Niagara Falls borders parts of New York and Canada and is thus easily reachable from New Jersey. When planning a road trip to Niagara Falls from NJ, what do you need to know?
Road tripping from New Jersey to Niagara falls takes over seven hours if you don’t run into traffic. You can go directly to New York or cut through Pennsylvania first. Remember to take your time and enjoy your sights on the way to Niagara Falls, as they are worth your time.
In this extensive guide, I’ll recommend the best route to Niagara Falls from New Jersey, as well as all the sights along the way. I’ll also tell you what you and your family can do once you finally reach Niagara Falls, so make sure you keep reading!
The Best Route from New Jersey to Niagara Falls
As you plan your family vacation, you’ll have to determine your route from New Jersey to Niagara Falls.
You can get there in plenty of ways. Some routes save more time than others, but my recommendation is to focus less on the time and more on all the amazing sights you can see if you’re willing to take detours and scenic routes along the way.
You could theoretically reach Niagara Falls from New Jersey in one day, but you can also feel free to break up the journey into two legs with an overnight stop if you get carried away with the sightseeing.
Without any further ado, here is my recommended route to reach your destination.
Newark to East Stroudsburg
Newark, New Jersey is a central New Jersey city that’s also home to Newark Liberty International Airport, the most popular airport in the area.
You can take a train to Newark or reach the city by car. If you live closer to central New Jersey, then you’ll cut down on your drive time. If you don’t, be ready to tack on some additional time to your route.
From Newark, you’ll reach East Stroudsburg in Pennsylvania in about 60 minutes (barring traffic) by heading west.
This borough is in Pennsylvania’s Poconos region and is worth spending some time in if you want to.
East Stroudsburg to Scranton
Once you’re ready to bid adieu to East Stroudsburg, it’s time to head to Scranton by driving north from East Stroudsburg.
The drive will take about 49 minutes, so you’re not tacking on too much time to your trip.
Scranton is a northeastern Pennsylvania city that features the Steamtown National Historic Site and a trolley museum.
The kids might enjoy experiencing a bit of Pennsylvania’s history on the way to Niagara Falls.
Scranton to Binghamton
If you continue driving for another hour north, you’ll cross over Pennsylvania state lines into New York.
Your destination is Binghamton, a city in New York State that’s sure to be very appealing to the kiddos. After all, Binghamton is the home to a zoo and a park with carousels dating back to the 1920s.
Should you wish to break your trip up into two days of driving, then I’d recommend finding lodging in Binghamton.
This way, if you and the kids linger too long at a museum or zoo, you don’t have to feel bad about it.
Binghamton to Syracuse
Perhaps you feel up for more driving still. If that’s the case, then you’ll continue driving north until you reach Syracuse.
It will take you about an hour and a half without traffic to get there from Binghamton.
Syracuse is a city far removed from NYC that offers many theaters, museums, and historical buildings.
Along the way on this leg of the route, you’ll pass by Cortland, Ithaca, and Auburn.
Syracuse to Rochester
It’s another hour and a half (unless you get caught in traffic, then it can be longer) north from Syracuse to Rochester.
This city overlooks the beautiful Lake Ontario on the New York side and is full of tall industrial buildings that will give you New York City vibes. Rochester has far fewer tourists, though!
Rochester to Niagara Falls
You’re almost there, so if the kids are pestering you by the time you reach Rochester, you can reassure them.
From Rochester, you’ll drive another hour and a half. You’re about at the northernmost point of New York (at this end of the state anyway!) by the time you get to Rochester, so you can’t keep heading north. You’d be in Lake Ontario!
Instead, you want to cut west to the edge of New York and Canada, and voila, you’ve reached Niagara Falls.
How long will it take you to reach Niagara Falls from New Jersey?
It’s quite a trip, but how long will it take you to get to Niagara Falls if you leave from Newark?
It’s about seven and a half hours total, provided you don’t run into traffic and if you don’t stop for too long.
A seven-and-a-half-hour road trip is tough for even some adults to get through and will certainly leave your children cranky.
I would recommend making lots of stops and taking your time to enjoy the entirety of your journey. Be sure to stop off around Binghamton and stay at a hotel for the night.
You will add more expense to your trip, but the kids will appreciate the time out of the car, and honestly, so will you!
If you break up your trip like that, then you’ll only drive about three hours the first day and roughly four hours the next day.
Be sure to hit the road early both days if you can. You want to time your driving so that it doesn’t coincide with morning or evening rush hours.
Otherwise, you’re bound to get stuck in some frustratingly long traffic.
Must-see destinations on the road to Niagara Falls
I know that your ultimate destination is Niagara Falls, but you know the saying. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey.
