One of the true beauties of New York is the diverse landscapes and communities you will find across the state. There simply aren’t many other states that boast the same variety of experiences. During our journeys throughout the state we’ve had the luxury to not only visit the well known cities but some smaller, “best kept secrets” that you definitely will want to check out. Next time you’re on the road be sure to stop by these small town getaways in Upstate New York.
1) Lake Placid
Nestled in the Adirondacks, Lake Placid is most famous for hosting the 1980 Olympics, and the Miracle on Ice. Yes the big attraction for you may be to visit the Olympic Museum, but Lake Placid boasts plenty of other activities. Head over to the Olympic Ski Jump Complex and take a ride to the top for breathtaking views of the Adirondacks. You may have even seen it on your way in!
Your trip to Lake Placid isn’t complete without some outdoor adventure! Not sure where to start? Nearby Mount Jo is a short, moderate hike with an open summit, giving you amazing views of the nearby Hike Peaks. Looking for a more intense adventure? Whether its winter, spring, summer or fall head up Whiteface Mountain! One of the highest peaks in the Adirondacks you can hike up for breathtaking views or enjoy a day out on the slopes! Sounds like one of the small town getaways you definitely want to visit!
2) Saratoga Springs
Health. History. Horses. The three defining characteristics of this small upstate city. If you have an interest in any of these then Saratoga is a destination to check out this summer. From mid July to early September thousands of people travel here to hang out at the track and enjoy the mix of urban and suburban lifestyles. Some more of what you’ll find are natural springs throughout the city, polo, boutique shops, and plenty of places to eat and drink.
There’s also nearby Saratoga Lake and Saratoga Spa State Park so even on those off days you can get out and explore the nearby area! Looking for more information? Check out our episode, A Saratoga Summer to see what all the buzz is about and why you should plan a trip today!
Home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown is a historic small town right on the edge of Otsego Lake. If you head out here in the summer you may catch some summer baseball games, as well as Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies! If baseball isn’t your cup of tea there’s plenty of art exhibits and live music of all types.
Our suggestion: Walk up and down Main Street, check out the Hall of Fame and some art museums, and then head down to the lake! On your way out of town you can hit up a bunch of different breweries, wineries, and distilleries! If you’re not sure where to start then check out the Cooperstown Beverage Trail! Craft beverage producers are a staple of New York’s small town getaways.
4) Watkins Glen
Central New York is full of small town getaways that will give you that warm, hometown feeling. Watkins Glen offers a diverse getaway for anyone interested in the outdoors, craft beverages, and even road racing! This diversity of experiences right on beautiful Seneca Lake has led to them being named a finalist in USA Today’s 10 Best Contest for Best Small Town for Adventure!
Perhaps one of the most recognizable landmarks is Watkins Glen State Park. The trail will take you through one of the most scenic gorges you’ll find in Upstate New York. The gorge is a true marvel of how the local Glen Creek has formed the area’s landscape and is just on the edge of town so its easy to access!
5) Lake George
Lake life anyone? Nothing is more relaxing than spending a warm, sunny day out on the lake right in the Adirondacks. Lake George, also known as the Queen of American Lakes, is the perfect vacation for the outdoor explorer. Whether you want to explore any of the short hikes and waterfalls around the lake or hang out on the beach, the choice is yours.
Visitors should also take a cruise up the lake via one of the multiple cruise companies. You can enjoy lunch, dinner, or a fireworks show weekly in the summertime. If you’re a thrill seeker there’s now a zip line going down French Mountain! Get spectacular views of the southern end of the lake while zipping down at about 50 miles per hour!
6) Alexandria Bay
Alexandria Bay is one of the more notable locations up in the 1,000 Islands region. If you’ve never been then this is a sight to behold! This vibrant community is directly in the heart of the region and a great place to kickstart your trip. Some local activities we suggest partaking in are shopping, fishing, boat cruises, and dining along the water.
One site we definitely recommend is taking a cruise to the historic Boldt Castle and Yacht House. This extravagant island castle began construction in 1900, and rivals those you see across Europe. The only difference: This is built in the center of the St. Lawrence River! As a result you’ll take in scenery not quite like anything else in the country!
7) Saranac Lake
Saranac Lake promotes itself as the Adirondack’s coolest place. Why’s that? It’s deep in the Adirondacks and provides you the perfect basecamp to kickstart your outdoor adventures. The accessibility to hiking and biking trails, fishing spots, rivers for kayaking, and skiing have made this small Adirondack town a great year round destination.
Take the Saranac Lake 6er Challenge in the summer and get yourself ready to tackle the high peaks! Come winter time head over to Whiteface and ski down one of the state’s tallest peaks! If you’re still not sold on Saranac Lake then check them out for yourself. You’ll find there’s endless adventures around every corner!
Concluding our list of small town getaways is Hudson, which is a unique community directly on the Hudson River. At one point it was flourishing with whaling and international trade, then cotton mills and brick yards, and then cement plants. Following a steady decline, the City of Hudson has undergone an amazing transformation in the last 30 years.
Nowadays Hudson is a bustling small city boasting antiques and modern home furnishings, art galleries, clothing and jewelry stores, along with numerous farm to table restaurants. To make your experience even more unique stay at one of the many boutique hotels to get a feel for this small city. So head to Hudson, Upstate’s Downtown, and take a walk through history.