road trip - New York - Boston via Niagara

Old Jan 1st, 2011, 10:24 AM
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road trip - New York - Boston via Niagara

Hi, myself, husband and 2 x 18 year olds will be spending 11 nights touring your wonderful country during the last week in Aug 2011. We are flying from home in England to NY (we have been before) where we will probably spend the first 2 nights, We then intend to go to Niagara stopping on the way for one night - maybe somewhere in the Finger Lakes area? any suggestions would be helpful - we did a California trip last year and stayed at Big Bear Lake which we loved, so somewhere similar would be good? We would like to go via Pennsylvania and maybe visit an Amish community museum if possible en-route but realise this may be too far out of the way. We then want to stay at Niagara for a night. We wondered if there was a car ferry we could get to take us up towards perhaps the Mountains or somewhere you recommend. We would like to stay one or two nights en route going to New England and then finally staying at MV, Cope Cod and our last 2 nights at Boston from where we fly home. I realise we are squeezing a lot in but we would rather cram a great deal into a short space of time and see as much of your wonderful country as we can. We are happy to drive approximately 3-4 hours per day if necessary.

Thank you for your help
linandmark is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2011, 01:09 PM
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Sounds like you have a lot planned for your time. I think that going to Amish country would be out of the way for this trip. 2 nights NY, 2 nights Boston and at least 2 nights to get to and see Niagra, and 2 days to get go through New England leaves only 3 days for Cape Cod and MV.

That is a full trip in my book.

Best of luck in your planning.
emalloy is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2011, 01:57 PM
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Driving from Niagara Falls to Boston/Cape Cod area will be about 8 to 10 hours. You may want to look at flying from Buffalo, NY to Boston, MA versus driving.

I would also vote to skip the Amish visit and focus more on NY and the Boston area. There are also some nice stops along the way to break up the long drive.
Jaya is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2011, 02:17 PM
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There used to be an ad when I was a kid, "See the USA in Your Chevrolet."

I would suggest a more modest trip so you can enjoy our country by getting out of the car.
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 03:22 PM
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Here's a route you could take

NYC to Lancaster, Pennsylvania area (Amish country). Drive time is an easy 2 hours - mostly on easy to drive Interstate highways. Hershey PA is right there - many people enjoy Hershey park (roller coasters). Passing through Amish country isn't an unreasonable detour if you're planning to go to Niagara Falls anyway.

From Lancaster, PA to Niagara falls is about a 6 hour drive. Also mostly on the Interstates. The finger lakes are about 1/2 way and would make for a nice stop over. I'm not an expert on that area so I'll defer to others.

From Niagara back to Mass. you have a long drive. There is no car ferry that would take you anywhere. The northern part of NY (north of I-90) is the Adirondack mountains. It's great for outdoor activities such as camping, hiking, boating, and canoeing, but not much for quaint towns, good restaurants, or things to do besides being out there with nature (bugs and all). If spending a few days in the Adirondacks appeals to you let us know and we can give more details. The area is popular for families who want to rent a cabin in the woods/by a lake for a week, but due to it's distance from population centers not as popular for 2-3 day getaways.

Another option is to simply drive straight across NY from Niagara back to Albany area or points further east. To Albany it's a boring, 5 hour drive. You could stop along the way for a chain motel overnight, but in my opinion there's not much reason to stop longer than you have to. From Albany area, or more specifically VT/Western Mass you could spend a few days in the mountains of southern Vermont or western Mass (the Berkshires), visit the horse races at Saratoga, NY (30min north of Albany), visit historic Sturbridge village in Mass, or any number of other activities here and there. From Albany eastwards till you get to MV I think there's plenty of things to explore for a few days. There are also lots of smaller inns and B&Bs throughout the area, so comfort is never too far away. It's just the stretch through western NY I'd buzz right through.

In the grand scheme of things you're not looking at an unreasonable amount of driving especially if you spread the drive out over many days. Sounds like an a fun 11 day trip through the Northeastern US.
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 04:56 PM
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I think you need to check on a couple of things:

Get a good mapping site and check drive times - and realize that you need to go to the Canadian side of Niagara - which means leaving time for the border crossing:

From NYC to Canadian side Niagara is at least 9 hours

From there to Boston - via NYS and across New England - is a VERY long trip

You need to allow for construction (always done in the summer) and tourist traffic in August - so don;t assume you can go as fast as the site suggests. And realize that it may take you an hour or so to get across the border.

Be sure the rental car can be taken into Canada - some companies will not let you take the car out of the country

Be sure your paperwork allows for multiple entries of the US

Consider recasting the trip with fewer places:

You need 2 nights in Niagara to see it - not rushing in late one day and laving early the next
You need to be aware of weekend traffic patterns on Cape Cod and MV - which can be interminable (and crossing to MV need to be reserved very far in advance)
nytraveler is offline  
Old Jan 1st, 2011, 05:43 PM
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New Hampshire and Vermont are beautiful states to travel through. Maybe skip the MV/Cape Cod and fill in the time with New Hampshire and Vermont. Just a thought.

