Come autumn, Niagara Falls USA explodes in color. Make the most of it by gassing up the car and setting out on these day-long trips to the countryside. We’ll tell you where to head for the best views, and where to stop and stretch your legs along the way.
Niagara River Route
You know a road trip is going to be epic when its very name is the Niagara Scenic Parkway. As the main thoroughfare north of the Falls, this route soaks in some of the region’s top blockbuster attractions — from mighty dams to historic ruins. To begin your journey, gush at the fall foliage shrouding Devil’s Hole State Park before driving across the spectacular engineering feat that is the Niagara Power Vista Dam. In the historic town of Lewiston, stop for a lazy lunch or pick up some deli staples for a picnic at Joseph Davis State Park. From here, leave the parkway for Route 18F which kisses the Niagara River’s mighty banks until it finally spills out into Lake Ontario at Old Fort Niagara.
Lake Ontario Shore
Niagara Falls may steal the region’s natural limelight, but the county’s Lake Ontario shores also make for gorgeous road-tripping. With the historic backdrop of Fort Niagara State Park as your starting position, drive east along Route 18 where the shimmering Lake Ontario flanks your journey. Fancy a seafood lunch? Pop into one of the charming restaurants in towns like Wilson and Olcott — or if you’re looking to dip a toe in the water, visit Wilson Tuscarora State Park (call ahead for the most up-to-date beach status). You’ll reach your journey’s end on the sands of Golden Hill State Park where sunsets at Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse offer the most photogenic crescendo to any lakeside road trip.
Niagara Wine Trail, USA
Whether you have a penchant for chardonnay or a just for cruising scenic roads, a day trip to Niagara County’s winelands will suit your palate. Many of the region’s wineries are dotted around the town of Lockport, so head west from Niagara Falls and allow Route 104 to take you on a journey. You’ll encounter gorgeous farmlands and postcard vineyards along the way with over 20 wineries on the trail. Some pitstops? Shop for local rosebud wine at Niagara Landing Wine Cellars, experience an urban winery at Flight of Five Winery in Lockport, and hit Becker Farms & Vizcarra Vineyards for some pumpkin- and apple-picking. You’ll be a wine country connoisseur in no time!
The Antiques Roadtrip
What could be more romantic than a fall antiquing trip along the winding roads of Niagara County? The region is a treasure trove of quirky antiques and vintage finds, all within day-tripping distance of Niagara Falls. Make the Old Chapel Antique & Artisan Market, a former church-turned-market in North Tonawanda, your first stop, before tooling up the road to the quaint Shawnee Country Barns Antique Co-Op and Patricia’s Back Barn. Still looking for the perfect souvenir? Head north to the Lewiston Antique Mall, where you’re guaranteed to fill your trunk with local treasures.
The Birding Byway
Niagara Falls USA is a nature lover’s paradise, so why not hit the road for a self-guided birding trip? While the Niagara River and Lake Ontario are most famous for the region’s birdlife, one of the county’s best natural refuges is the Tonawanda Wildlife Management Area tucked away in the far southeastern corner of the county. Over 100,000 birds migrate across its lush 5,000 acres each year, with snow geese being some of the most elusive visitors. Use the parking area along Route 77 as your perch to sit back and watch the world fly by!