13 Ways to Tour the Unexpected Buffalo

By Brian Hayden

Published on | Last Updated

It’s hard to keep up with everything new in Buffalo these days. In the last several years, we’ve witnessed the restoration of some of our most iconic buildings, the redevelopment of our waterfront and a host of new hotels, restaurants, shops, breweries and distilleries.

It’s possible to explore all this on your own. But the story of our revitalization is often best told through the capable hands of a tour guide. A wide variety of tours launched in recent years provide visitors more options than ever for exploring our city.

Here are 13 ways to tour the Unexpected Buffalo:

On Foot

Explore Buffalo offers the widest variety and highest frequency of walking tours in Buffalo, from climbing to the top of our grain elevators at Silo City to taking a peek inside some of Delaware Avenue’s most beautiful mansions. Their tours take visitors past downtown’s most iconic buildings, through Buffalo’s most beautiful neighborhoods, along the city’s revitalized waterfront, and even into our most delicious restaurants.  Check their calendar for all tours, which are offered regularly through October.

Preservation Buffalo Niagara’s Buffalo Tours also continue to be popular, especially their free daily tour of City Hall at noon and their Queen City Downtown tour of architecture, offered Fridays and Saturdays through November.

On Wheels

A little bit of British #InTheBUF, the Buffalo Double Decker Bus is one of the newest way to explore Buffalo’s heritage, engage with your “Bobby”-dressed tour guide and have a little bit of fun. The Double Decker Bus offers a 90-minute Canalside tour, a two-hour Best of Buffalo tour and specialty tours such as Murder Mystery, Old & New Buffalo and kid-friendly tours. All tours start at Buffalo’s Naval and Military Park near Canalside.

The Open Air Autobus may be one of the best ways to survey Buffalo’s best architecture. The 90-minute “Whirlwind tour” includes masterworks by H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright; Kleinhans Music Hall, Shea’s Performing Arts Center and the city’s Olmsted Park System.

The best way to see all of Buffalo’s Frank Lloyd Wright sites may be the All Wright, All Day Tour, which connects the Martin House, Graycliff and posthumously designed boathouse, mausoleum and gas station all in the same day by trolley.

Forgotten Buffalo’s bus tours takes visitors on an off-the-beaten path journey into some of the city’s old gin mills, church social halls and taverns that have been woven into the fabric of Buffalo’s neighborhoods.

Buffalo Bike Tours and Explore Buffalo also offers several tours on bike, which are now more accessible for visitors through our new bikeshare program. There’s even a bike tour to some of Buffalo’s hottest wing spots.

Last but not least, with over 30 breweries now supplying Buffalo and the surrounding area with tasty craft brews, there are multiple ways to visit several of our craft brewers during one trip. The Buffalo Brewbus is a fully decked out party bus that transports guests around to breweries like Resurgence, Flying Bison and Lafayette Brewing. Did we mention it’s all inclusive? And if you’re looking work off those beer calories as you sip, pedal tours from Buffalo Pedal Tours and the Consumers Craft Cruiser will give you a bit of a workout!

On the Water

The Buffalo River History Tour may be one of the best ways to tour the tremendous progress made along the waterfront in recent years. The 90-minute tours, which run from  through mid-October, go past recent developments like Canalside and RiverWorks before reaching one of the world’s largest collection of grain elevators at and around Silo City. A longer tour offered daily also stops at Silo City for a walking tour.

Sail back in time aboard the Spirit of Buffalo and discover traditional sailing on a classic 73-foot topsail schooner. This beautiful boat with its magnificent red sails is available for private and corporate charters, public cruises, children’s pirate adventures, educational excursions and special sails centered around beer, wine and Buffalo’s famous sunsets.

A marvel of modern engineering, the pedal tour experience people know and love has now come to the waterways of Buffalo. Buffalo Cycleboats and Buffalo Pedal Tours offer a pedal-powered tour down the Buffalo River checking out sights like the 1833 Lighthouse, Naval Park, Canalside and RiverWorks.

Guided or self-guided, exploring the Lake Erie and rivers around Buffalo is easy. With Elevator Alley Kayak, take a guided tour through the manmade canyon of Buffalo’s massive collection of waterfront grain elevators. If a guided tour isn’t your thing, rentals of kayaks, waterbikes and stand-up paddleboards are available from Elevator Alley Kayak, Waterbikes of Buffalo, Buffalo RiverWorks and BFLO Harbor Kayak.

Brian Hayden headshot

Brian Hayden

Brian Hayden served as Visit Buffalo Niagara's Communications Manager from 2014 to 2020 after working as a newspaper reporter and social media manager in Northern New York. Tweet to him @brian_hayden.