41+ Best Things To Do In Upstate New York

View from Whiteface Mountain

Pin This For Later!

Last Updated on November 14, 2022 by Lori

If you haven’t explored upstate New York, you’re missing out on some of the most beautiful places in the United States. From mountains, lakes, and rivers to beaches, wineries, and historic sites, upstate New York has it all! Here’s a list of the best things to do in upstate New York to help plan your road trip itinerary today!

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will earn a commission at no additional cost to you. Please see our Disclosure Policy for more information.

What To See In Upstate New York

If you take a look at the entire state of New York, you might be surprised at just how big it is. It covers 54,555 square miles and ranks the 27th largest state by size.

We love traveling with our travel trailer and have found some of the most beautiful places and hidden gems to be in upstate New York.

You could literally spend a month traveling to all the fun places around New York state – it’s that big!

So, my advice to you when exploring upstate New York is to add them to your Bucket List, then take your time exploring. Because you might need to make several trips to New York!

Planning A Family Road Trip?

Plan your Road Trip Itinerary with The Ultimate Road Trip Planner

Road Trip Planner
The Ultimate Road Trip Planner Makes it Easy To Plan All Your Family Road Trips!

Best Places To See In Upstate NY

Letchworth State Park
1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY

Letchworth State Park Upper Falls and Bridge
Letchworth State Park. View of Upper Falls and Bridge. Photo by L. Andrews

Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth State Park is actually located in the western part of New York State.

There are three magnificent waterfalls that the Genesee River flows over in the gorge making it one of the most scenic views in the area.

We visited in July and spent two days seeing everything in Letchworth State Park. The park is Dog Friendly too! Dogs are welcome on all hiking trails on a leash. Buddy loved walking the trails and meeting all the people along the way!

Here are the Best Things To Do On Your Visit To Letchworth State Park.

If you love comedy, you’ll love visiting the small town of Jamestown, NY where you can visit two museums dedicated to preserving the history of comedy!

National Comedy Center
203 West Second Street, Jamestown, NY 14701

The National Comedy Center has over 50 interactive exhibits in a 37,000-square-foot facility showcasing the journey of comedy from early vaudeville to today’s comedians.

The National Comedy Center was named The Top 25 Weekend Getaways in the U.S. by U.S. News And World Report in 2022!

Lucy-Desi Museum
2 West Third Street, Jamestown, NY 14701

Located in Lucy’s hometown of Jamesport, NY, The Lucy-Desi Museum showcases re-creations of studio sets from the I Love Lucy TV sitcom. The “First Couple of Comedy” were masters of comedy and this museum preserves their legacy for years to come.

Niagara Falls New York
332 Prospect Street, Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Niagara Falls State Park NY
Niagara Falls State Park New York Side. Photo by L. Andrews

Niagara Falls State Park is America’s Oldest State Park! The park is open year-round, but some of the attractions are seasonal.

Even if you only have one day to spend in Niagara Falls, be sure to visit the American Falls! It is the perfect place to spend time just gazing at the natural beauty of these falls.

It is one of the top places to go in upstate NY and is dog friendly!

Here’s what you can see in One Day at Niagara Falls New York.

Strong National Museum Of Play
One Manhattan Square, Rochester, NY 14607

Strong Museum of Play
Strong Museum of Play. Photo courtesy of The Strong Rochester, New York.

The Strong National Museum of Play is two floors of more than a city block long of interactive exhibits for kids. The museum is dedicated to the history and exploration of play. It also houses the National Toy Hall of Fame, World Video Game Hall of Fame, Butterfly Garden, Carousel, and Train.

The museum is open daily year-round.

What to see in the High Peaks Region – Adirondack Mountains

Lake Placid, NY

Mirror Lake in Lake Placid New York
Beautiful Mirror Lake in Lake Placid, New York. Photo by L. Andrews

Lake Placid is best known as the host of the 1980 Winter Olympics. This charming town is just a tiny part of the majestic Adirondack Mountain views you’ll see, some of the best hiking trails, beautiful lakes, and tons of fun things to do!

Start in the town of Lake Placid for lunch, then take a stroll or drive around Mirror Lake. Some of our favorite things to do included Whiteface Mountain, High Falls Gorge, Ausable Chasm, and a stop to see the historic Jay Bridge.

There’s so much to do in this area that I wrote an entire itinerary for you!

Here’s a 4-Day itinerary of the Best Things To Do In the Adirondacks.

Whiteface Mountain
5021 Route 86, Wilmington, NY 12997

Stairway Ridge Trail To Top of Whiteface Mountain
Stairway Ridge Trail Whiteface Mountain New York. Photo by L. Andrews

You will be amazed at the views and beautiful scenery from the top of Whiteface Mountain. It was one of the highlights of our trip to the High Peaks Region of the Adirondacks.

