7 Free Things to Do in Buffalo

by / Aug. 24, 2016 12am EST

They say life is cheap, but in our experience that’s only so if you look for bargains. The rich cultural life of a city like Buffalo can be expensive, but our institutions and their patrons, big and small, seem to know that. Here are just a few ways to take in that rich cultural life without spending a dime:

 First Fridays at 
 the Albright-Knox Art Gallery 

On the first Friday of each month, the Albright-Knox waives its usual entry fee for most of its galleries, stays open late (10am-10pm), and offers tours all day, a happy hour (5:30-7:30pm), and special programming in the evening. On September 2, it’s jazz with Doug Yeomans and Sue Kincaid during the happy hour, followed by Squeaky Wheel’s 13th annual Animation Fest. On October 7, College Night at the Albright-Knox, the happy hour musicians are Bill Bates and Bob White; afterward artist Joan Linder will give a talk about her exhibit at the gallery, and folk outfit Savannah & the Kings will play a set. Visit for details.

 First Fridays 
 Allentown Gallery Walk 

The assortment of  small galleries in Allentown offer their own first Friday event too: a gallery walk spanning all of Allen Street and its side streets, usually featuring exhibit opening receptions. It’s a much better way to get to know Allentown than a bar crawl—not that they are mutually exclusive. Visit for more information.

 Second Fridays at 
 the Burchfield Penney Art Center 

Sense a theme building here? Like the Albright-Knox, its neighbor across the street, the Burcxhfield Penney waives its usual entrance fee, stays open late (10am-8pm), and offers a happy hour plus a program of talks, music, screenings, and other special events. Visit for more information.

 Third Fridays at 
 the Buffalo History Museum 

Once again, admission is free, the place stays open late (until 8pm), and there are special events and programming. There is no better place to get to know the city and its history. Visit for more information.

 Fourth Fridays at 
 the Buffalo Arts Studio 

Once again, admission is free, the place stays open late (until 8pm), and there are special events and programming. Here you’ll pass among the studios of working artists in a variety of disciplines, in a sprawling factory that used to manufacture windshield wipers. Visit for more information.

 Saturday Artisans Market 
 at Canalside 

Nearly every Saturday, Canalside hosts an open-air market for artists and artisans to exhibit and sell their work. But that’s not all there is: Free of charge every week, there are tours and yoga classes and an ever-changing variety of other activities. In both warm and cold weather, a trip to Canalside—once the epicenter of Buffalo commerce, now an open-air waterfront park—is a great free-to-cheap way to spend a morning or afternoon. Visit for more information.

 Buffalo’s City Hall 

A free tour departs the mammoth Art Deco masterpiece every weekday at noon and culminates in a visit to the observation deck at the top of the building. It’s one of the finest views in Buffalo. And if architectural tours aren’t your cup of tea but sweeping vistas are, know that you can go to the observation deck by yourself anytime during normal business hours. 

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