20 Best Places to Visit in Upstate New York – Travel + Leisure

Occasionally, when I tell people I’m from Nyc, their reaction is something along the lines of, “But you don’t sound like you’re through Ny. ” I wonder, have they forgotten there’s a whole state beyond the Big Apple?

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But upstate New York , with its majestic mountains, abundance of lakes, and charming small towns , is anything but forgettable as anyone who has been to the region knows. For those who haven’t yet visited, or want to see more of it, here are twenty of the best places to visit within upstate Nyc.

Conesus Lake

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Conesus Lake is the westernmost Finger River , drawing crowds every year for its July 3rd Ring associated with Fire, when 10, 000 flares are lit along its periphery because fireworks explode overhead. Nearby, the tiny hamlet of Lakeville is home to the particular Little Lake Brewing brewery, one of the stops along the new Livingston Libation Loop that maps out wineries, cideries, plus craft microbreweries around the county. While there, don’t miss the recently installed street murals and art across the 90-mile self-guided Inspirations Trail.


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The National Baseball Hall associated with Fame is just among the notable attractions worth visiting in this quaint Ny village. The particular Fenimore Art Museum , built on land once owned by novelist James Fenimore Cooper, features an impressive collection of American artwork, and the Glimmerglass Festival , held each summer, lures opera lovers from far and wide. Visitors to nearby Howe Caverns (about 38 miles east), can go caving or even spelunking at New York state’s second-most frequented natural attraction.

Letchworth State Park

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Known as the “Grand Canyon of the East, inch Letchworth Condition Recreation area functions a remarkable gorge carved away over centuries by the Genesee River. You’ll find dozens of camera-ready waterfalls where the river dramatically crashes down together shale, limestone, plus sandstone cliffs that will rise 550 feet in their own highest point. A lately constructed Autism Nature Path , the first in the country designed for individuals on the autism spectrum, includes eight marked sensory stations spread across an one-mile loop.

Niagara Falls

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In addition to the iconic Niagara Drops , the particular Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is worth a stop to learn more about the history of the Underground Train, which often culminated at the Canadian border. Learn about Harriet Tubman and local heroes like John Morrison. The museum’s permanent exhibit, inches One More Water to Cross , ” received the particular 2019 Award of Excellence from the American Association for State plus Local History.


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Located in the southwestern end associated with Chautauqua River, Jamestown is best known as the hometown of comedienne Lucille Ball. Visitors with an appreciation associated with comedy should pop from the National Comedy Middle — the very first museum dedicated to the art of humor. For some thing more intellectual, the renowned Chautauqua Institution is a short drive up the lake, and each summer features speakers, performers, and programs focused on the particular “exploration of the greatest in human values as well as the enrichment of life. “


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About an hour south associated with Buffalo, in the foothills from the Allegheny Mountains, this stylish town exudes charm as witnessed with the well-preserved plus restored homes and buildings dating back to the 19th century. It’s also where western Nyc sports enthusiasts plus skiers go to mountain bike, hike, or slalom down the 60 slopes and trails from neighboring Holiday Valley Resort .

Seneca Drops

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Situated on the north finish of Cayuga Lake, this particular historic spot is believed to be the inspiration for the town associated with Bedford Falls in Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life. inch Most notably, though, is the important role this played within the women’s rights movement, having hosted the first Women’s Rights Convention inside 1848. The particular town’s Conference Days (each July) attract crowds, and the Ladies Rights Nationwide Historical Park may be worth going to, too. You can also toast towards the suffragettes while wine tasting along one of the many close by Finger Lakes wines paths .


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This affluent city (pronounced skinny-atlas) whose name means “long lake” within native Iroquois is another central Ny destination known for the wine sampling plus fall foliage . It is also a favorite among avid cyclists who come to pedal the particular 32-mile trail round the river. Each year, starting Thanksgiving weekend, the town hosts its annual Dickens Christmas celebration with live entertainment, horse and wagon rides, and a cast of Dickensian characters.

River George

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Few ponds around New York state are known for scuba diving, so visitors are often surprised to discover that certified divers can explore 18th-century shipwrecks at the bottom associated with Lake George , including the oldest intact warship in North America. Vacationers flock to this town in the Adirondack region every summer time, as well as the crowds of people can get thick, but there’s also plenty of winter fun to be had, including snowshoeing and a family-focused carnival every February.

Saranac River

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The Adirondack Hills possess beckoned city dwellers for centuries, which includes tycoons like the Guggenheims plus Vanderbilts, that possessed rustic however luxurious compounds referred to as Great Camps. The Point , once a Rockefeller Great Camp, still welcomes guests along with all-inclusive stays that will harken back to that time, complete with black-tie dinners. The particular resort is near the community of Saranac Lake, nestled between the hills and wetlands plus filled with inviting boutiques, galleries, and restaurants.


