Niagara Falls, USA/Canada taken as a panoramic shot of the waterfalls on a sunny day with blue sky and boats in the water in the foreground.

An Unforgettable Road Trip from New York to Niagara Falls

Updated by Sasha Yanshin on February 28 2024

If you are looking for postcard-perfect scenery, there are only a few other sights that are as majestic, and easily recognizable, as Niagara Falls on the planet.

A great road trip from New York to Niagara Falls will take you past Kingston, Woodstock, Catskill Mountains, Albany, Schenectady, Syracuse, Finger Lakes, Rochester and Buffalo. You can complete this 530-mile drive in 9 hours and 20 minutes.

Another amazing route goes through Ithaca and Seneca Falls. Keep reading until the end to learn about all of these two routes, where to stop off overnight, and the best time of year to make this trip.

To make your decision and planning easier, we have summed up what makes each New York to Niagara Falls itinerary special below:

Comparison of road trip routes between New York and Niagara Falls
Finger Lakes RouteCatskills Route

410 miles


530 miles

Driving Time

7 hours 30 minutes

Driving Time

9 hours 20 minutes

We suggest taking

3 days

We suggest taking

4 days


🏞️ Ithaca

🚣 Finger Lakes

🍷 Wineries

🪇 Woodstock

🏔️ Catskill Mountains

🏙️ Albany


Lakes and scenic lake towns, vineyards


River and mountain views, urban stops

Best time for this drive

Mid-August to November

Best for fall foliage, wine harvest season in Finger Lakes

Best time for this drive

March to May, September to November

Best for wildflowers in the Catskill Mountains, fall foliage

View The Finger Lakes Route ItineraryView The Catskills Route Itinerary

How far is Niagara Falls from New York and how long will the road trip take?

Spanning a distance of 420 miles, a road trip from New York to Niagara Falls on the Finger Lakes Route will take you about 7 hours and 50 minutes. It is a relatively easy journey to complete in a day.

But with so much to see and do on the journey over to Niagara Falls, we would recommend taking at least three days to give you the opportunity to explore the many cities, landmarks, and points of interest along the route.

The other alternative, the Catskills Route, is slightly longer at 530 miles. This option will take 9 hours and 20 minutes to drive but makes up for the extra miles with its stunning mountain and river views.

New York City, USA taken at sunset with an aerial view of the city looking over midtown Manhattan.
Leave the bright lights of New York behind as you embark on this stunning journey to one of the most breathtaking natural wonders.

Best road trip route from New York to Niagara Falls

Deciding which route to follow on this New York to Niagara Falls road trip won't be easy because both Finger Lakes and Catskills Routes have so much going on for them with scenery, beautiful towns and amazing new places to discover on the way.

The Finger Lakes Route takes you through the heart of New York's famous wine country with several popular wine trails to follow as you make your way to the Finger Lakes Region. You will also get to visit Ithaca, known for its gorges and waterfalls.

You will get to admire beautiful lake views as you visit the towns of Seneca Falls, Geneva, Canandaigua on this route and then continue on to spend some time in the more urban atmospheres of Rochester and Buffalo before you reach Niagara Falls.

The Catskills Route, on the other hand, is a photographer's dream, taking you through the rugged beauty of the Catskill Mountains. Not only that, but you will also get to stop at the bohemian town of Woodstock and experience its creative spirit firsthand.

As you might imagine, you will have plenty of hiking options, from exploring the Sundown Wild Forest to exploring the scenic town of Catskill at the mountain's base. This route will also take you to Rochester and Buffalo before you reach your destination.

Whether you're flying into New York or you simply don't have your own transport in the city, renting a car for your road trip is something you'll want to take care of ASAP.

For an easy-to-compare view of rental options for your road trip from New York to Niagara Falls, take a look at our partner site,

Itinerary A: The Finger Lakes Route from New York to Niagara Falls

Itinerary for a road trip from New York to Niagara Falls, stopping in Mt Pocono, Binghamton, Ithaca, Seneca Falls, Rochester and Niaraga Falls
Your New York to Niagara Falls Itinerary, following the Finger Lakes Route.
© LazyTrips

1. Drive from New York to Mt Pocono

90 miles (1 hour 50 minutes)

Leave the iconic sight of New York's cityscape behind and set off on your road trip to Niagara Falls on Interstate 80 (I-80). You will soon get to make a stop at the cute amusement park, Land of Make Believe, which is a great place to visit especially if you are traveling with family.

You might not expect stunning landscapes to be this close to New York City's urban hustle, but Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is just a stone's throw from the city and a beautiful area to spend some time at during the first leg of your drive.

