15 Best Day Trips from Niagara Falls

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Niagara Falls is a destination like no other. The pair of twin cities is located on either side of the banks of the Niagara River, in Ontario (Canada) and western New York. The Niagara River flows over the Niagara Falls, creating a magnificent natural spectacle. Apart from the river’s natural attractions, there are other sites that attract millions of tourists every year. Some of these attractions in Niagara Falls include museums, souvenir shops, water parks, observation towers, high-rise hotels, and theatres.

Some people consider this area to be one of the most romantic places in the world, earning it the nickname, “The Honeymoon Capital of the World.” There’s plenty to do in the areas surrounding Niagara Falls. Here are 15 day trips for those who would like to explore further afield from these cities of gleaming towers with a bustling street scene.

1. The City of Buffalo

Buffalo, NYSource: Paul Brady Photography / shutterstock
Buffalo, NY

This is the largest city in Western New York, on the eastern shore of Lake Erie. Buffalo is also referred to as “The Nickel City”, “The Queen City”, “The City of Light”, and “The City of Good Neighbors”.

This city has a lot of cultural and entertainment attractions to offer. Its history involves grain, steel, and automobile industries. This makes it a great day trip option; there is so much to explore in terms of nature trails, winter wonderlands of snow, and sailing opportunities.

Thousands of tourists visit Buffalo for a chance to tour the famous Niagara Falls, which is located 16 miles to the south.

2. Ellicottville

EllicottvilleSource: Dougtone / Flickr

The town of Ellicottville includes a village that goes by the same name. This village is a paradise for lovers of the outdoors, all year round. Ellicottville is renowned for its ski resorts – Holiday Valley and HoliMont. Apart from the wide range of sporting activities, Ellicottville also offers a plethora of shopping and dining opportunities.

Within the area is the Griffis Sculpture Park, featuring more than 250 large-scale sculptures and miles of hiking trails.

This local village is so easy to navigate you literally don’t need a map to move around.

3. Lake Ontario

Lake OntarioSource: Lana B / shutterstock
Lake Ontario

This lake is the smallest of the five that make up the Great Lakes, and the last in the chain. Lake Ontario is surrounded to the north, west, and southwest by Ontario, and to the south and east by New York. The boundaries between these two territories meet in the middle of the lake.

The name Ontario in the Huron language translates to “Lake of Shining Waters”.

Lake Ontario’s primary inlet is the Niagara River and its outlet into the Atlantic Ocean is the Saint Lawrence River.

The lake is positioned at the base of the Niagara Falls and also has a number of bays, lagoons, and islands.

4. Albright-Knox Art Museum

Albright-Knox Art GallerySource: Spiroview Inc / shutterstock
Albright-Knox Art Gallery

This art museum houses a variety of artwork, with a tendency toward modern, abstract, and contemporary. Albright-Knox Art Gallery is located in the heart of Buffalo’s cultural district.

The art museum got its name from John J. Albright, a wealthy entrepreneur and philanthropist.

The vibrant gallery is one of the oldest public art institutions in the United States. The building was designed by Edward Brodhead Green, a prominent local architect. Its construction began in 1890 and was completed in 1905.

There is something new for you to experience every time you visit this art museum, whose collection includes several pieces spanning art throughout the centuries.

5. Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park, New York StateSource: Jim Vallee / shutterstock
Letchworth State Park

This 14,427-acre state park is also referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” Letchworth State Park is approximately 17 miles long, following the course of the Genesee River, which runs through a gorge that weaves throughout the parklands. The cliffs of the gorge prompted the area’s reputation among the locals as the Grand Canyon of the East.

Letchworth State Park spans portions of the Livingston and Wyoming County towns. The park prominently features 600-foot cliffs and major waterfalls along the Genesee River.

Letchworth is a great spot for picnics and hikes; it offers the most memorable experience and spectacular views. The park is surrounded by lush forests and offers nature, history and performing arts programs, kayaking, hot air ballooning, and a swimming pool.

6. Finger Lakes Region

Finger Lakes RegionSource: Felix Lipov / shutterstock
Finger Lakes Region

There are dozens of wineries nestled in the famed Finger Lakes region. Apart from the sprawling vineyards, the area also has plenty of parks and waterfalls.

The Finger Lakes are a group of 11 long lakes whose shapes resemble human fingers. The water bodies cover an area of 124,000 acres. The region is defined as a bioregion and is a popular tourist destination. The area’s passion for life, nature, and culture will leave an impression that you will not forget any time soon.

As you explore the nation’s history on your day trip from Niagara Falls, make sure to raise a glass of wine to the folks who create the region’s world-class wines, brew, ciders, and spirits.

7. East Aurora

Roycroft Campus, East AuroraSource: Steven Hamsness / Wikimedia
Roycroft Campus, East Aurora

This village is located in Erie County and is part of the Buffalo-Niagara Falls Metropolitan Area. East Aurora has a reputation for being a really safe town to visit and live in.

The town is home to the Roycroft Campus, which is an active art colony where founders of the Arts & Crafts movement once created books, furniture, metal works and more. The active art colony is alive in the 14 buildings that make up the historic Roycroft Campus.

