Living in New York City affords you proximity to basically everything you could want, yet sometimes you need a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. You want to take your family all the way to Toronto.
Can you reach Toronto from New York by car, and what do you need to know before you go?
The drive from New York City to Toronto will take you across country lines. You’ll drive through New York State and then pass through parts of Pennsylvania and Canada. The drive takes about eight hours over nearly 500 miles and should be divided into several days.
This guide will be chock full of information you need to take a successful road trip from New York City to Toronto. I’ll share a recommended route (and activities to do along the way) to help you plan your drive!
The best route from New York to Toronto
Driving from New York City to Toronto isn’t an overly involved route since you can reach Canada by traversing through New York State by car.
You will ultimately have to cross from the United States to Canada, so make sure you and the kids have your passport ready.
Also, expect the trip to take several days despite that you’re really only driving across New York into Canada. Your drive is 490 miles in all!
Here’s how to get to your destination.
New York City to West Point
From New York City, drive straight north for an hour and a half and you’ll reach West Point. Hopefully, the traffic won’t be so bad during your voyage out of the city.
West Point is primarily known for being a military post, but there’s a lot more to it than that.
For example, you can drink in lovely views of the Hudson River here, as West Point is right on the river.
The area also has museums, parks, and a stadium, so you won’t be bored if you decide to get out of the car and stretch your legs here. Even the kids should be entertained.
West Point to Liberty
After departing from West Point, it’s another hour-and-a-half drive through New York State to get to Liberty.
Rather than a straight shot north though, you want to cut northwest past Middletown and Poughkeepsie.
Located in Sullivan County, Liberty is a town that hugs the line between the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountain regions. You’re about 90 minutes from NYC by this point.
Nature abounds in Liberty, from Hanofee Park to Walnut Mountain Park, Thompson Park, Neversink Reservoir, Morningside Lake, and so much more. All are worth exploring with your family!
Liberty to Rock Mountain Drive
Okay, so you have to make one teensy-weensy stop in Pennsylvania on your route, and that’s across Rock Mountain Drive.
This is one of Pennsylvania’s most prized scenic overlooks, so it’s worth seeing as you trek into Canada.
So how do you get there? From Liberty, drive directly west from New York State for about 60 minutes barring traffic.
I would recommend finding some lodging in the area for the evening, as you’ve been in the car for about four hours by this point and you’re surely going to be quite tired.
I bet the kids could use some rest too!
Rock Mountain Drive to Elmira
As a new day dawns and you feel completely refreshed, you’ll crisscross back into New York State from Pennsylvania, with your next destination being Elmira.
To get there, drive northwest past Binghamton. The drive should take you an hour and a half without heavy traffic.
As a New York principal city, Elmira in Chemung County is a sightly part of New York with sports and events stadiums, art museums, parks, and the much beloved Eldridge Park Carousel.
Elmira to Castile
Now you’re firmly back in New York territory, at least for a little while longer.
From Elmira, you’ll drive roughly an hour and a half northwest to Castile. You can stop at Letchworth State Park if you want or explore all that Castile has to offer.
This Wyoming County town is named after the Spanish region of Castile. Within the town is the village of Castile.
Beyond Letchworth State Park, Castile holds many more natural wonders, some of them being Silver Lake, Perry Beach, and Al Lorenz Park.
Castile to Niagara Falls
Are you ready to say goodbye to Castile? You’ll next drive to your last stop in New York, which is the famous Niagara Falls.
The trip takes about an hour and a half without heavy traffic. You’ll again continue your route northwest.
Now is a good time to find a hotel in the area. I know you’re close to Toronto, but you won’t be able to get right into the city anyway since you’ll have to pass customs, so you might as well be well-rested for that.
Niagara Falls to Toronto
Waking up to the Falls is a truly special experience, so you’ll be glad you took the time to do it as a family.
The drive from Niagara Falls to Toronto takes an hour and a half. You’ll have to drive west to Hamilton, then northeast towards Mississauga before stopping in Toronto.
How long does it take to reach Toronto from New York?
You’re planning quite the road trip from New York City to Toronto. Exactly how many hours of driving are you in for?
The entire drive between New York and Toronto takes seven hours and 55 minutes across 490 miles.
This drivetime assumes that you make no stops and that you don’t get stopped by a lick of traffic.
While you can make as many or as few stops as you wish, I always say the more, the merrier!
As for traffic, that’s an impossible situation. Getting out of New York City and driving through other populated parts of New York is going to be a traffic-laden affair.
Other parts of your route could have traffic as well.
On top of all that, as I talked about before, you will have to cross from the US into Canada, and that’s going to be a time-consuming part of the trip.
