By Seth Fera-Schanes
Flight times from JFK to Buffalo Niagara International Airport will show up as an hour and a half but in reality you are in the air for around fifty minutes. With travel times under an hour (we will exclude getting to and from the airport, check-in and all that other fun stuff) a weekend trip to western New York should make your travel roster in the near future.
I suggest a 48 hour trip to the region which is enough time to have a relaxing weekend away from nyc. Your travel itinerary is included below.
Flights. Take the 6:30am Saturday morning flight and arrive in Buffalo around 8am. This way you can have a good night sleep and be ready for a full day of exploring on Saturday. If you want some breakfast when you get into town, stop by the Marketside Restaurant and ask for Mike (located in Niagara Falls.) Trip deals are available but in general you will pay around $180 for a round trip ticket. You can take a Friday evening flight to extend the weekend but I would suggest against this practice. The reason is JFK at night is ‘home of the red-eye’ for every airline literally around the world. While sitting on the tarmac and looking at all the international planes is cool (not exaggerating) you don’t enjoy the 2 hours it sometimes takes to actually depart. Do some simple math and 2 hours on a runway for a 50 minute flight isn’t worth it.
Niagara Falls. See the Falls and if you don’t I am not sure why you went in the first place. They are large, they are majestic and worth at least 100 pictures on your digital camera. A few options around the Falls are Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds. I have tried both and each has my highest recommendation.
Wine Tasting. This region is home to a decent number of vineyards (on both the US and Canadian sides of the Falls.) On the American side, make your way along the Niagara Wine Trail to sample great locally produced wine and take in some of the beautiful scenery. If you plan on going to Canada, don’t forget your passport; it is required.
Fort Niagara. Overlooking the mouth of the Niagara River that feeds into Lake Ontario, this historic fort is a must see for any history buff. The sweeping views of the water are also worth the trip.
Youngstown. Situated along the Niagara River this idyllic town is a perfect place to take your shoes off and relax for a few hours. Want to flip your peaceful outing 180 degrees? Check out Niagara Jet Adventures for some action packed boating in the river’s rapids.
Food. Ever try a Sahlen’s hot dog? If not, then stop by The Silo in Lewiston for some excellent food and a picturesque setting (are you starting to get the photography theme here.) Sahlen’s has been around since 1869 so they know a thing or two about hot dogs. For dessert, get in your car and drive .8 miles to the famous Hibbard’s Frozen Custard stand for a dense and delicious treat. Hibbard’s has been around since 1939 and is a must have for your trip.
Grand Island. Grab a picnic basket and make your way over to this little island bisecting the Niagara River. Watch the sunset and enjoy the peaceful evening. Home Again. Here is an insider’s tip. Flights departing Buffalo into JFK leave starting at 5:30am. It is early but if you take any of these morning flights, you can make your 9am meeting at work back in the city. Insider’s tip #2, stop by Tim Hortons for a coffee and donut before you leave.
For more information about activities in the region check out the website for the City of Niagara Falls.
Editors Note: I have family in the region and make this trip during the year (which I fully recommend you try.)