In this northeast road trip itinerary, I’ll take you on a great 2-week journey from Toronto to New York. Besides great cities, you’ll also visit several gorgeous waterfalls.
Day 1: travel to Toronto
When you travel from Europe to Toronto, you probably arrive late in the afternoon in Toronto. Don’t plan too much, just pick up your rental car, get some groceries, and chill, so you can easily deal with your jetlag. If you arrive by plane, it’s convenient to pick a hotel close to the airport, because there’s a lot of traffic around the airport.
Hotel tip: Quality Inn & Suites, Brampton
Day 2: Presqu’ile Provincial Park and Thousand Islands National Park
Get up early, because today you’ll start your road trip in Ontario! You’ll start making your way along the northern shore of Lake Ontario, where you will see lots of beautiful sights. It might take a while to leave Toronto because of all the traffic, but around Pickering, the roads will clear. During your road trip, Lake Ontario will be on your right side constantly. A great place to break up the long drive and to stop for lunch is Presqu’ile Provincial Park. This is a park where you can make some short hikes along Lake Ontario and the swamps (don’t forget to bring bug spray!), and there’s also a beautiful lighthouse.
After the break, it’ll take you about 1,5 hours to reach Gananoque, a lovely small town next to the Saint Lawrence River. In Gananoque, you can take a scenic boat tour around the Thousand Islands. Where you will see loads of tiny houses and castles on small private islands. It’s a beautiful trip, I highly recommend it.
Day 3 & 4: Lake Placid & the Adirondacks
It’s time to leave Canada! Make sure to cross the border to the United State over the Thousand Islands Bridge. The views are amazing! Crossing the border might take some time, so be patient and stay calm. Before you know it, you’re entering the United States of America.
When you arrive in New York State, drive to Gouverneur, and take the scenic route along the lakes. You’ll see several nice places to stop, like Cranberry Lake, Tupper Lake, and Saranac Lake. The area you’ll want to stay in for a few days is around Lake Placed and Wilmington. In Lake Placid, you can visit the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex. Here you can spot athletes jumping around on their skies. You can take an elevator to the top of the highest ski jump, where you will have an amazing view of the area.
In Wilmington, you can drive to Whiteface Mountain. The road to the top is stunning and you can also climb to the top, where you’ll have a 360-view of the area.
Day 5: Explore Massachusettes
On day five of this northeast road trip itinerary, you will make your way to the south of New York State. You can either follow the Hudson River down south or head east so you’ll be able to explore a bit of Massachusettes.
This state is filled with cute small towns, and you won’t see a lot of other tourists. I chose to stay in Massachusetts because hotels are half price compared to hotels in New York State. If you’d like to go shopping, this state is also a better choice, because of a lower sales tax. In this area, you’ll also find some nice State Parks if you like to go for a hike.
Day 6, 7 & 8: New York City
It’s only a couple of hours from Pittsfield to New York City. There are a couple of waterfalls where you can stop on the road to New York, like the one in the High Falls Conservation Area.
You’ve got 2,5 days to go sightseeing in New York. This is not enough time to see everything, but it’ll give you a good impression of this amazing city. Is it your first trip to New York? In that case, I would recommend visiting the following places:
– Top of the Rock (amazing view of the skyline and it’s one of the best instagrammable places in NYC)
– Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
– Visit Ground Zero
– Take the free ferry to Staten Island (great views)
– Rent a bike and explore Central Park
Hotel tip: LIC Hotel in Queens
Day 9: road trip in Pennsylvania
When you leave New York after a couple of days of fun, you’ll probably be in need of something more quiet and fewer tourists. After leaving the city, you’ll drive through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Make sure to take the smaller roads, so you’ll be able to stop at some viewpoints. Do you like shopping? Check out all the discounts at The Crossings Premium Outlets.
Day 10 & 11: Watkins Glen & the Finger Lakes
It’s time to relax for a couple of days, and Watkins Glen at Seneca Lake is one of the best places to do it! Seneca Lake is one of the finger lakes, which are surrounded by vineyards. You can go on a wine-tasting tour, hike in the amazing Watkins Glen State Park (19 waterfalls!) or just relax in one of the parks surrounding the lake.
Day 12: Niagara Falls
On day twelve of this northeast road trip itinerary, you’ll be going back to Canada. At the border between the United States and Canada, you’ll see one of the highlights of this road trip: Niagara Falls. With all the hotels it feels a little like you’re in Las Vegas. However, visiting Niagara Falls is one of the best things to do in Ontario.
The Niagara Falls are amazing to see. Walk around, and certainly enjoy the views. And if you don’t mind getting wet, I highly recommend taking a boat trip with either Hornblower or Maid of the Mist to the falls. Going on a boat trip to Niagara Falls should definitely be on your Canada bucket list!
Day 13 & 14: Toronto
During the last two days of this trip, you’re back in Ontario and you’ll finally have some time to explore Toronto. You can go to the CN Tower, wander around in Kensington Market or the Distillery District. If the weather is good, it’s great to visit the Toronto Islands. Do you like street art? You will love this city because street art is everywhere. Are you short on time? Even if you only have one day in Toronto, you’ll have a blast!
Pro tip: Get a Toronto CityPASS when you plan to visit multiple attractions in Toronto like the CN Tower and Casa Loma. With this pass, you’ll get a great discount on many attractions!
Map: Northeast road trip itinerary
This northeast road trip itinerary has a length of approximately 2000 kilometers (about 1250 miles).
Do you need a rental car?
At the airport in Toronto, you’ll find all the big rental car agencies. It’s best (and cheaper) to reserve a rental car beforehand, especially when you come in from Europe. When you make a reservation through a European website, most insurances are included in the rental price. When I rent a car in the US or Canada, I mostly use AutoEurope or Alamo.
Parking is free in most places, but not when you go to big cities like Toronto and New York. It can be convenient to stay in a hotel that has parking available. Otherwise, you can check the website BestParking for the best Parking rates.
Crossing the border between the United States and Canada
During this road trip from Toronto to New York, you’ll have to cross the border between the United States and Canada with your (rental) car. Take your time and make sure you’ve got all your paperwork ready (passport, ESTA, ETA, etcetera).
The best time for this northeast road trip itinerary
Of course, you can make a road trip from Toronto to New York at any time of the year. However, Winters can get really chilly and roads in the Adirondacks might be closed. So if you’d like to go hiking, I would recommend going during Spring, Summer, or Autumn. Driving around in New York State during Autumn will be very beautiful, during Indian Summer the trees get all kinds of colors. I went on this road trip during the summer, which was great. It only got really hot when I was in New York City.
More things to do during a road trip in northeast USA
Do you have more time or are you just a fast traveler? You might check out these sights during a road trip between Toronto and New York.
– Discover Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario. Especially recommended during Summer and Autumn.
– Visit the capital Canada: Ottawa.
– Imagine being in France while you visit the gorgeous city of Montreal.
– Visit Boston before driving to New York.
This is my northeast road trip itinerary, from Toronto to New York. Have you ever been on a road trip in this part of the United States or Canada?
Would yo like to read more about road tripping in northeast USA?
Check out one of these amazing guidebooks:
Looking for more info about great US road trips?
Last update: May 2020.