There are two ways to get to the top of Whiteface Mountain: you can hike to the top; or, you can drive up Veterans Memorial Highway and then hike the Stairway Ridge Trail to the top!

The paved roadway is five miles and takes you up 2,300 feet from the Toll House.

The Stairway Ridge Trail is a ¼ mile trail from where you park to the top of Whiteface Mountain. The trail is dog friendly but is not an easy trail to the summit. But once you get there, you’ll see 360-degree views of the beautiful Adirondacks.

Pro-Tip: Wear hiking boots or sturdy shoes when hiking to the top! It’s rocky and narrow in places!

Related Reading: How To See The Best Views of The Adirondacks From Whiteface Mountain.

High Falls Gorge
4761 NYS Route 86, Wilmington, NY 12997

High Falls Gorge Wilmington New York
High Falls Gorge Wilmington, New York. Photo by L. Andrews

Just down the road from Whiteface Mountain is High Falls Gorge, a 22-acre privately owned nature park. It is a deep crevice formed by the AuSable River a billion years ago.

We loved walking close to the four waterfalls while walking across bridges and see-through viewing platforms. We also enjoyed the one-mile nature trail.

Related Reading: High Falls Gorge: A Must See In The Adirondacks

Ausable Chasm – The Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks
2144 US 9, Ausable Chasm, NY 12911

Ausable Chasm float trip
Take A Float Trip Through The Ausable Chasm. Photo by L. Andrews

This is one epic adventure you can’t miss! Ausable Chasm offers five miles of hiking trails with many scenic views throughout.

We opted for the Classic Tour (the most popular tour) where we took a self-guided one-mile walk on a scenic nature trail, then boarded a raft for a guided tour through the narrowest part of the gorge.


Our favorite part was going through the rapids!

Then, you can either jump on a shuttle bus back to the start or walk on the rim trail with views of the entire gorge.

Here’s How To Plan An Epic Adventure To Ausable Chasm!

What To See Around Lake George, NY

Located in the southern Adirondack area, the town of Lake George is one of the most popular summer destinations.

Known as the Queen of American Lakes, The beautiful lake has 109 miles of shoreline and 300+ islands perfect for a day at the beach, waterskiing, or taking boat tours on a paddleboat.

Fort William Henry Museum is a restored British fort built in 1755 and is now a living history museum.

Take A Paddleboat ride on the Minnehaha.

Paddle Boat Minnehaha Lake George
Take a Paddleboat Ride On The Minnehaha in Lake George, NY. Photo by L. Andrews

Take a scenic drive up Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway to see the beautiful views of the lake and the Adirondack Mountains.

If you love caves, don’t miss a trip to Natural Stone Bridge And Caves!

Natural Stone Bridge and Caves
Visite the popular Natural Stone Bridge And Caves When Visiting Lake George, NY! Photo by L. Andrews

Best Things To Do In Saratoga Springs, NY

National Museum of Racing And Hall of Fame
191 Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

If you love horse racing, then you will love The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. This museum preserves and promotes the history of Thoroughbred Racing and honors the most accomplished participants in the history of horse racing in the Hall of Fame.

Things To Do In Cooperstown, NY

Corning Museum of Glass
One Museum Way, Corning, NY 14830

The Corning Museum of Glass is a must-see in the Cooperstown area of upstate New York!

The museum is home to the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass with over 50,000 objects in the collection.

See live narrated glassmaking demonstrations, or if you want to try your hand at glassmaking, the museum offers a Make Your Own Glass session for beginners!

Pro Tip: There is a free shuttle bus that will pick you up at the Welcome Center and take you to the Corning Museum of Glass, or explore the Gaffer District where you’ll find restaurants, stores, and galleries.

National Baseball Hall of Fame
25 Main Street, Cooperstown, NY 13326

National Baseball Hall of Fame is one of the most popular attractions in Cooperstown that all ages love!

The museum collections contain bats, balls, gloves, and uniforms donated by players and fans of America’s Favorite Pastime. Plus, there are over 250,000 baseball photographs and images on display.

Best Things To Do In The Finger Lakes Region

What are the Finger Lakes exactly? The Finger Lakes are 11 long, narrow finger-shaped lakes located south of Lake Ontario. This area has so many fun things to do that it will be hard to narrow them down!

If you love waterfalls, wineries, and beautiful views, you’ll love exploring the Finger Lakes!

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
3395 US Route 20 East Seneca Falls, NY13148-9432

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Finger Lakes Region at the north end of Cayuga Lake. The refuge consists of 10,000 acres and provides a resting, feeding, and nesting habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds.

There is a 3-mile Wildlife Drive auto tour or you can hike the nature trails through the refuge.

