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Most scenic drive to Niagara Falls

Adelaide, Australia
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Most scenic drive to Niagara Falls

The beginning of our east coast road trip will be Minneapolis to Niagara Falls.

Planning two nights to get there as the distances seem pretty long.

Plan A was Minneapolis,Rockford and Bowling Green.

Plan B has changed to Escanaba and Sudbury but am wondering if there are more interesting options than this or even if it is the best option.

What`s the traffic like driving past Toronto?

Thanks and a Happy New Year to you all.

Chula Vista...
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1. Re: Most scenic drive to Niagara Falls


Your Plan B will be more scenic as you pass through northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan to Sault Ste. Marie. Plenty of north woods, lakes, and rivers.

I can't speak to what it's like between Sault Ste. Marie and Niagara Falls in Ontario, though.

Your Plan A will take you through relatively flat farmland of northern Illinois, around Chicago (which is a great city worthy of some time there), and more flat farmland in northern Indiana. Once you get to Bowling Green, Ohio, Lake Erie provides the opportunity for a more scenic view when the highway gets close enough.

Port Clinton and Sandusky have a lot to offer, as well as Cleveland.

There's a third option that you may want to consider, and that's taking a car ferry across Lake Michigan. Two companies offer service.

The first goes from Manitowoc, Wisconsin to Luddington, Michigan and takes about 4 hours to cross:


The second runs from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Muskegon, Michigan and takes about 2.5 hours to cross:


For either, you could cross into Canada at Sarnia and avoid the congested border crossing at Detroit/Windsor.

I'm not sure how the car rental companies feel, however, about putting their vehicles on ships. (You also want to let the car rental company know that you plan on taking the vehicle into Canada so you have the proper documentation to cross the border.)

If you do choose to follow your Plan B, a brief detour across the Mackinac Bridge to Mackinaw City might be in order, as well as a trip to Mackinac Island.

Also, check out the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, a series of canals and locks that allow freighters to move from Lake Superior into Lake Huron.


You don't mention what time of year that you'll be traveling, and that can influence the route. If it's early spring, snow on the UP and in Ontario can't be ruled out.

I hope that helps with your planning.

Adelaide, Australia
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2. Re: Most scenic drive to Niagara Falls

Thanks for that great reply zed1958.

Ok plan A has been scrapped.

We have spent time in Chicago and then driven to Minneapolis and should really try a different area.

Our trip will be mid April so the weather could be an issue maybe the ferries wouldn`t be running?

After spending the afternoon looking at maps may now have plan C

Minneapolis, Escabana, cross the Mackinac bridge and stop at Flint or somewhere nearby before crossing at Sarnia.

Chula Vista...
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3. Re: Most scenic drive to Niagara Falls

Hi hugo64,

You're welcome. Glad to help out.

You're right, the ferries don't resume service until very late April / early May.

Here are links to a detailed weather summary for Escanaba and Mackinac Island:



You can see that the chance for snow in April is small but still present.

Between Saginaw and Sarnia is the town of Frankenmuth which touts its German heritage and bills itself as "Michigan's little Bavaria":


There's a huge Christmas store called Bonner's there that's worth just popping in to see the sheer magnitude of it:


Yes, both are a little touristy, but it may be a nice diversion to break up the day.


Uden, The...
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4. Re: Most scenic drive to Niagara Falls

Frankenmuth is not bad but it reminded us on Hahndorf. If you can find the time make a detour to Sleeping Bear Sanddunes in northern Michigan.

Adelaide, Australia
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5. Re: Most scenic drive to Niagara Falls

Thanks Tet14

Yes I thought Hahndorf when I saw that. Seeing the American version might be fun!

Will check out the dunes as well.

Edited: 03 January 2013, 08:41
6. Re: Most scenic drive to Niagara Falls

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