When looking for fun weekend or day trip ideas, look no further than these places around Buffalo, NY. Located in the heart of Western New York, Buffalo is the epicenter of a region that truly shines in the summertime – a place with distinctive small towns, each with its own quirky attractions, unique historic sites, seasonal traditions and cultural institutions.
Couple that with summer weather that’s ideal for being outside and you’ve got all the ingredients for a great getaway, road trip or weekend trip near Buffalo, NY.
What are the best day trips near Buffalo, NY?
With so many sites to see in Western New York, it can seem hard to choose where to explore first! As a starter, here are the some of the top day trip destinations, all located within driving distance from Buffalo.
1. EAST AURORA, NY
Distance from Buffalo, NY: Typically 22 – 40 min by car (Get Directions)
Located only about 22 – 40 minutes away by car, East Aurora, NY is easily one of the best weekend day trips near Buffalo for those on a tight schedule. A stroll along Main Street in East Aurora at first feels like a step back in time. A movie theater with a vintage marquee sits across the street from a huge five-and-dime store with a red-striped awning. An elegant post clock adds to the air of classic Americana.
But a closer look behind the quaint storefronts and general sense of small-town coziness reveals the amenities of a hip urban neighborhood, with all the charms of shopping near Buffalo. Featuring excellent coffee shops and restaurants, high end stores and boutiques, walkability and craft beer, there’s always something new to see for both new and returning visitors.
It also happens to be home to the National Historic Landmark Roycroft Campus and Inn, birthplace of the American Arts and Crafts Movement. With so much to do, it’s no wonder so many visitors make East Aurora their first stop along their road trip from Buffalo
Best East Aurora places to visit:
42 North Brewery – Its owners call it a craft brewery campus – a bold claim until you consider that in addition to the brewery, taproom and beer garden, there are four beer-themed Airbnb rentals on the property. Come for the beer and stay overnight! Visit 42 Norths’s website for more information.
Elm Street Bakery – This family-owned bakery, restaurant and market is renowned throughout Western New York for its artisan breads, pastries and wood-fired pizzas. Visit Elm Street Bakery’s website for more information.
2. ELLICOTTVILLE, NY
Distance from Buffalo, NY: Typically 50 min – 1 hr 5 min by car (Get Directions)
The charming village of Ellicottville sits near Buffalo as an eclectic weekend destination, and boasts experiences to suit different tastes, interests and moods. For starters, there’s Ellicottville for people who love shop. Quaint and historic may be overused descriptors of small towns, but they aptly fit the Main Street of downtown Ellicottville, a street filled with locally owned shops and boutiques.
There’s also Ellicottville for people who love to eat and drink, making this village an ideal road trip attraction near Buffalo (for gourmands especially). Don’t be deceived by your first impression of this modest-sized municipality, Ellicottville rocks a big-league dining and drinking scene that would be right at home and get plenty of respect in much larger destinations.
Finally, there’s Ellicottville for people who love the great outdoors, especially for people looking for fun things to do in winter. Come winter season, Ellicottville is one of the top-rated ski destinations in the Eastern United States, but it keeps up its outdoor rep in summer at the Sky High Aerial Adventure Park, which many Western New Yorkers know as yet another fun Buffalo day trip idea.
Best Ellicottville places to visit:
Ellicottville Brewing Company – Its massive patio makes this long-time anchor of Ellicottville’s spirited nightlife perfect for al fresco dining and drinking. Visit the Ellicotville Brewing Company’s website.
West Rose – Owned and operated by the same folks who run Hamburg’s much-loved Grange Community Kitchen, West Rose is cozy, clean, modern, and wonderful. Visit West Rose’s website for more information.
3. GOWANDA, NY
Distance from Buffalo, NY: Typically 45 min – 1 hr by car (Get Directions)
Gowanda’s proximity to Zoar Valley –– one of Western New York’s most pristine and breathtaking landscapes – will continue to make it one of the best nature destinations for hikers, kayakers, fishermen, white water rafters, and lovers of the great outdoors. It also boasts a popular indoor attraction – the Hollywood Theater — that’s getting Gowanda some well-deserved attention as a road trip destination from, not only Buffalo but, the entirety of Western New York.
Built in 1924 as the Gowanda Opera House, the Hollywood recently completed a multi-year restoration that’s bringing a variety of special events – theatre, movies, concerts, and other cultural programming – to the heart of the village’s Main Street.
Best Gowanda places to visit:
Deer Lick – Take a hike through the awe-inspiring old growth forest at this magnificent Conservation Area. Visit the Nature Conservancy’s for more information.
Jesse’s Home and Gifts – Check out their eclectic array of toys, books and locally made products. Check out Jesse’s Home and Gifts for more information.
