31 Best Places to Visit in Upstate New York: Discover Hidden Gems

When we think of New York State, the towering skyscrapers and bustling streets of New York City often come to mind. But there's so much more to this vast state than just the big city....

When we think of New York State, the towering skyscrapers and bustling streets of New York City often come to mind. But there's so much more to this vast state than just the big city. Upstate New York is a region of flowing hills, roaring rivers, breathtaking mountains, charming towns, and stunning waterfalls. It's a land steeped in history and beauty, waiting to be explored.

If you're ready to experience the unique charm of Upstate New York for yourself, we've compiled a list of the 31 best places to visit in this enchanting region. From the serene lakes of the Finger Lakes to the majestic beauty of the Adirondacks, there's something for everyone. So pack your bags and prepare for an adventure like no other!

Central New York: Discover the Heart of Upstate

Central New York is the perfect place to start your Upstate New York adventure. This region is home to picturesque landscapes, historic sites, and charming small towns. Here are a few must-visit places in Central New York:

1. Green Lakes State Park (Hidden Gem)

Green Lakes State Park

Experience the beauty of two stunning glacial lakes at Green Lakes State Park, located in Central New York. Take a hike along the miles of scenic trails that wind through Green Lake and Round Lake, offering breathtaking views, especially during the autumn season. In the summer, you can swim at the park's beach, play a round of golf, or enjoy a camping trip. And when winter arrives, you can go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Just remember to leave no trace and be considerate of other visitors.

2. Chittenango Falls & State Park

Chittenango Falls

For a breathtaking waterfall experience, head to Chittenango Falls State Park. Here you'll find a 167-foot waterfall that towers above the river, offering stunning views from the top or from a footbridge. The park offers several short hikes, and more experienced hikers can combine trails for longer adventures. After a hike, enjoy a picnic and take in the beautiful scenery. Don't forget to explore the charming town of Chittenango and visit the Syracuse Antiques Exchange if you love antiques.

3. Herkimer Diamond Mines

Herkimer Diamond Mines

For a unique experience, visit the Herkimer Diamond Mines in Central New York. These "diamonds" are actually 500,000 million-year-old surface quartz crystals that can be found in abundance in this area. At the Herkimer Diamond Mines, visitors can mine their own treasures and keep anything they find. You can also learn to craft jewelry and other gifts with the quartz. Just make sure to follow the rules and obtain any necessary permissions before collecting minerals.

4. Cooperstown, New York


Tucked against a backdrop of trees, Cooperstown's downtown area exudes charm and history. This small town offers a variety of attractions, including the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, where you can explore the rich history of America's favorite pastime. Other notable attractions include Otsego Lake, the Farmer's Museum, Fenimore Art Museum, and the Fly Creek Cider Mill & Orchard. For a unique stay, consider booking a room at The Otesaga Resort Hotel, which offers luxurious accommodations and access to beautiful views of Otsego Lake.

The Catskills: Explore Nature's Playground

The Catskills region is a nature lover's paradise, with its stunning mountains, charming towns, and outdoor recreational opportunities. Here are a couple of must-visit places in the Catskills:

5. Phoenicia, New York


Escape to the peaceful town of Phoenicia, nestled in the High Peaks region of the Catskills. This small town offers a rejuvenating spa getaway, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Emerson Resort & Spa is a nearby retreat that offers a range of spa packages and pet-friendly rooms. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, tubing, rafting on the Esopus Creek River, or embark on a Rail Explorer excursion.

6. New Paltz, Minnewaska State Park & Mohonk Preserve

New Paltz

The New Paltz area in the Catskills is a perfect starting point for exploring this scenic region. Explore the small town vibe of New Paltz's downtown area, where you can find art galleries, boutique shops, and delicious dining options. Nearby, Minnewaska State Park offers some of the best hikes in New York, including Awosting Falls, Minnewaska Lake, Sam's Point, and Gertrude's Nose. For even more outdoor adventures, visit the Mohonk Preserve, where you can discover stunning natural wonders like Verkeerderkill Falls, Ice Cave, Labyrinth, and Lemon Squeeze.

