Loading...

Great Lakes Seaway Trail

 

Welcome to the Weekend Route your one-stop shop for off-the-beaten-track experiences, one-of-a-kind eats, and natural wonders.  

Satisfying your inner adventurer is sometimes a challenging task. If you are on the hunt for a trip that fulfills your road trip desires, enriches your life with rich history, and lets you unleash your animalistic side on hikes through the forest; this featured route could be the one for you. 

The Seaway Route spreads through New Yorks States municipalities and towns and displays the natural history and beauty of the state. We have curated the route to contain many hidden historical gems, fun for the entire family, and restaurants to satisfy your cravings. 

 

Start your Seaway Trail adventure at the Ohio Pennsylvania border and follow route 20 until it switches to Pennsylvania Route 5 up to the New York State border. After driving for no more than an hour we have already reached our first stop on this route. 

 

CITY OF ERIE

Named after the Native American Tribe that discovered the land and one of the great lakes “Lake Erie”, the city of Erie is the fourth largest city in Pennsylvania. The range of places to visit and outdoor activities available are plentiful due to the unique location of Erie along one of the great lakes. 

To make the most of your stay in the City of Erie we recommend that you first visit the Presque Isle Lighthouse and Park. Presque Isle means “almost an island” and was named this due to the way the almost island was formed. Geologists hypothesized that 11000 years ago the City of Erie was under a sheet of ice called a “continental glacier” when the glacier melted the remnants of the glacier created what is now known as Presque Isle. Visit the beautiful 57ft tall lighthouse built in 1872 by signing up for one of their tours or simply exploring the historical piece yourself. Hop out of the Seaway Trail and hike another one at Presque Isle. There are tons of hiking trails available for your pleasure, try the 2 mile Dead Pond Trail or the 0.75 Graveyard Pond Trail which is supposedly the final resting place of many men from the winter of 1812-1814. 

Presque Isle Lighthouse – Photo Creds @presqueislelighthouse on Instagram

Looking for a bit of family fun and a one-of-a-kind experience while in the City of Erie check out “Scallywags Pirate Adventures” a pirate-themed cruise that you can enjoy with your kids or without. You have the option of doing the “Pirate Adventure Show” which is kid-friendly or the “Wobbly Pirate” version which is a cruise for the parents’ hidden pirate side. The pirate cruise lasts 90 minutes and people over 3 years old have to pay the $20 fare or $10 if you are under 3. 

Scallywags Pirate Adventures – Picture Credits @scallywagspirateadvent on Instagram

 

To finish off your day in the City of Erie visit the Erie County Historical Society and Museums. The museums consist of 20 exhibits in four buildings. The Watson Curtze mansion was owned and built by Frederick Curtze, when his family died he wished for the mansion to be repurposed for the promotion of education, the school district which owned it turned it into the first portion of the museum. Later on, the Erie planetarium joined forces with said mansion and created the Historical Society. In the years to come two more buildings were built and added to contain the full history of the City of Erie. Visit the intricate collection of museums when at your brief stop in the City of Erie. 

Erie County Historical Society – Picture Credits @bigblendradiotv @big_blend_lisa on Instagram

 

BUFFALO

After your stay in Erie hop back into your car and set off on the Seaway Route. PA5 becomes New York State Route 5 and takes the Seaway Trail along the Erie County Border. In order to get to our next stop, Route 5 crosses Cattaraugus Creek and turns along Lakeshore Rd with the same goal of following the shore of Lake Erie.  The trail follows Lakeshore Rd until switching back to Route 5 in Hamburg and taking it into the city of Buffalo.

Our next stop along the Seaway Trail is the city of Buffalo the second largest city in New York state, home to the Buffalo Sabers, unique architecture, and one-of-a-kind art galleries. 

