Believe it or not, Buffalo has an affinity for running. Just look at the Buffalo Marathon, where they expect to host more than 8,000 runners this year; or how about the Turkey Trot? The Thanksgiving Day tradition, which holds the distinction of being the oldest public foot race in the country, wrapped up its 119th race this past November. If you enjoy running, Buffalo provides plenty of races to participate in every week. From 5Ks to marathons, Western New York usually offers some sort of competitive opportunity to get out and race with others. You don’t even have to be too serious or experienced to participate. If you’re new to the sport, or looking to get a different fitness routine going, Buffalo provides plenty of wonderful areas and opportunities to run.
For me, running is a cool way to explore the city and see new areas you may not have stumbled across before. There are plenty of beautiful landscapes, buildings, houses and interesting landmarks to distract you while you’re out hitting the pavement.
Here are the top 6 places to run in Buffalo, keeping it within the city limits.
6.) The Harbors
The Buffalo Main Lighthouse, Wilkerson Point, Tift Nature Preserve, and Erie Basin Marina and Gardens are just a few of the sites you’ll see on this route. There are plenty of cool things to explore in these areas. It’s almost hard to resist slowing down to gaze, but time will go by fast running around this area. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the inner or outer harbors; this is a fun place to run. However, one potential drawback is the increasing number of people now visiting these areas. It’s a great thing for the city, but it can get in the way of your run. If you value solitude during your run, avoid these areas.
5.) North Buffalo: Hertel – Parkside
This part of Buffalo is definitely more laid back than others. When running around these neighborhoods, you don’t have to worry too much about avoiding traffic or getting lost. The perpendicular streets along Hertel make it really easy and convenient to weave in and out of different areas. If you get turned around, you can always use Hertel as a reference point. Take a cool-down along Hertel and you’ll catch all the new businesses and restaurants popping up as well. If you make it over to the Parkside neighborhoods, you’ll see plenty of beautiful houses like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House complex on Jewett Parkway.
4.) Bird Island Pier
Bird Island Pier is one of the most underrated running spots in the city. It offers a great view of the water and parts of downtown on a clear day. You run right under the Peace Bridge, and there is something unique about looking to the other side and knowing it’s a foreign country right there. If you’re lucky, you might spot some crew teams rowing alongside. The West Side Rowing Club and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fontana Boathouse both sit right along the Niagara River’s edge and are visible from the Pier.
3.) Downtown Buffalo
You don’t have to look far to find Buffalo’s unique and beautiful architecture, and downtown features many of the most notable examples. Whatever part of the city you run in, you’ll be sure to see some awesome buildings up close and personal. City Hall, The Erie County Building, and even smaller buildings like the Guaranty Building will captivate your attention and make you forget that you are running at all. Run all around the city and next thing you know you’ll have racked up a good handful of miles. I recommend running north to Allen along Delaware, and then hopping over to Main and heading back down south for a cool view of the city. Pass by Shea’s and end your run down at the new Harbor Center. I always find plenty of cool things to check out, and usually always something new I have never noticed before.
2.) Delaware Park – Hoyt Lake – Forest Lawn
This isn’t the biggest area on the list, but it’s definitely the most practical and requires the least amount of planning. Delaware Park’s loop is great for showing up on a whim and going for a run. The changes in grade make it ideal for training and experiencing different levels of difficulty. Only a short distance away is Hoyt Lake, which provides another convenient loop to run around. The view of the lake is awesome, and you can always take a second to stop at Marcy Casino to run some steps. Forest Lawn is expansive with unique landmarks and sites to take in. With entrances on Main and Delaware, you can plan a long, extended run here.
1.) Elmwood Village
I love to run around Elmwood Village, hence the top billing in this list. I think the whole area gives you a sense of positive energy while you are running. Heading in either direction along Elmwood gives you plenty of reference points to guide your run. “Ok, I’m just going to run to Blue Monk, maybe Thirsty Buffalo. Heck, I can go down to North Street.” All of the intersecting streets make it easy to cut over to Richmond or Delaware and then make your way back to Elmwood. Use Colonial Circle, Soldier’s Circle or Symphony Circle to make some interesting square routes that are super easy to avoid getting lost. There are always plenty of people on Elmwood as well, so if you’re motivated by having other people being around, this is one of the better spots to be. Even if you want to avoid people, the sidewalks are wide enough to not get in people’s way or have them slow you down. From Forest to Allen is two miles along Elmwood. You can create some pretty long runs around here or keep it quick with a two-mile run. Enjoy walking back along the strip and stop at Spot, Ashkers or a bar for a coffee, juice or beer afterwards.
Did I miss any of your favorite spots? How about outside the city? Let me know. I’m always up for checking out some new areas.