At times we all need to escape from the city and retreat to nature. Whether it’s a picnic on the lake or a hike through the woods, being one with nature is a great way to feel peace and solace when life becomes a little hectic. Luckily, our area is packed full of beautiful areas to venture off to for a relaxing getaway. From the shores of Lake Erie to the steep gorges of Letchworth, there’s anything but a shortage in open air around Buffalo. Pack your picnic baskets, put on your hiking shoes, and hit these 14 amazing state parks around Buffalo that will blow you away.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Allegany State Park
This 64,800 acre state park south of Buffalo is full of activities to partake in year-round. The rolling hills of the park are also referred to as the Enchanted Mountains and are one of the most beautiful places to view the colorful fall foliage. Stay active at the park on its 18 hiking trails and 5.6 miles of paved biking trails, and don’t let winter stop you! The park features miles of snowmobile trails for visitors to explore.
2. Amherst State Park
This small, local state park is a great Sunday afternoon activity. Featuring meadows, trails, and Ellicott Creek, visitors can enjoy a walk with a dog or a picnic with friends and family.
3. Beaver Island State Park
Beaver Island State Park is a great place to experience all four seasons in Buffalo. Activities at the park include basking in the sun and swimming along the half-mile shoreline, spending a day on the water with your boat, canoe, or kayak, fishing year-round, and snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross country skiing in the winter.
4. Buckhorn Island State Park
This state park is home to a nature preserve along the marsh and wetlands of the Niagara River. Visitors can enjoy a few hours hiking the trails, canoeing, fishing, and kayaking.
5. Buffalo Harbor State Park
No need to leave the city to visit this newest state park! Buffalo Harbor State Park is located along the shorelines of Lake Erie. While swimming is currently not permitted at the park, visitors can enjoy several nearby restaurants, walk along the path, sunbathe on the beach, access the marina, and enjoy several activities on the water (kayaking and canoeing, for instance).
6. Darien Lakes State Park
When Western New Yorkers hear Darien Lake, a majority of them probably think theme park. What they might not know is they could extend their visit and check out the Darien Lakes State Park as well! The state park offers amenities such as campsites, pavilions, and playgrounds to make for a fun-filled summer getaway.
7. Earl W. Brydges ArtPark
Located along the Niagara Gorges, the ArtPark state park is a great place for nature and entertainment. The park grounds serve as a venue for concerts during the summer and a ground for public art displays. When not enjoying a show, visitors can check out the nature trails and beautiful views of the Niagara River.
8. Evangola State Park
Irving’s Evangola State Park is a popular spot among the camping community in Buffalo. The state park features an arc-shaped shoreline where guests can swim in Lake Erie, as well as soccer and baseball fields for those looking to participate in team sports.
9. Knox Farm State Park
Located in East Aurora, Knox Farm is the former estate of Buffalo’s Knox family. The park is made up of 633 acres of beautiful farmland, wetlands, and woods. Visitors can enjoy walks along the paths, biking in designated areas, and even horseback rides with a permit. Don’t be surprised to see multiple photoshoots occurring during your visit due to the beautiful backdrops this state park provides!
10. Letchworth State Park
There’s a reason Letchworth is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East!” The park boasts beautiful gorges, waterfalls, and forests. Visitors can choose to explore various hiking trails that total over 66 miles in combined length! For those who are daredevils, try out the whitewater rafting on the river’s rushing waters! Not afraid of heights? The park also offers hot air balloon rides to view the eastern canyons from above.
11. Fort Niagara State Park
This state park gives visitors access to not only the Niagara River, but also Lake Ontario. Explore the park's many trails, take advantage of the pool on a hot summer’s day, or tire the little ones out in the playgrounds and 18 soccer fields! For a history lesson, head next door to Old Fort Niagara.
12. Niagara Falls
Not only a state park, but a natural wonder! This beautiful shared park between the United States and Canada is a must-visit. The park consists of three waterfalls that dump over 750,000 gallons a second! If you want to get up close and personal, take the Cave of the Winds Tour or put your ponchos on and hop aboard the Maid of the Mist.
13. Whirlpool State Park
You can find this fast-paced park upstream from Niagara Falls. With two levels to choose from, visitors can stay on the street level to take photos of this park’s scenic views, or for those more daring, head down to the river level for up close views of the rushing waters... and a trail to the last park on our list!
14. Devil's Hole State Park
Enjoy a fun day at this park with gorgeous views of the jade-colored water and an awesome hiking trail! Follow the stone staircase down to the river gorge where you can picnic or fish. For the best views, visit in fall as the colored trees add to the already beautiful backdrop!
There they are! Share your favorite state park around Buffalo and the activities you enjoy there with us.