North America

15 Upsides to Upstate New York

It’s never easy to check out of hotels in New York City and depart the heady, swollen streets of Manhattan for other climes. Yet the Empire State outside of the Big Apple is wonderful to explore, from state parks and bucolic hamlets, to post-Civil War, Industrial Revolution-era boom towns.

“Upstate New York” is a loose definition that differs from one person to the next. Upstate, in other words, can be Westchester County or Plattsburgh, Poughkeepsie or Niagara Falls. Whatever the case, check out 15 superb destinations to lure you outside of New York City – if only for a couple of days.

New York City Guide


Canandaigua Lake - Photo credit

Canandaigua Lake is a notable part of the Finger Lakes area of west-central Upstate New York. The small town has a special breed of idyllic lakefront charm.

Where to stay: Super 8 Canandaigua


Why visit the Catskills? This may help. First, go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Look up works by Hudson River School landscape master Sanford Robinson Gifford. His depictions of the mountains will make anyone want to leave New York City and run for the hills.

Where to stay: Quality Inn & Suites Kingston


Hudson’s Warren Street has a Norman Rockwell, Main Street kind of ambiance, with all the antique stores you can shake a Shaker chair at.

Where to stay: The Inn at Hudson


The small city of Ithaca (pop. 30,000) has a nice pedestrian downtown mall, waterfalls and forest trails to explore, the fine Museum of the Earth and some good restaurants too.

Where to stay: Country Inn & Suites By Carlson Ithaca

Letchworth State Park

New York State has a wealth of state parks to escape to from the big city. Few, however, have the scenery gravitas of Letchworth State Park.

Where to stay: Fairfield Inn & Suites Buffalo Airport Cheektowaga


Poughkeepsie and the Hudson River – Photo credit

Another fine small city with roughly 30,000 strong, Poughkeepsie serves up a parade of gems on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

Where to stay: Inn At The Falls Poughkeepsie


Rochester has a ton of history behind it, most notably as the former home of business magnates like George Eastman (Eastman Kodak), John Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb, abolitionist Frederick Douglass and civil rights pioneer Susan B. Anthony. If you get hungry, go to Nick Tahou Hots and order the garbage plate. If you’re still conscious after and have place, Abbott’s Frozen Custard for dessert.

Where to stay: Inn On Broadway Rochester

Saratoga Springs

A former spa town, built in the mold of others across the pond, Saratoga Springs has a lot of parks and some wonderful vestiges of the past. Notable landmarks include the historic, iconic Saratoga Race Course and Saratoga Performing Arts Center.

Where to stay: The Saratoga Hilton

Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake is a village of 5,000 with über-halcyon Adirondacks scenery. One of a dozen “Distinctive Destinations” in America by the prestigious National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Where to stay: Crowne Plaza Resort Lake Placid


Historic home in Schenectady – Photo credit

We love Schenectady not only for the town’s major turn in the delightfully bizarre Charlie Kaufman/Philip Seymour Hoffman film Synecdoche, New York but also for terrific places of interest like the Stockade Historic District, General Electric Realty Plot, Proctor’s Theatre and Central Park.

Where to stay: Hampton Inn Schenectady


Seven words: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. Cooperstown’s most famous attraction is well worth it, whether you follow America’s Pastime or not.

Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Cooperstown


With close to 150,000 people, Syracuse is a sizable city with a world class eponymous university and many fine architectural remnants from the city’s early 20th century Golden Age. Solid bets include the Everson Museum of Art, Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology and Red House Arts Center.

Where to stay: Genesee Grande Hotel Syracuse


Troy’s profusion of faithfully-restored Victorian architecture has made appearances in films like Ironweed, The Age of Innocence and Scent of a Woman.

Where to stay: Holiday Inn Schenectady


The home of the former New York State Lunatic Asylum (now a U.S. National Historic Landmark) has a magnificent park system within the Mohawk Valley.

Where to stay: Rosemont Inn Bed & Breakfast Utica

Watkins Glen

Vintage race car at Watkins Glen International – Photo credit

The tiny town of Watkins Glen graces the southern periphery of Seneca Lake, in the Finger Lakes region, and has held the Six Hours of Watkins Glen sports car endurance race since 1948.

Where to stay: Holiday Inn Binghamton-Downtown Hawley Street

One Comment for "15 Upsides to Upstate New York"


  1. andrew trimboli

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