What to Do on a Rochester to Niagara Falls Day Trip

Looking for a day trip from Rochester, NY to Niagara Falls? This Rochester to Niagara Falls day trip includes stops in Buffalo for a great day trip from Rochester to Niagara Falls.

I love planning day trips where we spend the entire day out of the house and explore local destinations.

We have lived in Rochester for over 13 years now and I spent 20 years living in Buffalo and visiting Niagara Falls often, that is why I enjoy planning a day trip to Rochester and Niagara Falls a few times a year to visit some of our favorite spots.

Overview of Rochester to Niagara Falls Day Trip

There are many ways to put together an itinerary for a day trip. This is what we did but I will share more tips on other ideas later in the post.

  1. Paula’s Donuts
  2. Prophet Isaiah
  3. Dinosaur Golf
  4. Rainforest Cafe
  5. Undergrounds Coffee
  6. Buffalo Harbor Playground
  7. Canalside
  8. White Rabbit Frozen Yogurt

When planning your trip you can decide where you want to spend more of your time based on your families needs and interests.

Want to get more details? Read on for how I plan a Rochester to Niagara Falls day trip with kids.

rochester ny to niagara falls

How to Plan a Day Trip from Rochester to Niagara Falls

There are endless family activities in Buffalo and Niagara Falls. We live close, under 90 miles, so we visit often but for this visit we wanted to pack in a fun mystery day of surprises for the kids.

What is a mystery day? Mystery Days are basically a full day of activities that are a surprise. We usually start early and end late.

The itinerary is a surprise to the kids and we always have a blast! It’s like a day vacation. We did many of these when the kids were small. Not that they are teens we have them help plan the day.

I have a couple posts to give you more ideas about what to include. Check out Best Fun Things to Do in Buffalo NY with Your Family and Best Things to Do in Niagara Falls NY for Families for more ideas!

What We Did On Our Day Trip From Rochester to Niagara Falls

Our First Stop: Paula’s Donuts

If you have never been to Paula’s Donuts you need to stop what you are doing and plan a visit.  It is amazing!!! I picked out the Red Velvet doughnut and it was delicious.

It had just come out of the bakery and was still warm. Yum! We also bought a cinnamon roll for an afternoon snack. I did not get a picture of it because it was gone fast!

Paula's Donuts on our Rochester to Niagara Falls Family Day Trip
Rochester to Niagara Falls Day Trip wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Paula’s Donuts.

Next Stop: Prophet Isaiah, Niagara Falls, USA

I found this place when I was searching Roadside America. Prophet Isaiah said the world was going to end in 2014 and decorated his house to welcome the end of the world. It is a beautifully decorated house.

We pulled over to take a look and point out all the neat things that ordained the house. It was only a few minute detour on our way to Canada and the kids really enjoyed it.

prophet isaiah house niagara falls
Prophet Isaiah house.

Next Stop: Dinosaur Adventure Golf, Niagara Falls, Canada

Dinosaur Adventure Golf is located on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, Canada. This meant we had to cross the border. Be prepared with passports and other documentation if you plan to visit Niagara Falls, Canada.

I had low expectations for this golf course because of the harsh winters. I figured it would be a little weathered but I was pleasantly surprised. This course was great. They have two courses. We did the T-Rex Trek because it went through the erupting volcano. The parking was directly next door.

When we parked the parking attendant gave us a coupon book that had $1 off golf. This coupon was also online and could be printed.

My husband and I did not golf and there was a fee for non-golfers. Kids were $7.99 and Adults were $9.99. Non-golfers were $3.99.(Canadian Funds.) The $1 off was good for up to 6 people. (Prices are subject to change. Check here for most accurate.)

Next Stop: Rainforest Café, Niagara Falls, Canada

Rainforest Cafe is a themed restaurant based around a Rainforest. The walls are covered with vines and animals are all around. The atmosphere is fun and every 30 minutes there is a thunder and lightning storm.

At this location they have animatronic gorillas and elephants. If you think your kid will be frightened by them ask for a table away from them. While waiting for our food we counted all the animals we could find hiding within the walls. Our guess was over 40 and we lost count!