Make the entire trip a fun family time by stopping off in the various cities throughout Pennsylvania and New York that comprise your driving trip to Niagara Falls.
I narrowed it down to three locations per city, town, and borough so that if you are indeed on a tighter arrival timeline, you don’t chew through valuable time on each stop.
East Stroudsburg Destinations
- Pocono Snake & Animal Farm
Make the day a memorable one as soon as you arrive in Pennsylvania by visiting East Stroudsburg’s Pocono Snake & Animal Farm.
For over 50 years, the farm has been a place for kids of all ages to experience a variety of animals.
Less crowded and more intimate than a zoo, the Pocono Snake & Animal Farm displays snapping turtles, alligators, macaws, raccoons, chinchillas, sloths, snakes, lemurs, monkeys, bobcats, deer, and bears.
The farm is open in the summer from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but not in inclement weather. Outside food and drinks are not allowed.
- Pocono TreeVentures
The kids might never want to leave East Stroudsburg if you take them to Pocono TreeVentures.
TreeVentures will get your children’s hearts racing as they experience the Pocono KidVentures, Pocono Zip Quest, Pocono Zip Racer, and the aerial ropes course.
The highest point of all the TreeVentures activities is only 40 feet, so parents can breathe a much-needed sigh of relief. The courses are also represented by various degrees of difficulty.
Kids must be at least seven years old to play at Pocono TreeVentures and must be supervised by an adult. Kids up to 14 years old also need supervision.
- Resica Falls
As a preview of Niagara Falls, why not stop by Resica Falls in East Stroudsburg?
This Pocono Mountains destination is a common gathering spot for more than 3,000 scouts every summer.
It takes about 60 minutes to traverse the beautiful lands here.
- Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour
As you roll into Scranton, make a beeline for the Lackawanna Coal Mine Tour, which is one of the most highly-rated family-friendly attractions in this part of Pennsylvania.
Part museum and part coal mine tour, the tour takes you 300 feet underground to a coal mine that’s existed since 1860.
The guide will walk your family through the tunnels and show you coal along the way.
- Houdini Museum
The Houdini Museum will mystify your kids!
This magic show/museum tour is open all year long and offers air conditioning if you’re traveling in the summer.
It’s best to make a reservation to ensure you can get a seat, as your kids are certainly not going to want to miss it.
- Steamtown National Historic Site
If your kids are interested in trains, then you must take them to the Steamtown National Historic Site before leaving Scranton.
The historic site offers lots of entertainment and plenty of educational experiences, including an 18-minute film called Steel or Steam, an accompanying history museum, and the Locomotive Repair Shop.
You and the family can also take a short ride on one of the trains at the Steamtown National Historic Site. These rides are offered seasonally.
- Ross Park Zoo
You’ve made it to Binghamton! The whole family deserves a reward such as a fun couple of hours at the Ross Park Zoo.
Since 1875, the Ross Park Zoo has been a premier destination in this part of New York.
Its season runs from April until December. Even if you’re traveling outside of peak months, you should still be able to visit this museum.
You can see an assortment of birds, plenty of mammals, and even endangered species such as snow leopards, red wolves, red pandas, golden-headed lion tamarins, black-and-white ruffled lemurs, amur leopards, and African penguins.
- The Discovery Center of the Southern Tier
One of the most recommended family-friendly destinations in Binghamton is The Discovery Center of the Southern Tier, which is also referred to as The Discovery Center.
This is a hands-on children’s museum with many interactive elements.
The exhibits include the bee-themed What’s the Buzz exhibit, the dental-themed Open Wide exhibit, the replica supermarket called Weis Market, and the Story Garden.
Childcare programs are available, as are live events that change throughout the year.
- Recreation Park
Recreation Park is the home to the Recreation Park Carousel, which is reason alone to go. This is the aforementioned carousel from 1925.
The wood-carved rides include four chariots and 60 horses that jump. There’s also a Wurlitzer Military Band Organ on the carousel with bells and chimes.
The carousel has been lovingly restored over time to appeal to more modern generations while still maintaining its original designs.
- Rosamond Gifford Zoo
If you missed the Ross Park Zoo due to time constraints, then you can always make up for it by heading to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse.
This zoo includes a variety of indoor and outdoor attractions featuring lots and lots of animals, everything from reptiles to amphibians, mammals, invertebrates, fish, and birds.
You can even have hands-on animal encounters like a sloth encounter, penguin encounter, hawk walk, elephant bath, or waterfowl pond feeding.
Keep in mind that each of these experiences costs a separate fee from the zoo entry fee.
You also have to reserve the experience in advance since space is limited. I promise this is something the kids wouldn’t soon forget!
- Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology
The Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology, more commonly abbreviated as MOST, is a museum for playing, learning, and discovering.
