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Need an expert

perth
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Need an expert

Hi we are a family of 4 from Australia doing a 5 week usa tour in April. We fly into Washington, D.C. And have 3 nights there then my plan was to hire a car and drive to niagara falls (stay canada side ) 1 night then drive onto New York (5 nights). My research shows 7hrs road trip each way which is do able but we don't want to be arriving in New York late therefore thinking of adding extra night but not sure where. Can anyone suggest a way to do our trip so we arrive in New York early afternoon, anywhere interesting to stay between niagara and New York.?. Are we crazy or is gong to work.

Thanks

Santa Fe, New Mexico
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1. Re: Need an expert

Most here, would suggest there is little profit in attempting to mount a two or three day auto tour to a over promoted and often underwhelming, second class attraction ... You would need to return the rental upon arrival in the NYC area. Probably incurring a hefty drop off fee. As the car will NOT be needed in the City ... Make a new Plan ... carracar

Lewes, United...
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2. Re: Need an expert

Hi

Welcome to the road trips forum:

So you have:

3 nights DC

1 night Niagara Falls (Canadian side)

1 night on the road

5 nights NYC.

To paraphrase carracar's succinct but perhaps rather terse response, it doesn't seem like a well thought out plan for a good road trip. Far too much driving, for a single attraction that many would say can actually be done and dusted in half an hour!

You have said you 5 weeks in the USA. Can you not spare more time to do a proper road trip? If not, I'd skip Niagara if no other plans are in that direction or consider (expensive) flights. However, the one way car rental cost, overall, will be no bargain for such a short period.

SWT

Penticton, Canada
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3. Re: Need an expert

hi

if you really want to see Niagara Falls one option is to fly from DC or NY to Toronto. Either get a car hire or a tour bus and go see Niagara Falls. Drive is only 1.5 hrs. From Toronto you could fly to your next destination. or with CanadianAffair you could get a car to another major Canadian city with no drop off fees.

Cleveland
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4. Re: Need an expert

Carracar and SWT are much too harsh about NF IMO. I've spent days there and always had a great time. As it was developed before the origination of the national park system, it is very commercial compared to most natural attractions in the U.S., especially as discussed below.

Admittedly, I've spent as little as half a day there just staring at the falls and doing the "Journey Behind the Falls," and as much as two days there doing almost everything available except the Welland Canal, which is another amazing but generally unheralded attraction. Walking along the rapids and visiting Goat Island can easily occupy half a day combined.

However, in April, I'm not certain that I would make the trip, especially unless you can ascertain that at the time of your trip that boats to the falls (no longer called "Maid of the Mist" on the Canadian side; still MofM on U.S. side) will be open at the time of your trip. Post on the NF Ontario destination forum.

The Whirlpool jet boats (an awesome attraction) also may not be operating at the time of your trip. The excellent "Cave of the Winds" won't be open on the U.S. side. The Whirlpool aero car likely will be closed.

Also, until May 1, the day-time flow rate over the falls is only 25 percent of the natural flow rate, compared to 50 percent during the peak vacation season beginning May 1. You probably wouldn't appreciate the difference as, at 25 percent, it is still one of the most magnificent and easily visited waterfalls in the world.

If you want to still make the trip, let us know and we can answer your other questions about the possibilities there and back.

There is so much to see in the Washington, DC, area, consider as an alternative to NF doing a round trip road trip from Washington (avoiding the one-way rental charge), then take the Amtrak train or bus to NYC. Perhaps take a day or two out of NYC to augment this mini road trip.

There are many threads on this forum, including recently, discussing your greater Washington, DC/Philadelphia area options. Quickly, they would include the likes of the Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum, Charlottesville and Monticello, superb Civil War battlefields (incl. Gettysburg, Antietam, Appomattox Court House), superb shopping in Philadelphia at the King of Prussia Mall, Longwood Gardens, the B&O Railroad Museum and the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Williamsburg and Yorktown, Mount Vernon, the Battleship Wisconsin and a tour of the largest naval base in the world in Norfolk, Assateague Island National Seashore, etc. Many of these destinations would be beautiful in April. Use the search engine at the top of the forum to find more information on any of these attractions.

Good planning!

Lewes, United...
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5. Re: Need an expert

TE - I wasn't trying to be harsh about NF, just pointing out that it can be seen in such a short amount of time, and that, for such a short amount of time, to tick a box, it seems like a rather expensive and time consuming add-on to a DC to NYC trip, without taking the time to enjoy the drive and see some of the other delights that are available in the area. But each to their own!

