The Ultimate College Student’s Guide to Buffalo & WNY

City Guide


Written by Morgan Culhane

Published on August 31, 2021
Public Espresso
Photo courtesy of Public Espresso

You’re new to college. You’re new to Buffalo. You’re broke. Welcome to being a college student in Buffalo.

Finding the time and money to explore the city may seem impossible. It’s not. Speaking from experience as a former college kid; Just do it. Here’s what you need to know to have fun without going completely broke.

As you read this guide, if you find yourself thinking that’s the not the best place for me, that’s okay. This is the time in your life where you will find your niche, so step outside of your campus and explore. Buffalo is an incredible city. If you’re enrolled right now, it’s time to spread your wings and begin exploring. Trust me, you’ll fall in love.. and that’s something we can all agree on.


Photo from Cole’s Facebook

Where to Drink 

21+ year olds, we’re lookin’ at you!

We know, you’re broke. Well, except when alcohol is involved. Somehow you magically always have drink dollars. The bar scene here is a college kid’s dream. Bars are open until 4 a.m. remember to pace yourself.

Choosing the best college bar would be silly because there’s class favorites and they vary from campus to campus, and from year to year. Find your favorite and tell your friends. Soon enough popular demand will determine the go-to spot. I recommend choosing wisely – go where the cheap drinks are.

Jims Stakeout
Steak Sub at Jim’s Steakout / Photo courtesy of Jims Stakeout

Where to Get Drunk Food

Again, this is for the 21+ crowd.

Younger than 21? Use as a late night food guide!

Remember, bars here close at 4 a.m. So naturally, the next question to answer is where to get a drunken bite after last call. Your hungover self may or may not thank you for the trip to Jim’s Steakout, Elmwood Tacos & Subs, Allentown Pizza, and/or Mighty Taco. But, oh well.

Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square / Photo x Step Out Buffalo

Where to Eat for Cheap

Dining hall food is not most people’s favorite. Regardless of which campus you are on, I’m sure you can relate. The good news is, Buffalo’s food scene is booming. The better news is cheap eats are everywhere! Eat during happy hour, grab dinner at Food Truck Tuesday at Larkin Square, or split a pizza with a friend. Oh yea, we have local pizzerias with great food on every corner, so you can go ahead and delete Dominos from your phone immediately.


Healthy Scratch
Photo courtesy of Healthy Scratch

Where to Eat Healthy

Fruits and veggies on campus may be limited, but your options in Buffalo aren’t. Amy’s Place (University Heights) on Main Street is certainly one of my favorite places to enjoy a low key meal with plenty of vegetarian options. Also, meal prep service is a viable option. Just because you’re in college doesn’t mean you can’t live a healthy lifestyle. This is a myth. Look into Balanced Body Foods and Eat Rite Foods, or try a website like Budget Bytes to cook healthy for yourself. Check out our Guide to 14 Places to Get (Cheap) Healthy Eats.

Wings from Bar Bill in East Aurora
Wings from Bar Bill in East Aurora / Photo x Step Out Buffalo

Where to Get Wings

Let’s be honest. Buffalonians will never all agree on the single best wing spot in the city. That’s a fact.

College kids should know that there are plenty of options. You’ll likely hear about Duffs, Anchor Bar, and Bar Bill, but don’t be afraid to venture out. That’s how I discovered my favorite spot — Gabriel’s Gate (Allentown). Let’s be honest; Everywhere around here has good wings. So when in doubt, order from the closest place and you probably won’t be disappointed.

Remedy House
Photo courtesy of Remedy House

Where to Study

Studying at the campus library gets old. When you’re ready for a change of scenery, find a local coffee shop. These places have free Wi-Fi and the coffee is most likely 10x better. Spot Coffee is super popular in Buffalo with locations throughout the city. If you’re looking for bright, wide open spaces, check out Remedy House (West Side) or Public Espresso (Downtown, South Buffalo). Plus check out our Guide to Coffee Shops with Eclectic Vibes Around WNY.


lake effect diner counter | Step Out Buffalo
Lake Effect Diner / Photo x Step Out Buffalo

Where to Bring Your Parents

Your parents are in town and you’re pretending to not be extremely hungover. When they ask where you and your friends hang out they are talking about real adult establishments aka not house parties or the closest dive bars. Impressing your parents with your knowledge of the local restaurant scene is easy, thanks to us. Pick a place that’s nice but not too nice, especially if your parents are treating you. ABV (Allentown), Cole’s (Elmwood Village), Mister Sizzles (West Side), and Swan Street Diner (Larkinville) are always good go-to’s. If you’re looking for more inspo, just go to our food & drink page and hop right down in that rabbit hole.

Canalside Buffalo, Step Out Buffalo
Canalside / Photo x Step Out Buffalo

Where to Do Things for Free

Getting off campus and exploring the city sounds fun in theory, but if your cash flow is limited you need to be smart. Think free. Always think free first. On the first Friday of every month admission to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is free (currently closed for renovation). Canalside offers free fitness classes in the summer. Exploring Delaware Park is always free, and always beautiful. Check SOB’s weekly Things to Do guides, too!


Reddy Bike
Photo courtesy of Reddy Bike

How to Get Around

Transportation in Buffalo is a breeze, with the average commute time coming in at 20 minutes. If you don’t have a car, no worries. Public transportation is a solid option here. The NFTA-Metro Bus is available throughout the city and suburbs for cheap. The Metro Rail line connects UB’s South Campus with downtown Buffalo. P.S. rides above ground are free. Uber and Lyft are always an option. Bike sharing is super cool and affordable too – check out Reddy Bikeshare for more info.

Want more from Step Out Buffalo? Check out our Step Out College page for more guides to help you [ Love Where You Live ]!

Written by <a href="" target="_self">Morgan Culhane</a>

Written by Morgan Culhane

Morgan is a storyteller with a passion for exploring Buffalo's food and beverage scene. She enjoys drinking craft beer so much that she started a business dedicated to promoting this industry. As the co-founder of Content on Draft, she develops social media marketing strategies for craft beverage companies in Buffalo and beyond… and she loves it!
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