15 Free Things to Do in Amherst, NY

Amherst, NY
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The town of Amherst in New York has since been ranked as one of the safest cities in America since its founding in 1818.

It's part of Erie County and the most populous suburb of Buffalo.

New York State founded the town in 1818, named for the British army commander Lord Jeffrey Amherst.

When the historic Erie Canal was opened in 1821, the town attracted new immigrants who settled the area and developed hamlets and villages.

From beautiful parks, museums, historical sites, hiking trails, wildlife, and festivals, the town has lots of adventures for you.

It's home to gorgeous creeks with natural areas that are all free to visit by anyone who wants to take a break from the big city's hustle and bustle.

You don't have to break the bank to enjoy the town with your friends or family.

Here are the free things to do in Amherst, New York!

Get in Touch with Nature at Amherst State Park

A bird at Amherst State Park
Pierre Williot / Shutterstock.com

Visiting a new place also means spending some time at one of its beautiful parks to get in tune with nature.

Many recreational activities at Amherst State Park allow you to get closer to nature.

You can explore the park's wooded areas, old orchards, and meadows with lots of wildlife, such as birds, butterflies, deer, foxes, ducks, geese, and more.

Amherst State Park is nestled on the property, which was part of the St. Mary of the Angels Convent since 1923.

A bird eating berries at Amherst State Park
Pierre Williot / Shutterstock.com

In 2002, the convent's motherhouse complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

It's located in the Village of Williamsville in Amherst and northeast Buffalo.

The Town of Amherst manages the park.

Hike up the Erie Canalway Trail

The beautiful Erie Canalway Trail has a dedicated paved off-road trail for those coming from Amherst, which leads to the City of Lockport.

The seven-mile trail is excellent for cyclists and hikers who want to spend some time with nature.

You can start at the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village on Tonawanda Creek Road trailhead and head east along the Canalway.

You'll see significant natural areas, beautiful foliage, breathtaking water views, and local wildlife along the scenic route.

The trail is also dog-friendly but put them on a leash so as not to disturb the wildlife and other hikers.

The Erie Canalway Trail is part of the 750-mile Empire State Trail.

Get Closer to the Past at Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village

Preserving and showcasing the agricultural and rural history of the Buffalo Niagara Region, the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village shows you a glimpse of the past.

From Wednesday to Friday in May until October, the museum gives free access to all visitors.

Check out the ten historic structures built in the 19th century, which were all moved from their original locations due to demolition threats.

The Hoover House and the Elliott House are among the historic buildings worth visiting in the village.

There's also an indoor museum, which features rotating exhibits of over 40,000 artifacts, and the Niederlander Research Library.

The 35-acre Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village was formerly named Amherst Museum and was founded in 1972 by the Town of Amherst.

You can find it off Tonawanda Creek Road.

Join the Row, Row, Row Your Boat Event

If you're in town in July, the Town of Amherst and a few other organizations host a free event called "Row, Row, Row your Boat."

This fun activity highlights the water race, where many youth athletes paddle for the title and prize.

You can bring your food, a blanket, or a lawn chair to use at the park for a picnic while watching the race.

There will be tables and benches, but it would be clever to bring your own in case they've been occupied.

Food vendors are also on-site if you want to try local food.

There's also live music to listen to while enjoying the sweeping views of the water, and you can even paddle your kayak or canoe if you have one!

Row, Row, Row Your Boat happens at Veterans Canal Park, off Brenon Road.

Attend Free Concerts at Bassett Park

In the summer, there are free concerts to enjoy every Wednesday evening, drawing many locals and visitors.

The concerts are held at the amphitheater at Bassett Park in Williamsville, close to the pond with small fishes.

You can use your lawn chair or blanket to watch and listen to the live performances of many local artists, including the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

Listening to good music by the pond while enjoying the fresh air should relax your tired spirit.

It's also a great place for cross-country skiing, and short walking trails are perfect for those who want to take peaceful strolls.

You can find Bassett Park off Klein Road.

Enjoy Fishing at Ellicott Creek

The waters of Ellicott Creek
Doug Kerr from Albany, NY, United States, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Year-round, whether in the warm or cold season, fishing is abundant at Ellicott Creek.

You catch bullhead, bass, pike, sunfish, pickerel, and carp during warm days.

You'd also catch occasional salmon, steelhead, and trout on cold days.

These fishes come from Lake Erie, the Niagara River, and Tonawanda Creek, as they freely travel to the creek due to a lack of physical barriers.

You can head to the Village of Williamsville in Amherst, which offers about a mile of abundant fishing.

The area also offers an abundance of wildlife, including deer, birds, and foxes.

Ellicott Creek is Tonawanda Creek's tributary, which flows into Niagara Falls.

It was named after Joseph Ellicott, a Holland Land Company land agent, which purchased millions of acres in Western New York.

Celebrate the Glen Park Art Festival

Amherst and its communities celebrate the Glen Park Art Festival on the last weekend of July every year.

The festival highlights art and nature in one spectacular event, showcasing unique arts and crafts, photography, and many fun activities for the whole family.

Over 130 artists showcase their works, which you can see at each booth inside the park.

Another must-see activity is the Chalk Walk, featuring the artists' works at the designated areas of the park using only chalk.

Starting in 2010, its committee and the Village Preservation Foundation organized the Glen Park Art Festival.

The two-day festival is held at the historic Williamsville on Glen Avenue.