7. Woodstock & Kaaterskill Falls


Woodstock, known for its rich hippie culture, is a town that has maintained its unique charm. Explore the downtown area, where you can find art galleries, boutiques, and local eateries. Don't miss a visit to Kaaterskill Falls, the highest cascading waterfall in New York. While the bottom of the falls can get crowded, consider hiking up to the top for a more secluded experience. Overlook Mountain is another must-visit spot, offering ruins to explore and stunning views from the summit.

The Adirondacks: Discover Nature's Playground

The Adirondacks region is known for its breathtaking beauty, with its majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and stunning landscapes. Here are a couple of must-visit places in the Adirondacks:

8. Lake Placid, New York

Lake Placid

Lake Placid is a year-round destination offering adventure and relaxation. In the summer, you can explore the 2,000 miles of hiking trails, kayak or paddleboard on Mirror Lake, or enjoy a boat tour. In the winter, you can hit the slopes at Whiteface Mountain or try out winter sports like ice skating or snowshoeing. Don't forget to visit the Olympic sites and explore the charming downtown area. Stay at one of the many beautiful hotels in Lake Placid, such as The Whiteface Lodge or Mirror Lake Inn Resort.

9. Lake George, New York

Lake George

Lake George is a popular destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike. In the summer, you can enjoy a dinner cruise on the lake, hike the beautiful trails, relax on the beach, or dive to explore preserved shipwrecks. Fall is the perfect time to visit, as the vibrant foliage colors attract "leaf peepers" from all over. In the winter, you can enjoy skiing, snowboarding, or ice fishing on the lake. Don't miss the famous Gore Mountain Ski Center or the ice castles.

10. Saranac Lake & Lake Clear (Hidden Gem)

Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake is a hidden gem in the Adirondacks, located just a short drive from Lake Placid. This charming town offers a range of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, boating, and cycling. In the winter, the area transforms into a winter wonderland, perfect for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. Don't miss Lake Clear Lodge & Retreat, a perfect winter getaway with horse-drawn sleds and speakeasy experiences.

The Hudson Valley: A Perfect Blend of Nature and Culture

The Hudson Valley region is known for its stunning landscapes, historic sites, and vibrant arts scene. Here are a couple of must-visit places in the Hudson Valley:

11. Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs is a vibrant city in the heart of the Hudson Valley. Known for its horse racing, Saratoga Springs offers much more than just the track. Explore the Saratoga Spa State Park, visit the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, or take part in a floating classroom experience. Don't miss the lively downtown scene on Broadway, where you can find excellent restaurants, boutique shops, and art galleries. For a unique experience, catch a live music performance or take music classes at Caffe Lena, the longest continuously operating folk music venue in the United States.

12. Hudson, New York


Hudson is often referred to as the "Brooklyn of Upstate New York." This small town offers a rich arts and culture scene, with numerous art galleries, museums, and performance venues. Stroll along Warren Street, the main street of Hudson, and explore the various boutiques, antique shops, and restaurants. Don't miss the historic Hudson/Athens Lighthouse, accessible via a scenic ferry boat tour. For a unique stay, consider booking a room at The Maker Hotel, located inside a historic mansion.

13. Kingston, New York


Kingston, known as New York's original capital, is a historic town with a vibrant arts scene. Explore the different sections of Kingston, including Uptown, Midtown, and the Rondout waterfront area. Visit the Hudson River Maritime Museum, take a scenic boat ride along the Hudson River, or enjoy a walking tour of the downtown area. Don't miss the local flea market, where you can find unique treasures from local artisans. For a comfortable stay, consider booking a waterfront townhouse in Kingston.

