In Upstate New York, there are mountains to climb that range in size from the majestic Shawgunks of the Hudson Valley to the towering High Peaks of the Adirondacks. From the renowned Niagara Falls near the Canadian border to the adored Taughannock Falls west of Ithaca, there are waterfalls to explore. Here are some top places to visit in Upstate New York.
One of the top sights to see in this Little New York Community is the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The Fenimore Art Museum, which was constructed on land that previously belonged to author James Fenimore Cooper, houses a noteworthy collection of American art, and the Glimmerglass Festival, which takes place every summer, draws opera fans from all over the world. The second-most popular natural attraction in New York State, Howe Caverns, is close and offers caving and spelunking opportunities for visitors (approximately 38 miles to the east).
The westernmost Finger Lake, Conesus Lake, draws large crowds every year for its July 3rd Ring of Fire, during which 10,000 flares are lighted around the lake’s perimeter and fireworks are let off above. The Little Lake Brewing facility, one of the sites on the new Livingston Libation Loop that highlights wineries, cideries, and specialty microbreweries around the county, is located close by in the little town of Lakeville. Don’t forget to check out the 90-mile self-guided Inspirations Trail’s freshly added street art and murals.
Letchworth State Park
In Letchworth State Park, sometimes known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” the Genesee River has carved out a striking valley over millennia. The river thunderously crashes down along cliffs of shale, limestone, and sandstone that climb 550 feet at their greatest point, creating hundreds of spectacular waterfalls. The first in the nation to be created for those on the autistic spectrum, the recently constructed autistic Nature Trail has eight identified sensory stations spaced out across a one-mile loop.
To understand more about the history of the Underground Railroad, which frequently came to an end at the Canadian border, make a visit to the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center in addition to the famous Niagara Falls. Learn about neighborhood hero John Morrison and Harriet Tubman. The museum’s ongoing display, “One More River to Cross,” won the American Association for State and Local History’s 2019 Award of Excellence.
Jamestown, which sits near the western end of Chautauqua Lake, is most known for being the birthplace of the comedian Lucille Ball. The National humor Center, the first museum devoted to the art of humor, is a must-see for tourists who enjoy comedy. A short drive up the lake lies the famed Chautauqua Institution, which hosts lecturers, performers, and activities each summer with a focus on the “exploration of the best in human values and the enrichment of life.”
This charming community, located about an hour south of Buffalo in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, oozes charm as seen by the well-preserved and renovated homes and structures from the 19th century. Mountain bikers, hikers, and skiers from western New York can also use it to access the 60 slopes and trails at the nearby Holiday Valley Resort.
Most notably, though, is the significant role it played in the women’s rights movement, having hosted the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. This historic location is located at the northern end of Cayuga Lake, and it is thought that it served as the model for the town of Bedford Falls in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Every July, the town hosts Convention Days, which draw large crowds. The Women’s Rights National Historical Park is also interesting to visit. Along one of the numerous local Finger Lakes wine routes, you may also raise a glass in honor of the suffragists while enjoying some wine.
Another popular tourist attraction in central New York is this wealthy hamlet, whose name translates to “long lake” in Iroquois. A popular among serious cyclists who go to ride the 32-mile path around the lake, it is also. The village has its annual Dickens Christmas event every year beginning the weekend after Thanksgiving, complete with live entertainment, wagon and horse rides, and a cast of Dickensian characters.
Visitors are frequently startled to learn that trained divers may explore shipwrecks from the 18th century at the bottom of Lake George, including the oldest intact warship in North America, as few lakes in New York State are recognized for scuba diving. There might be heavy summer traffic in this Adirondack hamlet because of the influx of tourists, but there is also plenty of winter entertainment available, such as snowshoeing and a family-friendly carnival held each February.
Since ancient times, the Adirondack Mountains have drawn city inhabitants, especially wealthy families like the Guggenheims and Vanderbilts, who owned the Great Camps—rural yet opulent estates. The Point, which was formerly a Rockefeller Great Camp, continues to welcome visitors with all-inclusive accommodations that evoke that era and include black-tie meals. The resort is close to Saranac Lake, a charming community surrounded by lakes and mountains with a variety of attractive shops, galleries, and restaurants.
The community of Tupper Lake is a hidden gem of the Adirondacks and a terrific destination for a weekend. Learn about the renowned Wild Center and its Wild Walk, where you may investigate swinging bridges 40 feet in the air surrounded by imposing trees. The Tupper Lake Triad’s magnificent routes, which include the well-regarded Coney Mountain, Mount Arab, and Goodman Mountain and are all particularly compelling in the vivid fall season, will be enjoyed by hikers.
With good reason, Saratoga Springs is best renowned for its racetrack. One of the top ten horse racing venues in the country is the Victorian Saratoga Race Course, which is adored by both residents and celebrities. What should you do next, though, after watching a race in your finest hat and potentially bumping into a new local Bobby Flay?
