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Toronto, Niagara Falls and Buffalo, NY

My husband and I are going to Toronto and Buffalo NY at the end of  next month (July). We'll have 2 full days to sightsee in Toronto, we'll probably visit the CN Tower and maybe a museum or two. We're staying downtown at the Chelsea Hotel. I'm assuming we are okay without a car for the first few days? We're okay walking or taking public transit/Lyft to different areas. We are planning to rent a car at least by half way through the week as we will be driving to Buffalo, NY to see family. We want to go to Niagara Falls one day. Should we have our family meet us at Niagara Falls on the day we drive to the US? We'll have our suitcases with us. Or we could stop at Niagara on the Lake and save Niagara Falls for another day? I would love any Toronto tips or anything we should know about driving between Canada and the US, or any general feedback. We're American.

Our flight gets in on 7:30pm Monday evening.
Tuesday: Toronto Sightseeing
Wednesday: Toronto Sightseeing
Thursday: Check out of hotel and drive to US. Stop at Niagara Falls? OR Stop at Niagara on the Lake?
Friday: Buffalo Art Museum
Saturday: Niagara Falls backup day
Sunday: Frank Llyod Wright House. Sunday evening- 5pm drive back to Canada
Monday: Flight home

Posted by
11368 posts

I would check about crossing the border with a Canadian car. What is the drop fee? Have you checked what it will be? People I know take a bus into the U.S. and then rent a car in Burlington or another nearby city.

Posted by
2 posts

Yes we're definitely looking into what we need to know about crossing the border with a rental car. If we rent one, we're picking up and dropping off the car in the same location - Toronto airport, so I don't think a drop fee would apply. Thanks for the reply.

Posted by
913 posts

Check with the rental car company about crossing the border with a rental. Back in 2006 we rented a car in Jackson Hole, drove to various US Natl. Parks, and crossed the border into Canada. We visited Banff and Jasper N/P, dropped the car in Edmonton and flew home from there (to the US). I don't remember which company we used, but they were the only one that allowed that. Just driving and returning to the same place should be okay, but do confer with the rental company. I think they would have the last word. If there is any problem or accident, things could be more complicated.
Have a fun trip. Niagara Falls was WAY more impressive than I ever expected. We spent two full days in Niagara NY, but crossed over to Canada to see the falls from the Canadian side. I used to think it was a tacky, over-touristed sight, but Mother Nature showed me how stunning she could be! There is also more to do than I thought.

Posted by
465 posts

Toronto: High Park, pathway along Lake Ontario, Kensington Market District, Univ of Toronto campus, Distillery District, Gay Village
Niagara Falls: I spent 5 days on the Canadian side (Niagara Falls, ON) for a conference. My first time to ever go to eastern Canada. Yes, pretty tacky and casino-esque, but the falls were of course super impressive, even more than I thought. I took lots of walks north and south along the river pathway. It was March, and the river and sides of the waterfall still had big frozen chunks and sections. Very dramatic and stunning.

Posted by
519 posts

You won't need a car for the Toronto portion of the trip. The location of you hotel is very central, so you can walk to lots. I'm not sure if anyone mentioned it, but if it is a really hot, humid July you might enjoy an afternoon at the Toronto Islands. Catch a ferry there and get a bit of breeze.
There is public transit from Toronto to Niagara Falls. I'm not sure if it is a train or bus, but might be worth looking into. Check out GO transit.

Driving between Toronto and Niagara Falls can be very busy, a lot of the time. mostly just with volume. So plan for it to take longer than it should! As well, your family can probably advise better but at times the border crossing is long. I wouldn't want to waste time crossing the border for your Saturday back up falls, but you could go to the American side.
I like Niagara on the lake and it is pretty to drive the Queenston Parkway to Niagara Falls. You can stop at Queenston Heights for some nice views as well as a bit of history on the war of 1812. The Shaw festival would be on too if you are into theater, but you might want to stay the night then. There are also many wineries in the Niagara region.

Posted by
382 posts

For something different we really enjoyed the Buffalo River History Boat Tour. It was a leisurely travel up the river from where the battleships are, exploring the old mills and granaries. It ended with a brief ride out into Lake Erie. On our next trip to Buffalo going to the Frank Lloyd Wright house in Buffalo.

It is easiest to see Niagara Falls on the Canadian side before crossing into the US. If you are a gardener, the gardens near the falls are gorgeous. This saves a second time in the crossing time backup. I have heard that Niagara on the Lake is lovely. It is best enjoyed with an overnight stay. We summer two hours away and get to Buffalo every summer. Enjoy your trip to the area.

Posted by
79 posts

Hi Julia:

Welcome! I've lived my whole life in Buffalo (the very near suburbs) :) We have lots to do here, but I'm sure your Buffalo family has plenty of ideas for you.

Not sure exactly when you're visiting, but Garden Walk Buffalo is happening Saturday & Sunday July 27th & 28th. This is one of the largest free garden walks in the country, I believe and so awesome if gardens are of interest to you.

People come from all over the country to see the gardens. It's amazing what people can do in a city garden & all the gardeners so friendly to talk to! We pick an area, park, then just walk, walk, walk, enjoying the gardens & speaking to the gardeners. We go just about every year & visit different areas of the city each year.

Be sure to go on the Maid of the Mist ride when in Niagara Falls! Have a great visit!


Posted by
1450 posts

You can visit ( or drive by) the Millard fillmore house and visit one of the bars that claim to harve invented Buffalo wings!