Road Trip from NYC to Niagara Falls in 5-Days
Take your time as you make the trip from New York City to Niagara Falls as you embark on this 5 day trip. Explore the lesser known destinations in upstate New York including Albany, Syracuse, and more.
Drive Time from New York City to Niagara Falls: approximately 7.5 hours
Distance from New York City to Niagara Falls: approximately 460 miles
1. New York City
Day 1: If you have a bit of extra time to spend on your road trip from New York City to Niagara Falls, you'll be able to see even more of what the state has to offer. The Empire State Building is one of the most iconic buildings on the New York skyline. It also offers amazing views of the city with an elevator ride to the top observation deck on the 102nd floor; instead of counting floors, you'll count your rise in altitude.
Day 2: Take advantage of the additional time you have for this road trip by traveling north through the Hudson Valley. While this adds some extra hours to your trip, the scenery through this part of the state is well worth it. You can start your journey by traveling to Albany, the state capital of New York.
While a nonstop drive from New York City to Albany on I-87 North will take you almost three hours and 152 miles, you might want to take some more time to explore the small towns along the way. After all, this part of the state is known for its wineries, farm-to-table restaurants, and scenic vistas.
Day 3: While small in size, Albany is packed with culture and history. Head to the Empire State Plaza to view unique architecture, an outdoor public art collection, and the remembrance and tribute memorials. While there, you can also see the stunning New York State Capitol. Tours of the building are free of charge and are available every day except for Sundays and holidays. You can also head to the observation deck on the 42nd floor of the Corning Tower for lovely views of Albany, the Hudson River Valley, and the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.
Day 4: As you leave Albany, you'll head west on I-90 for 145 miles and just over two hours to reach Syracuse, New York. No matter what type of adventure you're searching for, Syracuse is sure to have it. If you love shopping and dining, head to Destiny USA, the largest entertainment center of its kind in New York. Here you'll find over 250 restaurants and shops, an antique carousel, an indoor suspended ropes course, and more.
If you enjoy exploring the outdoors, head to Onondaga Lake Park and stroll along the two-mile shoreline walking trail to look for bald eagles. Finally, explore some of the history of the area by visiting the Erie Canal Museum. Here you'll learn how the Erie Canal was created and its importance to the economic development of the area.
5. Niagara Falls
Day 5: To finish your road trip, you'll continue on I-90 West for just over two and a half hours and 163 miles to end up in Niagara Falls. Once you view the falls from one of the many observation points in the area, get even closer than you thought possible by heading to Cave of the Winds. This tour takes you 175 feet into the Niagara Gorge, where wooden walkways will take you just 20 feet from the crashing Bridal Veil Falls.
From man-made wonders in New York City to a natural wonder in Niagara Falls and everything in between, this road trip lets you explore some of the most scenic parts of the state. Whether you have some extra hours to spare or you have a few days for your trip, this journey is one that's worth your time.
Road Trip from NYC to Niagara Falls in 5 Days FAQs
When are tours of the Capitol in Albany available?
On weekdays, you can join a guided tour at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., or 3 p.m. For groups of less than 10 people, you won't need a reservation. On weekends, guided tours are available at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., but you'll need to reserve a spot online in advance.
If none of the guided tour times work for you, don't worry. You can take a self-guided tour on weekdays at any time during normal open hours.
Where do the locals go for lunch in Albany?
If you're passing through Albany during lunchtime, you'll find plenty of great places to eat. The Orchard Tavern has been serving chicken wings, pizza, burgers, and sandwiches since 1903.
For something with a little extra spice, make your way to Bombers Burrito Bar in the heart of historic Lark Street. Try a buffalo chicken burrito, fried catfish, or quesadillas with barbecue pork or smoked barbecue chicken. In the mood for an upscale meal? Angelo's 677 Prime is the spot for a perfect cut of steak, the catch of the day, or a sandwich loaded with your favorite fixings.
What are the best restaurants in Syracuse?
If you're in town for breakfast, grab a booth at Rise N Shine Diner and order an Immense Omelet. For lunch, head over to Modern Malt, a contemporary burger joint with tons of retro appeal. Fuel up for the drive with a Modern Melt or an Angry Bird and save room for a shake.
Meat lovers won't want to miss the city's most popular restaurant, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que. A favorite of locals and visitors alike, this place is known for its heaping plates of ribs slathered with signature sauces. Start off with some BBQ Chili Nachos or Dino Sliders, and then take things up a notch with an order of pork ribs, brisket, catfish, or salmon.
Is the weather in Niagara Falls comparable to Albany?
Niagara Falls and Albany are located on opposite sides of New York State, but the two cities still share similar climates. Both cities have sunny, mild summers with highs in the low 80s, followed by relatively snowy winters with lows in the upper teens. Late spring through early fall tends to be the rainy season in both Albany and Niagara Falls. The two cities generally receive about 5 feet of snow during the winter and about 30 inches of rain throughout the year.
Will I need my passport in Niagara Falls?
If you're planning to admire the view of Horseshoe Falls and see the sights on the American side of the border, you won't need a passport. If you want to ascend the Skylon Tower or catch the impressive view of the falls from the Canadian side, you will need a passport to cross the border.
Where can I exchange currency in Niagara Falls?
Changing U.S. dollars to Canadian dollars is very easy in Niagara Falls. Just southwest of the Rainbow Bridge, The Exchange House is the closest and most convenient place to change currency. You can also exchange currency right on the main drag at International Currency Exchange on the corner of Victoria Ave and Clifton Hill. If you'd rather withdraw funds from a bank, head to the nearest RBC Royal Bank or CIBC branch.
Where should I start my tour of Niagara?
Whether you want to book a tour, you need tickets for an excursion, or you're curious about what's happening while you're in town, start your tour at the Niagara Falls USA Official Visitor Center. It's right in the center of downtown Niagara Falls, New York, and it has everything you need, from tickets and maps to free Wi-Fi and complimentary parking.
Is Niagara Falls kid-friendly?
Niagara Falls is a fantastic place for families. Kids of all ages will love touring the Cave of the Winds, which features a bit of hiking, plenty of beautiful views, and even a chance to feel the force of Bridal Veil Falls. The Falls Incline Railway is a great choice for young kids and train lovers of all ages, and both the Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory and Bird Kingdom are great picks for little fans of wildlife and other colorful creatures.
Where can I get the best views of the falls in Niagara?
While you'll find stunning views of the falls from countless spots in Niagara Falls, a few select vantage points offer the best perspectives. For a truly immersive experience, get a ticket for the Maid of the Mist boat tour, which takes you right to the bottom of the falls. For an aerial perspective, head to the top of the Skylon Tower, which has a revolving restaurant perched 775 feet above the falls.
If you'd rather stay on ground level, Terrapin Point is always a winner. Located on Goat Island, this spot features a viewing ledge that lets you get close to the thundering falls, even at night.