14. Beacon, New York


Beacon, located in the Hudson Highlands, is a perfect day trip destination from NYC or a weekend getaway. Explore the charming main street, where you can find art galleries, boutique shops, and delicious dining options. Don't miss a visit to Dia: Beacon, a contemporary art museum located in a former Nabisco box-printing factory. Enjoy outdoor activities like hiking at Hudson Highlands State Park or kayaking to Pollepel Island to view the Bannerman Castle. Before you leave, make sure to visit the local flea market for some unique finds.

15. Soul Fire Farm (Hidden Gem)

Soul Fire Farm

Located in Petersburg, Soul Fire Farm is a unique community farm dedicated to ending racism and injustice in the food system. At Soul Fire Farm, you can participate in hands-on workshops and courses on farming, as well as volunteer opportunities. Learn about sustainable farming practices, forage for food, and connect with like-minded individuals. This is an incredible opportunity to learn and make a positive impact on the food system.

The Finger Lakes: A Region of Natural Beauty

The Finger Lakes region is known for its stunning lakes and vineyards. This region offers a perfect blend of outdoor activities and cultural attractions. Here are some must-visit places in the Finger Lakes:

16. Corning, New York (Hidden Gem)


Corning is a charming town in the Finger Lakes region that offers a range of attractions. Visit the Corning Museum of Glass, the largest glass museum in the world, and explore its fascinating exhibits and workshops. Don't miss the Rockwell Museum, which showcases multicultural American art. Take a stroll through the downtown area and visit local shops like Connor's Mercantile and Pip's Boutique. For a sweet treat, stop by Dippety Do Dahs for unique desserts, including beer and wine ice cream.

17. Ithaca, New York


Ithaca is a vibrant city located at the southern tip of Cayuga Lake. This college town is known for its beautiful landscapes, unique art scene, and delicious dining options. Explore the downtown area, where you can find art galleries, boutique shops, and local restaurants. Don't miss a visit to the Ithaca Farmers Market, where you can purchase a variety of local goods. Outdoor enthusiasts will love the hiking trails in nearby state parks, such as Buttermilk Falls State Park and Watkins Glen State Park.

18. Buttermilk Falls State Park (Hidden Gem)

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Buttermilk Falls State Park is a hidden gem in the Finger Lakes region. This beautiful park offers 19 waterfalls, picturesque gorges, and miles of scenic trails. You can swim at the bottom of Buttermilk Falls when a lifeguard is present, or explore the trails that wind through the park's stunning natural formations. If you're planning to stay overnight, you can camp in a tent or rent a winterized cabin.

19. Watkins Glen State Park & Town

Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen is home to one of the most famous state parks in New York. Watkins Glen State Park offers 19 waterfalls, scenic gorges, and miles of hiking trails. The park's most iconic attraction is the Rainbow Bridge, a relatively flat walk about a mile from the entrance. Adventurous hikers can explore the North and South Rim trails for more challenging hikes. Don't miss the charming town of Watkins Glen, where you can find local restaurants, wineries, and boutique shops.

20. Saranac Lake & Lake Clear (Hidden Gem)

Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake is a hidden gem in the Adirondacks, located just a short drive from Lake Placid. This charming town offers a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, boating, cycling, and snowmobiling in the winter. Don't miss Lake Clear Lodge & Retreat, an idyllic winter getaway that offers horse-drawn sleds and speakeasy experiences. Enjoy delicious meals at local restaurants like The 1892 Bar & Grille and Charlie's Inn.

Niagara Frontier: Discover the Beauty of Niagara

The Niagara Frontier region is best known for its iconic Niagara Falls, but the region has so much more to offer. Here are a couple of must-visit places in the Niagara Frontier:

21. Buffalo, New York


Buffalo is a vibrant city on the shores of Lake Erie, offering a rich history, a thriving arts scene, and delicious cuisine. Explore the city's museums and galleries, such as the Buffalo Museum of Science and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. Don't miss a visit to the National Comedy Center, where you can celebrate the art of comedy. Buffalo is also famous for its wings, so be sure to try some at the local wing joints.

22. Niagara Falls, New York

![Niagara Falls](https://cdn.statically.io/img/www.dominicanabroad.com/f=auto%2Cq=