The Best Road Trip from Albany To Niagara Falls

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A road trip from Albany to Niagara Falls stretches out a five-hour drive into a three-day excursion through upstate New York.
Although you might not be near New York City, there’s still tons to do in the Empire State. See amazing scenery, dig into some tasty food, and learn a bit of history as you wind through the northern reaches of the state.
To get you through the journey, car insurance and broker app Jerry offers an excellent roadside assistance program. From towing and lockout services to fuel delivery and tire changes, Jerry can get you back on the road quickly.
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Key trip details

Albany to Niagara Falls trip map.
Albany to Niagara Falls
​​Distance: 315 miles
Driving time: 5 hours and 15 minutes
Suggested length of trip: 3 to 4 days

Itinerary

  • Albany, NY—Half a day
  • Syracuse, NY—1 to 2 days
  • Buffalo, NY—Half a day
  • Niagara Falls, NY—2 days

Day one: Start in Albany

State capital Albany is an emerging hub upstate, offering trendy food and a bit of a dive into history. Spend the morning there before setting off to Syracuse.

Where to eat in Albany

  • Iron Gate Cafe ($$): Fuel up at this popular spot that offers a range of classic breakfast fare and affordable brunch cocktails. Try the broccoli and onion quiche!
  • Rain Modern Chinese ($$): For lunch, head to this relaxed spot serving Chinese fare and try the pork belly bao—and store any leftovers at the hotel for a snack later.
  • Hollow Bar and Kitchen ($$): This is a great option for dinner—you can expect to hear live music and enjoy a craft beer alongside classic pub fare. Try the Hollow Burger!

What to do in Albany

A view looking up at the stone facade of the New York State Capitol Building.
New York State Capitol Building
  • Tour the Capitol Building: A great way to take Albany, as the capital of New York state, is to visit their state capital building. Built in the late 1800s, this historical building is an impressive sight to see.
  • New York State Museum: Stroll through this museum and get an in-depth look at the history, nature, and culture of New York. Some of their permanent exhibitions include the Adirondack Wilderness, Harlem in the 1920s, and Fire Engine Hall.
  • Washington Park: Get some fresh air and stretch your legs in this 81-acre park

Day two: Strolling around Syracuse—and then to Buffalo

146 miles, 2.5 hours
Continue your exploration through the cities of upstate New York as you take in some of Syracuse’s sights. Prepare for some adventures in the outdoors!
To get to Syracuse, take I-90 W until you reach exit 13.

Where to stay in Syracuse

  • Hotel Skyler: Built from a decrepit synagogue, it’s an eco-friendly, cool oasis among the chain lodgings that dominate the city. The rooms are comfy and spacious, so this is a great place to rest and catch some zzz’s. Cost per night: from $133.

Where to eat in Syracuse

  • Oh My Darling ($$): Drop into this quaint spot for breakfast. It’s cute and trendy inside, with a full coffee menu and brunch classics. The quinoa bowl makes for a healthy start to your day!
  • Skytop Coffee ($): Grab lunch from this cafe, a classic java shop that offers big sandwiches alongside freshly made coffee—in case you need a little pick me up.
  • Pastabilities ($$): Beyond just having the best name for a pasta restaurant there can be, Pastabilities serves up delicious homemade pasta and familiar Italian fare.

What to do in Syracuse

A panoramic aerial view of Green Lakes State Park at sunset.
Green Lakes State Park
  • Green Lakes State Park: Drive over to this natural area renowned for its beautiful scenery and well-regarded golf course. Admission costs $8 per vehicle, but the landscape makes it worth it.
  • Skaneateles Lake: Head over to this picturesque spot after lunch and take a boat tour around the lake. It’s one of a number of gorgeous lakes to be found in the Upstate New York area.
Pro Tip The Finger Lakes region is within an hour’s drive of Syracuse and has lots of great wineries that offer tastings, small bites, and beautiful views!

Day three: Buffalo and Niagara

170 miles, 3 hours
Explore Niagara Falls for your first saunter around the national landmark. Make sure you bring good walking shoes and be prepared for changing weather.
To reach Buffalo, continue on the I-90 W and take the Oak Street exit from NY-33 W. Niagara Falls is a mere 20-minute drive from Buffalo, and you can use the I-90 N again to get there!

Where to eat in Buffalo

  • Paula’s Donuts ($): Check out this well-loved local hotspot for a yummy, sugary breakfast. They always have special offers, such as a free donut with an iced drink, making for ideal bulk orders.
  • Marco’s Italian Deli ($$): For lunch, grab-and-go fresh sandwiches from Marco’s Italian Deli make for the perfect filling meal—you can take them on a hike!
  • The Dapper Goose ($$): Enjoy dinner at this small, trendy spot that features a rotating menu. The Korean fried chicken is a highlight, and we highly recommend trying it out if you can!

