From Buffalo’s rich history in arts and architecture to the beautiful waterfront and landscapes, it’s not often the question of “What should we do today?” goes unanswered. Whether you’re a local or visitor, check these ten free places in the Nickel City that won’t cost you a dime!
1. See what the hype is about at Canalside.
Located at the intersection of Pearl Street and Marine Drive, Canalside is one of Buffalo’s newest and proudest attractions. Hosting over 1,000 annual events, there is sure to be something for children and adults alike. Picture lovers can pose with the famous Shark Girl statue or capture the illuminations on the Grain Elevator. Music fans can enjoy numerous free concerts during summer festivals and even tote their own talents during Karaoke at Canalside! Want to tour a bit of history? At the Northern end of Canalside is the largest inland Naval Park, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. Be sure to check out the Canalside calendar of events to keep up with the free activities year-round!
2. Get a bird's eye view from City Hall.
A great free find for architecture, art, and photography lovers! One of Buffalo’s most iconic buildings, City Hall, was dedicated in 1932 and boasts features of the Art Deco era. To get great images of the Queen City from above, take an elevator up to the 25th floor and continue the hike three flights up to the Observation Deck.
3. Admire art at the Albright-Knox.
Offering free admission to parts of the museum and events on the first Friday of each month, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery has been a cultural hub in Buffalo since 1862. The museum has displayed extraordinary collections from artists such as Frida Kahlo, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, and many more.
4. Get zen at the Japanese Garden.
Looking to free your mind... for free? Head across the street from the Albright-Knox Museum to the Japanese Garden on Mirror Lake. A great place to hike, the gardens boast beautiful shrubbery and trees inspired by Kanazawa, Japan. Aside from a place to find your center and peace, the gardens are also a picturesque site for any type of photo shoot!
5. Tour the OLV Basilica.
When St. Patrick’s Cathedral burned down in 1916, Father Nelson Baker had bigger and better in mind. During a parish meeting, he announced his plan to build a shrine to honor Our Lady of Victory. The church would be made of the finest materials from African Mahogany to gold and marble. By the end of 1925, the basilica was finished, paid for, and deemed a Minor Basilica by Pope Pius XI.Today visitors can tour the Basilica on Sundays at 1p.m. and 2p.m. (except major holidays) or personal tours can be arranged Monday-Thursday and Saturday from 11:30a.m. to 3:30p.m.
6. See the city of light... lit up.
If you plan on hitting up Canalside at night, you’re in for a real treat! When Joseph Dart invented the grain elevators in 1842, he helped transform Buffalo and the world’s grain industry. Today, those same elevators pay homage to the rich heritage of Buffalo’s industry and create an ambiance like no other. To see the light display, head down to Canalside, the Buffalo River, or Lake Erie every night until 11p.m.
7. Take a stroll through Allentown.
Buffalo is home to many festivals year-round. One of the most noteable is the Allentown Art Festival in Buffalo’s historic Allentown District. Each June, tens of thousands of visitors make their rounds to local craft and art vendors that display the unique and diverse talent among Buffalonians. While it is free to walk around and observe, make sure you bring some cash to purchase something fun. Fun fact: This summer, the festival is celebrating its 70th anniversary!
8. Tiptoe through the tulips during Garden Walk.
Coming up on their 23rd year, Buffalo’s Garden Walk was created in 1995 after Marvin Lunenfeld and Gail McCarthy attended Chicago’s Garden Tour. At its conception, 29 gardens were featured on the walk. Today, there are over 75 gardens featured in open garden tours!
9. Adventure with Huckleberry Finn.
Did you know that Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) spent part of his life in Buffalo? From 1869 to 1871, Mr. Clemens lived on Delaware Avenue with his wife, Olivia. While in Buffalo, he was editor of the Buffalo Express. Today, fans of his writing can visit the Mark Twain Room in the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library where original, handwritten manuscripts of Huckleberry Finn are on display, as well as portraits and memorabilia from the Twain residence.
10. Experience the wonder at Niagara Falls.
We can’t feature free activities without mentioning one of the biggest free attractions we have right in our own backyard! Any season, anytime of day, this natural wonder is a marvel. Enjoy picnics, hikes, and illuminated falls every night of the year.
What are your favorite budget-friendly activities in Buffalo? Share your favorite freebies with us!