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.
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.
2. Get Crafty at a Musejar DIY Class
17 Elm St, East Aurora, NY 14052 / Website
If you’re a fan of learning new things and getting your hands moving, you’ll be thrilled to learn about the DIY class schedule happening on a regular basis at MUSEjar / The MUSE Loft in East Aurora. Artist and owner Vanessa does a beautiful job of curating a wide variety of inspiring and functional makers classes and workshops. Their packed class schedule often features experts in different fields depending on the project, changing seasonally. Trust us, there’s always something new to try here.
3. Open Mic Spoken Word Events
Wordism Productions / Website
Launched in 2014, Wordism Productions is an event planning company that hosts a monthly non-competitive open mic event for spoken word artists. At these events the objective is to get a person who has never participated in an open mic be inspired to do so. You don’t have to be a poet or even know your Dunne from your Dickinson to appreciate the beauty of an open mic spoken word reading. Soak up the atmosphere and support local talent on select nights every month, organized by Wordism Productions.
4. Creative Mocktails at Mister Sizzles
346 Connecticut St Buffalo, NY 14213 / Website
There’s no shortage of creative cocktail menus in Buffalo, but Mister Sizzles is one great spot to go to find a variety of beverages without booze. Their mocktail menu includes a few $6 options like Little Cora Cottontail with Carrot, Ginger Cordial, Ginger Beer, Lemon and MoMo with Earl Grey, Lemon, Rich Simple, NA Bitters and even booze-free shots. How cool!? Plus the fact that they have awesome burgers and milkshakes doesn’t hurt.
Want more mocktails? Check out our guide to places serving mocktails in WNY.
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 $4, you can settle in and play for as long as you’d like.
6. 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.
7. Go “Boutique Bowling”
Transit Lanes / 7850 Transit Rd Williamsville, NY 14221 / Website
Bowling has stood the test of time as a truly all-ages sport and generally good time, and for good reason. With minimal effort an entire group of people can get together, catch up, eat, drink, and be entertained with something do to in between doing all that other good stuff. Plus it’s not even that expensive and requires zero equipment investment. Transit Lanes is Buffalo’s first upscale bowling center with 8 “world-class bowling lanes” and a full service modern restaurant and atmosphere. Check out their full menu and bowling options on their website!
This post was originally published in 2020 and has been updated.