01 May Can’t Miss Day Trips From Niagara Falls
You could spend two weeks in Niagara Falls and still not see every sight or enjoy every attraction — but that doesn’t mean your Niagara Falls vacation has to remain within sight of the falls. In truth, the entire Niagara region and beyond is filled with amazing things to do and see. If you want to get out of Niagara Falls and do something totally different from the other tourists, you should plan to go on one of the following day trips from the falls.
Niagara-on-the-Lake, or NOTL for those in-the-know, is one of the top things to do near Niagara Falls for any traveler. This quaint town is jam-packed with charm, from the horse-drawn carriages that take you around town to the classical architecture of the boutiques on the main drag. Nestled on the edge of Lake Ontario and amidst Niagara wine country, NOTL boasts some of the most gorgeous scenery in the area. Plus, NOTL is known internationally for its commitment to excellent theater; every year, the Shaw Festival sees the production of several excellent stage performances, so you should secure tickets to whatever show you can when you visit.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is just a 35-minute car ride from the falls. If you won’t have a personal vehicle, you can use the WEGO tourist bus system to connect with the Niagara-on-the-Lake shuttle, which takes you straight into downtown NOTL. You can also reach NOTL by signing up for any of the Niagara valley tours, including many of the winery tours.
The largest city closest to Niagara Falls, Buffalo, NY tends to be where most tourists fly in — but that’s where their experience of Buffalo ends. That’s a shame, considering that there is plenty of interesting things to do and see in Buffalo. Because the city enjoyed a significant growth spurt at the turn of the 20th century, you can see some outstanding examples of art and architecture. Stop by the Darwin D Martin House to see a prime example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s innovative style, and plan a trip to the Albright-Knox Art Gallery to soak up some modern art.
Buffalo is just 16 miles south of Niagara Falls, making it a quick trip for any tourist. Both trains and buses connect the cities, but you can also enjoy a comfortable rideshare or taxi from one to the other for just a few dollars.
While Buffalo might be the largest city in Western New York, Toronto is Canada’s largest city — full stop. Toronto is a bustling metropolis not unlike New York City, meaning it is full of thrilling activities for the ardent tourist. One of the best destinations in Toronto is the Distillery District, a pedestrian-only neighborhood filled with historic buildings and cobblestone streets. You should also spend some time strolling around Toronto’s local markets, including Kengsington Market and St. Lawrence Market, or catching a Maple Leafs game after visiting the Hockey Hall of Fame. Finally, you can end your day trip with a view from the CN Tower, which dwarf’s Niagara’s own Skylon Tower and is considered a Wonder of the Modern World.
There is a direct train service between Toronto and Niagara, and you can find a handful of buses that make the trip, too. However, the fastest and most convenient option is by car, which will get you between the cities in about an hour and a half via Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW).
Letchworth State Park
Letchworth State Park is called the Grand Canyon of the East, and for good reason. This 14,427-acre state park is 17 miles long and follows the course of the Genesee River, which has carved a deep, colorful gorge. If you are itching to get out of the city, Letchworth provides plenty of beautiful opportunities for hikes, picnics and even camping; you can find spectacular views of lush forests surrounding dozens of waterfalls (smaller than Niagara Falls but nearly as breathtaking). You can also arrange for a tour or activity in the park, to include kayaking, hot air ballooning, guided treks and more.
Letchworth is past Buffalo — about an hour farther into upstate New York. Your best hope of reaching the park comfortably is to use a car. You can use a carsharing service like Zipcar, or you can rent a car the traditional way using services around Niagara Falls. You can ask your hotel concierge for help with this.