If visiting the majestic Niagara Falls is on your bucket list, why not plan an epic voyage through amazing North American scenery as you check it off. A road trip from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls will allow you to do just that, with the added bonus of seeing some stunning natural landscapes and fabulous cities along the way.
The 420-mile road trip from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls takes around 7 hours of driving. Key stops include Allentown, Scranton, Binghamton, Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, and Lake Erie, as well as Sproul State and Susquehannock State Forest Parks.
Keep on reading to discover much more about what you can expect on this fantastic adventure. Find out more about the best route to take, the best places to stay, our recommendations on what to see and do, and the best time to travel.
How far is Niagara Falls from Philadelphia, and how long will the road trip take?
|Syracuse Route |
Without allowing for sightseeing and detours
|415 miles||7 hours|
|Forest Route||424 miles||8 hours 15 minutes|
The road trip from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls is approximately 415 miles and will take between 6 to 7 hours along the most direct route, without allowing for sightseeing and detours.
This route mainly involves interstates, making it a straightforward and thoroughly enjoyable drive, passing many charming towns and cities, like Allentown, Binghamton, and Syracuse, and the picturesque Philadelphia hills.
Alternatively, you can follow the Forest Route, which adds a further 1 hour 15 minutes to the journey but is only a further 9 miles in distance.
Passing Bloomsburg and Lock Haven, the route takes you through the naturally beautiful forest parks of Sproul State and Susquehannock State before heading on to Buffalo and the ultimate destination, Niagara Falls.
We recommend taking at least 3 days to undertake this magical road trip, longer if time allows, to absorb the peaceful energy of the Pinchot State Forest and enjoy the stunning scenery of the Poconos mountains.
Best road trip route from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls
There are several possible routes for the road trip from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls. However, we have selected two routes that will showcase the best opportunity to sample the many attractions this trip has to offer.
The best route for this trip will depend upon your personal preferences and what you want to see and do along the way. Both routes offer different attractions, and both will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.
How to drive from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls
The map above shows our suggestions for the best road trip routes between Philadelphia and Niagara Falls. Keep reading for detailed descriptions of both routes, where to stay on either, and the best things to do on the way.
The Syracuse Route
Begin your trip on I-76 West from South Penn Square. Take exit 331B to merge with I-476 North towards Plymouth MTG by the Schuylkill River. After about 30 miles you'll take exit 56 for US Route 22 towards Allentown,
Here you can stop by the Allentown Art Museum and observe some exceptional exhibits from the Renaissance time and visit the Liberty Bell Museum to see a full-size replica of the bell.
Leaving Allentown, merge with US Route 22 East and exit onto Pennsylvania 33 North. You'll enter I-80 West and then Pennsylvania Route 611 towards the glorious Mt. Pocono, a relaxing oasis ideal for spending time in the outdoors.
After stopping to catch a scenic view from atop the Pocono Mountains, you'll merge with I-380 North heading to Scranton, and then join I-81 North to enter the Empire State and the suburbs of New York.
As you cross Syracuse, a city home to the Everson Museum of Art and other famous landmarks, continue on I-81 North for over 40 miles before taking exit 1 to merge with I-90 West.
After 130 miles. Finally, exit onto I-190 North as you enter the magical Niagara Falls Boulevard, home to a gem of the natural world, the Niagara Falls.
The Forest Route
Both routes follow the same initial route to Allentown. A little over 30 miles further north, the Forest Route heads west at exit 95 to join I-80 heading towards Bloomsberg, a town renowned for its arts scene and galleries.
Continue along the I-80 passing Little Mountain Park and garden, an idyllic place to relax and unwind and enjoy a walk along the many trails, before heading onwards until exit 178 where you will turn right onto the US-220 north.
You will soon arrive at the City of Lock Haven, situated on the Susquehanna River, on the southern slope of Bald Eagle Mountain. Take a trip around the Piper aviation museum and learn about the local history in Heisey.
Heading North on the PA-120, you will soon pass Farrandsville and enter the beautiful Sproul State Forest, the largest in the State Forest system, covering 476 square miles.
