U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Eighteen (Niagara Falls to Washington D.C.)

North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen

I can’t even express what a good time we had riding the Maid of the Mist around Niagara Falls! Who knew you could have so much fun being soaking wet?

Niagara Falls has been on my Must See list forever, so when we left the Adirondacks, we headed west to experience the cool mist on a hot day. It was perfect. And after that it was back to the East Coast to finish off the week in our nation’s capital.

Note: I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers September 6-12. 

Maid of the Mist boat

All aboard! The Maid of the Mist is about to depart. Look at all those ponchos!

After spending one night in Buffalo, we arrived at Niagara Falls midday in hot weather perfect for an enjoyable soaking from the mist. There are plenty of pleasant pathways and viewpoints to walk around, many with plenty of shade, so I’d say hot weather is ideal for a visit here.

We purchased our Maid of the Mist tickets on site at the kiosk, but you can purchase ahead of time online if you prefer. We also went to the Observation Tower and climbed up from the bottom of its elevator to a (torrentially) misty spot called Crow’s Point.

View of American Niagara Falls from the Observation Tower deck

Taking in the awesome views at Niagara Falls, NY

You can also purchase a Discovery Pass — good for the Theater, Aquarium, Discovery Center, Maid of the Mist and Cave of the Winds — for $45/$34 (adults/kids).

Plan an awesome afternoon at Niagara Falls with my Quick Guide to Niagara Falls, NY!

A Quick Guide to Niagara Falls: things to do, when to go, where to park, and more!

After a long afternoon enjoying the Falls we headed to D.C., passing through Delaware and Maryland on the way, and we spent the rest of the week in Virginia visiting Ian’s family and exploring the Washington D.C. area.

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You can get an overview of our trip each week here on the blog, but we’re posting more frequent updates of our cross-country U.S. road trip on Facebook and Instagram.

True love! #NTSroadtrip2015 #niagarafalls

A photo posted by North To South • Diana + Ian (@dianasouth) on

Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls U.S.

Maid of the Mist boat ride at Niagara Falls (I highly recommend this!)

States Visited This Week

  • New York
  • Delaware*
  • Maryland*
  • Washington D.C.
  • Virginia

*just passing through

Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the rain

En route to D.C., we drove across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in pouring rain!

Did you know? If long bridges freak you out, you can hire someone to drive you and your car across this bridge! (Who knew?)

States Visited in Previous Weeks

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.

Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C.

Total States Visited So Far: 34

California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia

North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen | Washington, D.C. city at sunset

Washington, D.C. at sunset

Capitol Building dome under construction 2015

Capitol Building dome under construction during our visit

Library of Congress, Washington D.C.

Library of Congress: closed when we passed by, but you can go inside if you plan in advance.

We also stopped at the National Zoo to see the pandas. The pandas were inside with their babies, but we did see some other interesting creatures there.

There was no sign to tell me what it was, so I decided to call it “flamingypus.” What would you name this creature? #NTSroadtrip2015 #dc

A photo posted by North To South • Diana + Ian (@dianasouth) on

Stops/Landmarks

  • Niagara Falls
  • Washington, D.C.

Highlights

  • Niagara Falls and the Maid of the Mist boat ride
  • Sight-seeing in Washington D.C.
  • A visit to the International Zoo (and the bird I like to call a “flamingapus”)
  • Visiting Ian’s family, playing air hockey and video games with his cousins, attending a charity dinner for Wounded Warrior Project (organized by Ian’s uncle), and speaking a combination of English/Spanish/Portuguese — luckily the kids are multilingual!
  • Randomly ending up in D.C. at the same time as my twin brother and visiting the International Spy Museum
North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen | Capitol Building, Washington, D.C.

Capitol Building, Washington D.C.

View of Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument from Lincoln Memorial

Cooling off in the shade of the Lincoln Memorial, with views of the Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument

International Spy Museum spy identity

My spy identity for our afternoon at the International Spy Museum

Abraham Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C.

Lincoln statue at the Lincoln Memorial

Notes and Insights

  • Exploring Washington, D.C. can be exhausting by foot (but great exercise)! You can see far down the National Mall, but it’ll take longer to walk than you think. Tips: Don’t try to cram too much into one day. Wear comfortable shoes. Wear sunscreen! Print a National Mall map to bring along.
  • The International Spy Museum was fun, with a hilariously outdated feel. Seriously. I think their intro video must have been filmed in the late 80s. But there is a lot of really cool spy history stuff to learn, with hands-on activities too.
  • Washington, D.C. was cooler than I thought it would be. I never really had any interest in visiting until we were passing nearby on our road trip, but I’m glad we did! Plus, it would have been weird to say we’d been to all 50 U.S. states but not our nation’s capital.
  • Niagara Falls was also even better than I thought it would be, especially after the less-than-rave reviews we’d heard from other people who visited before us. I think we did it right, though: just visiting for a few hours, jumping right into the most awesome activities, and visiting on a hot summer day which made the Maid of the Mist ride SO much fun. More on our visit to Niagara Falls in our Quick Guide to Niagara Falls.
Cave of the Winds walking tour at Niagara Falls U.S.

Niagara Falls, NY in summertime

Photo Gallery

Kissing on the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls U.S. Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls, NY, USA Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls, NY, USA Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls, NY, USA Maid of the Mist, Niagara Falls, NY, USA black squirrel at Niagara Falls, NY, USA Niagara Falls, NY, USA View of Niagara Falls from the U.S. Observation TowerNiagara Falls at sunset view of Canada from U.S. side North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen | International Zoo North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen | International Zoo "flamingapus" North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen | International Zoo North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen | International Zoo North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen | Missouri monument at Washington Monument, D.C. North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen | Supreme Court building North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen | View of Reflecting Pool and Washington Monument from Lincoln Memorial chase-hockey Niagara Falls at sunset view of Canada from U.S. side Niagara Falls at sunset view of Canada from U.S. side North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen | Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool duck

All photos were taken by Ian and Diana with the Sony a7 II (Ian’s camera), Sony RX100 III (Diana’s camera — review here) and our smartphones.

Week 19 Preview

  • Ocean City, Maryland (and Delaware, too)
  • Another drive across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge (no rain this time)
  • Coming the closest we’ve ever been to running out of gas in the Yaris (oops!)
  • Another unique Airbnb stay (get $20 off your first stay here): a renovated barn in West Virginia, with two goats, a rooster and a bloodhound for neighbors — with perfect dark skies for Milky Way photography
  • Camping in Kentucky in Daniel Boone National Forest

I hope you enjoyed this U.S. road trip re-cap! In case you missed them, check out our other weekly recaps from our road trip. Have you road-tripped to any of these U.S. locations? Tell us about your trips in the comments.

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About the Author

Diana Southern
In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.

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