See the Historic Mennonite Meeting House

Formerly the house of worship of the Reformed Mennonite Church, the historic Mennonite Meeting House was built in 1834.

It's one of the oldest churches in Western New York, which operated until 1981.

The church follows Greek Revival style architecture; it is made of limestone and is a vernacular structure with tall window openings.

In 2003, the Mennonite Meeting House was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Despite its age, the structure stands on a solid foundation, which plays a vital role as one of Amherst's historical landmarks.

Visit the historic building on Main Street at North Forest Road.

Enjoy a Picnic at Billy Wilson Park

But first, why not have a picnic?

One of the most valuable family activities is spending a picnic day at a relaxing spot.

So if you're in town, don't miss having a picnic at Billy Wilson Park, which offers spacious grounds with picnic tables and a gazebo.

You can also use your blanket if you prefer sitting on the grass while enjoying the scenery.

There's also a boardwalk over a swamp area where you can see lots of turtles that you can feed with leafy vegetables.

The little ones can also enjoy and interact with other kids at the playground.

Billy Wilson Park is in the Village of Williamsville on Hopkins Road.

It was renamed after Sgt. Billy Wilson III.

Wilson was a US serviceman fatally shot by a member of the Afghan security forces in 2012.

Drink Your Coffee at Fetto Park

They say that coffees are best in the mornings, and you can test this theory at Fetto Park on Harlem Road.

The park is small and is a perfect spot to have a coffee while taking advantage of its fresh air, away from a big city's noise.

You can sit on one of its benches and enjoy the lovely rock water fountain views.

There's a short footpath to walk and reflect on life and the day ahead.

Visitors would often spend peaceful mornings at Fetto Park with coffee and sunrise.

Stroll the Historic Main Street of Williamsville

Mixing American charm, history, and a modern vibe, the walkable Main Street of Williamsville offers a warm atmosphere.

See the village's 19th-century churches, the beautiful creekside waterfront, and many other historic structures.

The Amherst Municipal Town Hall is also located on Main Street.

Likewise, the village is small, quaint, and charming; visiting the town is always worthwhile.

The Main Street of Williamsville in Amherst is one of the best places to visit, thanks to its unique small-town vibe.

Explore the place with your favorite cup of coffee or delicious ice cream from an artisan ice creamery on Main Street!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Like many other places to visit, the cities past Amherst's border are packed with adventure and fun activities.

After only a few minutes of driving, you can discover and experience the beauty of Amherst's neighboring places.

Catch a Gorgeous Sunset at Erie Basin Marina

Scenic view of Erie Basin Marina
Hsa htaw / Shutterstock.com

There's no better way to catch a gorgeous sunset in town than at Erie Basin Marina in Buffalo, an 18-minute drive from Amherst.

The marina is a public inland harbor with gardens, massive boat docks, and an observation deck overlooking the entire city.

Use the observatory to see the breathtaking sunset at the harbor with panoramic water views.

Boat ride at Erie Basin Marina
JoanneStrell / Shutterstock.com

Don't forget to take Instagrammable photos of the sunset!

Erie Basin Marina is located off Erie Street.

View from Erie Basin Marina tower
Fortunate4now, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Check Out the Unique Solar Strand at the University at Buffalo

When science meets art, the University at Buffalo prides itself in the Solar Strand, a solar photovoltaic power plant.

Take a snapshot on the footwalk in the middle of the panels installed row after row to get a unique photo of the solar arrays.

There are three tall arrays that you can follow upward, giving you the same feeling as an infinity pool.

Walter Hood, a landscape architect, designed the Solar Strand, which has 3,200 photovoltaic panels and is about a quarter-mile long.

It was opened to the public in 2013 at the University at Buffalo on the east side of Flint Road between Maple Road and Audubon Parkway.

You can find the Solar Strand in Buffalo, New York, four minutes from Amherst.

Explore the Breathtaking Niagara Falls State Park

Scenic view of Niagara Falls State Park
Ong.thanaong / Shutterstock.com

A must-do activity close to Amherst is a drive to the City of Niagara Falls, New York, which only takes 25 to 30 minutes by car.

Go to Niagara Falls State Park and see the breathtaking and world-renowned Bridal Veil Falls, American Falls, and some parts of the Horseshoe Falls.

These breathtaking sceneries are not only historical, but they are also Instagrammable!

People climbing up Niagara Falls State Park
James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Don't forget to take photos to document this memorable trip to Amherst.

Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest US state park and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

Boat ride at Niagara Falls State Park
quiggyt4 / Shutterstock.com

Join the Canal Fest of the Tonawandas

One of the most-visited celebrations in Western New York is the Canal Fest of the Tonawandas.

If you're in Amherst around the third week of July, you can drive for 12 minutes to North Tonawanda, New York, to experience the week-long festival.

Activities include the Chalk Art Contest, grand parade, car and bike shows, arts & crafts, live music, and more.

Experience this one-of-a-kind festival with friends and family along the beautiful Tonawanda Creek.

The Canal Fest of the Tonawandas started when the Erie Canal was opened in the 1820s; the twin cities of Tonawanda and North Tonawanda celebrate the event.

Final Thoughts

Amherst offers the best adventures in the world and is fun for solo travelers and the whole family.

If you're planning a trip to Western New York, don't miss his beautiful town upstate!

Enjoy the free things to do in Amherst, New York!

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