Road Trip: 8 Reasons to Drive to Buffalo This Summer

By Jay Josker

Published on | Last Updated

Yeah, tailgate season is nice, but have you ever been to Buffalo in the Summer?

These days Buffalo is best known for Bills football, wild tailgate parties, chicken wings. And look, football season here in the 716 should definitely be on your to-do list, but Buffalo in the summer just hits different. If you’re looking for the perfect summer road trip destination the City of Good Neighbors should definitely be on your radar. Unless, that is, perfect 70-degree days in a hip, affordable, waterfront city with some of the best food in the Northeast isn’t your thing. Then you should probably stay home.

Here now are plenty of reasons that you should pile into the car, load up your best summer hits playlist, and head our way:

Day-trip worthy neighborhoods

Buffalo is action packed with unique neighborhoods – each with its own vibe – that’ll keep you busy all day. A stroll through any of them will have you swimming in a sea of turn-of-the-century architecture like you’ve never seen. There’s even an Instagram page dedicated to Buffalo’s best real-estate. Hit up the Elmwood Village’s shops and restaurants, check out Allentown’s artsy scene, or take in North Buffalo’s triple threat Darwin Martin HouseBuffalo Zoo – Hertel Avenue attractions. Did I mention the re-imagined urban grit of Larkinville or Chandler Street in Black Rock?

You might not have time to get to them all, but there’s one “neighborhood” you can’t miss while you’re here…

Buffalo RiverWorks

Adventure on the waterfront

Once a major US shipping hub, Buffalo’s waterfront is now a major hub of fun. It’s home to the largest inland naval park in the US, Canalside and the family fun found at Explore & More Children’s Museum and the Buffalo Heritage Carousel, and some seriously fine dining. Not to mention, Buffalo’s miles of waterfront real estate from Grand Island to Hamburg boast some absolutely otherworldly sunsets. But this is no time to sit idly on the shores. Rent a kayak, paddleboard or waterbike or reserve a seat aboard the Spirit of Buffalo or a cycleboat and experience the water first hand. If being on the water really isn’t you’re thing you can get an adrenaline rush on the ziplines at Buffalo Riverworks or the rock walls at Central Rock Gym.

Of course, no waterfront experience would be complete without a trip to the beach…

Woodlawn Beach

Put some sand between those toes

Sandy shores might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Buffalo, but life’s a real beach here in the summer. A trip to Woodlawn Beach is a great way to soak up some sun while you’re here. Bring a book and set up shop for the day or head over to Solé Beach Bar for a cocktail or two.

Or, if you’re more inclined to exercise…

Take a hike!

There’s acres of parks and miles of trails for you to explore here. The Eternal Flame at Chestnut Ridge Park is one of the area’s most popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. What with the trail culminating at a natural gas flame under a waterfall and all. But that’s far from the only scenery in the area. There’s Hunter’s Creek to the South and Devil’s Hole to the North. In fact somebody made a list of over 50 hikes in the area.

All this action has probably made you hungry. Let’s talk about the food scene for a minute.

The Culinary Capital of Upstate New York

Buffalo has one of the most underrated food scenes in the country. There, I said it. Yes, of course there are chicken wings. There’s also spots like Marble + Rye mixing blue collar with swank on their plates and in their cocktail glasses. Or Bayou-inspired Toutant with their spin on upscale southern cooking. There’s food trucks, burger joints, and dive bars. Coffee Shops, Vegan spots, and Burmese sushi shops. You can get Puerto Rican fried pockets and Venezuelan tacos on the same street. But if you’re looking to pair some people-watching with your dining experience, no worries, Buffalo has got you covered there, too.

Patio parties!

Sunday Fundays are practically a rite of passage in Buffalo. The perfect weather turns the abundance of distinctly adorned patios in the Queen City into weekend attractions for locals and tourists alike. Forty Thieves boasts the best in the Elmwood Village while places like Liberty Hound get you a front row seat on the water. There’s Patrick’s Rooftop downtown with its duel-threat laidback daytime vibes and sultry nighttime vibes. Head south and you’ll find great spots to gaze out on those sunsets like Public House on the Lake.

Finally, there’s a whole other category of patio you can’t miss while you’re here…

Different beer glasses

Beer me!

Well, technically beer you.  Sip your way through a sudsy weekend at any one of Buffalo’s countless breweries. No matter what neighborhood you’re in, there’s bound to be a pour house with a beer garden nearby. New kid on the block Britesmith Brewing is making noise in the north towns while Big Ditch Brewing is turning out some of the best beers in the city. South of downtown its Hamburg Brewing Company for the win. Head to Resurgence on Chicago Street and you can stop by Hartman’s Distilling next door. Order up a cocktail and try to find the hidden entrance to their speakeasy.

So the clock snuck up on you and you’ve found yourself at the bar for last call. Luckily, there are plenty of wonderful places to rest your head and prepare for the next day of your trip…

Accommodations that make the road feel like home.

If you roll up and check yourself into a roadside hotel you’re doing it wrong. All this rehabbing of turn of the century architecture we’re doing means you get to stay in some very uniquely cool and comfy digs while you’re in town. There’s the oh-so-fancy Mansion on Delaware with their butlers and a chauffeured Land Rover that will take you anywhere you need to go. If B&B’s are your thing there’s the Elmwood Village Inn or InnBuffalo smack dab in the heart of the city, or the Parkside House in North Buffalo’s most famous neighborhood. If Airbnb’s are more your style I mean, look at some of these places. And those didn’t even make this list of the best Airbnb’s on Buffalo!

The best part about all these spots?  They’re all in the most happening neighborhoods in town. And that, my friends, brings your entire Buffalo road trip full circle.

Jay Josker headshot

Jay Josker

Jay is a lifelong Buffalo resident. He's a former bartender and currently the Director of Alumni Relations at Canisius High School. When he’s not on an outdoor adventure with his dog Bo, you can find him tailgating at Bills games or planning his next getaway.