All this is to say that there’s no need to rush! You might as well control your stress levels and take your time.
The best destinations for families on the way to Toronto
It’s not like you’ll have any shortage of activities that are fun for the whole family as you drive to Toronto. Here are my favorites to explore.
West Point Destinations
- Storm King Art Center
About 30 minutes from West Point is New York’s Orange County, the home of the Storm King Art Center.
Known as the Storm King for short, this art museum is named after the Storm King Mountain, to which the center is in close proximity.
If you’re looking for contemporary outdoor sculptures, there may not be more of those than at the Storm King Art Center.
The art center has been in operation since 1960 and is also a gorgeous place for taking in the natural beauty of Orange County.
- Bannerman Castle
Is a trip to Dutchess County out of your way from West Point? Admittedly, yes, but it’s the only way to see Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island.
You and the kids can take a walking tour, a cruise of the castle and the island, or a kayak tour.
Self-guided tours complete with music are also available for those who know the area well.
If you happen to get to Bannerman Castle a little late, don’t despair, as the castle is an excellent backdrop for movie nights.
Ideal for kids ages 12 and up, you’ll be transported via boat to the castle. Before the movie starts, you can shop for snacks at the concession stand.
Bannerman Castle also hosts theatrical events and dinners, such as a Titanic-themed dinner.
- Bear Mountain
Not far at all from West Point is Bear Mountain along the Hudson River.
This New York State neighborhood is the home of the Appalachian National Scenic Trail.
The area also features playgrounds, seasonal pools, an outdoor ice skating rink, and a carousel for the kiddos.
- Liberty Heights Trampoline Adventure Park
The kids will be thrilled at the idea of spending an afternoon at the Liberty Heights Trampoline Adventure Park!
This indoor adventure and trampoline park in the Catskills features attractions aplenty, from lava launch slides to bouncy trampolines, virtual reality, laser tag, climbing walls, trampoline basketball, extreme dodgeball, glowing trampolines, the Neon Ninja Zone, a skate wall, a Wipeout Trampoline, and a jungle gym.
Liberty Heights Trampoline Adventure Park also has an arcade with games for the whole family.
The park is only open on weekends, so please plan accordingly.
- Hanofee Park
Francis A. Hanofee Memorial Park, or Hanofee Park for short, is a Liberty-owned and operated park.
With plenty of open areas for watching the day pass or flying a kite as well as hiking trails and sports courts like a sand volleyball court, tennis courts, a baseball field, and a basketball court, Hanofee Park has a lot to offer.
As you stroll through, you’ll also find picnic areas, rentable coved pavilions, an Olympic-sized pool, and the 24-acre Dixie Lake.
- Eldridge Park Carousel
Hiding in the Eldridge Park Dog Park is the Eldridge Park Carousel.
Besides the treat that is seeing all the puppies and full-grown dogs, the kids will also be thrilled at the opportunity to ride the carousel.
The carousel was originally built in the 1890s but has been restored by the Carousel Preservation Society, Inc. That was in 2006.
The Eldridge Park carousel features a ring feeder that still works, which is incredibly rare to find in carousels anymore.
The ridable animals include lions and horses. Chariots are also available.
The Carousel Preservation Society has also added attractions such as a small amusement park in the area and a walking park to make visiting worth your while.
In Kiddieland are rides like the mini train, the kiddie boats, the Turtle Chase, and the pony carts, the latter of which are from the mid-20th century and are still operational to this day.
Kids can also ride the sailplanes known as The Thunderbirds or a paddleboat known as Jasper II.
Jasper II is a ferocious beast-shaped boat and is the successor of the original Jasper from the start of the 20th century.
- Mark Twain’s Study
Sure, you and the kids could always see where Mark Twain died, but isn’t that a touch morbid? I would say so, even if it’s history.
Rather, take them to see Mark Twain’s Study at Elmira College.
The octagonal-shaped study was originally built around 1874. The view of the original allowed Twain to see the Chemung River Valley and the Quarry Farm.
Twain wrote not entire books here, but portions of some of his greatest works, such as The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, A Tramp Abroad, Life on the Mississippi, The Prince and the Pauper,and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
- Chemung Valley History Museum
A day in Elmira isn’t complete without a visit to the Chemung Valley History Museum.
The exhibits here do rotate in and out, but a portion of the museum is dedicated to Mark Twain, and those exhibits shouldn’t change. The exhibits make a great complement to your trip to Mark Twain’s Study!
The Chemung Valley History Museum is open from Mondays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. but is closed on Sundays.
- Al Lorenz Park
From Castile, it’s a short trip to Livingston County, where you can find Al Lorenz Park.
