Traveling to a new city can be stressful for anyone, but it can be especially intimidating for wheelchair users. We want to make sure all travelers get to experience the best of what Buffalo has to offer, so Visit Buffalo Niagara has collaborated with Kate Hahn, a local adventurer, to put together a list of the best of accessible Buffalo.
In recent years, Buffalo has been revitalizing our gorgeous waterfront. Canalside is a lively and fun area, and it is Kate-approved for wheelchair users. The wide boardwalk that runs along the water is perfect for getting around and experiencing the area.
Explore & More is a world-class children’s museum at Canalside that has fun for everyone. The museum is wheelchair accessible (and provides visual, social, communicative, sensory, and behavioral supports for other accessibility needs). The Museum recently unveiled a new fully accessible indoor playground for youngsters of all abilities too!
The Martin House
One of Buffalo’s most famous attractions is Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House – a National Historic Landmark located in Buffalo’s Parkside neighborhood. The house is part of series of interconnected buildings set on a 1.5-acre parcel that is open to the public. With a handicapped parking spot reserved for visitors and much of the Martin House 75-minute tour being wheelchair accessible, the Martin House has plenty of opportunities to host a meaningful visit for wheelchair users who are architecture buffs.
This stunning, Tiffany-designed movie theater built in 1926 has become a one-of-a-kind space to experience live theatre. Though Shea’s was built at a time when accessibility was not taken as seriously as it is today, the theater welcomes everyone by ensuring the entrance doors are wheelchair accessible and having designated wheelchair seats in the main floor of the theatre.
Niagara Falls should be on your list when traveling to Buffalo because it’s only about 20 minutes away. This natural wonder is visited by millions from around the world each year, and the state park is committed to being accessible to all its visitors. Niagara Falls State Park recently went under major renovations and has new ADA-compliant routes, overlooks, picnic tables and accessible parking.
Many of the attractions at Niagara Falls are accessible to wheelchair users, including the Maid of the Mist, the boat ride that takes a visitor right up to the falls.
The Kitchens on Chandler and the Chandler Street Market
Located in a repurposed, beautiful brick building on Chandler Street in Buffalo’s Black Rock neighborhood, the Kitchens on Chandler act as a culinary incubator and feature local food businesses. At the Kitchens on Chandler, you can find homemade bagels from Logan’s Bagels, chocolates from Nikki’s Chocolates, knishes from the Bloom & Rose, and more! Though the building has multiple floors, there is an elevator so wheelchair users can get around with ease. Most of the businesses are open during the weekend, but some are also open during the week and have different hours, so be sure to plan ahead!
That’s not all that goes on at 27 and 37 Chandler Street. Every Saturday, a lively outdoor market takes place in the parking lot just outside of the Kitchens on Chandler. In the winter, the market occurs in the morning, and in the summer, the market occurs in the evening. You can find locally made, small-batch, handcrafted goods, and it’s great fun! Since this market takes place in the very same parking lot you can park in, it is awesomely accessible.
With humble beginnings as one location in Buffalo, Spot Coffee has expanded to multiple locations across Western New York. Though there are excellent locations all around Buffalo, one of the most physically accessible is the Williamsville location. Spot Coffee in Williamsville is located right next to a parking lot for easy access, and the interior is spacious with plenty of room to crab a cup of locally roasted coffee and hang out.
Flint Kitchen & Bar
This new café located in downtown Buffalo is the sister restaurant to Remedy House in Buffalo’s Five Points neighborhood. Though it’s tricky to access from the smaller front door, the café is connected to the 40 Fountain Plaza building. Thanks to the accommodating staff of the building, a wheelchair user can enter through one of those doors and then enter Flint through their side door in the Plaza building. The interior of Flint is very spacious. You can grab some of Buffalo’s best coffee and a tasty bite to eat at this spot.
Food and Drink
Located inside the new 500 Seneca building, Compass Run specializes in Southern influenced comfort foods. With a free, well-lit parking lot across the restaurant, a sidewalk ramp leading up to the main entrance of the building, and a spacious interior, this is an ideal spot to dine for wheelchair users. It also happens to be one of Buffalo’s most highly-regarded dining experiences.
Pearl Street Grill & Brewery
This historic brewpub in downtown Buffalo and is a great place to grab a beer and a bite to eat. Though there is a step at the main entrance, Pearl Street staff brought out a one-step ramp for Kate when she visited with friends, and they also have an elevator in the back to use to move between floors. For any small accessibility issues Pearl Street might have, Kate says they make up for them ten-fold by their willingness and kindness to help make a visit possible!
The Village of Hamburg boasts one of Buffalo’s most talked-about restaurants. The Grange is known for its farm-to-table food and wildly delicious wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant is easily accessible from Main Street in Hamburg, with a spacious but lively ambiance. This is the place to sit down with a fresh, seasonal pizza and watch the staff cook use the captivating wood-burning oven.
This neighborhood tavern has become a hit spot in Buffalo for live music with over 40 live acts a month. Though Kate would never go during a busy time since the spot is small, she thinks the venue and the music is amazing. The entrance is doable, and as long as it’s not crowded, Kate gives the Sportsmens Tavern a big thumbs up to enjoy some music in a fun venue.
Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve
Using a wheelchair doesn’t stop Kate from hiking – she loves it! If you love a good hike, too, Kate recommends Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve. The 292-acre forested complex includes wetland and ponds and is a gorgeous oasis in the heart of suburban Cheektowaga. Reinstein has designated accessible parking, an accessible education center and accessible restrooms. The trails are flat or gently graded to allow wheelchairs to move freely along them. This wonderful spot offers individuals of all ages the opportunity to explore nature.
Another great area to meander through nature is the Clarence Pathways. The trail has over 17 miles of mostly flat, paved pathway. It’s a beautiful trail surrounded by trees and greenery, and the asphalt pathway is wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair with plenty of room for others to walk and bike.
Adaptive Water Sports of WNY
Kate loves to get out and about and one of her favorite things to do in Buffalo is get on the water with Adaptive Water Sports of Western New York. During the summer, Adaptive Water Sports staff provides individuals with disabilities (both physical and cognitive) the opportunity to get out on the water. Whether you’re interested in kayaking, tubing, or even scuba diving, this volunteer-led organization can give you the thrill of your life out on the water with their supportive team and accessible water sport equipment.
You might have heard Buffalo gets cold in the winter, but that doesn’t mean we stay inside! Skiing is a beloved activity here in Buffalo, and guess what? It’s also Kate approved! Holiday Valley, located only about an hour from Buffalo, offers the Lounsbury Adaptive Program for individuals with disabilities. The program has about 50 volunteer instructors who are trained in adaptive ski teaching methods. Each adaptive ski lesson includes a lift ticket, two hours of private instruction and equipment use.