The drive from Boston to Toronto combines some of the best scenery of New York, Lake Ontario, and not to mention the stunning Niagara Falls!
You’ll have a lot of options for side trips to add on, and many of the cities along the way are worth a few days of exploration themselves.
If you’re wondering what to see and do on a Boston to Toronto road trip, look no further. In this guide we cover the details of the trip and highlight places to visit so whether you’re looking for outdoor sports, family-friendly museums, or just a good place to stop for lunch, we have you covered!
Distance from Boston to Toronto
The Boston to Toronto drive is about 600 miles along I-90 W. From the Atlantic coast, you’ll cross the state of Massachusetts, then through New York and across the border over the Rainbow International Bridge into Canada to reach Toronto.
|Drive||Distance||Estimated Drive Time||Where to Stay|
|Boston to Albany||272 kms (169 miles)||2 hours 40 minutes||Albany|
|Albany to Catskill Mountains||80 kms (50 miles)||50 minutes||Catskill|
|Catskill Mountains to Syracuse||260 kms (162 miles)||2 hours 50 minutes||Syracuse|
|Syracuse to Rochester||142 kms (88 miles)||1 hours 34 minutes||Rochester|
|Rochester to Buffalo||119 kms (74 miles)||1 hours 25 minutes||Buffalo|
|Buffalo to Niagara Falls||37 kms (23 miles)||31 minutes||Niagara Falls|
|Niagara Falls to Toronto||206 kms (128 miles)||1 hours 38 minutes||Toronto|
You’ll be passing through several major cities, all of which have lots of traffic to contend with, so it’s recommended to start driving early when leaving Boston.
Make sure you plan to leave extra time to cross the border, especially during the summer when there are a lot of travelers going back and forth. An hour is usually enough time, and make sure you have your passports and documents (including reservations for accommodations) ready to present to the border agent.
How Long Do I Need Driving from Boston to Toronto?
A non-stop drive from Boston to Toronto would take about 11 hours. There’s no fun in road-tripping without taking time to enjoy the stops along the way, so realistically plan for at least three days of driving.
There are plenty of detours you could add to this drive to visit other parks or cities. You could cut south into Connecticut if you’re interested in visiting Hartford, or add a trip farther north in New York to check out Saratoga Springs. Depending on how many side-stops you plan on doing, you might want to plan for a week-long Boston to Canada road trip.
Best Time of Year to Drive from Boston to Toronto
Although this drive is possible at any time of year, spring through fall are usually the best seasons since winters can bring difficult driving conditions.
Summer is by far the most popular month for a road trip from Boston to Toronto because of the great weather, but it’s also when you’ll need to contend with more crowds and tourists.
Just before Memorial Day or just after Labor Day weekend are good options if you want to enjoy warmer weather but also avoid most of the summer tourists.
Best Stops on a Boston to Toronto Road Trip
Now that you have the logistics of a drive from Boston to Toronto, here are some of the top places to visit along the way.
Most of these sites are on the direct I-90 route, but we’ve also highlighted some detours which are worth including in the trip!
The capital of New York holds a lot in store for a traveling family driving from Boston to Canada.
You might not immediately associate the middle of the state of New York with beaches, but thanks to its location on the banks of the Hudson River, Albany has excellent sandy beaches perfect for an afternoon of splashing around in the gentle water. Many beaches have lifeguarded areas for families with young kids. Plus, the sunset views over the river are breathtaking!
River cruises along the Hudson are also a popular activity during the summer and a great way to go sightseeing while also beating the heat.
Albany has a fascinating history and numerous historic landmarks like the impressive Empire State Plaza, which covers 98 acres and holds a museum, a theater, and spectacular fountains.
Outdoor adventure enthusiasts may want to consider taking a route that goes a little farther south in New York on a drive from Boston to Toronto in order to include the Catskill Mountains. These mountains are one of the top outdoor destinations in New York, thanks to their endless hiking trails, mountain biking paths, and campsites.
There are numerous rivers winding through the mountains, which have formed a network of ponds and lakes perfect for swimming, kayaking, rafting, or other water sports.
The Catskills are famous for their waterfalls, including the towering Kaaterskill Falls. Cascading down over 260 feet, this is the tallest waterfall in New York. There’s parking close to where the falls are, and a well-marked path to reach the lookout-just be sure to stay in the designated walking areas since outside the path can become slippery and dangerous.
For lunch, visit one of the charming mountain towns like Windham, which is known for its ski resort, mountain bike park, and excellent local bakeries and restaurants in the quaint downtown area.
Pro Tip: March-June is called “Mud Season” in the Catskills. During this time of year, the run-off from the melting snow can make the trails along the mountains very muddy and more difficult to enjoy.
Syracuse is a historically significant city in New York as a frontier town along the Erie Canal. Parts of the original architecture in the downtown area have been preserved, giving the city a unique feel.
