Hit the Open Road on Buffalo’s Best Scenic Drives

By Drew Brown

Published on | Last Updated

Hey there all you Sunday joy-riders! If you’re looking for a physically distant way to get out and enjoy the sunny weather, take a pleasant, breezy drive down any one one of our numerous scenic roads, routes and byways. This guide will have you enjoying views of the Lake Erie shoreline, traversing the winding back roads that will bring you some of our favorite vistas, lookouts and natural wonders. Hit the road, roll the windows down and enjoy all of the remarkable views that the Buffalo area has to offer.

Please be aware that many public areas may have limited access due to Erie County and New York State regulations being in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Waterfront Route

From downtown Buffalo, take the Skyway over the Buffalo River and past the Outer Harbor. From the top of the skyway you’ll see the rolling waves of Lake Erie. There’s quite a bit to discover as you head South, so you have plenty of options whether you’re looking for a short trip or an all day excursion. 

Head South on Route 5 along the shoreline. About 11 miles down the road, merge onto Old Lakeshore Road. Another 3.5 mile stretch will bring you to Graycliff Estate, one of Buffalo’s Frank Lloyd Wright structures.

As you head North on your way back to Buffalo, take Route 5 past Woodlawn Beach until you reach the exit for Tifft Nature Preserve. Make a left to get to Fuhrmann Boulevard where you’ll ride alongside Gallagher Beach and the Buffalo Small Boat Harbor. Stop by any of these locations around sunset to get an awe inspiring view over Lake Erie. Further up Fuhrmann Boulevard is the Buffalo Outer Harbor and Wilkeson Pointe. Turn off of Fuhrmann to get to Ohio Street where you’ll ride along the Buffalo River. From there, a left on Perry brings you to the front door of Canalside.

Main Street in East Aurora


The Scenic Byway

From downtown Buffalo take South Park Avenue South for about 7.5 miles. A left onto Big Tree Road will bring you to Route 20A. After 3.5 miles, 20A will deliver you to the heart of the Village of Orchard Park. In the village, make a right onto Route 277 for 6.5 miles. You’ll pass by Chestnut Ridge Park and find yourself in North Boston. Make a left onto Boston State Road and enjoy a relaxing ride for 15 miles to the Village of Springville, close to the geological wonder of Zoar Valley. A left on Springville’s idyllic Main Street will bring you to another left on US-219. Head South for 19 miles to Ellicottville where you can grab a 4-pack or 6-pack to take back home from Ellicottville Brewing Company.

To close the Scenic Byway loop you’ll head back north along Route 242 for 3.5 miles and make a left on Route 240 in the Hamlet of Ashford. Cruise the dips and waves of 240 for 30 miles and make a right on Route 47/Mill Road. This leads you right into the quaint village of East Aurora. If you’re hungry, grab an order of Bar-Bill Tavern‘s famous wings from their takeout operation (be sure to call ahead as wait times can be lengthy). Head back West on Route 20A, once more through the Village of Orchard Park and along to South Park which will lead you right back into the city.

The Scenic Byway

The World Wonder

Buffalo has a natural world wonder right it its backyard! Taking the I-190 North from downtown Buffalo leads you along the Niagara River, over the bridge to Grand Island and to the Robert Moses Parkway after about 20 miles. The Robert Moses Parkway winds along the upper Niagara River all the way to Frederick Law Olmsted-designed Niagara Falls State Park. Stretch your legs and enjoy the beautiful views of the Niagara Gorge as you take in the power and majesty of Niagara Falls.

The roads continue North, winding along the beautiful green spaces that brighten the lower Niagara Gorge. From here, you can stop at hiking trails within Whirlpool State Park and Devil’s Hole State Park (check for accessibility here). Keep cruising North and you’ll find yourself driving along the charming streets in the Village of Lewiston. Grab a curbside iced coffee or some ice cream to-go, stroll along Center Street and walk right to the shores of the lower Niagara River as the walls of the gorge reach high into the sunny blue sky. Back down Center Street, hop back on the I-190 South and you’ll be ushered directly back into the city of Buffalo.

Letchworth State Park

The Road to Letchworth

On this calming drive, we’re heading back to East Aurora. But we can’t stay long, as we’re just passing through on our way to Letchworth State Park – lovingly dubbed the Grand Canyon of the East. From EA, take Route 20A East for about 30 miles through the small countryside towns and villages, like Wales Center, Varysburg and Warsaw, that dot the path. Past the farms and orchards, beyond the towering wind turbines and over the rolling hills of Erie and Wyoming counties will bring you to Route 246. Make a right from 20A, through the Town of Perry and follow the signs that lead to the entrance of Letchworth State Park.

You’ll be astounded by incredible views of the upper, middle and lower falls that flow through the massive, naturally carved canyon. Listen for the sound of the train chugging along the tall iron bridge that spans the gorge hundreds of feet above upper falls.

Visit Buffalo Niagara understands that there is no better way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 than to stay at home. However, we empathize with the need to get some fresh air every now and then. Please follow all CDC and Erie County guidelines for social distancing whenever you leave your home – maintain a 6-foot distance from anyone outside your household, wear a mask in public areas and avoid crowded areas entirely. Stay safe and together we’ll stop the spread.

Drew Brown headshot

Drew Brown

Born in Buffalo's Historic Polonia District, raised in East Aurora, current resident of the West Side, and I'm still discovering new things in Buffalo every day. I'm proud to represent our community as the Director of Media & Content Strategy for Visit Buffalo Niagara. Let's go Buffalo!