In my opinion, you don’t go to the Rainforest Cafe for the food. We decided to go because we haven’t been there in over 4 years and thought we should give it another try. The food is okay but the atmosphere is really fun.

menu at rainforest cafe in niagara falls canada

2 out of the 3 liked the jungle chicken nuggets but they all loved the french fries. I got a classic burger and it was fine. My husband got a Volcano Burger. It wasn’t the best but we wanted to go for the atmosphere rather than the food.

A little bit about the price…it’s expensive!! We knew this going in and you have to expect it at a themed restaurant. Currently the American Dollar is worth more in Canada. Keep this in mind when you are budgeting for your day.

From here we made our way back to the US. Overall it took us about 50 minutes of travel time between the countries. This included going through customs into Canada and back into the US.

Always allot for more time then you think you will need. The bridges can be backed up and really busy, especially weekends in the summer.

Also you will need passports or enhanced license, and original birth certificates for the kids. Always check with USA Passport Service Guide to have the most updated information about travel.

Next Stop: Undergrounds Coffee, Buffalo, NY

My husband and I wanted coffee. Undergrounds Coffee has great reviews on Yelp. It was on the way to our next stop too. The place was really cool inside and the staff were super nice and helpful. I really liked how kind and understanding they were with the kids, who at this point were running all over the place.

We both got iced coffees and they were delicious! They did have some food and dessert options but we had our cinnamon roll from this mornings doughnut stop waiting for us in the car.

Next Stop: Buffalo Harbor State Park, Buffalo NY

Time for the playground!! The kids were restless and needed to use some of their energy. This playground was recently added to the Buffalo Harbor. It is located at 1111 Fuhrmann Blvd Buffalo, NY 14203. It is so awesome!

There are two climbing structures, swings, and spinning things. This playground has something for everyone. We could have stayed all afternoon.

It was a great break and a great meeting place for our mystery guests. (Cousin time!) We also used the time to regroup and enjoy our coffee.

playground in buffalo

Next Stop: Canalside, Buffalo, NY

Canalside is a waterfront area in Buffalo that consists of shops, restaurants and open space. I was told there are lawn darts and other lawn games in the open space, but the day we were there was an Auto and Boat show and space was limited.

This is also the place that has the infamous “Shark Girl”. Shark Girl was the highlight of our visit. The kids thought it was funny and we took a few pictures. There is also Explore and More Children’s Museum and the Buffalo Naval Park.

Update: We spent a weekend exploring Buffalo and Canalside, including the new Explore & More Museum and the Buffalo Naval park. Read all about it -> Things to Do in Buffalo for a Family Weekend Getaway.

Then we spent the next hour walking around. I was a little disappointed that the shops at the Harborcenter were closed. Later I realized there were restaurants on the other side we could have checked out.

I’m not sure if we were hungry, tired, hot, or a combination of all, but at this point we were kind of spent and the food offerings, a few food trucks, just didn’t do it for us.

After we ate we were ready to leave. Next time I think I would do Canalside and the Buffalo Naval Park in the morning. We were also hoping to see the grain elevator illuminations but with 1.5 hours left until dusk we just didn’t have the energy. Maybe next time!

Next Stop: White Rabbit Frozen Yogurt, Buffalo, NY

White Rabbit was the last stop of our day. The frozen yogurt was good but the toppings were great!! My favorite was the chocolate covered mini-marshmallows. There are multiple locations and we went to the one on Elmwood. (White Rabbit has closed since our visit! Yotality Frozen Yogurt is another good option.)

There were a few things I would have changed if I planned our day again…

We really wanted to go the Buffalo Naval Park at Canalside but it closed at 5:00pm and we didn’t arrive to Canalside until after 5:00pm.

I would have started at the Buffalo Naval Park, after doughnuts, walked Canalside, packed a picnic lunch for Buffalo Harbor State Park, and then made our way up to Canada. Live and learn!

More Ideas for your Rochester to Niagara Falls Day Trip

  • See the Falls in Niagara Falls Canada
  • See the Falls at Niagara Falls State Park in NY
  • Maid of the Mist
  • Cave of the Winds
  • Power Vista Plant Tour
  • Niagara Falls Aquarium
  • Buffalo Zoo
  • Explore & More Children’s Museum in Buffalo

Overall it was a great Rochester to Niagara Falls day trip. It is one of those trips you can plan annually and create new itineraries each year!

Read Next: 17 Best Family Day Trips from Rochester, NY

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