Pull out a good map of the New England area and we can help you plan a drivable, scenic route.
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Old Jan 1st, 2011, 10:47 PM
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Linandmark, welcome back (in advance) to the States!

My thoughts:

1. This seems to me like a lot of long-distance driving in areas that aren't particularly interesting. But maybe people will chime in with ideas for the Finger Lakes and Amish Country that make those parts more appealing. I'm not sure if you really wanted to visit New York again, or if it was just a convenient place to fly into. If you didn't specifically want to visit New York, you could also fly from the UK to Toronto, and drive to Niagara Falls from there.

2. Nytraveler makes a good point about border crossings. If you are UK citizens (subjects?) I think you'll have no trouble crossing from the U.S. to Canada, or vice versa, but it would be a good idea to verify that in advance. You should also make sure that your car rental company will let you take the car into Canada and back, because you really need to go into Canada to see Niagara Falls properly.

3. I think you only need one full day and a night to see Niagara Falls. Spectacular as the Falls are, there are only so many ways to look at them. If you stay too long, you'll end up getting drawn into the tacky wax museums and T-shirt shops that have sprung up around the place, in an attempt to extract additional money from tourists. Many people like to visit Niagara-on-the-Lake, a Canadian town near Niagara Falls, which is a whole different kind of experience. I've never been there.

4. I've driven from Niagara Falls to Boston a few times, always as one long, grueling drive, broken up only by a dinner break. The part near the Finger Lakes looked sort of nice from the Interstate, but I didn't stop. One good destination along this route might be Lenox, Massachusetts (although it's only a few hours outside of Boston). It's the location of the Tanglewood Music Center, which is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. There would be good concerts to see, and there are various charming places to stay in Lenox, tending toward the upscale. I once stayed in the Blantyre Inn, a Relais & Chateaux property that I liked very much. I stayed in one of the cozy, beautifully furnished cottages, and had a nice little autumn hike around the property. I had dinner at the Wheatleigh Hotel, which was a disappointment. The Wheatleigh is the fanciest and most expensive hotel in Lenox, IIRC, and it has an ornate Italianate design and decor that I found over-the-top. The staff seemed to have a correspondingly sterile sense of formality. Also the food at the restaurant was pretentious, expensive, and rather poor in quality. I wish I had just had dinner at the Blantyre, where I was staying.

Blantyre Inn:

Boston Symphony Orchestra 2011 Tanglewood Information:
hawksbill is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 02:01 AM
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Here's my thought, as I lived in the Finger Lakes region and in college, traveled the East Coast.
I think that the timing is wrong to drive from Lancaster to Ithaca, NY area. I did this in college and it takes over 5 hrs. Taking Major routes 81 & I-76 a toll road called the Pennsylvania Turnpike (northeast extension From Clarks Summit going south towards Lancaster). You could stay in the Poconos in Pennsylvania, there are lake resorts there, Shawnee Park, and quaint Deer head Inn for wine and live piano Jazz. Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton (airport code ABE) has more interesting things than Lancaster like 1.Crystal Cave, 2. DaVinci Science museum, 3.Crayola crayon factory, 4.Pocono Raceway, 5. Dorney Park, etc. There are some Amish people around the ABE area, though it isn't the same as seeing acres of farmland with a singular horse-drawn buggy. And, they tend to be racist and rant if you're not white. I know I would rather, like most NY’ers go shopping in Pennsylvania at the Franklin Mills Mall closer to Philadelphia than drive to Amish land. Though, shopping and support of the Arts has picked up in the Lancaster area.

To see Niagara & the Finger Lakes (a reasonable 2.5 to 3hr drive)
1. Fly into Buffalo or Rochester.
Drive to Ithaca in the early morning to hike Buttermilk Falls, Treman falls is more impressive with Lucifer Falls, and then Taugannock Falls (nice for viewing from the Lookout) on the way back towards Buffalo. Ask about best eats. This is also a great vegetarian food town for the USA. There are too many places to eat in this town that are great. Gimme! Coffee has the best coffee by far; - my fave is the Ethiopian. Because of the NY Colleges & University this tiny town has a bit of a metropolitan air to it. Then, drive to Pennsylvania or Drive towards New Paltz or the Berkshires for scenery. Driving Ithaca to Brattleboro, Vermont is also good though much more lengthy a drive.

Head back towards Buffalo and get to Niagara by Sundown. Stay overnight to see Niagara Falls, Whirlpool, Walk across bridge to Canada or Drive to see it from the Canadian side. Canadian side hotels have great views. And, Canadian maple treats.
Tenshi is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 02:14 AM
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^BTW: enroute through Pennsylvania for Amish without the long Drive.
1. Kutztown:
you can stop and see Keith Harring's hometown. aka a "dumb Dutchie"
Rodale garden (small) is where you have best chance to see Amish on the road.
and the Velodrome for bicycle racing.
Kutztown Farmer's market where you can purchase goods. Try the shoo fly pie made of molasses.

