
- The Food Festivals
- I went to The National Buffalo Wing Festival and had the best time ever! (Post coming soon!) I personally love wings (ate them at least 5 times a week, every week, when I was a student), but there’s something for everyone. The entertainment is unique and hilarious, the venue is perfect for sports fans, and there are vendors that sell food and drink other than chicken wings. I had the best kettle corn there, too!
- Buffalo also hosts the United State’s largest 2-day food festival – The Taste of Buffalo.
- The Ice Cream
- Buffalo has got Toronto beat badly when it comes to locally made ice cream.
- I went to Sweet Jenny’s and had some of the best ice cream of my life. The texture of their ice cream is chewy and smooth, which is my preferred texture for ice cream (similar to but better than Greg’s Ice Cream). Typically, gourmet ice cream parlours have a couple of outstanding flavours, but every flavour that we tried at Sweet Jenny’s was unbelievably bold and tasty. Also, they have truly mastered the art of making peanut butter in ice cream form.
- Large American Chains
- I don’t normally like to eat at chain restaurants, but one of the benefits of going to Buffalo is the large, American chains that are well known but unavailable to Canadians. To name a few of the most popular ones: Trader Joe’s, Cheesecake Factory, and The Olive Garden.
- The local restaurants serve no-fuss, old-fashioned, comfort food. You might want to try buffalo sauced chicken wings, sponge candy, beef on weck, and crunch roll.
- Buffalo has done an incredible job of maintaining and restoring early 20th century buildings. You will find the early origins of many famous architects’ designs. The New York Times called Buffalo, “a textbook for a course in modern American buildings.”. See here for more information.
- Naval History
- Throughout the summer and fall, the Naval and Military Park is open at Canalside. You can take tours of the USS Little Rock (guided missile cruiser), the USS Croaker (submarine), and the USS The Sullivans (destroyer).
- Canalside is part of Buffalo’s waterfront revitalization project. Many activities are hosted there.
- It isn’t overly impressive at first glance, but it’s where I had one of the best naps of my life. In the summer, the city set ups brightly coloured, high quality, and very comfortable adirondack-style chairs by the water. Some of the chairs get some tree shade. The breeze that comes off of Lake Eerie at Canalside is absolutely perfect for relaxing. It’s definitely my favourite spot in Buffalo. I would spend all day there with a book and some snacks if I could.
- Buffalo is probably best known for its shopping. It’s just across the border and has great shopping malls (such as Walden Galleria), outlets (Fashion Outlets), and my favourite store, Nordstrom Rack.
- Don’t forget about the large American chain stores.
- You can also get very cute and modern souvenirs (including home decor) from the chain, BFLO Gallery and Gift Shop.
- Since spending 2 nights in the USA will give you significantly more duty-free shopping allowance, you might as well check out all of the other great things that Buffalo has to offer.
- Go to Buffalo to catch a hockey game or baseball game.
- Are you a Blue Jay’s fan? Well, Toronto’s farm team (Triple-A) plays in Buffalo. Check out the Buffalo Bisons at the Coca Cola Field, downtown Buffalo.
- The National Buffalo Wing Festival takes place on the field of Coca Cola Field stadium. Eating wings between 2nd and 3rd base of the baseball diamond was a very memorable experience.
- Surrounding Areas
- I’ve stayed in downtown Buffalo and in Williamsville – which is a wonderful village just outside of the city – and I much preferred Williamsville.
- Buffalo has some quaint, yet still fun, neighbourhoods just outside of the downtown core that are lovely and more cost efficient to stay in.
- The Locals
- People always compliment Canadians for being friendly, polite, and warm. All of the locals that we’ve interacted with in Buffalo have been just as kind and welcoming, if not more so. The locals are trusting, honest, and helpful.
- I only just found out that Buffalo is known as “The City of Good Neighbours”. I can definitely see why. You can really feel a sense of community in Buffalo and you meet really nice people everywhere you go.