Visit Saratoga Spa State Park to take a dip in the storied Victoria Pool and drink from one of the bubbling springs that initially made the city renowned. Go for a walk around Congress Park, where you may ride a wooden carousel, and then have lunch and a beer at Druthers Brewing Company on Broadway in downtown Saratoga.
Ithaca is a true canyon, with the dazzling Cayuga Lake and more than 100 waterfalls. However, the city has a lot more to offer, including an outstanding culinary scene, a wide variety of unusual stores, stroll-worthy college campuses, and an unlimited selection of outdoor activities.
Begin your trip at the Ithaca Farmers Market, where you can eat breakfast from Veronika’s Pastries and browse stalls selling anything from locally produced art to locally grown produce. Then take a trek to the picturesque Taughannock Falls, which is three storeys higher than Niagara Falls.
The Hudson Valley is popular right now among tourists. The area, which serves as a gateway to both the Big Apple and broader Upstate, has lately been hailed by two national travel journals as one of the finest destinations in the world to visit. It is undeniably having its Moment. And Hudson is the best way to learn about the acclaimed area.
A little town with a big-city cultural culture, Hudson is tucked away on the east bank of the Hudson River. Enjoy a dinner at Cafe Mutton after spending the morning browsing the unique stores on Warren Street, which was called by Bon Appetit as the “most delightfully unpredictable new restaurant” in the country.
One of the most picturesque tiny towns in America, pastoral Rhinebeck is known for its excellent shopping. Places like Samuel’s Sweet Shop, owned by “Ant-Man” actor Paul Rudd, can be found on the town’s bustling main street. The Beekman Arms, the country’s oldest functioning inn, is among the oldest structures in Upstate New York that are still surviving today.
It’s understandable why Watkins Glen State Park continues appearing on “best of” lists. Watkins Glen is located in the center of the Finger Lakes wine region and is home to renowned auto racing history at the Watkins Glen International racetrack, top-rated glamping, and “New York’s best park.” This Park offers the most waterfalls per square mile with its 2 miles of waterfalls, massive cliffs, and deep gorges.
Raise a glass to the weekend at Castle Grisch while you’re in town, and consider going on a Seneca Lake wine tour to experience some of the greatest beverages the region has to offer. Reserve a luxurious vacation at Naturluxe & Stars campsite, recently named one of the top 10 trendy glamping spots in America.
Visit Sackets Harbor, where charm and history merge, on the beautiful Lake Ontario shoreline. During the War of 1812, this port city in the North Country was crucial. Take a stroll down the main street, which is lined with charming stores and mouthwatering restaurants including Tin Pan Galley, Good Fellos, and the 1812 Brewing Company.
Participate in the summertime festivities that the town hosts, such as the Can-Am Festival and the historical reenactments at Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site. Old McDonald’s Farm provides a lovely selection of activities for a special family visit.
The St. Lawrence River between the United States and Canada is home to 1,864 islands that make up the Thousand Islands, a water lover’s dream. A sanctuary for adventurers and families alike, the vast area that was formerly frequented by pirates and bootleggers.
To see Boldt Castle, the castle erected on Heart Island by George C. Boldt as a big gesture for his adored wife, reserve a ferry with Uncle Sam Boat Tours in Alexandria Bay. Visit Wellesley Island State Park and play golf (or swim, hike, or fish). After that, travel to Clayton for a riverside supper. Clayton was just named the nation’s greatest small town cultural scene.
Corning, popularly referred to as the Crystal City, glistens with quaint elegance. Corning, which is located along the Chemung River, commemorates its long-standing relationship with glass, notably its part in helping Thomas Edison create the first light bulbs. The city has received several compliments for its radiance, being known as a Hallmark-worthy holiday and four-season town.
Visit the Corning Museum of Glass whenever you like; there, you may see a live demonstration and even sandblast your own glass. Take a selfie at Corning’s Centerway Square, which was just named one of the top public squares in the country, then peruse the quirky shops in the Gaffer District of Corning. Then go to Iron Flamingo Brewery to toast your exploits with a pint of regional beer.
It is not at all concealed. Still, Buffalo is a treasure. The Buffalo Bills, Buffalo wings, and a tour’s worth of Frank Lloyd Wright structures may all be found in the city of good neighbors. There are several vibrant murals and excellent institutions, such the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. A terrific area to kayak, bike, or see a live entertainment while sipping a beverage from the Canalside Beer Garden is the city’s refurbished Canalside.
But Buffalo’s closeness to so many excellent communities is one of the things that makes it such a vibrant destination. Make time to see East Aurora, a picture-postcard village approximately 20 minutes southeast of the city, and Allentown, an artistic suburb north of downtown Buffalo, on your next vacation to Buffalo. Visit Vidler’s 5 & 10, which claims itself as the largest five-and-dime variety shop in the world, while seeing a movie at the historic Aurora Theatre in East Aurora, a community that is increasingly becoming a popular location for filmmaking.
Have you completed this list? Upstate provides exceptional lodging options, including themed hotels fit for a movie set and treehouse cottages. Anyone who has visited the area knows that Upstate New York, with its gorgeous mountains, plethora of lakes, and attractive little towns, is anything from forgettable.