Taughannock Falls
1740 Taughannock Blvd., Trumansburg, NY 14886

view of Taughannock Falls
View of Taughannock Falls from Overlook. Photo by L. Andrews

Taughannock Falls is the tallest free-falling waterfall east of the Mississippi. It plunges 215 feet and is 33 feet higher than Niagara Falls! Dogs are welcome at Taughannock Falls.

There are two ways to see the falls: Drive to the Scenic Overlook or hike the 3/4 mile trail to the base of the falls.

Related Reading: Best Tips For Hiking To See Taughannock Falls

Watkins Glen State Park
1009 N. Franklin St., Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Watkins Glen State Park NY
Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail. Photo by L. Andrews

Watkins Glen State Park is a must-see when visiting the Finger Lakes. The Gorge Trail will take you over and under 19 waterfalls, past 200-foot cliffs through the gorge.

Dogs are welcome on the Rim Trail, but not the Gorge Trail. We always travel with our golden retriever, Buddy, and knew the rules about hiking with dogs on the Gorge Trail.

Luckily, the person in the Visitor’s Bureau gave me a tip that most people do when hiking with dogs in Watkins Glen: one person hike with the dog on the upper rim trail while the partner hikes the Gorge Trail. Then you can meet at Mile Point Bridge and switch so that both get to experience the amazing waterfalls in Watkins Glen!

Here’s How You Can See Breathtaking Views At Watkins Glen State Park.

Robert H. Treman State Park
105 Enfield Falls Road, Ithaca, NY

Views from trail at Robert H Treman State Park NY
View from the trail at Robert H. Treman State Park. Photo by L. Andrews

We decided to visit Robert H. Treman State Park on a whim – and it was one of the biggest surprises on our visit to the Finger Lakes!

We Loved it!

Located just a few miles from the town of Ithaca, there are two entrances to Robert Treman State Park.

Since we had hiked to Taughannock Falls in the morning, we chose to park at the upper entrance which is closer to Lucifer Falls a spectacular 115 ft. waterfall you don’t want to miss!

In fact, there are 12 waterfalls on the Gorge Trail along with the 222 stone steps of the Cliff Staircase!


The trail offers incredible views of the gorge and waterfalls. It’s a “Can’t-Miss” when visiting the Finger Lakes!

Related Reading: How To See Beautiful Lucifer Falls At Robert H. Treman State Park.

Finger Lakes Wineries

If you love wine, you’ll love the over 100 wineries, breweries, and distilleries in the Finger Lakes centered around Seneca Lakes, Cayuga Lake, and Keuka Lake.

We visited three wineries that were on different lakes: Idol Ridge Winery on Seneca Lake, Bully Hill Vineyards on Keuka Lake, and The Thirsty Owl on Cayuga Lake.

Here are three best wineries you’ll Love in the Finger Lakes

Best Things To Do In The Catskill Mountains

The Catskill Mountains are just a few hours away from New York City and make the perfect Weekend Getaway to the Catskills!

The Catskill Region is located in southeast New York State, between Albany and New York City.

Whether you’re looking for the best camping, hiking, or beautiful views of the mountains, the Catskills fall into one of the best places to visit in upstate NY.

Here are some of the fun things to do in the Catskills!

The World’s Largest Kaleidoscope

Located at Emerson Resort and Spa5340 Route 28, Mount Tremper, New York.

The Kaleidoscope stands 56 feet tall and 38 feet in diameter. 

The silo from the original farm was transformed into the World’s Largest Kaleidoscope certified by the Guinness Book Of World Records. The connected barn in 1860 is now the Shops at Emerson.

Rail Explorers – The River Run at Phoenicia, NY
70 Lower High St. Phoenicia, NY

One of the more unique things to do in the Catskills is to take the Rail Explorer a pedal-powered vehicle that rides on railroad tracks alongside the Esopus River in the Catskills.

Saugerties Lighthouse

Built in 1869, The Saugerties Lighthouse is located on the Hudson River at the convergence of the Esopus Creek, in Ulster County’s village of Saugerties. The operational light tower offers a panoramic view of the Hudson River Valley and the Catskill Mountains.

Today the Lighthouse is also a Bed and Breakfast and is accessible year-round via a half-mile trail through the Ruth Reynolds Glunt Nature Preserve from sunrise to sunset.

view of Saugerties Lighthouse
Take the short nature trail to Saugerties Lighthouse – which is also a Bed & Breakfast! Photo by L. Andrews

Mountain Top Arboretum
4 Maude Adams Road, Tannersville, NY 12458

Mountain Top Arboretum Catskills NY
Beautiful Walking paths at Mountain Top Arboretum. Dog Friendly too! Photo by L. Andrews

Mountain Top Arboretum is a public garden in the Catskill Mountains dedicated to displaying and managing native plant communities of the northeastern US, in addition to curating its collection of cold-hardy native and exotic trees.