The direct I-90 route for a drive from Boston to Toronto will take you right through Syracuse, so it’s well worth including it as a stop, either for lunch or some afternoon exploration. You could also stay the night to break up the trip into smaller segments.
There are a lot of fun family activities in Syracuse, including museums like the Erie Canal Museum, which has a children’s area with interactive games and 1800s toys and costumes. Syracuse is home to Destiny USA, one of the largest malls in the United States, which has a huge array of stores, indoor parks, carnival-style games, and many restaurants.
In addition to city activities, Syracuse is well-known for its opportunities for outdoor adventures. The nearby Green Lakes State Park has beautiful glacially created lakes which have a characteristic brilliant blue-green color, almost reminiscent of the Caribbean.
Syracuse is the home base for exploring the Finger Lakes of New York, where you can enjoy activities like boating, fishing, swimming, hiking, kayaking, and more!
Located on the shore of Lake Ontario, Rochester has it all-great scenery, a fun city vibe, cool museums, and plenty of outdoor activities. The city is about an hour and a half from the Canadian border and a great place to include driving from Massachusetts to Toronto.
History enthusiasts will enjoy visiting sites like the Susan B. Anthony House where the famous women’s rights activist lived and worked. The George Eastman Museum is another noteworthy historic site and is the oldest photography museum in the world.
Families will definitely want to spend an afternoon at the Strong Museum of Play. As the name suggests, this museum is dedicated to all things fun and games and is considered one of the best children’s museums in the United States! Although this museum is designed with young kids in mind, many of the games and activities are fun for parents as well.
Rochester has numerous excellent parks, like the 109-acre Cobb’s Hill Park, which has the best view of the downtown skyline. You can enjoy an afternoon playing on the playgrounds, then pack a picnic to watch the sunset over the city.
Right in downtown, you can see the impressive High Falls on the Genesee River. If you want to take a short drive outside the city, you’ll find the Lower Falls which is the tallest waterfall on the Genesee.
A fun pit-stop before heading to Niagara Falls, Buffalo has a lot of fun museums and interesting architecture that make it worth visiting on a drive from Boston to Toronto.
There are seven different Frank Lloyd Wright structures around Buffalo, including some of his most famous works like the Martin House and Graycliff.
Beyond architecture, Buffalo is considered a top art destination in the United States thanks to numerous art institutes like the Buffalo AKG Art Museum, the Burchfield Penney Art Center, and the Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center.
If you have an afternoon to spare, you can head down to the waterfront which has well-maintained bike paths along the riverfront (with places to rent bikes in town) and lots of opportunities for family fun at Canalside Park.
Canalside hosts a variety of events throughout the year, including music and art festivals. There are places to rent kayaks, paddleboards, or Buffalo Cycleboats (half bike-half boat=complete fun). Nearby is the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum, which has fun play areas and interactive games for kids.
The waterfront is also where you’ll find a lot of the top restaurants in the city, so if you’ve worked up an appetite from your water activities or are just in need of a bite to eat before hitting the road again, this is the place to go.
A drive from Boston to Toronto could not be considered complete without visiting Niagara Falls. One of the most famous waterfalls in the United States and Canada, Niagara Falls is actually made up of three separate falls-American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls.
You can view the falls from both the U.S. side and the Canadian side. It’s worth planning a separate day to explore each, since not only is the perspective different, but there are also several other fun activities unique to each.
Definitely set aside time for a “Maid of the Mist” boat tour, which will bring you right up to the mist around the American Falls (you will get wet, but ponchos are provided!). If you’re an adrenaline junkie, then zip-lining over the river is a must!
Once you cross to the Canadian side, families will want to check out MarineLand, where you can see a number of sea animals like seals and turtles up close. Skylon Tower is another top attraction on the Canadian border which has some of the best views of the falls you could hope for!
From either side of the border, you’ll definitely want to catch the evening light display when the falls are lit up from behind for a truly stunning effect. Many of the restaurants have a bird’s eye view of the falls and are great places to end the day with a delicious meal and a beautiful panoramic scene of the river.
Pro tip: Everything around Niagara will fill up quickly, so make sure that you have reservations for accommodation, restaurants, and activities well in advance before you go on a road trip from Boston to Toronto.
More Tips for Road Tripping from Boston to Toronto
Remember that the Rainbow Bridge is more than just a border crossing-it’s a popular tourist destination and a great way to view Niagara Falls!
If you do plan to drive from Boston to Toronto during the winter, make sure to check the weather for snowy conditions and possible road closures.
Make sure to watch for cyclists, especially if you plan on taking any scenic byways on your Boston to Toronto road trip; many of these roads are popular among bikers.
Further Driving Itineraries and Inspiration
Continue exploring the east coast of the USA and Canada, you may also want to read next:
- Expand your journey through Ontario with these incredible scenic drives.
- Why not make it a circular road trip and return back Toronto to New York, exploring even more of the Empire State?
© Family Road Trip