The Poconos, Pennsylvania, USA with a scenic waterfall in Ricketts Glen State Park and stone steps alongside it, surrounded by greenery and trees.
A short distance away and you will discover Big Pocono State Park in Pennsylvania.
Christian Hinkle/

Once you arrive in Mt Pocono, take in the rugged mountain views that surround this charming small town, which is almost at the mountain's summit.

If you'd like to take in the scenery, we recommend visiting Fieldstone Farm Tank Creek Nature Preserve, which is a really photogenic park with beautiful old farm ruins.

2. Drive from Mt Pocono to Binghamton

90 miles (1 hour 25 minutes)

From Mt. Pocono, continue your journey northwest on I-380 and you will soon reach Scranton, where you can visit Steamtown National Historic Site, especially if you are a train enthusiast like us!

On this section of the route, you will also get to make a short detour to take in the views of the beautiful Tunkhannock Viaduct before arriving at Binghamton.

Once you arrive in Binghampton, head to the Roberson Museum and Science Center. If you have a little more time on your hands and love animals, Ross Park Zoo is a great place to see them up close and learn more.

3. Drive from Binghamton to Ithaca

50 miles (1 hour)

The drive from Binghamton to Ithaca on I-81 and NY-79 is relatively short, so take your time to make as many detours as your schedule allows you.

We recommend visiting the beautiful Shindagin Hollow State Forest and stretching your legs on the North Trail of the scenic Roy H Park Preserve.

Once you arrive in Ithaca, you can park your car, put your keys away and head to one of the wineries that make this region so famous. One of our favorites is Ports of New York Winery, where you can enjoy wine tasting and a guided winery tour.

Ithaca, New York with a scenic, autumn view of Taughannock Falls (waterfall) at Taughannock Falls State Park.
Ithaca and the nearby Taughannock Falls are particularly breathtaking in the fall.
The American Wanderer/

A short drive from Ithaca, Taughannock Falls State Park is a stunning place to visit with a beautiful waterfall. You will be in for a visual treat, especially if you visit this state park in the fall.

While visiting Ithaca and Taughannock Falls State Park, there is no better place to stay than the beautiful Inn at Taughannock Falls. This inn is housed in a Victorian building constructed in 1873 that is located directly in the state park, which is accessible via a guests-only trail from the hotel.

4. Drive from Ithaca to Seneca Falls

40 miles (1 hour)

On this short drive from Ithaca to Seneca Falls on NY-89, you will simply follow the shoreline of Cayuga Lake. If you have a designated driver, or planning to make another stop by the lake, make sure to check out Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.

Ulysses Historical Society, a short detour in Trumansburg, is also an interesting place to visit on this leg of the journey, especially if you are a history buff.

Once you arrive in Seneca Falls, you can start by learning about the role this town played in the Women's Rights movement at the Women's Rights National Historical Park and read the revolutionary words of the Declaration of Sentiments.

If you'd like to spend some time outdoors, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful wildlife haven.

5. Drive from Seneca Falls to Rochester

50 miles (1 hour)

From Seneca Falls, you will head west on US-20 to Geneva, which sits on Seneca Lake, and then make a stop at Canandaigua. Here, you can make a stop and explore the Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail.

From here, hop on NY-332 and then I-490. You can visit Mendon Ponds Park, where you can enjoy fishing and even camping if you want to spend a night under the stars before reaching Rochester.

One of the colorful main windows of the Strong National Museum of Play on an overcast day
Make sure to add the Strong National Museum of Play to the list of places to visit in Rochester.

Once you arrive in Rochester, one of the best places to visit is the Strong National Museum of Play, especially if you are traveling with little ones, or feel young at heart like we do! Another great place to visit for curious minds is the RMSC (Rochester Museum & Science Center).

6. Drive from Rochester to Niagara Falls

90 miles (1 hour 40 minutes)

The drive from Rochester to Niagara Falls is the longest leg of your journey to Niagara Falls, so you can expect plenty of things to see en route. A great place to take a break and stretch your legs is Akron Falls Park, which will be a welcome change from all the driving.

Following I-90, you will soon reach Buffalo, where you can visit Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House before continuing onto Niagara Falls.

Once you arrive in Niagara Falls, make sure to book a spot on the Maid of the Mist boat tour to admire the majestic waterfalls up close. Keep in mind that you will most likely get wet, so pack water-proof clothes. This tour is seasonal and only runs from April to November.

The amazing Niagara Falls is renowned for its beauty and is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the USA.
There is quite a few sights in the world that are as majestic as the Niagara Falls.
Seumas Christie-Johnston/

Niagara Falls is a popular destination, so there are many accommodation options in the area. That being said, Butler House Bed & Breakfast is one of the best and most homey options, with the majority of the other hotels being chain options.

