I'm travelling with a colleague in US for the next week and cannot change schedules. From midday Sunday (4 Sep 2016) we need to travel with a rental car from Detroit to NYC until Tuesday afternoon. We were thinking of choosing one of these two for Monday: Niagara Falls or Washington DC.

Since we're both EU citizens it's quite an hassle to get the Canada visa just to save 2.5h of driving (and lose time at the border). We're unfamiliar with how that weekend plays out in terms of traffic but expecting a few hours of delay anyway.

Should we choose Niagara for Monday morning? If yes, how busy should we expect the ride 'Maid of the mist' to be (waiting times)? Any chance to book an air ride with Rainbow Air (the other helicopter ride is in Canada) on the spot or the day before?

Should we choose DC instead for Monday afternoon? Is it doable to spend the night in DC or closeby and make the drive in time for JFK until Tuesday 4pm?

Or should we drop both and go back to NYC which we've already visited?

Average driving times for reference, not sure how these will be affected:

  • Detroit -> Niagara 6.5h + Niagara -> NYC 7h
  • Detroit -> DC 8.5h + DC -> JFK 4h
  • Detroit -> NYC 9.5h
  • Last time I was at the Maid of the Mist (on a normal weekend) the lines were rather long but they moved fairly fast. Labor Day Monday is special, you might want to just give them a call and ask. Niagara Falls NY is pretty depressed and depressing. Nearby small town of Lewiston is nicer on the US side. The Canadian side (which you won't be visiting) is cheerier but rather tacky. There's a lot more to do in Washington DC, obviously. – Spehro Pefhany Aug 25 '16 at 8:23
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    "Since we're both EU citizens it's quite an hassle to get the Canada visa": Um, what? Nationals of most EU countries don't need visas for short visits to Canada, and the eTA is only for arrivals by air. – hmakholm left over Monica Aug 25 '16 at 8:31
  • Actually we do need visas. I've applied for a transit (48h) visa but got rejected within a day with a response on the lines of 'you need a temporary resident visa'. We've decided it's just not worth the hassle and double risk for a few hours 'next door'. If we wouldn't need visa I would've received a cancellation of the application. – brainwash Aug 25 '16 at 9:18
  • @brainwash it's not that "EU citizens" require a visa though. Most don't. It;s that citizens of your particular country require a visa. – CMaster Aug 25 '16 at 10:51
  • Sorry, I now understand your point, my choice of words was wrong. I've just checked and most Schengen countries require only an eTA. We're from the few unlucky ones. – brainwash Aug 25 '16 at 15:52