If you are looking to dip your toes into culture and history in a way some people dare not to, check out Forest Lawn Cemetery. I know what you are thinking; visiting a cemetery is morbid and walking around a graveyard is not how I want to spend my vacation. Visiting the Forest Lawn Cemetery is much more than walking around your typical cemetery. The cemetery is known for its beautiful outdoor sculpture museum, rolling hills, and small creeks. If the beautiful landscaping is not enough to sway your decision the extensive list of famous residents buried in the cemetery may be. With the likes of William Fargo and Frank H. Goodyear two of history’s most prominent businessmen, visiting the history of the Forest Lawn Cemetery needs to be on your to-do list.

Forest Lawn Cemetery – Picture Credits @fiddlethebits716 on Instagram

After your trip to the cemetery stop at this, one-of-a-kind eat for lunch or dinner. Started in 1983 as a food truck Dinosaur bbq was originally envisioned as food for bikers on the road.  The founder John Stage and three friends came up with the idea at a motorcycle convention. Now the restaurant has grown exponentially, dinosaur bbq has won countless awards for their food and their sauces. Dinosaur bbq was named the best bbq in America by Good Morning America. Stop for a quick bite and try their “Fried Green Tomatoes”, their “All Natural Bar-B-que Pork Ribs”, or their “Big Ass Pork Plate”. 

Dinosaur BBQ – Picture Credits @dinosaur_bbq on Instagram

After a filling lunch or dinner at the Dinosaur BBQ visit the local architecture by stopping at the Liberty building.  The Liberty Building is a unique building with two replicas of Lady Liberty at the crest of the building. The building is open to visitors and they provide a free observatory to look at the two lady liberties on the top of the building. To finish off your architecture adventure check out St. Josephs’s cathedral with its gothic exterior, beautiful archways, and stained glass windows. The cathedral was built amidst a furious storm that destroyed the houses in the town, the cathedral being built acted as a tent for the families whose houses were ruined by the storm. Take a walk around the beautiful cathedral or if you are the religious type take a knee inside. 

Liberty Building – Picture Credits @ronsalon on Instagram

 

NIAGARA FALLS

Leave Buffalo following NY266 and follow it to the tip of Lake Erie until the route switches to NY265 to cross the creek. The NY265 continues and overlaps with NY384, this road turns into Buffalo Avenue as the Seaway Trail enters the state’s side of Niagara Falls. 

It is no surprise that Niagara Falls is a hotspot for things to do, but if  you are eager to stay away from regular tourist locations and the casinos we can help you explore the great outdoors and off the beaten track experiences. 

Your first stop in Niagara Falls needs to be the Niagara Falls State Park, while cliche; it is widely recognized as America’s largest state park. Niagara Falls State park is not just for hiking trails, they have plenty of interesting attractions such as “Maid of the mist” and an on-site restaurant.  We recommend completing some of the hiking trails before exploring any of the commercialized events to get the full Niagara Falls experience. A trail we recommend is the Great Gorge Scenic Overlook Hike which starts at the Schoellkopf Power Plant Ruins. The power plant used to be the largest hydroelectric power station in the world but collapsed in 1956 due to water seeping in through the cracks in the foundation. This hike is an easy-going 1-hour trail that allows you to experience the falls as well as the lush history behind the power plant. 

Niagara Falls State Park – Picture Credits @niagarafalls_statepark on Instagram

After your hike through the state park, you are welcome to indulge in the other attractions the park has like the Cave of the Winds which is an immersive experience in the falls; literally, you will get wet. You can also visit their restaurant on-site “Top of the Falls restaurant”, which is known for its panoramic views of the falls and wide menu. There are plenty of other Niagara Falls State park experiences for you to explore and enjoy.

If you are not looking for an outdoor adventure and are the type who would be content to watch the falls from the outskirts, then the Niagara Falls Art Alley is the perfect place for you. The art alley is located at 425 Third Street in Niagara Falls and is just a walk away from the State Park. Art Alley is a beautiful collection of 19 different art murals all in one place and is a crucial part of your visit to Niagara Falls. 

