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  1. Default Boston to Niagara or maybe Chicago in August 2016

    My husband and I are hiring a car from Boston on 8th August, thinking of travelling via the coast up to Portland, then White Mountain. Hoping to see some covered bridges through Vermont, but realise we will be too early for fall leaf changes. Then on to Niagara, where we had considered dropping the car off in Buffalo and flying to Chicago for a week (flying or Amtrak to New York). We don't need to be in New York until 22nd August but don't want to spend the whole time driving but take some time to visit some interesting places. We are from Sydney, Australia and are both enjoy touring and used to long drives. Instead of dropping the car in Buffalo is it feasible to drive to Chicago via Detroit or can anyone suggest a better route.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Southern California


    Welcome to RTA!

    Niagara to Chicago is a day's drive, whether you go the "northern" route through Canada and Michigan, or the "southern" route via the toll roads. Both are right around 520 miles, a nice 9-10 hour drive. Contrast that to a day spent turning in a car, waiting for a flight, going through security, and then figuring out how you're going to get around Chicago.

    Chicago to NY is about 900 miles -- a day and a half drive -- if you're considering a drive back to NY after Chicago.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    Default Pros and Cons

    First, for the segment of your trip between Boston and Niagara Falls, you'll find a number of suggestions for sites to visit in these discussions. I will note that all the covered bridges in Vermont are marked on the official Vermont state tourist map, so I would urge you to try to get a copy either before you depart home or once you get to the state. I tried to find an on-line source but was unsuccessful in my brief effort.

    I would generally agree with Donna that it would be better to drive between Niagara Falls and Chicago and then from Chicago to New York. This is a RoadTrip site after all! By the time you add up the time and expense of switching between transportation modes, car to plane to train, I think you'll find that sticking with just a car is your best bet. And there are certainly scenic, relaxing routes between all your destinations. Besides time and expense, consider that when traveling by car you get to set the route, itinerary, and timing.

    On the other hand, the car might just sit idle while you are in large cities such as Chicago and New York where driving, and especially parking, can be difficult and public transportation such as the 'L' in Chicago and the subway system in New York City is available and relatively inexpensive. If you are landing in Boston and departing from New York, you're likely to be hit with a one-way drop off fee. Our European visitors can often get such fees waived by booking through a consolidator such as Europcar or Rentalcars; you might try them or find an Aussie equivalent.

    One final consideration would be a possible change of tactics if you do decide to drop the car in Niagara Falls. Flying from Niagara Falls will tend to be expensive as it's a relatively small airport. On the other hand, Buffalo is on the main Amtrak route, so I would think that it would make more sense to take the train from Buffalo to Chicago and then fly from Chicago to New York, your longer leg and probably cheaper flight.

    Last edited by AZBuck; 06-09-2016 at 10:16 AM.

  4. Default

    Thanks Donna. It certainly sounds a better option to drive through to Chicago.

  5. Default

    Thanks Buck, I will check out the discussion boards.
    I think we will now definitely drive to Chicago. We haven't booked any accommodation for Chicago so I can trim that down to 5 days and then think about a leisurely drive back to New York. We would hand the car in at the airport before heading into Manhattan for 9 days. I will check out parking rates for Chicago as we will use local transport when we are there.
    We drove the Blue Ridge Parkway and the Scenic Drive through the Shenandoah Nat Park, as well as a lot of driving through Virginia over the past couple of years and have thoroughly enjoyed the scenery.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    In Chicago, stay at a hotel near O'Hare that has free parking and is within walking distance of the "EL".

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default The European ones should be fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by AZBuck View Post
    ... you might try them or find an Aussie equivalent.
    Hi Jacq. I doubt there is any need to look for an Aussie equivalent. I recall Keith (from Brisbane) being very satisfied with his booking through one of those agencies. Check out his trip. If you are interested, here are the rest of Keith's trips.

    I would endorse the route through Canada to Chicago. Have driven it twice, two different routes. Remember also that the best side to see the Falls is said to be from the Canadian side. As well, the walk behind the Falls starts from the Canadian side, and the IMAX movie of the Falls (well worth seeing) is on the Canadian side.

    If you do the drive through Canada, I would suggest that you cross the border at Sarnia, rather than Windsor into Detroit. Unless Detroit is on your *musts* list, Sarnia gives a smoother crossing, and it enables you to avoid the Detroit traffic on the way to Chicago.

    Driving to NY - highly recommended - gives you the opportunity to take one of many scenic passes through southern upstate NY or PA, a beautiful State, as well as IN and OH. You'd miss all that if you were flying.

    Buck mentioned the State map of Vermont. I highly encourage you to pick up a State map of each State you visit, especially NY and PA, OH, IN and IL. If you were to make the Chicago NYC leg of the trip off the interstates, not only would you save a lot on tolls, but you would drive through some wonderful small towns, Amish country and there are covered bridges to be seen in PA as well. Checkout the covered bridges of Bedford County. They have a self drive tour through them, and there is such a variety. Some are closed, but many, if not most are still in use today.

    Have a wonderful trip, and I hope you too will let us know at the end, how it all went.


  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Joplin MO


    Also, if you go through Canada, make sure the rental agency will allow it, and fill your gas tank before crossing the border. Gas is considerably more expensive in Canada.

  9. Default

    Thanks for the tip

  10. Default

    Thanks Lifey, after everyone's suggestions we will now be driving to NY.
    We tend to avoid the interstates if possible because we want to see the smaller towns and sights.
    I will start hunting for the State maps.


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