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Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

Hanalei, Hawaii
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Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

I'm going to a conference in Rochester in october and want to spend a few days sightseeing in the area beforehand. However, I really don't know exactly what there is to do and see (except the Falls). Can anyone suggest some things to do or an itinerary for a four-day leisurely roadtrip between the two areas? I was thinking we'd fly into buffalo and stay somewhere around the Falls for a night or two but that's as far as I've gotten.

Thanks for your help!

Irondequoit, New...
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1. Re: Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

I have to be totally honest, and it is in no way a reflection on you, but when I saw suggestions for a four day road trip between Buffalo and Rochester, I chuckled. It's really just a long commute for some people, we're talking about 60-75 minutes apart.

Now that I got that out of my system, my apologies.

A lot will depend on what you want to do. You could spend a couple of days in Niagara Falls, but you should be aware that most of what people think of as "Niagara Falls" is on the Canadian side, and a passport is required to return to the US. However, some of the attractions, e.g. Maid of the Mist, leave from both sides of the falls.

You could take a drive along Lake Ontario on your way between the two places, it will add maybe 20-30 minutes to your drive. The drive itself is, unfortunately, pretty dull. if you are a museum/history person, there are a couple decent ones in Rochester, including the Eastman House (photography), and several nice parks. And, in all seriousness and complete honesty, we have Wegmans supermarkets, which will sound off beat but has actually been voted by the locals as "Favorite place to bring out of town guests" a couple of times. And almost always those out of town guests are thrilled by being taken there. However, as I'm assuming the four days you speak of don't include the conference, that's something to do in the evening. The museums aren't though, they close early.

Now I hope I'm not sounding too negative, I'm trying not be, I am a local who loves western NY, I just want to manage expectations. That said, here are a couple of more options for you if you range a little further afield (60-90 minutes from Rochester). You mentioned October, which means you may be here for the turn of the foliage (some color early, peaks third week or so). You may be interested in driving from Buffalo to Letchworth State Park for a driving/walking tour, then continuing on to the Finger Lakes region. Be warned, though, that October is prime time there, but there is so much to do in the way of parks/waterfalls (including one higher than Niagara, though with maybe 1/10,000 the water flow), wineries, small towns, etc. You could base yourself out of Canandaigua, Skaneatales, Watkins Glen, or Ithaca (among others). There is more nature/wine toward the latter two (they're in the southern part), but you can get from just about any place to any other place in the Finger Lakes in well else than 90 minutes, with a nice drive along the way. Maybe a little longer for that time of year.

I', and others, would be glad to offer more specific suggestions if anything here sounds worthwhile

Rochester, New York
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2. Re: Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

mclee 19's suggestions are all good, but I'll add my two cents. If you haven't been to the Falls, and this is your chance, then see the Falls. But that's good for about one afternoon.

How else to spend your time I think depends on what you like to do. Do you enjoy taking the back roads, going through small towns, stopping at local shops, diners & dives? Then you could take a leisurely drive along Lake Ontario, or Rt. 104, or 33, or 5 & 20. There are some nice places to stop along the lake shore.

If you're more into cities, you could spend a day exploring Buffalo (I know some places to go in Buffalo, but I'll leave it to the Buffalo forum for advice) and another day in Rochester. We don't have a lot of stereotypical tourist attractions but there are neighborhoods to explore, the Eastman House, the Erie Canal ... enough to keep you occupied.

And it would be a shame to be here for several days and not see any of the Finger Lakes. It's a beautiful area, but yes, in October expect some traffic.

Oh, and if you do have a passport, Canada's Niagara Peninsula has attractions too, from NF's tourist traps to Niagara on the Lake, a very pretty little town. If history interests you, they have Fort George, we have Fort Niagara.

Hanalei, Hawaii
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3. Re: Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

Thanks!

Lol -- it's not that I thought it would take four days to drive from the falls to Rochester, I just have four days to spend in the region. ;)

I appreciate the honesty -- I've been wondering if there would be enough to do besides the Falls and it sounds like maybe if we go past Rochester a ways there will be. You've given me a good place to start.

Vestal, New York
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4. Re: Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

North of Niagara Falls is the Erie Canal in Lockport. Taking a guided boat ride thru the locks is great fun along with your history lesson from the guide.

Letchworth State Park (about 2 hours west of NF) is also called "The Grand Canyon of the East" and is spectacular; a must see.

The Genesee Country Village is a fun and interesting living history museum near Rochester.

The Zoar Valley is a beautiful and wild recreational area about 35 miles south of Buffalo.

Ellicottville is a pleasant small town about 50 miles south of Buffalo. Griffis Sculpture Park, Salamanca Rocks and the lovely Allegany State Park are all great nearby activities.