8. Toronto

Downtown TorontoSource: Diego Grandi / shutterstock
Downtown Toronto

This world-class city is the biggest in Canada. Toronto boasts of one of the most diverse and cosmopolitan scenes in the world. The city is located on the northwestern shores of Lake Ontario.

If you are tired of the Niagara Falls and are looking for somewhere more thrilling and active, then Toronto is just the place. The city of Toronto has been a popular destination for immigrants, giving it a rich heritage.

Some of the tourist attractions in Toronto include the CN Tower and the Grand Castles.

9. Old Fort Niagara

Old Fort NiagaraSource: MISHELLA / shutterstock
Old Fort Niagara

This fortress is located in Youngstown, NY, on the shores of Lake Ontario. It holds more than three centuries-worth of military history. Fort Niagara was built in 1726 by the French but was later taken over by the British.

The fort was won by the US after the revolution but retaken by the British during the 1812 War. It was later reclaimed by the Americans at the end of the war.

If you love military history, you ought to make this day trip to the charming Old Fort. Today, it features historical re-enactments of its colorful history. There’s plenty of space to stroll as you explore this fortification that once controlled access to the Great Lakes and the western route to the heartland of the continent.

10. Darien Lake Theme Park

Darien Lake Theme ParkSource: Lisamcm48 / shutterstock
Darien Lake Theme Park

This is New York’s largest water and theme park. It has several roller coasters, bumper cars, and dozens of other attractions for adults and kids.

In addition to the amusement park, Darien Lake also features a campground and on-site lodging.

The Darien Lake Performing Arts Center adjacent to the park regularly hosts concerts that are filled with big-name acts. Concert lovers should expect to fall in love.

11. Niagara-on-the-Lake

Niagara-on-the-lakeSource: Steve Heap / shutterstock

This tourist town is perched on the shores of Lake Ontario and is frequently visited by day-trippers. The town is situated on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls and is often abbreviated as NOTL. The town is a destination in its own right.

NOTL is situated right at the center of a successful grape growing region, making the town well-known for its numerous wineries.

NOTL is important in the state’s history. The town features the world’s oldest Anglican and Catholic churches. Today, NOTL draws visitors with its rich history, its buildings that are constructed using the colonial-style design, and its closeness to the Niagara Falls.

12. Lake Erie

Lake ErieSource: Doug Lemke / shutterstock
Lake Erie

Erie is located at the middle of Pennsylvania’s coastline, bordering Lake Erie. The city was founded in 1795 and sits on Presque Isle Bay.

This lake is one of five that make up the Great Lakes. Lake Erie serves as a major tourist destination in North America. The lake is named after a Native American tribe – Erie – which formerly lived along the lake’s southern shore.

Within the lake are some islands that belong to either Ohio or Ontario. These islands are accessible via ferries and boats from different points of the mainland.

13. Seneca Lake and Falls

 First Presbyterian Church of Seneca FallsSource: debra millet / shutterstock
First Presbyterian Church of Seneca Falls

The town of Seneca Falls is located next to the Seneca Lake, which is the largest of all the Finger Lakes by volume. The lake is also the second longest, after Lake Cayuga.

Seneca Lake is 600 feet deep and covers an area of 43,343 acres.

This town is believed to have inspired the establishment of the Bedford Falls.

Visitors come to Seneca Falls to experience the many water-sports that the lake has to offer. If you’re looking forward to experiencing the lake on a whole other level, you should come prepared for kayaking, canoeing, and boating

14. The Genesee Valley

Genesee Valley ParkSource: DanielPenfield / Wikimedia
Genesee Valley Park

The Genesee Valley straddles the Genesee River as it flows from its Pennsylvania origins to the outskirts of Rochester. The valley has extremely fertile soil, with the top layer going as deep as 10 feet. The soil’s fertility can be attributed to the limestone deposits that were leached into the soils by glaciations.

Within the valley, you will find the Genesee Valley Park. This park was created for the purpose of environmental conservation.

On your visit to the park, you can indulge in a number of activities, such as bird-watching, fishing, hiking, and canoeing.

15. Rochester

Rochester, New YorkSource: TarnPisessith / shutterstock
Rochester, New York

Rochester is a mid-sized city found on the shores of Lake Ontario. This city is also referred to as “The Flower City”, “The World’s Image Center”, or “Kodak Town.” It is the birthplace of amateur photography.

The only museum in the world that is purely dedicated to plays can be found in Rochester. Rochester is definitely a treasure of the Western New York area; it has museums, beaches, and waterways that are a delight to every tourist.

There are other historical treasures here that complement modern, family-friendly attractions that are unmatched by those found in larger regions. In the middle of the city, you will also find a trio of majestic waterfalls.

15 Best Day Trips from Niagara Falls:

  • The City of Buffalo
  • Ellicottville
  • Lake Ontario
  • Albright-Knox Art Museum
  • Letchworth State Park
  • Finger Lakes Region
  • East Aurora
  • Toronto
  • Old Fort Niagara
  • Darien Lake Theme Park
  • Niagara-on-the-Lake
  • Lake Erie
  • Seneca Lake and Falls
  • The Genesee Valley
  • Rochester