What to do in Niagara Falls

  • Visit Niagara Falls: Though it's a popular tourist attraction, witnessing the magnificence of the Falls is a truly breathtaking sight to see in person. It’s a definite bucket-list item, and now you can cross it off!
  • Walk the Niagara Scenic Parkway Trail: Formerly known as the Robert Moses Recreational Trail, this walk is around 5.1 miles and is a popular hiking trail that offers panoramic views of the American side of the falls.
  • Maid of the Mist Tour: One of the best ways to learn about the history of Niagara—and its significance to the country. It also brings you up-close and personal with the impressive force of the Falls!

Where to stay in Niagara Falls

  • The Giacomo: Bed in at this luxury boutique hotel that’s located less than 10 minutes from Niagara Falls. It’s one of the closest hotels to the falls—and it’s comfy, too! Cost per night: from $122.

Day four: Niagara, part 2

Niagara Falls simply can’t be done in a day. So, for your second day in the area, take another hike or cruise down the Erie Canal. And obviously, take loads of pictures!

Where to eat in Niagara Falls

  • Third Street Retreat ($$): Grab yourself some breakfast from this cheap and cheerful diner with a great atmosphere. It’ll put off lunch for a while if you fancy a longer walk!
  • Power City Eatery ($): For lunch, check out this spot for specialty sandwiches. The cafe does a different delicious sandwich every day, so keep your eye on the menu!
  • The Griffon ($$): This Niagara staple is your best bet for dinner, as their welcoming, vibrant atmosphere is only bested by their delicious selection of American fare and cocktails.

What to do in Niagara Falls (part 2)

The mossy natural stone walls over Niagara Gorge Trail.
Niagara Gorge
  • Hike Niagara Gorge: Walk this trail to take in some magnificent views and witness the rushing water of the falls. It’s not a difficult trail, so you can take your time and enjoy the scenery!
  • Devil’s Hole State Park: This park has a little bit of everything for everyone! There is a rugged trail you can hike, but flat areas are also available to walk or bike through. Pack well and prepare to spend some time just soaking up the view!

Why you need roadside assistance

Unfortunately, accidents happen. Whether you run out of gas, collide with another car, or pop a tire, it’s possible that you might need help to keep your road trip going.
For those situations, Jerry has a great roadside assistance package. It features up to 10 miles of towing plus jump starts, tire changes, fuel deliveries, and more—and will reach you no matter where you are!
The package also comes with some exclusive benefits, including car advice, key replacement, and Uber credits. And it only costs $6.99 for one car.
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The fast route back

The quickest way back is to effectively return the way you came. Head straight east for four hours, stopping off in Syracuse for a quick bite if you need to break things up.

The scenic route back

If you want to extend things by a few days and experience some more time outdoors, you can hit two more state parks.
First, head down into Allegany State Park. There are tons of great opportunities for hiking and watersports in the area. You can stay overnight there in any number of Airbnbs.
The next morning, cruise over on the pretty drive to the Catskills. The famous cluster of hills functions well for summer or winter fun, and the isolation of some properties is a good respite from city life.
After that, drive the remaining two hours back to Albany.

Finding cheap car insurance

Regardless of where you’re driving, you need the right car insurance. And the easiest way to get it is to use Jerry.
Jerry is a personal insurance broker that lives in your pocket. But don’t worry about buying tiny office furniture, Jerry is an app!
Once you download Jerry, you’ll answer a handful of questions that will take you roughly 45 seconds to complete and you’ll immediately get car insurance quotes from up to 50 top providers. Jerry customers save an average of $897 per year when switching with Jerry—and did we mention that it’s totally free to use?
"The process was so easy and Jerry handled everything from canceling my old policy to establishing my new one! Highly recommend this app." —Jerry customer

FAQs

What gear do I need to bring?

A trip to Niagara Falls requires a commitment to the outdoors. That means bringing hiking gear and comfortable athletic clothing to walk in. A good backpack, reliable (and waterproof) shoes, and a refillable water bottle will go a long way!
Jerry also has a road trip essentials list that you can refer to.

What happens if I break down?

First of all, don’t panic! Breakdowns happen to everyone, it’s just important that you and your car are prepared. That means purchasing the best, most affordable insurance—and signing up for Jerry’s roadside assistance program so that you’re always covered!
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