Are you taking a road trip from NYC to Niagara Falls? Check out this list of best things to do on the way to Niagara Falls from NYC.
There are so many things to see and do on the way to Niagara Falls from New York City. If you want to see and do a lot you will need to include a few stops along the way.
You may want to plan an overnight as well if you really want to explore all the New York state attractions.
Driving from New York City to Niagara Falls will take you through most of New York State. I have to be honest, driving along interstate 90 is not the most exciting. There is not a lot to see from the car.
Do not let a boring interstate fool you though, beyond the highway there are some great road trip stops.
Plan to spend a night and take your time or pick one favorite to break up your day. Either way you will find some of the best things to see in the United States.
What to Expect Taking a Road Trip from New York City to Niagara Falls
New York State Weather
New York State has four seasons and weather can be tough to road trip in during the winter months.
Visiting Niagara Falls in the winter is really a unique experience. It is usually freezing and windy but its still really cool!
If you want to see Niagara Falls frozen the best time to try and see it is January/February. There is no guarantee though!
The best time to make this road trip would be during the summer months or fall. Fall has the added beauty of changing colors, making the drive way more interesting.
Summer offers flexibility if traveling with kids and weather is usually great. A Niagara Falls trip can be done in any season just check the forecast before you head out.
Consider Different Routes
Take a look at a map and decide what route you want to take. If you are making a round trip consider driving to Niagara Falls one way and back to NYC another way.
This will allow you to include a few different places in your trip. It will take a little under 7 hours to drive from New York City to Niagara Falls.
If you have enough time you may want to choose your stops based on splitting the drive up. You may want to visit a specific place and work to include that in your drive.
I suggest playing around with different routes to see how much time is added to your trip.
For example I added Hershey, PA to this list because it only added an extra 1.5 hours to our drive. If we stay for the night it can be a fun addition to the vacation.
The best route will be the one that meets everyone’s needs and includes things everyone wants to do.
Best Things to Do on the Way to Niagara Falls from NYC
LEGOLAND New York
This is the first amusement park on the list and it is under an hour drive from New York City but totally worth the visit if you are traveling with small children.
LEGOLAND New York is a LEGOLAND theme park that has rides, attractions, and a LEGOLAND hotel. Everything is LEGO themed with LEGO characters and photo-ops throughout the park.
If you want more information on visiting LEGOLAND check out this article: Everything Guide to LEGOLAND New York
We really enjoyed our visit to LEGOLAND. Be sure to explore Mini-Land and experience the NINJAGO ride!
No matter what route you take you will most likely drive through Syracuse, NY. If you have a short time stop at Destiny USA.
This mall offers shopping and dining as well as entertainment. Wonder Works is one of our favorite places to visit in Syracuse.
If you want to spend the night in Syracuse check out this article: 21 Fun Things to Do in Syracuse, NY with Kids.
We included a stop at All Things Oz museum and Green Lake State Park.
Corning Museum of Glass
Corning Museum of Glass in the Finger Lakes region is one of the best museums. It is free for kids under 17 and offers a look at how glass is used and made in the modern world.
There is a glass creation show, classes that guests can participate in, as well as different areas that feature glass art.
It is a little over 4 hours from New York City. If you start your day early you can arrive for lunch time.
Corning Museum of Glass has one of the best museum food courts I have ever eaten at. I highly recommend eating there if you include this in your road trip.
Read our full review: Corning Museum of Glass with Kids | Glass Museum New York
Visit Ithaca New York
Ithaca is a small town that has beautiful scenery and is also located in the Finger Lakes region. If you are into wineries you should check out some of the local ones.
We enjoy walking the gorge trail at Taughannock Falls. Read this article for more Ithaca ideas: Things to Do in Ithaca New York for a Day Trip
Spend the Day in Buffalo, NY
Buffalo, NY is much further along on your trip but it is a great city to spend some time in. It is less than 20 minutes from Niagara Falls but you might want to include it in your stop.