Niagara Falls State Park is just a short walk from the B&B. The American Falls and International Rainbow Bridge, if you want to see the beautiful waterfalls from the Canadian side, are both just a mile away.

Itinerary B: The Catskills Route from New York to Niagara Falls

Itinerary for a road trip from New York to Niagara Falls, stopping in Woodstock, Catskill, Albany, Syracuse, Buffalo and Niagara Falls
Your New York to Niagara Falls Itinerary, following the Catskills Route.
© LazyTrips

1. Drive from New York to Woodstock

110 miles (2 hours 10 minutes)

Start your exciting journey from New York to Niagara Falls by driving north out of the Big Apple and crossing the Hudson River. You will drive past Harriman State Park and get on I-87 and follow the river up north.

On the way, you will find plenty of interesting places to visit, such as the quirky Motorcyclepedia Museum in Newburgh.

Once you arrive in Woodstock, you might think that you are going to see where the famous festival in 1969 has taken place - but guess again! The actual festival did not take place in Woodstock but in neighboring Bethel.

To learn more about the legacy of this bohemian town, you can visit the Woodstock Artists Association & Museum or head to the Karma Triyana Dharmachakra for a spiritual experience during your stay.

2. Drive from Woodstock to Catskill

80 miles (1 hour 50 minutes)

This leg of the itinerary will spoil you with stunning views of the Catskill Mountains. As you head deeper into the forests towards Shandaken on NY-28, you will get to visit Big Indian Wilderness and then the stunning Kaaterskill Falls on your way to Catskill.

Once you arrive in Catskill, take in the views. This area is especially stunning in the spring and fall. Once you have had your fill of the beautiful scenery, you can visit Thomas Cole National Historic Site to learn more about the artist and environmentalist who once called Catskill home.

Aerial view of fall foliage along the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York along Five State Lookout.
Catskill is located on the foot of the stunning Catskill Mountains, and it is a great place to base yourself in as you explore this landscape.
Felix Lipov/

If all the driving has made you hungry, you can head to the Crossroads Brewing Company for a bite; but keep in mind that they only serve food when the food trucks are there.

When looking for a place to stay in the stunning Catskill Mountains, you might want to find an option that embraces its surroundings.

AutoCamp Catskills does exactly that; this hotel actually consists of log cabins and tents, giving you the feeling of camping under the stars while also providing great amenities like kitchenettes in select rooms and a delicious breakfast option.

3. Drive from Catskill to Albany

30 miles (35 minutes)

The drive from Catskill to Albany on I-87 is really short, so you will have plenty of opportunities to make detours. After all, what is the point of hurrying from one place to another if you have the time?

Some of the amazing places to visit en route on this leg include the historic Bronck Museum and Hannacroix Creek Preserve to enjoy some scenic hikes by the Hudson River. The landscape will soon change from forests and mountains to urban views of Albany.

Once you arrive in Albany, one of the first places we recommend visiting is The New York State Museum. As the state's capital, Albany is also home to the New York State Capitol, a great place to visit for the beautiful architecture of the building alone.

4. Drive from Albany to Syracuse

140 miles (2 hours 10 minutes)

As you leave Albany, hop on I-90 to head west. If you'd like to enjoy spending some time in the great outdoors in between your drive from one city to another, Albany Pine Bush Preserve is home to nearly 20 miles of officially marked trails, and is the perfect stop for easy hikes.

After your visit, continue driving on the interstate to reach Syracuse.

Once you arrive in Syracuse, make the Everson Museum of Art one of the first places to visit. This museum is home to a permanent collection and ever-changing exhibits.

If you are traveling with family, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo is a great place to visit during your city break. This zoo is home to many fascinating animals from majestic elephants to adorable red pandas.

Closeup of a lioness sleeping with her head on a rock in the zoo
You will see many majestic animals, such as lions, during your visit to Rosamond Gifford Zoo.
Wirestock Creators/

5. Drive from Syracuse to Buffalo

150 miles (2 hours 20 minutes)

To reach Buffalo from Syracuse, you will continue driving west on I-90 and drive past the beautiful Finger Lakes region. If you are interested in extending your trip to visit the famous wineries here, you can find more information on the Finger Lakes Route itinerary above.

If not, you will drive on the interstate and have the opportunity to visit Richmond Aqueduct Ruins without detouring to Seneca Falls. Then, you will keep heading west to Rochester. Here, you can visit the Strong National Museum of Play before following the interstate into Buffalo.

Once you arrive in Buffalo, you can visit Buffalo AKG Art Museum for an educational afternoon. From works of Delacroix to sculptures off Henry Moore, you will be amazed at how extensive this museum's collection is.

For something different, Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum is home to antique vehicles, including bicycles, and historic automobilia.