The exhibits run the gamut, including the World of Butterflies, the Innovation Station, the Dino Zone, Toothpick World, and the Earth Science Discovery Cave.
The MOST museum is only open from Thursdays to Sundays each week from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- WonderWorks Destiny
Referred to as “an amusement park for the mind,” WonderWorks Destiny features more than 100 science exhibits, all of which are hands-on.
Your kids will have a blast on a 6D motion ride that stimulates all their senses and then some. They can also cross a ropes course or play some laser tag!
- Seneca Park Zoo
You’ve gotten to Rochester, which means that Niagara Falls is only a hop, skip, and jump away. Don’t rush through quite yet though, as there’s plenty to see and do here.
For instance, there’s the Seneca Park Zoo. This zoo could be just what the kids need if you skipped the other two zoos because of a lack of time.
The Seneca Park Zoo offers a varied assortment of amphibians, reptiles, mammals, invertebrates, fish, and birds.
- The Strong National Museum of Play
The kids have never seen a museum like The Strong National Museum of Play!
This Rochester museum features a carousel and train, the Butterfly Garden, a Play Lab, the Skyline Climb, the National Toy Hall of Fame, and the World Video Game Hall of Fame.
You’ll be the parent of the year if you bring your kids here!
- Seabreeze Amusement Park
A family-friendly museum with historic origins, the Seabreeze Amusement Park in nearby Irondequoit (a Rochester suburb) over Lake Ontario has been open since 1879.
The park has more than 70 attractions in all, from family-friendly rides for the young’uns to kiddie rides for slightly older kids, an on-site water park, and thrill rides for teens and adults.
You can buy food like hot dogs, cheeseburgers, sandwiches, waffles, ice cream, tacos, and pizza at the various food stands, stops, and restaurants throughout the park.
What can you do around Niagara Falls?
You and the family finally made it to Niagara Falls.
Besides drinking in the plentiful beauty of the three waterfalls here, you can continue the family fun with the following activities.
The Mystery Maze is a Medieval-themed maze that requires your family to work together to outpace the competition and capture three towers first.
Then you’ll be granted the Mystery Sword, making you the official winners!
This is an all-ages attraction.
WildPlay Zipline to the Falls
If your kids still have the energy to burn after roaming around Niagara Falls’ waterfalls, then treat them to an afternoon at WildPlay Zipline to the Falls.
This attraction is recommended for older kids and adults since the max height of this zipline is 2,200 feet. You also go pretty fast, reaching speeds of more than 40 miles per hour at some points.
The views are breathtaking as you witness the Niagara River gorge in a way that you’ve never seen before!
In nearby Clifton Hill, Canada, you and the kids can hop aboard the Niagara Skywheel, a 175-foot attraction that’s another excellent way to witness the beauty of Niagara Falls.
Ride it by day or by night for two vastly different experiences!
Keep in mind that you will need a passport (for yourself and your children) if you hope to cross over to Canada while in Niagara Falls.
Fallsview Indoor Waterpark
The Fallsview Indoor Waterpark is also in Clifton Hill.
Even if you’re traveling outside of peak season, since the Fallsview is indoors, you can still have summertime fun any time of the year.
The three-acre waterpark includes 16 waterslides in all, a Tiny Tot play area for toddlers, a plunge bowl, a sundeck and activity pool, a wave pool, and the Beach House Rain Fortress with a tipping bucket that drops 1,000 gallons of water throughout the day.
You can rent a private cabana for the day and then venture over to the Beach Club when you and the family get hungry for snacks and refreshments.
Great Canadian Midway
Yet another can’t-miss Clifton Hill attraction is the Great Canadian Midway, a park that boasts 70,000 feet of heart-pounding excitement.
From the Ghost Blasters Dark Ride to the Cosmic Coaster 6D Ride Experience and more than 300 games, the Great Canadian Midway and its neon lights galore will enchant kids and make adults feel young again.
I also suggest a stop at the Bird Kingdom if time allows. This is the biggest indoor aviary in Clifton Hill!
Featuring multiple levels that resemble an authentic rainforest, Bird Kingdom also has three aviaries: the Main Aviary, Lorikeet Aviary, and Small Bird Aviary.
The Night Jungle hosts bats, owls, and other nocturnal winged animals and is also worth seeing.
You can even sign your kids up for an animal encounter with exotic birds and parrots.
Road tripping from New Jersey to Niagara Falls will take you through the east coast states of Pennsylvania and New York, which each hold a lot of hidden wonders if you have time to explore them.
Once you finally arrive at Niagara Falls, make sure you set aside time to do more than view the waterfalls. You can take your kids to an amusement park, an arcade, an animal exhibit, and so much more!