From NYC To Niagara Falls: The Ultimate 1-Week Road Trip Itinerary For Families

Three kids stand at a railing looking over it into Niagara Falls, where a boat is on the water headed toward the falls.
Photo Courtesy: Nophar Levy Palumbo

Escape the urban excitement for natural wonder on this NYC to Niagara Falls road trip itinerary for families! If you want to get away from the city for a bit and explore somewhere more peaceful, this itinerary is perfect for you. First, take a scenic drive through upstate New York, characterized by picturesque landscapes and charming towns. We’ve included stops in the Catskills, where you’ll find the quaint town of Woodstock, as well as Saratoga Springs, Corning, and The Finger Lakes. Then, eventually, you’ll reach the last stop on this itinerary with kids: Niagara Falls! Alongside things to do with kids, we’ve added places to eat, where to stay, and some optional stops on an NYC to Niagara Falls road trip itinerary for families. Keep reading to plan your next adventure on the road! 

Day 1: The Catskills, New York (Kaaterskill Falls, Woodstock, Saugerties)

Distance From NYC To The Catskills: 3 Hours

Two kids at Kaaterskills Falls in the Catskills, one of the best places to stop on an NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Stephanie Feingold

To start your NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary, make your way to the Catskills on your way through upstate. The scenic drive takes around two to three hours by car, depending on where you choose to visit. 

There are lots of beautiful trails in the Catskills that are easy enough for kids, so you can start your day on a hike. Kaaterskill Falls, the highest cascading waterfall in New York, can get pretty crowded but it’s still worth a visit. One option is to walk a 1.5-mile Rail Trail and then hike down, which usually has fewer crowds. The Upper Trailhead is the shortest, most popular, and direct way to access the falls, however. 

Following your hike, recharge with a meal at Phoenicia Diner, in the charming town of Phoenicia. This retro-style diner serves up a delectable farm-to-table fare, from hearty sandwiches to milkshakes. Also, check out these 11 Best Cute Towns To Visit Near NYC With Kids

Afternoon Activity: Explore Quaint Towns Like Woodstock or Saugerties

A view of Main Street in downtown Woodstock, New York, one of the best places to stop on an NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families.

You can spend the afternoon exploring some of the quaint towns in the area, like Saugerties or Woodstock. In the town center, stroll through quaint boutiques, ice cream shops, and restaurants. On some Sundays, residents even gather for a drum circle turned dance party! To experience Woodstock’s scenery, head to Woodstock Waterfall Park, a stroller-friendly trail overlooking a cascading waterfall. 

When you’re hungry, Woodstock Village is also a great place to stop for dinner! Oriole 9 boasts a healthy kids’ menu and pressed coffee for parents, and Catskill Mountain Pizza has pies fresh from the oven! From Woodstock, you can also take the drive to the Saugerties Lighthouse, which will be beautiful to see at sunset. 

Optional Detour: Saratoga Springs & Lake George

The "Welcome to Saratoga Springs" sign, atop of which sits a horse and rider statue.
Photo Courtesy: Beth Lehmann

Saratoga Springs offers a perfect blend of culture, history, and outdoor activities. It’s around an hour and a half north of the Catskills, so depending on which route you take to Niagara Falls, you can fit a day here in as an optional detour. In the morning, you can visit the Saratoga Spa State Park, situated minutes from downtown. This expansive park showcases hiking trails, playgrounds, and picnic areas.

After working up an appetite, head into downtown Saratoga Springs for a delicious lunch at one of the many family-friendly eateries. Hattie’s Restaurant, a local favorite known for its Southern-inspired cuisine, is a great choice. After, you can walk along Broadway, Saratoga Springs’ Main Street. 

Afternoon Activity: Saratoga National Historical Park or Children’s Museum

After lunch, history buffs can check out Saratoga National Historical Park. Located approximately 20 minutes from downtown, this iconic site commemorates the pivotal Battles of Saratoga, which marked a turning point in the American Revolutionary War. Younger kids may prefer to visit the Children’s Museum at Saratoga, which has everything from arts and crafts to science experiments and imaginative play areas. 

