Sober Fun: 7 Ways to Spend a Booze-Free Evening in WNY

City Guide, Food & Drink, Museums, Nightlife, Shopping


Written by Olivia White

Published on January 22, 2020
sober fun

Barrel + Brine / Photo x Olivia White for Step Out Buffalo

In a city known for its robust drinking culture (a product of our industrial heritage and, let’s face it, weather) it can be tough to find sober after-dark activities that still make you feel like you’re part of the fun. But Buffalo is an accommodating place known for its hospitality.  Anyone who loves it knows there’s something here for everyone. So, whether you’re taking a break from booze or have been sober for a while, or you’re simply waiting for the ole’ 21st birthday, you’ll find it’s easy to enjoy these evening activities that bring our city to life, without a Labatt in hand. 



sober fun

The Burchfield Penney / Photo x Olivia White for Step Out Buffalo

1. Second Friday’s at Burchfield Penney

1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo NY 14222

716-878-6011 / Website

There’s something extra delightful about being in a museum after hours, and the Burchfield Penney is especially magical because of its local flair. On the second Friday of every month, the Burchfield extends its hours and offers free admission plus special programming including live music, drop-in art classes, screenings and more.


sober fun

Photo courtesy of Barrel + Brine

2. “Pickles and Giggles” comedy night at Barrel+Brine 

155 Chandler St, Buffalo, NY 14207

716-877-3455 / Website

If you’re a kombucha fan, Barrel+Brine is a great place to go to grab a non-alcoholic drink without drinking, per se. Keep an eye out for their free comedy nights, featuring local comedians, and head to Chandler St. to hunker down for an evening of pickles, probiotics and giggles. Because Barrel+Brine also offers beer and spiked beverages, it’s good for groups of mixed preferences any night of the week. Check out our article, New: Barrel + Brine Opens Cafe Based on a Preservation, Not a Cuisine  to learn more about their business and what they do.


sober fun

Open mic poetry / Photo courtesy of Perks

3. Open mic poetry nights at Caffe Aroma 

Caffe Aroma 

  • 957 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo NY 14222
  • 716-884-4522 / Facebook

You don’t have to be a poet or even know your Dunne from you Dickinson to appreciate the beauty of an open mic poetry reading. Soak up the atmosphere and support local talent on select Wednesday nights every month at both Caffe Aroma. Check their Facebook for details 


sober fun

Photo Courtesy of The Speak Easy

4. Creative mocktails at The Speak Easy

1194 East Lovejoy St, Buffalo NY 14206

716-783-7477 / Website

There’s no shortage of creative cocktail menus in Buffalo, but The Speak Easy breaks the mold as the first without any booze whatsoever. Billed as “spirit free for the free spirit,” it’s the first spot in Buffalo to own the “sober curious” trend and take it seriously with homemade ingredients that won’t give you a hangover the next day. Check their events calendar for pairings, live music and karaoke. Want more mocktails? Our article on all the places serving mocktails in WNY has all the places you can find them.


sober fun

Gather & Game / Photo X Christopher Lestak for Step Out Buffalo

5. Game night at Gather & Game

212 Grant St, Buffalo NY 14213

716-248-1883 / Website

We all have that one friend who’s always trying to get everyone together for game after game of Settlers of Catan—or maybe you are that friend. You (or “your friend”) will feel right at home at Gather & Game, which boasts a massive library of board games—from the classics to popular strategy games to new favorites. For only $3, you can settle in and play for as long as you’d like. 


sober fun

Photo Courtesy of Root & Bloom

6. Hygge happy hour at Root & Bloom

423 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo NY 14222

716-768-1878 / Website

The art of hygge (the Danish word that essentially means cozy) celebrates the simple pleasures of a quiet winter evening indoors while the snow piles up outside. It’s the perfect antidote to the doldrums of January and February in Buffalo and the inspiration for Root & Bloom’s new happy hour, which features specials on some of their most comforting snacks and drinks. Bring a friend or a book and sip peanut butter hot chocolate by candlelight—it’s basically required self care. Monday through Friday, 3-6 PM. Check out our article Root And Bloom Finally Opened it’s Indoor Space to learn more about Root and Bloom’s vibe.


sober fun

Photo courtesy of Lock & Key

7. Get a clue at Lock and Key Escape Room

504 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo NY 14222

716-940-8290 / Website

If you really want to get to know someone, lock yourself in a room with them and try to find your way out with a series of elaborate clues while time runs out and pressure mounts. It’s fun, we promise. Lock and Key offers two themed rooms for escaping—the Vampire’s Lair and Grimm’s Forest. Grab your friends for a unique challenge and make a night of it. Just remember, group dynamic is very important. For more escape rooms, check out our article Guide to Escape Rooms in WNY.

Written by <a href="" target="_self">Olivia White</a>

Written by Olivia White

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