Art Alley – Picture Credits @live_nf on Instagram

If you are planning on spending the night in the Falls then we recommend taking a rest at the Black Willow Winery known for tasteful wine and good conversations. “In wine one beholds the heart of another” is the Chamberlain Families chosen slogan for Black Willow Winery. This winery is largely regarded as a beautiful spot to indulge in tasteful conversations with old friends and new while relaxing and tasting the wide variety of wines. They have won countless awards for various wines. Due to the pandemic and season, there are no preplanned events and you must book a time and event type. We recommend this winery as it is also on the Seaway Route trail, no detour is needed to find this off-the-beaten-track experience. 

Black Willow Winery – Picture Credits @blackwillowwinery on Instagram

 

LEWISTON

Staying on Route 384 until it turns into Robert Moses Parkway. Robert Moses Parkway quickly turns into Rainbow Boulevard, which then becomes NY104.  NY104 turns into the road NY18F which you follow into Lewiston!

Lewiston is a quaint town in Niagara County with a population of 15,830. The town is home to many coffee shops and cute lunch spots that are perfect for stopping in while on your discovery of the Seaway Trail. For your first stop in Lewiston we recommend, the beloved, “The Orange Cat Coffee. Co”. This small coffee shop is known by the locals for having to die for coffee, with fresh flavours brewed daily.  This coffee shop is decorated with maps of Lewiston, local decor, and an orange cat here or there. Try their “vanilla bourbon caramel latte” or one of their many soups and sandwiches, and take them out on their lovely patio or in their indoor seating. Want to be more daunting with your coffee drinking? Bring your coffee to our next location!

The Orange Cat Coffee. Co – Picture credits @firstcomesfamily.mama on Instagram

Artpark, by far one of the largest art installations in NY. Take your coffee and stroll through the park filled with different art pieces or enjoy one of the many concerts put on in the park. Some of the interesting art pieces in the park include; Murmuration- designed to look like a flock of birds is a sculpture that seems to move as you walk around it, designed by Florian Idenburg, Ted Baab, Andrew Gibbs, and Ray Rui Wu. Sonic trails, is an audio experience in Artpark where music is correlated with different trails and locations in the park. Download the Artpark Sonic Trails app and dive into the aural art inside the park. Follow the unity in diversity trail within art park for interesting calligraphy and rural art. The artist uses words from English, Arab, and Bangla to create an interactive art piece with personal meaning. 

Art Park – Picture Credits @artparkny on Instagram

Our final stop in Lewiston is “The Silo” a famed restaurant featured on Man vs. Food for their all-American burgers and extensive menu. The silo has one of the most impressive views of the Niagara River and is a must-see location in Lewiston. Try their “Original Haystack” their famous rib-eyed steak featured on Man vs. Food, can you take on the footlong version of the Haystack and complete what Man vs Food star dubbed?

The Silo – Picture Credits @the_shorts_adventures
on Instagram

 

Continue on Route 18F right out of Lewiston right out of Niagara County, notable mentions on the way out of the county are:

  1. Erie Canal Junction- 
  2. Carousel factory Museum 
  3. Fort Niagara 

 

ROCHESTER

The seaway trail continues along Route 18F through Orleans County until it trades off with Lake Ontario State Parkway. The Seaway trail continues along this parkway into Monroe county alongside Lake Ontario. Keep in mind as you are driving through the state of NY to take in the natural beauty of the great lakes visible. Follow the Lake Ontario Parkway into the city of Rochester. 

Your first stop in Rochester is the “Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse” the oldest surviving lighthouse along Lake Ontario. Climb the beautiful lighthouse and take in the views of Lake Ontario from up above. Tours are made by appointment and children must be 7 years or older and accompanied by an adult. The Seaway Route is truly curated so you can enjoy New York State as well as the Great lakes, this lighthouse encompasses both the history of New York State as well as the beauty of the great lakes.  

The Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse – Picture Credits @emery_bored on Instagram

Your second cemetery of the trip is “Mount Hope Cemetery” a peaceful park, wildlife sanctuary, museum, and above all a cemetery. This cemetery is stunning, the artwork within it is something out of a storybook. During the fall and winter months, the cemetery becomes even more beautiful. There are many famous names within the cemetery and they provide more depth to the history of Rochester, NY.  Susan B Anthony, was a women’s and social rights activist who was crucial in the reformation of the women’s suffrage movement. George Whipple won a Nobel prize in Physiology and Medicine as he created the surgical procedure called “The Whipple” or “Whipple’s Triad”. There are many more famous women and men who rest in the cemetery and you are sure to learn more about NY state as a whole by visiting. 

