Buckle up, folks! Some serious family bonding is on the agenda this summer. Soak up the sights, sounds, flavors, and experiences of New York on some of the most scenic drives across the state. In between games of “I Spy” and pit stops for photo ops, these routes, which include one-, two-, and three-day trip options, will lead you from one unforgettable destination to the next. Get together a playlist with everyone’s favorite tunes and hit the road!
This road trip idea has your family going all-in on a three-day road trip covering New York State’s widest expanse. This trip is best for families who want to see ALL of the sights. Start in the capital city of Albany where you’ll begin your journey on US Route 20, nicknamed “America’s Main Street.” Route 20 contains 108 miles of designated New York State Scenic Byway between Duanesburg and LaFayette and passes through quaint towns and old farms. From LaFayette, take Interstate 81 up to Syracuse, the state’s fifth largest city, where you can choose between museums, shops, amusement parks, or even a zoo. Wrap up the road trip with a visit to Niagara Falls!
Next up, driving for about 80 minutes on Interstate 90 will take you to Rochester—where the plentiful kid-friendly activities can easily fill the day—and where you can set up camp for the second night. From there you’ll depart on another scenic byway: The Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Drive along Lake Ontario and see where the lake meets the Niagara River before landing you at your final destination: the breathtaking Niagara Falls. The approximate driving time is 7 hours, not including the following recommended stops:
Dinosaur BBQ (Finger Lakes)
Photographer: Daniel Krieger
Dinosaur BBQ began as a traveling concession stand at motorcycle shows and festivals before it settled down for good in Syracuse and grew into the national treasure it is today. Don’t miss out on this finger-lickin’, sweet n’ salty, family BBQ with combos, wings, and all the fixings.
The Strong National Museum of Play (Finger Lakes)
Credit: Anna Pakman
The Strong in Rochester is one of the top destinations in the state for families with children. Kids of all ages will find creative, larger-than-life interactive exhibits such as "Can You Tell Me How to Get to Sesame Street" and "DanceLab" that inspire learning and curiosity through play, as well as fun activities like a pinball room (pictured).
Durand Eastman Park (Finger Lakes)
Photographer: Jim Montanus
With picnic shelters and playgrounds, the Durand Eastman Park and Beach in Rochester includes 5,000 feet of the Lake Ontario shoreline and is famously family-friendly. End your summer road trip here and, play the 18-hole golf course, take a hike, and when the beach is open, swim in the lake. The park is also a great place for kayaking and fishing.