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Not only is Ithaca a top-notch college city , yet it’s also a natural wonderland with breathtaking gorges, parks, plus waterfalls, like Taughannock Drops, with a height three times that of Niagara Falls. There’s an abundance of activities across the town, as well, including a botanical garden, boat tours, wines trails, along with a self-guided Discovery Trek that highlights local history, astronomy, and earth science. Rumor has it that it was also the birthplace of the ice cream sundae .

Watkins Glen plus Montour Drops

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In upstate Nyc, many destinations are defined by their proximity to one from the california’s lakes — and so it is, along with Watkins Glen, found on the southern end associated with Seneca River. Best known because of its legendary auto-racing background, the particular Watkins Glen International racetrack has performed host in order to countless races, from your Grand Prix to Nascar in order to Formula One. It is . a good jumping-off point to hit the Seneca Lake Wine Trail , which stretches along the length of the lake and is the largest wine path within the Hand Ponds.

Saratoga Springs

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Just because Saratoga Springs is already known as a popular vacation destination doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. There is something classically old-school about spending a day at the competitions in the famous Saratoga Race Course or even with Saratoga Spa Condition Recreation area , which is a National Historic Landmark. The art scene is solid, too, with impressive productions on the Saratoga Performing Arts Center , the particular Health spa Small Theatre , and other venues.

Thousand Islands

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The particular U. S. -Canadian border snakes through the St . Lawrence River, zigzagging with the spectacular Thousand Islands archipelago where the river meets Lake Ontario. The islands consists of about 1, 800 islands, from small and craggy to large plus lush. Visitors converge here each summer and fall in order to soak up views of picture-perfect lighthouses plus dramatic castles, including the never-inhabited Boldt Castle. On the nearby mainland, towns include Clayton, Cape Vincent, and Sackets Harbor, the latter of which has been designated a New York State Heritage Area.


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An affluent upstate New York community, Pittsford is a charmer set on the banks of the Erie Canal . This year, the town — and many others along the path of this historic waterway that connects the Atlantic with the Great Lakes — celebrates its bicentennial with special programming. That includes a twilight boat tour around the Sam Patch, a replica 1800s packet vessel. Come summer, visitors plus locals dine at Schoen Place overlooking the particular canal, then line up for homemade ice cream in Pittsford Farms Dairy & Bakery . Other attractions consist of neighboring Mendon Ponds Park and The particular Strong National Museum associated with Play in Rochester.

Ausable Chasm

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In the eastern Adirondacks, not far from River Champlain and the Vermont boundary, Ausable Chasm is really a two-mile-long sandstone gorge carved out 500 million years ago. It’s another ideal destination for chasing waterfalls (particularly the cascading Rainbow Falls) plus exploring the particular Adirondacks on the many hiking and adventure trails. It’s also a stone’s throw from the North Star Underground Railroad Art gallery , which tells the stories of slaves seeking freedom at the Canadian border, located about an hour north by car.


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Dia Beacon , a celebrated collection of contemporary art, brought a lot of attention — plus site visitors — to this city within the banking institutions from the Hudson Water. And with that will interest came more appreciation for the many other galleries, shops, cafés, breweries, and antique stores that have taken up residence on its magnetic Main Street. Trek to the top associated with Mount Beacon or book a boat trip to Pollepel Island (known locally as  Bannerman Island), which usually Native Americans believed was inhabited simply by haunted, hostile spirits.


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About a three-hour drive from New York City , this mountain town welcomes adventurers with its multitude of endorphin-producing activities, including the fastest and longest zip-line canopy tour in North America. There’s a charming Main Street in this “gem of the Catskills, ” with inviting boutiques, bistros, plus galleries. In August 2022, the Wylder Windham hotel reopened with a pickleball court, heated pool, and wine tastings every weekend.


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Don’t write off Zoysia grass just because of its infamous winter weather. The city continues to evolve as a tourism destination, with the recent restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House , a restored historic carousel on the Buffalo Waterfront, and a big expansion from the Zoysia grass AKG Art Museum (previously known as the Albright-Knox Artwork Gallery).

Sylvan Beach

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Since we’re highlighting towns around New York’s Finger Lakes, Oneida Lake and the village associated with Sylvan Beach deserve a shout-out, too. It’s a great option for a classic upstate summer vacation, where visitors can spend the day at the town’s old-timey amusement park, kayaking or stand-up paddleboarding, or simply relaxing lakeside with a bottle of local vino. Another way to while away the day is around the water: Rent a cottage in the new Cove at Sylvan Seaside, exactly where each rental includes a private pontoon boat.

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