Alternate Stop: Lake George

Mother and son fishing on boat in Lake George, one of the best places to stop on an NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Sheryll Pang Yu

Around a half-hour north of Saratoga Springs, Lake George is another worthwhile stop on an itinerary from NYC to Niagara Falls for families. At Million Dollar Beach, kids can swim and play in the sand, and there are also lifeguards and picnic areas. After working up an appetite, head into Lake George Village for lunch. The Lake George Steamboat Company also offers scenic lunch cruises aboard historic steamboats, providing a unique dining experience with panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

If you have time, check out nearby Prospect Mountain. Families can choose to hike the trail to the summit or take a scenic drive up the mountain’s winding road. 

Day 4: Corning, New York (Glass Museum, Downtown)

Distance From The Catskills to Corning: 3 Hours

The exterior of the Corning Museum of Glass, one of the best places to stop on an NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families.

Around three hours west of Woodstock, Corning is renowned for its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and picturesque landscapes. It’s a great place to stop when coming from NYC before heading towards Niagara Falls for your itinerary for families!

At the Corning Museum of Glass, kids will be impressed by the fascinating exhibits showcasing ancient and contemporary glass art. They can marvel at live glassmaking demonstrations and even try their hand at creating their own glass masterpieces! After, wander around Corning’s charming downtown area, known as the Gaffer District. Here, you’ll find quaint shops, art galleries, and cafes nestled among historic buildings adorned with colorful murals. The Rockwell Museum has an impressive collection of American art and artifacts.

For lunch, indulge in farm-to-table cuisine at one of Corning’s local eateries. Cugini Italian Market & Cafe has kid-friendly favorites like pizza and even cannolis! 

Day 5: Finger Lakes

Distance From Corning To The Finger Lakes: 1 Hour

A gorge with a river flowing through from the Lower Falls inside Letchworth State Park, within the Finger Lakes region of New York.
Photo Courtesy: Ryan Hallock

One last stop to make on your NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families is the Finger Lakes region of New York. From Cayuga Lake which is known for its stunning waterfalls and gorges to Seneca Lake where you can sample some of the finest wines from local vineyards while cruising on a boat, there’s truly something for everyone here.

Seneca Lake’s shores are home to several state parks that offer picnic areas and playgrounds for children, including Seneca Lake State Park, which features a pretty sandy beach with a concession stand. Plus, kids can’t get enough of the park’s Splayground, which features over 100 water jets – perfect for cooling off on a hot day! 

Afternoon/Evening Activity: Watkins Glen State Park, Wineries

A view of the waterfall in Watkins Glen State Park, one of the best places to stop on an NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: James Mirakian

Families can also visit the famous Watkins Glen State Park, which is nearby, to check out its beautiful waterfalls. If you’re staying near Geneva or Penn Yan on Seneca Lake’s northwestern shorelines, be sure to check out some of the nearby wineries while enjoying breathtaking views from their decks. 

Optional: Cayuga Lake

An aerial view of Cayuga Lake, one of the best places to stop on an NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Cayuga Nature Center

Taughannock Falls State Park, located on the shores of Cayuga Lake, is home to one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Mississippi River, plunging 215 feet into a gorge below. It also has a family-friendly swimming beach, picnic areas, water sports like kayaking, and a boat launch. 

Another great feature about Cayuga Lake is its location near several charming towns such as Ithaca and Seneca Falls, where parents can sample local wines from vineyards dotted around and kids can visit places like the Museum of the Earth (for science and nature lovers).

Where To Stay Near The Finger Lakes With Kids

If you want vacation rentals in Seneca Lake, The Lodge at Grist Iron Brewing Co. is around 15 minutes away from the lake and offers a prime location along the area’s Wine and Brewery Trail. Geneva On The Lake is another fantastic option for families because it features spacious rooms, plus an outdoor pool. Near Cayuga Lake, check out the Inn at Taughannock Falls. You could also rent a house from Vrbo for your NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families.