On reaching Hyner, veer right onto the Hyner Run Road for 7 miles before taking the PA-44 N to journey through the Susquehannock Forest Park, named after the tribe that once inhabited the region.
Here you can enjoy all manner of outdoor pursuits, be it hiking, fishing, boating, or hunting. Keep an eye out for the local wildlife with deer, hawks, raccoons, and porcupines frequently observed whilst traveling the forest road.
After approximately 60 miles of simply stunning forest driving, you will reach the town of Galeton, a booming lumber town in the 1800s, where you will take US-6 for 8 miles before following PA-449N for 26 miles to Wellsville.
From here you will take the NY-19 N passing Belmont before heading left at Canedea onto State Rte 243 for around 11 miles before joining the NY-98N, passing the town of Arcade then joining the NY-16 N until you reach Blakeley.
Leaving Blakeley the road becomes the NY-400 N which takes you to the outskirts of Buffalo, where joining the I-190N will take you right into the heart of the city, an ideal place to spend the night after such a marvelous drive.
From Buffalo, you'll follow the I-190N for a further 20 miles, along the banks of the Niagara River, then over the South and North Grand Island bridges, before heading left onto Niagara scenic parkway, taking you all the way to the Falls.
Best places to stop between Philadelphia and Niagara Falls
We recommend covering the trip over several days to fully immerse yourself in the many attractions along the way. There are many excellent places to stay along the route and here are our recommendations.
Stay over in Allentown
Allentown is situated on the Lehigh River and is a vibrant and diverse city, rich in history. Billy Joel even wrote a song about it. It houses several museums and makes an excellent stop-off location for the first leg of the trip, despite its close proximity (1 hour 20 minutes) to Philly.
Within proximity to the city's jewels - the Allentown Art Museum, Steamtown National Historic Site, Coca-Cola Park, and much more - the Renaissance Allentown Hotel puts you within walking distance of the best that the city has to offer.
Relax in the refined décor and luxurious plush furnishings before enjoying locally sourced and inspired cuisine in the Dime restaurant, before taking a stroll along the Lehigh River and exploring the city's downtown area.
In an incomparable location, the Renaissance is close to the PPL Center, Allentown fairgrounds, Dorney Park and Wildwater Kingdom and will ensure you start your road trip off as you mean to continue.
Spend the night in Syracuse
Located halfway between Philadelphia and Niagara Falls, Syracuse is a great place to spend the night. A stop here will ensure you are fully refreshed to explore the falls after a night at the luxurious Aloft Syracuse Inner Harbour.
This contemporary and stylish hotel has a welcoming indoor pool and 24-hour fitness center and offers easy access to the Destiny USA mall and sightseeing in the lakefront area.
Barely a 5-minute detour from your route, the hotel is within easy walking distance of many attractions including the Ernie Canal Museum, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo, and if you visit in winter, Clinton Square and a first-class ice rink!
The property is located by Onondaga Creek, and you'll have a beautiful view of the water from your room. Explore the city's art, museums, and nightlife before winding down ready for the exciting day ahead.
Go roaming in Buffalo
After a fantastic day driving through some of the most beautiful and scenic forest parks in the country, Buffalo is the perfect overnight stay, before making the short half-hour journey to Niagara Falls.
Known as the City of Light, due to hydropower generated from Niagara Falls, it is home to the Albright Knox Gallery, Buffalo Museum of Science, and the historic site of Theodore Roosevelt's Inauguration.
The Buffalo Marriott at LeCom Harborcenter makes for a spectacular place to spend the night, situated on the waterfront with excellent views over the city, and perfectly placed for a stroll along the river or a boat trip.
With luxurious air-conditioned rooms and an on-site fitness center, this stylish and modern hotel will help you relax and unwind after the day's drive, surrounded by some of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.
Learn more about America's naval history with a trip to Buffalo & Erie Naval and Military Park, and marvel at the art-deco architecture of City Hall, taking in panoramic views of Lake Erie from the 28th-floor observation deck.