SWT

Cleveland
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6. Re: Need an expert

SWT, if all a visitor to NF does is look at the falls, and take the "Journey Behind the Falls," you can do it in half a day, assuming there are no long lines for JBF. So I understand your point about just going there to see nothing but the falls, but many foreign visitors seem to think it's worthwhile. Where else in the world can a visitor so easily see such a major fall of water?

If a visitor wants to walk the rapids, take the Whirlpool Aero Car, do the "Cave of the Winds" tour, take a boat to the falls, visit Goat Island, or take the Whirlpool jet boats up the Niagara River, at least two days will be needed, even ignoring a visit to the Welland Canal. Of course, many visitors also go the Skylon Tower, visit the butterfly conservatory, enjoy the landscaping, bike the Niagara River, enjoy films about NF, visit the casinos, shop, etc. Visitors often want to stay around to see the falls lighted at night even on a quick visit.

Some of the above attractions are rather unique and immensely enjoyable and memorable IMO, such as boats to the falls ("Maid of the Mist"), the Whirlpool jet boats, Cave of the Winds and the Whirlpool Aero Car. I personally enjoy exploring Goat Island and walking the rapids, where a visitor constantly is conscious that is likely doom to slip and fall into the river.

As I pointed out, many of these additional activities are seasonal.

It's also fair to say that you can do the Grand Canyon in several hours, and I've certainly known persons that have done that, even on their first visit. Someone could correctly argue that there are many other extraordinary natural attractions in the Four Corners region, but I'm not certain if that matters if someone is visiting the east coast. The Finger Lakes and the Hudson River valley certainly offer some very good attractions within similar distances that would be experienced in the Four Corners region.

SWT, your comments perhaps unfortunately were associated with those of Carracar about an "over promoted and often underwhelming, second class attraction." I personally disagree with that assessment and I doubt that Carracar even is conscious of the fact that in addition to NF, the Niagara River is one of the most powerful and fastest rivers in the world. I doubt if he's gone UPRIVER in a whirlpool jet boat, which is a very different experience from white water rafting, which isn't even legal or reasonably possible on the Niagara River. Below the power plants, visitors on the Whirlpool jet boats can experience almost the full natural power of the Niagara River, ex any water diverted to the Welland Canal. There also are parks along this stretch of the Niagara River, but they are rarely visited (including by me)....

Even NF's off-season day-time flow rate of 1,400 cms, 25 percent of the natural flow rate, puts NF in the top 12 waterfalls in the world ranked by flow rates, and several of the falls with a greater flow rate don't have the height of NF or, like the Columbia River's Celilo Falls and Kettle Falls, are now submerged in reservoirs. The in-season day-time flow rate of 2,800 cms puts NF at seventh in the world.

See the last paragraph of post 8 here for a ranking of the world's waterfalls by waterflow.

tripadvisor.com/…36300572

I guess it comes down to what is considered first-rate and second-rate attractions, which is a slippery slope. I'm not certain what natural attractions east of the Mississippi River that I would rank above NF and the Niagara River, especially when juxtaposed for uniqueness both in the East and especially against the attractions in the West.

Here's another thread that may be useful for visitors to NF, especially if, unlike the OP, visitors are driving from the east coast:

tripadvisor.com/…49898631

Cleveland
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7. Re: Need an expert

<<many would say can actually be done and dusted in half an hour!>>

SWT, I personally don't know anybody that would say that about NF, even those who have been there many times before. As with the GC, the falls are mesmerizing. Attractions there, especially in season, add many hours if not a day or more to the experience, as discussed in my earlier posts in this thread.

Off-season, even if there is no line, an hour should be allowed for the "Journey Behind the Falls."

I doubt if I've ever spent less than three hours at NF, including parking, even when stopping as an after-thought and doing no activities. Taking photos consumes even more time.

Edited: 12:03 pm, January 22, 2014
Lewes, United...
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8. Re: Need an expert

TE, I'm sorry that I've upset you with my comments regarding NF.

Clearly it is a place you are passionate about and I'm not disagreeing with you. All I was trying to convey was that, were the OP in a tearing hurry - which they somewhat seem to be - then they could well see the falls in that amount of time before moving on, as I've heard that some folk only spend that amount of time there and are contented that they've seen the falls. (Heck, that tour company who keep getting mentioned on this forum, Take Tours, seem to spend just 30 minutes there and the complaints we see mostly seem to be about the Chinese food, not the shortchanging of time at Niagara!!!). I agree most who go there spend way longer, rightly so.