Kutztown to Ithaca, NY is about 2.5 hr drive at the speed limit.
Tenshi is offline  
Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 10:38 AM
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thank you all for this valuable information - just what we need - some inside info! We do have great maps so are now going to have a family planning meeting. We already have flights booked and one of the group hasnt been to NYC which we felt was a must to start off with. Also intend to get tickets to Red Sox game as we saw a game in San Diego last year and loved the buzz and atmosphere. Can anyone advise how long we need in Boston bearing in mind our limited time, and what there is to do there? Many thanks again Lin and Mark - England x
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Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 11:20 AM
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Boston is a town filled with history. If you're interested in "seeing" American history, plus the Red Sox (an event all by itself -- much much more "atmosphere" and "buzz" than all 81 home Padres games combined), I'd plan on 3-4 days in Boston. Time to walk the Freedom Trail, spend a little time at Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, see the USS Constitution, walk around the Boston Common and Public Garden, the North End (where you can do a cannoli-tasting at the well-known Italian bakeries, among them Mike's, Modern and Maria's), take a drive out to Concord (not only where the first battle of the American Revolution was fought, but also the home of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott and other well-known authors, and yes, that's where Walden Pond is)and Lexington. There are also excellent museums if that's your interest.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2011, 01:36 PM
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st7307's Boston ideas are excellent.

Another idea: if you drive from New York to Niagara Falls, and you take the most direct route up I-87 instead of detouring into Amish country, you could stop at the Storm King Art Center. It's kind of a large sculpture garden, situated in a beautiful natural setting.

Another interesting place to stop, very close to Storm King, would be the U.S. Military Academy, frequently called "West Point." The USMA was founded in 1802, and there's lots of interesting history there. It's an active military installation, so you can't just park and walk around, but there's information on guided tours here:

Here's the Red Sox schedule:

Note that the three games against the New York Yankees, from August 30 through September 1, will have an even greater than usual level of excitement (and even higher ticket prices) because the Yankees are the arch-enemy of the Red Sox. People in Boston expend a considerable amount of energy hating the Yankees. It's a very heated rivalry.

Not surprisingly, tickets for all of the home games at the end of August and the beginning of September are already sold out. So you'll have to buy your tickets from a reseller, paying a premium to do so. Some are more reputable than others, and there's a risk that you could end up with counterfeit tickets. If I were doing this, I'd probably use StubHub!, which appears to be sort of the official ticket brokering agency of the Red Sox:
hawksbill is offline  
Old Jan 4th, 2011, 01:53 PM
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Wow, I live here and some of this is confusing even to me. I did a road trip in '04 with my kids (teens) and we stopped at the Falls almost on a whim. Maybe I'm missing something, but we saw them in a few hours and the kids wanted to move on. I agree with Hawksbill on that. We did not go to the Canadian side, but we saw them just fine from above and below.
Do just use a good online map to set your routes ahead of time (i think is best). If you do decide to go up through the Hudson Valley, go to Hyde Park to see the Vanderbilt Mansion and Pres. Roosevelt's family manse, both now run by the National Park Service. Beautiful area.
Please avoid the Amish. Just do. And Hershey, PA used to be this cute town with tours of the chocolate factory, but now it's just a huge commercialized amusement park. Also AVOID.

The above suggestion for Boston is great. I also recommend people get out to Concord if possible, and it can be done easily by train as well as car. Do read up on the history of the Revolution before coming here, it will make it far more interesting. At the Old North Bridge in Concord, there is a memorial to a British soldier as well.
If you want to try to see the Sox, do this: on game day, take the Green Line train to Kenmore. Everyone will be headed to the game and there will be people selling tickets. Sometimes they come cheap. A Yankees game is different, but maybe you'll find something--though almost certainly not four seats together. Use common sense, and you should be OK in terms of counterfeiting. Ask some guy in a Sox shirt who's walking by if they look OK. They can advise and compare!

Enjoy Boston, we are friendlier than people think.
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Old Jan 7th, 2011, 01:53 PM
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I sort of agree with avoid the Amish. I'm also not a huge fan of Niagara Falls... (And note that I'm from Rochester NY.)

Not to throw in a monkey wrench, but have you considered just flying into Boston, since you've already been to NYC? New England is fabulous in August - you could do the whole coast, Martha's Vinyard, Cape Cod, Marblehead, up through New Hampshire and Maine... It's busy in the summer though, so be sure to make reservations early and do not, repeat, do not attempt to drive to Cape Cod on a Friday!
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Old Jun 28th, 2011, 10:28 AM
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My husband and I are planning a road trip from Boston to Niagara Falls and came upon this thread. I just wanted to add that if you are going to spend time in the Boston area, don't forget Salem is a great place to visit as well with the Witch Museum, House of Seven Gables, Peabody Essex Museum and shopping/dining etc. at Pickering Wharf (if those type of places appeal to you).

I also agree with all the Boston ideas - the North End for lunch or dinner and then Mikes or Modern Bakery for dessert is a MUST DO! Another option would be to take a cruise or whale watching trip out of Boston Harbor. Duck tours are a great idea as well.
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