Things to see on a road trip from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls
With so much to discover, take your time to enjoy all the attractions along the way. can discover along the way! Here are our top suggestions of things to see and do on your journey to the Falls.
- Pinchot State Forest - A State Park located in Pennsylvania with several varieties of flora and fauna and River streams that make it perfect for a peaceful walk
- Blue Mountain Resort - A fancy hill resort with seasonal activities all year round, known for snow activities in the winter
- Great Wolf Lodge Water Park - Located in the scenic Poconos mountains, with many water rides, fun exhibits, and more (you can also get a suite on the property or get a day-pass to explore the water park for a couple of hours)
- Pocono Mountains – A myriad of nature-filled activities await in this stunning location. Enjoy walking the many trails or take to the water whitewater rafting.
- Buckhorn Island State Park - A 890-acre park located in the town of Grand Island, close to Niagara Falls, with stunning River views. You can also visit the Great Island Bridge Lookout for spectacular river views.
- Binghamton – Bring back childhood memories in this beautiful city with a trip to the historic Recreation Park Carousel, built in 1925 and still with the original Wurlitzer.
- Longwood Gardens - Located in Kennett Square in Pennsylvania state, a vibrant garden with majestic fountains, flower gardens, a greenhouse (and student courses)
- Peddler's village - A quaint, purpose-built old-fashioned town in New Hope, Pennsylvania, with over 65 shops and an inn that you can explore on foot.
- Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge - A wildlife preserve in the state of New York containing over 7,000 acres of swamps, flora, and nesting habitat of waterfowl and other migratory birds.
- Everson Museum of Art - Located in downtown Syracuse, it is a modern art museum with a particular focus on American art
- Steamtown National Historic Site - Situated in Scranton, a collection of exhibits that document US locomotive history, and a former railroad yard
- Canandaigua Wine Trail Experience – Take a guided tour of the Finger Lakes wineries, vineyards, and tasting rooms, and enjoy a Bistro-style lunch at Nolan's on Canandaigua Lake.
- Rochester – Enjoy the scenic Erie Canal, and Lake Ontario, take in the International Museum of Photography, and sample one of Rochester's famous “white hots”.
- Canalside, Buffalo – At the heart of Buffalo's waterfront revitalization, hosting hundreds of events and hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
- Punxsutawney – Discover the history behind Phil, the weather-predicting groundhog, with a self-guided tour, and learn of the native American history behind Groundhog Day.
- Corning Museum of Glass - located in Corning, New York, with has over three thousand incredible pieces of glass art that you can admire.
- Glen H. Curtiss Museum – Discover a world of vintage cars, historic aircraft and learn about the once fastest man on earth and his incredible flying machine, “June Bug”.
- Lake Erie – One of the 5 great lakes, and the 11th largest in the world. With over 700 miles of coastline, there's plenty for watersports enthusiasts to enjoy.
Best time to go on a road trip from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls
Though you can make the road trip from Philadelphia to Niagara Falls at any time of the year, your experience will be different in each season.
Summer temperatures average in the mid to high 20's degrees Celsius, whereas in winter, it can barely get above freezing so it's important to come prepared, whatever time of year you make the trip.
A visit to Niagara Falls in the summer will give you the perfect weather to take advantage of all the attractions on offer and gaze in amazement at one of the natural wonders of the world.
This is also festival season in many of the major cities along the route, including the NYS Blues Festival, which takes place over 3 days in June with a large collection of regional and international artists performing.
Visiting in springtime is a great time to take in the botanical gardens which are at their best at this time of year.
If you're a wine lover, the wineries harvest season is in the fall, and do not miss the chance to taste the famous ice wines from the Inskillin Winery.
Hotel rates will be lower in winter and the crowds of tourists will be smaller. Be aware that many of the attractions close for the season, including the cave of winds, but the sight of the Falls partially frozen over is truly spectacular.
Whenever you choose to visit, plan your route to cover all the places that excite you, and prepare for an amazing trip to one of the most spectacular sights on the planet, Niagara Falls.