If you have never tried Buffalo Chicken Wings from Buffalo you can’t go wrong with any place in the city. We like Duffs and Anchor Bar.
Buffalo also has a recently refurbished Art Museum that is high on my list to check out. If you want to learn more about Buffalo read this: Best Fun Things to Do in Buffalo NY with Your Family
Hershey, Pennsylvania is not a direct route from New York City to Niagara Falls but it is worth including in your trip if you have the time.
Hersheypark is an awesome amusement park with roller coasters and attractions for all ages. If you don’t want to visit the theme park, there is Hershey’s Chocolate World and more attractions in Hershey, PA to discover.
We love staying at the Hotel Hershey or Hershey Lodge if you are planning on doing an overnight. Check out this helpful planning post: Hershey Lodge vs. Hershey Hotel: Best Hershey Resort for Your Family
Letchworth State Park
Letchworth State Park is located south of Rochester. It is named the “Grand Canyon of the East” because of its vast gorges and natural wonders.
This is a larger park that might not be great if you are tired of being in the car and want to stretch your legs.
It has lots of hiking trails, waterfalls, and picnic areas, but you may want to include this in with an overnight stay in Rochester. It is a bit out of the way of the interstate so keep this in mind.
If scenic drives are your thing you will love Letchworth!
Strong Museum of Play
The Strong Museum of Play is Rochester’s popular Children’s museum. It is the number one attraction in Rochester and a popular stop for good reason.
This is a place you could spend hours at and never experience it all. There is an indoor Butterfly garden, an outdoor play area, Sesame Street area, interactive exhibits, and a video game hall of fame to name a few.
If you are doing this trip with kids consider including this in your visit. Read more about it: Guide to Rochester Children’s Museum The Strong Museum of Play
A great way to see and do a lot of things is to stay in Rochester for a night or two and make the short drive to the surrounding areas to include more than one into your trip.
Watkins Glen State Park
The natural beauty is what brings people back to Watkins Glen State Park year after year. With over 19 waterfalls it is an incredible 1.5 mile hike.
The gorge trail is open May to mid-October depending on the conditions. If you are close enough to stop you should!
It is a popular spot and crowds in the summer can be very busy. Keep this in mind when timing your visit to Watkins Glen.
Chimney Bluffs State Park
If you want to take the scenic route along Lake Ontario consider visiting Chimney Bluffs State Park. This is located about 5 hours from New York City.
Those planning on including a visit to Chimney Bluffs State Park may want to consider spending a few nights in Rochester, NY to experience a couple of the places.
What to Do When You Arrive in Niagara Falls
If you are planning a few days as part of your Niagara Falls trip you are going to want to include some of these popular stops.
Niagara Falls State Park is located on the American side of the falls. It is called the American Falls.
The park is along the Niagara River. You will find goat island, Niagara Aquarium, Niagara Power Vista, Niagara Gorge, and for history buffs Old Fort Niagara.
Visitors can also experience the Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds. Read this for more information: Best Things to Do in Niagara Falls in Winter
You may also want to visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls. Guests will need to cross immigration at the Rainbow bridge to gain access to Canada.
Be sure to have passports and any necessary documentation. Requirements can be found here.
What to Do When You Arrive in New York City
If you are taking this trip from Niagara Falls to NYC you may want to include a few nights in the big apple.
We stayed at the Westin Times Square and it was the perfect place for families. Plus a great location.
There are so many things to do in NYC from central park to museums to seeing a Broadway show. I’ve included a couple of my articles covering our NYC trips below.
- 2 Days in NYC with Kids (3 Sample New York City Itineraries)
- Best Things to Do in Times Square with Kids
Driving from New York City to Niagara Falls can be a really fun family vacation. The best part is that you can do as little or as much as you want.
Pick a few of the most interesting places to see and include them or stay a night or two in each area to extend the trip.
Your itinerary might start in NYC with a first stop at LEGOLAND followed by an overnight or two in Rochester, then continue on to Niagara Falls.
Don’t be afraid to play around with google maps to find the best trip itinerary.
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