Day 6: Niagara Falls (Niagara Falls State Park, Maid Of the Mist, Clifton Hill)

Distance From The Finger Lakes To Niagara Falls: 2.5 Hours

Photo Courtesy: Stacey Finkelstein

By day 7 you should reach the last stop on your NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families! You can start exploring on the New York side before heading to Canada. Visit Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the U.S. From some of the trails, you can see American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls. Afterward, grab a bite to eat at Top of the Falls Restaurant, offering panoramic views of the falls and delicious American cuisine. Families can also take a Maid of the Mist boat tour, which takes you up close to the base of Horseshoe Falls. 

Afternoon/Evening Activity: Clifton Hill, Niagara Skywheel

A view of the Niagara Falls Skywheel at night.
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia

Cross the Rainbow Bridge into Canada and explore Clifton Hill, Niagara Falls’ entertainment district. Take a ride on the Niagara SkyWheel for panoramic views of the falls and surrounding area. Or, visit the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum for quirky exhibits and interactive displays. You can also head to the Great Canadian Midway at Clifton Hill Amusement Park for arcade games and rides. Queen Victoria Park is a great place to relax with views of the falls. 

A view of Queen Victoria Park, near Niagara Falls, where several people are wandering about enjoying a sunny day.
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia

Enjoy dinner at one of the many family-friendly restaurants in the area, like Mama Mia’s Italian Eatery. Afterward, catch the nightly illumination of the falls, where colorful lights illuminate the cascading waterfalls! 

Day 7: Niagara Falls (Journey Behind The Falls, Butterfly Conservatory, Niagara Parkway

A young boy wearing a blue jacket smiles with the mist of Niagara Falls behind him and a view of the Ontario skyline behind the mist.
Photo Courtesy: Vanessa Garza

Start your second day in Niagara Falls with a visit to Journey Behind the Falls, where you’ll travel through tunnels behind Horseshoe Falls for a unique perspective. Afterward, you can continue to Niagara Parks Butterfly Conservatory. Here, kids can explore tropical gardens teeming with thousands of colorful butterflies flitting among exotic flowers! Adjacent to the conservatory, the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens offer serene walking paths, the famous Floral Clock, and picnic areas for a leisurely lunch.

Afternoon Activity: Whirlpool Aero Car, White Water Walk

From April through November, daredevil tweens and teens can also experience the Whirlpool Aero Car on a ride above the Niagara Whirlpool, watching the powerful currents of the Niagara River converge. Alternatively, you can explore the White Water Walk. This boardwalk allows you to get up close to the Class 6 rapids of the Niagara River! 

Evening Activity: Niagara-On-The-Lake

A view of charming houses in Niagara on the Lake, one of the best places to visit on an NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families.
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia

If you want to explore more of Canada on your NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families, you can also drive to Niagara-on-the-Lake, around a half-hour north of Niagara Falls. Kids can visit Fort George, which is available for tours to learn more about its background in wars, use of cannons, and even a glimpse at the barracks! 

For dinner, dine at one of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s charming restaurants, such as The Olde Angel Inn Restaurant or Treadwell Cuisine. End your day driving along the illuminated Niagara Parkway and watch the falls as they’re bathed in colorful lights. 

Where To Stay In Niagara Falls With Kids

An aerial view of the Sheraton on the Falls hotel in Niagara Falls, Canada.
Photo Courtesy: Sheraton On the Falls

Looking for the best places to stay in Niagara Falls with kids? Sheraton On The Falls is one of the most popular hotels for families on a NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary on the Canadian side, especially since it’s connected to an indoor water park! As the closest hotel to Niagara Falls, Niagara Falls Marriott On the Falls is another fantastic place to stay in terms of convenience. Check out our list of the best hotels in Niagara Falls for families to learn more about your NYC to Niagara Falls itinerary for families!

Happy Travels!

A family of four, all wearing rain coats, stands together looking down on Niagara Falls.

We hope you liked this NYC To Niagara Falls: The Ultimate 1 Week Itinerary For Families! Between the iconic attractions of NYC, the beautiful scenery of upstate New York, and the wonder of Niagara Falls, it’s sure to be a road trip to remember! 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.


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