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Buffalo Neighborhoods

One of the best aspects of a Buffalo vacation is the ease with which you can navigate the city once you’ve found its center. Major streets all feed into the downtown business district, which is anchored by Niagara Square (not far from City Hall). Since Lake Erie is the city's western boundary, from Niagara Square all major streets from the downtown center run mostly north or east. Buffalo's best bars, restaurants, shops, sights and clubs are clustered in three or four small districts, all around the downtown area.


All the faded glory of Buffalo's resplendent past is on display in this quirky, residential neighborhood with old Victorian houses that's now the favorite hangout for musicians, writers and bohemian types. It's full of craft shops, antique stores and casual boites, like local favorite Sample. Allentown was declared a preservation district in 1978 and put on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, and with good reason; F. Scott Fitzgerald lived in this Buffalo neighborhood as a young boy, and this is where Olmsted stayed while he designed Buffalo's parks system. Bounded by North Street to the north, Main Street to the East, Edward Street to the South and Plymouth Street to the West, Allentown is within easy walking distance from downtown Buffalo.


You need to get "hip to the Chip" during your Buffalo visit. The "Chip" is short for "The Chip Strip," a/k/a the Chippewa District, which is officially known as the Buffalo Entertainment District. It meanders for about four city blocks, and "The Chip" sits right between downtown Buffalo’s office buildings and Allentown's historic homes. Daring souls go to Buckin' Buffalo Saloon for a ride on America's only mechanical buffalo, and Mardi Gras enthusiasts pack into Bayou, which aims to make every night Fat Tuesday. In summer months many bars throw open back patios, or like dance club Social, set up gauzy cabanas so their guests can lounge in the night air outside.

Elmwood Village

Just north and slightly west of Allentown, you'll find another close-knit community that in the early-1990s decided to pool its resources, mark off some general boundaries (north of North Street, east of Richmond Avenue) and declare itself “Elmwood Village.” What started as a marketing ploy has succeeded beyond everyone's wildest dreams—Elmwood is now the go-to district for Buffalo shopping, from trendy clothes, ski suits and snowboards at Urban Threads to off-beat jewelry and crafts at Everything Elmwood. Take a walk around this mainly residential neighborhood, with wide-porched Victorian and Georgian homes and inviting mom-and-pop shops.

Hertel Avenue

Hey, paisano, check out Buffalo's Little Italy—or what's left of it—along Hertel Avenue, a stretch of shops and cafes northeast of the downtown area, just beyond Buffalo State College campus. While it may be known locally as "Little Italia," Hertel Avenue is actually something of a global crossroads. This is where you'll get an up-close look at Buffalo's diversity; it’s home to Tunisian food markets, Mexican grocery stores, Middle Eastern food vendors and a whole smorgasbord of ethnic eats to discover.

Downtown Buffalo

The heartbeat of the city is the busy downtown section, where you can stare into the glimmering waters of Lake Erie, or stroll along Millionaire Mile on Delaware Avenue, full of stately turn-of-the-century homes built by the well-to-do, some of which have been modified into apartment buildings. Get your bearings at Niagara Square, where there's a handy visitor's center with maps, and then hit the streets. Give yourself permission to skip the mundane modern buildings (like the yawn-inducing Convention Center) and focus instead on the marvelous old theaters from the 19th- and early 20th-century found along Pearl Street (most of them still hosting plays or other creative endeavors), then wander along Michigan Avenue. It's now designated a heritage corridor, thanks to the faded, single-home wooden houses that once were stops along the Underground Railroad smuggling southern slaves to freedom.

Buffalo Airport

This Buffalo neighborhood has no attractions for visitors, beyond the fact that there are numerous convenient and inexpensive hotels close to Buffalo Niagara International Airport. It’s of most use to business travelers, but if you have a car, you can get into downtown Buffalo and most of the more interesting neighborhoods with ease. Most of the hotels in this area also run complimentary shuttles to and from the airport.