4. JAMESTOWN, NY
Distance from Buffalo, NY: Typically 1 hr 15 min – 1 hr 40 min by car (Get Directions)
For years, this city of 30,000 in the southwestern corner of New York State was known, if it was known at all, as the home of the legendary Lucille Ball. That changed overnight with the opening of the National Comedy Center. Located in the former Jamestown Train Station, the Comedy Center encompasses nearly 40,000 square feet of artifacts, exhibits and multimedia installations.
Now considered a popular weekend or day trip from Buffalo to Northern Pennsylvania, you’ll find scripts from favorite shows, costumes worn by beloved characters and an interactive experience that is among the best in the world. But it’s the thousands of hours of movies and TV shows that have been assembled here – and the easily accessible clips from them — that make the Comedy Center a truly memorable museum experience.
If you haven’t had your fill of comedy history, stop by the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum that’s around the corner and learn more about “the first couple of comedy.” For more information, please visit the Comedy Center’s website.
Best Jamestown places to visit:
Lakehouse Tap & Grille at the Harbor Hotel – Their patio offers a tasty menu of lunch and dinner specialties, complete with a view of Chautauqua Lake. Check out the Harbor Hotel’s website for more information.
The Chop House on Main – This stylish steak house is taking dining in Jamestown to the next level. Check out the extensive wine list and curated cocktail menu. Visit The Chop House on Main’s website for more information.
5. LEWISTON, NY & NIAGARA SCENIC PARKWAY
Distance from Buffalo, NY: Typically 26 – 35 min by car (Get Directions)
A premier road trip in Western New York adorned with breathtaking views, it’s hard to ignore the Niagara Scenic Parkway. It’s no exaggeration to claim that this scenic, 15-mile stretch of highway packs more punch than roads ten times as long. Not only does it offer intensely beautiful vistas of the Niagara Gorge and the river far below, but it is also chock-full things to do.
From three state parks that take you into the heart of the gorge and alongside the Class Five rapids of the Niagara River to charming small towns like Lewiston and Youngstown to the historic grandeur of Old Fort Niagara, this road makes for a delightful diversion of a couple of hours or an entire day as one of the best fall drives near buffalo.
Best Lewiston & Niagara Scenic Parkway places to visit:
The Silo – This repurposed coal silo serves classic American road food from a vantage point high above the Niagara River. Visit The Silo’s website for more.
Hibbard’s – Owned and operated by the Hibbard family since 1939, Hibbard’s frozen custard is the real deal – creamy, rich and in a class of its own. Try the black raspberry twist. Learn more at Hibbard’s website.
6. MEDINA, NY
Distance from Buffalo, NY: Typically 50 min – 1 hr 10 min by car (Get Directions)
This historic Erie Canal town has recently morphed into a hip destination for urbanites in nearby Buffalo and Rochester who love good food and a small-town vibe. The big news here is the completion of a multi-million-dollar restoration of the Bent Opera House. Built in 1865, the Opera House hosted the likes of P.T. Barnum and Frederick Douglas during its heyday.
Today, it has been transformed into a modern boutique hotel, making it an ideal weekend getaway near Buffalo. The hotel is even complete with its own farm-to-table restaurant that’s a perfect complement to Main Street’s bookstore, chocolate shop and antique stores. Also worth noting: Medina is a perfect place to jump on (or off) the Erie Canal Bike Trail, one of the great biking routes in the entire country.
Best Medina places to visit:
Zambistro – Enjoy lunch or dinner prepared by a Culinary Institute of America-trained chef. Check out Zambistro’s website for more.
Mariachi de Oro – If you’re looking for real Mexican food, this is where you’ll find it. Visit Mariachi de Oro’s website for more information.
7. SPRINGVILLE, NY
Distance from Buffalo, NY: Typically 50 min – 1 hr 10 min by car (Get Directions)
Springville may appear to be the quintessential American small town but take a closer look and its appeal is much more eclectic. Yes, it has a traditional Main Street with small, locally owned shops. And, yes, the Springville Auction, which happens every Wednesday, does feel like a snapshot of days gone by when farmers and their families came to town to shop, meet their neighbors, and maybe even buy or sell some livestock.
But that’s just part of the story. Check out the Springville Center for the Arts, an innovative regional arts hub with theater, visual arts and musical programming — and don’t miss nearby Griffis Sculpture Park where hundreds of whimsical sculptures dot the rolling hills.
Best Springville places to visit:
Art’s Café – Savor a taste of freshly baked bread and other goodies at this new anchor on Springville’s Main Street. For more information, visit the Art’s Cafe website.
Gentner’s Flea Market and Auction – Otherwise known as the Springville Auction, it takes place every Wednesday, year-round. Check out the Genters Commission Market on Facebook.
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From Jamestown to Lewiston, there’s a variety of flavors and sights to choose from that make Buffalo one of the best places to visit in Western New York. For a list of all upcoming events and fun things to do, check out Buffalo’s event calendar to plan out your next visit, or sign up for our email list to keep up with the latest news and trends.