When it comes to travel, half the fun is in the journey. New York City lies about 400 miles south of Niagara Falls USA (about a seven-hour drive) — and between the two cities is a wealth of nature, exploration and culture. Plus, there are several ways to make the trek. A driving trip to Niagara Falls from New York City lends itself to lively and unique stops along the way. Alternatively, take Amtrak and enjoy scenic views of the Catskill Mountains. There are various private bus operators from NYC, including Greyhound. For those who prefer a quicker journey and more time at the Falls, airlines — including JetBlue, Delta and United — fly non-stop from New York City airports to nearby Buffalo in less than an hour.
If you choose to drive from NYC to Niagara Falls USA, make time to explore the small towns and bigger cities along the way, with plenty of gorgeous nature opportunities mixed in. There are plenty of things to do and see along the way. Here are a few of our favorites:
Harriman State Park
Less than 90 minutes outside Manhattan, you can be a world away in the second largest park in the state system. With more than 30 lakes, 200 miles of hiking trails and two beaches, every nature lover can find something to enjoy. And it’s a great way to whet your appetite for the great outdoors in Niagara Falls!
Welcome to Trout Town USA. This angler’s paradise is in the Catskill Mountains and is known for having five of America’s top trout streams.Stop at the Roscoe Diner for a classic diner meal with warm service.
Give the kids a break from the back seat at Robot City Games, the largest arcade in the state. Once they are played out, head to one of the five antique carousels that give Binghamton the distinction the Carousel Capital of the World. Even better, the carousels are all free to ride.
Most people know Ithaca as the home of Cornell University, and the beautiful campus is worth a tour. Stop at the nearby Purity Ice Cream for a post-walk pick-me-up. Buttermilk Falls is a perfect prelude to the Falls in Niagara, easily accessible from the parking lot, making it a great stop on your road trip.
The Corning Museum of Glass is dedicated to telling the story of, you guessed it, glass. That ranges from showing off the world’s best collection of art and historical glass to live glass-blowing demonstrations. You can even sign up for a Make Your Own Glass session at the museum.
Situated in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, Canandaigua is an idyllic stopover for couples, offering small-town charms and scenic attractions. Take a lunchtime cruise aboard the Canandaigua Lady, a replica of a 19th-century paddlewheel boat, or tour Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park, a stunning Victorian home from the Gilded Age and sprawling 50-acre estate.
Killer Texas-style BBQ in upstate New York? That’s exactly what Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is famous for. Visit the beloved location of the thriving mini-chain for serious ribs, brisket, sides and more — just don’t be surprised if there’s a wait (it’s worth it). Afterward, families will love The Strong National Museum of Play, while art lovers and photo buffs should make a pilgrimage to the George Eastman Museum.
Craft beer fans will want to stop by Niagara’s neighbor to check out the 26 breweries and six distilleries in the city. You can’t leave town without trying Anchor Bar, where the famous Buffalo chicken wings were created more than 50 years ago. The revitalized waterfront is a new hub for cultural and family fun, with an ice skating rink in winter and concerts for all ages in summer.