This appealing 80-acre park is between Letchworth State Park, Mt. Morris County Campus, and the Genesee River.
The park is open all year long and features reservable gazebos and pavilions. Picnic tables with water, electricity, and charcoal grills are also available.
The range of recreational facilities should entertain any family while the trails give you lots of great opportunities to explore nature.
- Perry Public Beach
In nearby Perry is the aptly-named Perry Beach, a public beach at Silver Lake that was recently renovated.
The beach features a grassy area that’s open daily between 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. It’s not a beach in the traditional sense but is still utterly lovely.
Ideal for picnicking, sightseeing, bird-watching, or enjoying the day, Perry Beach is free. Swimming is not permitted, and no lifeguards are at the park.
- Prehistoric World
A can’t-miss attraction near Perry, Prehistoric World is part dinosaur museum, part reptile zoo.
Stroll through the museum grounds and appreciate a time long since gone when you and the kiddos witness memorabilia and exhibits dating back to the Jurassic Period. Live reptiles are onsite as well.
Prehistoric World is divided into two areas, Site A – Living Jungle and Site B – The Desert Lands and Turtle Town.
In Site A – Living Jungle, live creatures abound, from snakes to reptiles, lizards, and everything in between.
Then, make your way to Site B – The Desert Lands and Turtle Town, an exhibit on desert-dwelling creatures such as tortoises and turtles.
More lizards and snakes are present here as well, and the same goes for hedgehogs, prairie dogs, scorpions, and tarantulas.
What to do with the kids in Toronto
You and the children have finally made it to Toronto. You can spend days here getting lost in all the fun entertainment options.
As you fill up your itinerary, I hope you consider the following attractions.
The biggest zoo in all of Canada, Toronto Zoo has seven regions to explore in all, each of which is divided by zoogeographic location.
Here’s where you and the kiddos can explore:
- Canadian Domain
- Tundra Trek
I bet you thought that was all, but not in the slightest! Many seasonal attractions abound that will surely enchant the entire family.
The Gorilla Climbs Rope Course is for balancing, crawling, and swinging from 33 feet up across more than 25 elements.
The Wild Rouge Zipline & Canopy tour is a speedy zipline attraction through Rouge Valley, Splash Island is a two-acre splash pad with tipping buckets and waterfalls, and the TundraAir Ride takes you over the Tundra Trek exhibit.
The Kids Zoo includes a slide and a treehouse as well as small animal exhibits with goats and alpacas.
There’s also a greenhouse, a Conservation Carousel for kids, and the tour-led Zoomobile.
All attractions are open seasonally.
Ontario Science Centre
Once known as the Centennial Museum of Science and Technology but since renamed, the Ontario Science Centre has a handful of exhibits that never change.
- A Question of Truth about scientific hypotheses
- The AstraZeneca Human Edge about how the body handles danger
- KidSpark, an interactive exhibit for kids up to eight years old with a limited capacity
- Space Hall, which showcases black holes, cosmic rays, and meteorites
- The HotZone, a place to test one’s knowledge and expand one’s curiosity about science
- The Bruce Poon Tip Living Earth Hall, which mimics a rainforest
- Science Arcade, which introduces engineering and physics skills
- Weston Family Innovation Centre, a place for experimentation
- Forest Lane, which features a Douglas fir that’s 464 years old
- Cohon Family Nature Escape, an outdoor exhibit on the Don River Valley ravine
The Ontario Science Center has its own planetarium that shows IMAX films. You and the kids might be able to see films like Asteroid Hunters, Dinosaurs of Antarctica, Into Nature’s Wild, Oceans: Our Blue Planet, or Great Bear Rainforest.
In nearby Vaughan is Canada’s Wonderland, a fantastic amusement park for families.
The kiddos will enjoy tame attractions such as the carousel, KidZville Station train ride, or Viking’s Rage, a buccaneer-style ride.
For those who want more thrills, try the Backlot Stunt Coaster, the Behemoth, Dragon Fyre, or the Drop Tower.
Open in the summer is the Splash Works Waterpark for splashing and playing the day away. The rides there range from tube slides to lagoon pools and a lazy river.
Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament
As your vacation wraps up, end things on a high note at Toronto’s Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament.
You and the children will be treated to a four-course feast that includes an herb-basted potato, sweet buttered corn, roasted chicken, tomato bisque soup, and garlic bread. Dessert is included as well!
Once you have eaten to your heart’s content, sit back and watch a show from times long ago with live horses and jousting!
Do you want to plan a road trip from New York to Toronto? Now that you know everything that goes into planning and driving, you and the family are readier than ever to make incredible memories together!