DogTown, a top 10 hotdog joint in America is the perfect way to end Rochester.  DogTown was started with the dream of recreating hot dogs from all over the country, they soon realized that simply was not enough. They now have 18 unique hot dogs to choose from off of their menu; each named after a different kind of pup (don’t worry no pups were actually baked into these hot dogs, despite the name). Try their coyote dog, a mix of Cilantro-lime sour cream, salsa, melted cheddar & jalapeños, on top of a juicy german franc hot dog. Doesn’t sound like your favourite? Try, their St. Bernard hot dog with sauerkraut, melted Swiss & mustard on top of their classic german franc dog. With 18 different hot dogs to choose from, your Rochester day trip may be extended to 18 days. 

Dogtown Hots – Picture Credits @dogtownhots on Instagram

 

OSWEGO

Take Pattonwood Drive out of Rochester and then take Culver Rd away from Lake Ontario to travel around Irondequoit bay. NY 404 begins and takes us along Empire Boulevard, then to Bay Road. Bay Road ends at Lake Road right before Lake Ontario and right in the town of Webster. While on your way through Webster and along the county line we recommend stopping at the Hamlin Beach State Park; a lovely park with one of the widest beaches in NY. Another short stop you can make along the county line is the Genesee county village and museum. The Genesee County Village Museum is the largest living museum in New York State and covers 600 acres. Follow Lake Road on to Sodus Point, where the trail changes to NY14 to Ridge Road. The road eventually changes to NY370 which ends at NY104. Take NY104 into the town of Oswego. 

The city of Oswego is a small city in NY but full of history and right along Lake Ontario. When in Oswego visit the Fort Ontario State Historic Site. Fort Ontario is a star-shaped fort used in the French war, Indian war, and the War of 1812 battles. It was then used again in World War ll as a refugee camp for Jewish Victims of the Nazi Holocaust. It housed Holocaust victims till 1953 and was then transferred to the State of NY. Fort Ontario is now recognized as a historical site open to visitation. You can visit the two guardhouses, a powder magazine storehouse, men’s barracks, and an army office building. 

Fort Ontario – Picture Credits @eldonlindsay on Instagram

Next on the history of the Oswego route, a must-see is the Richardson Bates House Museum. The Richardson Bates House Museum is a beautiful mansion built in two sections for a local attorney. The inside of the house is a historical time capsule and contains the 19th-century Victorian interior design that is so rare nowadays. Inside the house is timeless art, in-depth history, and rare furniture pieces. The Richardson Bates House Museum is a definite need to see in Oswego. 

Your final destination in Oswego is the Safe Haven Museum. Safe Haven Museum’s priority is keeping alive the stories of the Holocaust survivors and the residents of Safe Haven who once stayed there. This museum was once the only refugee camp for victims of the holocaust in the United States, there were 982 victims who stayed there. At the time the First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt visited the refugee camp on countless occasions and worked to provide them with a life in the United States if they wished after the war. 

Safe Haven Museum – Picture Credits @blackjacksimba on Instagram

 

Leaving Oswego the Seaway Trail turns onto NY104B and follows it towards the hamlet of Texas before going into Wayne County. Within Wayne County, some notable mentions are The Marion Museum and the Solus Bay Lighthouse Museum. Leave Wayne’s county by NY12 until it switches over to NY68.  NY68 runs through New York State switching to NY812 quickly and then once again to Route 37; approaching the top of NY state. The final road of the Seaway Trail is NY131 and takes us to the end of the trail right on the edge of the Franklin County line. At this point, your trip stops or you cross into Canada by ferry and visit Wolfe Island, Kingston, and Gananoque.

The Weekend Route is your one stop shop for all off-the-beaten-track experiences and one-of-a-kind eats, email us at

TWR Adventurer

Sophie