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NYC to Niagara Falls: The Best of New York

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. Here’s how to make the most of the trip.

Leg 1: Manhattan to the Mountains

Less than 90 minutes outside Manhattan, you can be a world away in the second largest park in the state system, Harriman State Park. 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! Continue on to the scenic mountain towns that dot that Catskills, perhaps stopping for another hike or to cast a line in Roscoe, aka Trout Town USA.

Leg 2: Finger Lakes to Buffalo

Be sure to make it to the charming Finger Lakes town of Canandaigua before lunch — you can 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. Then it’s on to Buffalo, aka the Queen City, for a night out on the town.

Leg 3: The Mighty Niagara Falls!

You’ve made it to your destination! Whether you’ve got the family in tow, are escaping with your partner or are hoping to sip-and-shop with the girls, we’ve got the perfect itinerary for you. Only have one day? Here’s how to spend a perfect 24 hours in Niagara Falls USA.

Leg 4: On to Ithaca

As the saying goes, “Ithaca is Gorges!”  Most people know Ithaca as the home of Cornell University — and the beautiful campus is certainly worth a tour — but it’s also the perfect place to keep your waterfall momentum moving forward. Seek out Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca Falls or the towering Taughannock Falls, and then clean up for dinner at the waterfront Boatyard Grill.

Leg 5: Back to the Big Apple

You’ve got about a 4- to 5-hour trip back to the city, depending on which way you venture. If you’re OK with taking the scenic route, consider a stop in the lovely Hudson Valley for a lunch you won’t forget — this agricultural mecca is also a mecca for big-name chefs. It’ll add some extra miles, but we’re certain it will be worth it.

Don’t want to drive? Ride or fly!

If you’d rather sit back and enjoy the scenery, bus trips are an affordable option. Niagara Scenic Tours and FlixBus are both great choices for your next New York journey. Or, take a 48-minute flight from New York City to Buffalo, New York — just 20 minutes from Niagara Falls.