I do agree that the Finger Lakes are a great option especially if your main focus point is Rochester.

Irondequoit, New...
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5. Re: Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

Yeah, the Finger Lakes are not all that far from Rochester, my wife and I spend a lot of time there and do it as day trips, and Canandaigua is easy commuting distance from Rochester (and i used to go the opposite way). Other than it being high season and little crowded because of that, well, well worth it.

I assume you are staying at a downtown hotel for the Rochester conference portion of the trip?

Hanalei, Hawaii
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6. Re: Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

Ok - I think we'll definitely head towards the Finger Lakes, not sure what else yet but I'm a little relieved that it seems like there is enough to make it worth going for the four days. You always hate to waste vacation days from work on a place that you're not even sure you want to go to!

The conference is at the R.I.T. in which I haven't even checked out yet. I hope the reviews here are decent, but I'm stuck with it regardless. I'm glad it's not the R.I.P inn...

Utah
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7. Re: Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

If you go to the Finger Lakes region stop at Watkins Glen State Park. Beautiful hike (mostly stairs) with a lot of waterfalls. I'm not sure if it is open during your dates but you could google it for photos, times, etc.

Niagra on the Lake is a wonderful town on the Canadian side. Also lots of fun are the Whirlpool jet boat tours that go through the rapids. You will get wet. Not sure if they run in October - check out their website for prices, dates, locations (3 different ones), etc.

Hanalei, Hawaii
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8. Re: Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

Narrowing down the choices...what do you think?

Get into buffalo at 11:15pm. Stay at cheap hotel near the airport.

Get rental car the next day and drive up the Falls - probably the Canada side. Putter around there for the afternoon and evening. Spend the night. Maybe more wandering around there the next morning.

Drive to the finger lakes. Stay in....Canadaigua? Geneva? for two nights, then on to Rochester.

Questions:

Does an afternoon, evening and part of a morning seem like enough time at Niagra Falls?

Canadaigua or Geneva? We will want to tour some wineries, maybe stay somewhere on the water like a B B or cabin of some sort. Eat good food. Drink some wine. Relax. May wander local shops or galleries.

I can't do a LOT of walking and hiking because of foot problems, but I can do enough to putter around wineries and local attractions. Probably not the Watkins Glen state park unfortunately, although if there's a bench or lodge of some sort where I can read a book my hubby might like some hiking.

Thanks for all your helpful help!

Irondequoit, New...
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9. Re: Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

As to Niagara Falls, for the amount of time you have available, you may just want to stay on the US side. You can do Maid of the Mist from there, and there are a couple of other attractions. This will save you anywhere from 1/2-3 hours in border crossings. But the time allotted is pretty good, and given you'll be six hours ahead, doing your driving after sunset won't be much of problem. The drive between NF and Canandaigua (see below) is flat, fast, and easy.

As to the Finger Lakes, look into the Canandaigua Inn on the Lake, or possibly Bristol Harbor..Inn? Hotel? A google search on "Bristol Harbor in Canandaigua" will probably turn it up, though I would consider the Inn on the Lake first. CIotL is at the foot of the city pier, a very short distance from Main Street, and next door to the New York Wine and Culinary center. There are fewer wineries in the immediate Canandaigua area, so you will want to look into the Keuka (and if you speak it to someone for planning purposes, be aware there is a Cayuga Lake two over, so you will want to enunciate. For pronunciation, think Q Ka) wine trail, about 30-45 minutes from Canandaigua. If you want to range a little further afield, you could do either the western side of Seneca Lake, or the eastern side of Cayuga Lake wine trails (truth be told, you could easily do both in one longer day, why push it though?) and still visit the overlook at Taughannock Falls, which is higher than Niagara. The walk to near the foot of the falls is fairly easy, too.

If you can't get lodging at the Inn on the Lake or another B&B, I'd move on to Geneva. Canandaigua has surprisingly few hotels.

I have to ask, though - what is the address of the RIT Inn, or at least the street it's on? There are two similarly named ones, and they are very close...

Hanalei, Hawaii
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10. Re: Four days around the Niagra and Rochester area

The conference hotel is at 5257 W. Henrietta Road, Henrietta, NY 14467 - http://www.rit.edu/ritinn/

It looks ok. Nothing fancy. A member of our organization who lives in Rochester arranged it and I think she has good taste. This is a conference for non-profit directors so we purposely do it at a "budget" hotel so that all of us poor Directors can afford to attend!

Thanks for the advice. So it sounds like the border crossing takes a while. I guess we'll have to think about that. Everyone seems to say that the Canada side is prettier and the town is nice to wander around. We can get a $49 rate at the Sheraton on the US side, so that's incentive as well. (our daughter is a Sheraton employee)

I'm sure I'll have more questions as I go along. I appreciate your help.

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