My overall point was however to highlight that to drive, as I've already said, from DC to NYC via NF, it's a heck of a detour! I was never suggesting that half an hour was the appropriate time at NF!

SWT

Nashville, TN
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9. Re: Need an expert

Ive traveled by train "amtrak" and even done a day trip to NYC. have you looked into Amtrak? this would avoid driving a car into nyc, which i cannot ever imagine doing!! :0

Niagra falls can be done in a day, just depends on how much you want to do there. boat tour down into the falls? are you an obsessed picture taker like me? if so, you could spend hrs looking and taking pictures but there is really not as much to do there as i thought originally too. there is a casino further up into toronto, but if it's just the falls you plan to see and get out, then that definately can be done 1/2 to one full day. Buffalo is a industrial city that has suffered tremendously during our down times, and lots of stores, places to visit have closed down. I can absolutely say without a doubt that you will love the massive display and beauty of the falls, canadian side is much more without question. flowers are so beautiful, grass and trees :) i love the outdoors and i was so glad i've been there, but not sure that i will ever go back. now as far as washington dc.... you need much , much, more time. not sure how interesting our countries history is to you, but it's abundant!! massive beautiful museums, walking is the thing to do here, or take mass transit (buy several days pass cheaper) but no car is necessary if you're here just to see the historical landmarks, but i could spend a week here and not have seen everything. i've been maybe 5-6times and there are "still " places i've not seen. you can go again and again, and just absolutely love everything and say to yourself, i don't rememeber that. the displays change in each museum i'm sure over the years. nyc same way..... you just don't tire of it. i think i've been there maybe 15times. lol :) groups, girlfriend weekends, mother daughter shopping trips!! it's a place like no other and you need a good 4-5day min. if you're coming that far to see this city. you sound like you've done alot of research and i do trips just this same way. go as far as you can and see the most!! trains are so easy on amtrak between the big cities, just need to check the schedules with amtrak online. we don't have trains here like in european countries , but you can take an afternoon train around 4:00 - 4:45 and be in nyc - penn station by 7:00 it's about 2.45 to 3hrs, just depends on which train and how many stops it makes. much more relaxing and like i said i would not recommend driving in nyc. cabs and subway passes. good luck !! have a wonderful trip, and hang on to the kids in nyc, it's a busy "big and can be dangerous city" but subways are fine. people won't speak and most will have headsets on or sleep, hahaha but you can ask anyone usually and they are courteous. study your maps and know the landmarks you want to see. expect lines at all the tourist ones, statue of liberty, empire state bldg. "that's a good one to see at night maybe before they close" everyone's already been there pretty much and the lines are not there. otherwise it can take standing in lines for hours. as long as you are prepared you'll be fine. it's another great city.

So sorry for all the typos, my computer was set to Caps, and had to change to lower case, no time to go back and correct. Lesson learned here.... Trip Advisor won't allow all caps typing. Sorry!!

Cleveland
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10. Re: Need an expert

SWT, you didn't upset me, and I'm not certain I'm too passionate about anything on these forums any longer. I just wanted to make it clear that most persons spend many hours or even a couple days enjoyably at NF, especially in season, and it's good to spice up the forums with a little disagreement to keep things from getting too boring.

My observation from my experiences on busy days is that relatively few persons even visit Goat Island or walk the rapids. Ditto, for the Whirlpool jet boats. Visiting the power plants also is interesting, at least the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Plant in Lewiston, NY, even though visitors no longer can see the actual turbines. There's a similar plant on the Canadian side, but I've never visited it. The Hoover and Glen Canyon dams offer much better tours as you can go down in the dams and see the turbine rooms.

http://www.nypa.gov/vc/nvcdir.htm

http://www.nypa.gov/facilities/niagara.htm

Your overall point is well taken. It's best to combine NF with other attractions. Many, however, fly in and out of Buffalo from NYC, Washington, etc., and report back that they are happy with the decision. E.g., there aren't too many places on the planet where you can approach a wall of falling water through the resulting mist in a large boat.

We share the same concern, but many aren't certain they'll ever be close to NF again and want to see it. Just one example that I remember well is in posts 5 and 6 of this trip report thread:

tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g1-i12567-k6771394…

Thanks for your concern for my thick hide! :-)