6. Drive from Buffalo to Niagara Falls

20 miles (25 minutes)

The Buffalo to Niagara Falls drive is the shortest leg of this itinerary, but don't think that it will just be a commute. On the way, you can visit amazing places like Niawanda Park and Buckhorn Island State Park as you drive north on I-190.

Once you arrive in Niagara Falls, you probably will want to visit the actual waterfalls - after all, they are the stars of the show! How about seeing them from a different perspective by taking a Maid of the Mist boat tour?

This seasonal tour only runs between April and November and does fill up quickly, so make sure to book ahead!

Once you are ready to call it a day, Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino is one of the best places to stay in Niagara Falls. In addition to boasting a stellar location, the hotel also has an on-site casino, spa and various dining options.

Aerial view of Horseshoe Falls including Maid of the Mist sailing on Niagara River, Canada and USA natural border
Make sure to bring a waterproof jacket while visiting Niagara Falls - you will get wet!
Vlad G/

Best time to go on a road trip from New York to Niagara Falls

While this road trip from New York to Niagara Falls passes through mountainous areas, depending on which route you choose, the scenic drive can be taken year-round since more of the journey takes place on well-maintained roads both on Finger Lakes and Catskills Routes.

While Niagara Falls State Park is open 24 hours a day year-round, summer months are undoubtedly the most popular times to visit. The average daily temperature reaches over 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and you will find all attractions on either route open.

If you are traveling on the Finger Lakes Route in July, make sure to take a look at the Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance's program.

That being said, prices and visitor numbers are higher during the summer. If you would prefer to avoid the crowds, you might want to wait until September to visit Niagara Falls or plan your trip in early spring when you'll also get to enjoy the trees and flowers in bloom.

Purple and white lupine flowers in Hunter located in the Catskills
The Catskill Mountains come to life with a burst of colorful flowers in the spring.
Max Oppen/

You can expect temperatures in the spring to be between 25 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. If you travel during May, you will get to enjoy the Lilac Festival in Rochester on both routes.

Fall will see temperatures in Niagara Falls between 35 to 70 degrees. During this season, the Catskills Route transforms with stunning fall foliage throughout the Hudson Valley. This is also a great time to set off on the Finger Lakes Route, because of the grape harvest season.

You will get to see the wineries as they come to life with events and tasting schedules. If you travel during the fall, we recommend checking out the Woodstock Film Festival in October. You will also get to listen to some great music at the Niagara Falls Blues Festival in September.

If you visit between May and October, you'll have the chance to see the spectacular daily fireworks held at Niagara Falls.

Winters at Niagara Falls can be very cold with average temperatures being between 28 and 14 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite being cold, winter does give you the opportunity to see the falls partially frozen or covered in snow.

Things to see and do on a road trip from New York to Niagara Falls

There are so many things to see on your road trip from New York to Niagara Falls that you could easily spend a month or so checking them off your to-do list.

But if you are pressed for time, we have put together a list of major highlights and attractions that you may wish to visit during your journey:

Comparison of things to see on each route from New York to Niagara Falls
The Finger Lakes RouteThe Catskills Route
  • Land of Make Believe
  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
  • Camelback Mountain Adventures
  • Fieldstone Farm Tank Creek Nature Preserve
  • Steamtown National Historic Site
  • Tunkhannock Viaduct
  • Ross Park Zoo
  • The Roberson Museum and Science Center
  • Shindagin Hollow State Forest
  • Roy H Park Preserve - North Trail
  • Taughannock Falls State Park
  • Ports of New York Winery, Ithaca
  • Ulysses Historical Society
  • Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Romulus
  • The Women's Rights National Historical Park
  • Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
  • Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail
  • Mendon Ponds Park, Honeoye Falls
  • The Strong National Museum of Play
  • RMSC (Rochester Museum & Science Center)
  • Akron Falls Park
  • Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House
  • Motorcyclepedia Museum, Newburgh
  • Catskill Park, Kingston
  • The Woodstock Artists Association & Museum
  • Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, Woodstock
  • Big Indian Wilderness, Claryville
  • Kaaterskill Falls, Hunter
  • Thomas Cole National Historic Site
  • Crossroads Brewing Company
  • Bronck Museum
  • Hannacroix Creek Preserve
  • The New York State Museum
  • New York State Capitol, Albany
  • Albany Pine Bush Preserve
  • The Everson Museum of Art
  • Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Syracuse
  • National Rod and Custom Car Hall of Fame Museum
  • The Strong National Museum of Play
  • Buffalo AKG Art Museum
  • Buffalo Transportation Pierce-Arrow Museum
  • Niawanda Park, Tonawanda
  • Buckhorn Island State Park, Grand Island