Would you like to go for a scenic road trip in northeast USA and Canada? You will absolutely love this 2-week Toronto to New York road trip itinerary!
Toronto to New York road trip itinerary
Do you want to go on a road trip from Toronto to New York and back in two weeks? Then this is a great itinerary full of beautiful sights, large cities, and waterfalls.
Day 1: travel to Toronto
Make your way to Toronto on your first day. Depending on your arrival time, you might have some time to explore the city.
If you arrive late in the afternoon like I did (I flew from Amsterdam to Toronto), 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 $: Best Western Plus Toronto Airport Hotel
Hotel tip $$: Hilton Garden Inn Toronto Airport
Day 2: Presqu’ile Provincial Park and Thousand Islands National Park
Get up early, because today you’ll start your Toronto to New York drive! You’ll start making your way along the northern shore of Lake Ontario, where you will see lots of beautiful sights.
It might take a while to leave Toronto because of all the traffic, but around Pickering, the roads will clear. During your road trip, Lake Ontario will be on your right side constantly.
A great place to break up the long drive and to stop for lunch is Presqu’ile Provincial Park. This is a park where you can make some short hikes along Lake Ontario and through the swamps. Don’t forget to bring bug spray since there are a lot of mosquitos. There’s also a beautiful lighthouse in the park.
After the break, it’ll take you about 1,5 hours to reach Gananoque, a lovely small town next to the Saint Lawrence River. In Gananoque, you can take a scenic boat tour around the Thousand Islands. Where you will see loads of tiny houses and castles on small private islands. It’s a beautiful trip, and I highly recommend it.
Tip: want to see more of the Thousand Islands? You can also check out the area with a helicopter tour!
Hotel tip $: Colonial Resort & Spa
Hotel tip $$: The Woodview Inn
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. From there you can 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 has many great viewpoints. From the parking lot, you can either take an elevator or go on a short hike but very scenic hike to the top. From there, you’ll have a beautiful 360-degree view of the Adirondack Mountains.
Read more: This is how you drive up Whiteface Mountain (New York State)
Hotel tip Wilmington: Adirondack Spruce Lodge in Wilmington
Hotel tip Lake Placid: Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort in Lake Placid
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 the state of Massachusetts.
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.
Stay in one of the many towns, there are hotels everywhere. We chose to stay in the city of Pittsfield, and we really like the vibe there. Fun detail: we were the only tourists.
Hotel tip $: Berkshire Inn
Hotel tip $$: Hotel on North
Day 6, 7 & 8: New York City!
It’s only a couple of hours from Pittsfield to New York City. There are a couple of waterfalls where you can stop on the road to New York, like the one in the High Falls Conservation Area.
You’ve got about three days to go sightseeing in New York. This is not enough time to see everything, but it’ll give you a good impression of this amazing city. Is it your first trip to New York? In that case, I would recommend visiting the following places:
- Visit the Top of the Rock for an amazing view of the skyline. This is also one of the best instagrammable places in NYC.
- Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge.
- Take the free ferry to Staten Island for beautiful views of Manhattan.
- Go cycling in Central Park.
- Take a helicopter ride over Manhattan.
- Visit the impressive 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Hotel tip (with parking lot): LIC Hotel in Queens.
Extra tip: with the New York CityPass you can save big if you are only in New York for a few days and want to see as much as possible.
Day 9: road trip in Pennsylvania
When you leave New York after a couple of days of fun, you’ll probably be in need of something more quiet and fewer tourists. It’s time for your road trip from NYC to Niagara Falls!
After leaving the city, you’ll drive through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania. Make sure to take the smaller roads, so you’ll be able to stop at some viewpoints.
Do you like shopping? Check out all the discounts at The Crossings Premium Outlets.
Hotel tip $: Days Inn by Wyndham Wilkes Barre
Hotel tip $$: Hampton Inn & Suites Wilkes-Barre
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.
Hotel tip $: Budget Inn Watkins Glen
Hotel tip $$: Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel
Day 12: Niagara Falls
On day twelve of this northeast road trip itinerary, you’ll be going back to Canada. At the border between the United States and Canada, you’ll see one of the highlights of this road trip: Niagara Falls. With all the hotels it feels a little like you’re in Las Vegas. However, visiting Niagara Falls is one of the best things to do in Ontario.
The Niagara Falls are amazing to see. Walk around, and certainly enjoy the views. And if you don’t mind getting wet, I highly recommend taking a boat trip with either Hornblower or Maid of the Mist to the falls. Going on a boat trip to Niagara Falls should definitely be on your Canada bucket list!
Tip: Get the best view of Niagara Falls during a helicopter flight.
Hotel tip $: Days Inn by Wyndham Niagara Falls Near The Falls
Hotel tip $$: Niagara Falls Marriott on the Falls
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. Things to add to your Toronto itinerary:
- When the weather is nice, it is wonderful to explore the beautiful parks.
- Discover all of the most beautiful places in Toronto in only three hours with this fun and scenic guided cycling tour.
- Go to the top of the famous CN Tower (553 meters high!)
- Visit the fun Distillery Historic District. The best way to learn about Toronto’s history is to go on this Distillery District Historic Walking Tour.
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!
Hotel tip $: The Rex Hotel (budget hotel in a great location).
Hotel tip $$: Pantages Hotel Toronto Centre
Toronto to New York road trip Map
This northeast road trip itinerary has a length of approximately 2000 kilometers (about 1250 miles).
Click here to zoom in (links to external website).
Where to get your rental car?
At the airport in Toronto, you’ll find all the big rental car agencies. It’s best (and usually cheaper) to reserve a rental car beforehand. Check Rental Cars or Discover Cars to find the best deals.
Tip! You can save some money if you start in New York City. There it’s easy to get around without a rental car. After you’re done exploring the big apple, you can pick up your rental car and start a New York to Toronto road trip.
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 Toronto to New York 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.
I myself made this road trip in the middle of the summer and it was perfect. Only in New York City, it got really warm.
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 of Canada: Ottawa.
- Imagine being in France while you visit the gorgeous city of Montreal.
- Visit Boston before driving to New York.
Book your Toronto to New York road trip!
Did you feel like a Toronto to New York road trip after reading this article? These are useful websites for booking your trip:
- Check WayAway to find the cheapest flights.
- It is easiest to book overnight stays via Booking.com. You get a discount if you book through this platform more often.
- Don’t forget your travel insurance! Check Insubuy to find the insurance that fits your need.
- You can book fun tours and guided tours through Get Your Guide or Viator.
Read more about USA road trips!
Would you like to learn more about road-tripping in Northeast USA? Check out these amazing travel guides:
Lonely Planet New York & the Mid-Atlantic’s Best Trips
Canada East Marco Polo Pocket Travel Guide
I myself have been on road trips in the USA several times, which is why you can find a lot of information about traveling in the United States of America on this website. You might like to read these articles as well:
- The best unknown places to visit in the USA
- New York State road trip: 6 beautiful sights
- 5 amazing USA road trip itineraries
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This article was published in October 2017. Last update: November 2022.
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