Its mountain top elevation of 2,400 feet at the top of the New York City Watershed creates a unique environment for education, research, and pure enjoyment of the spectacular and historic Catskills landscape.

Dogs are welcome on the trails on a leash too! 

Ashokan Reservoir

Ashokan Reservoir Catskill Mountains
Beautiful Views of the Catskill Mountains from the Ashokan Reservoir. Photo by L. Andrews

The Ashokan Reservoir is one of many reservoirs built to provide New York City’s drinking water. There is a 2.3-mile paved walkway on the reservoir’s southern shoreline where you will see panoramic views of the reservoir and the Catskill Mountains. There are parking lots on either end of the walkway. Dogs are not allowed on the walkway, but a few miles away, dogs are allowed on the Ashokan Rail Trail which follows the northern shoreline of the reservoir.

Ashokan Rail Trail

The Ashokan Rail Trail is an 11.5-mile trail from Basin Road in West Hurley to Route 28A in Boiceville.

It was built on the former Ulster & Delaware Railroad right of way and is perfect for walking, running, bicycling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing.

There are three entrances to the Ashokan Rail Trail:

  • Boiceville Trailhead – 5080 Rt 28A, Boiceville, NY
  • Ashokan Station Trailhead – 3045 NY-28, Shokan, NY
  • Woodstock Dike Trailhead – 1285 NY-28, West Hurley, NY

We often use the Boiceville Trailhead entrance. There are porta potties at each of the trailhead entrances. 

Dogs are allowed on the trail and it is shaded, making it a nice trail during the hot summer months. This trail is another one of our favorite things in the Catskill Mountains.

Popular Hiking Trails In The Catskills

Kaaterskills Falls
103 Laurel House Road, Haines Falls, NY 12436

Kaaterskill Falls
Kaaterskill Falls – New York’s Highest two-tiered waterfall. Photo by L. Andrews

Kaaterskill Falls is New York’s highest two-tiered waterfall cascading over 260 feet! You can view the falls from the upper-level viewing platform which is just a short walk from the parking lot, or you can hike to the bottom of the falls.

We have done both and can honestly say – it’s beautiful any time of year! This has to be one of our favorite free things to do in upstate New York. 

Pro-Tip: Go early! This is a very popular place and the parking area is very small and gets very crowded any time of year.

Related Reading: Easy Hiking Trails To Kaaterskill Falls

Overlook Mountain Trail
Woodstock, NY

Overlook Mountain is a very popular hike in the Catskills because you not only get to see beautiful views from the top but can also climb the historic fire tower to see even more spectacular views of the Catskill Mountains.

Along the way, you can walk through the historic ruins of the Overlook Mountain House.

Abandoned Overlook Mountain House
Visit the abandoned Overlook Mountain House along the trail to the top of Overlook Mountain. Photo by L. Andrews

The trail is dog friendly too. We took our time hiking to the top. While it is more of a road than a trail, you will feel the elevation at times. But it was worth the climb!

Related Reading: Hiking The Overlook Mountain Trail In Woodstock, NY

Fire Tower at the Catskills Visitors Center
5096 NY-28, Mt. Tremper, NY 12457

If you don’t want to hike to the top of a mountain to one of the five (5) Fire Towers in the Catskill Mountains, did you know that there is a Fire Tower located at the Catskills Visitors Center that you can climb?

The 80 ft. Upper Esopus Fire Tower will give you panoramic views of the Esopus Valley, Mt. Tremper, Ashokan High Point, and the Phoenicia East Branch Trail.

Fire Tower at Catskill Mountain Visitors Center
Fire Tower at Catskill Mountain Visitors Center. Photo by L. Andrews

The cab of the Fire Tower is open on weekends from Memorial Day through Columbus Day.

There are several hiking trails available from the Visitor’s Center including:

  • ½ Mile Interpretive Loop Trail
  • ½ Mile Out & Back Esopus Creek Trail
  • ½ Mile Out & Back Upper Ridge Trail

Dogs are welcome on the trails too!

We stop by the Visitors Center every time we are in the Phoenicia area!

North-South Lake
County Route 18, Haines Falls, NY 12436

No trip to the Catskills would be complete without visiting North-South Lake. It’s the biggest and most popular state campground in the Catskill Preserve.

It’s two lakes connected together with hiking, camping, canoeing and kayaking, and day-use activities.

Dogs are allowed on the trails. One of our favorite short hikes is to the former site of the Catskill Mountain House.

North South Lake hiking with golden retriever
Hiking at North South Lake with our Golden Retriever, Buddy. Photo by L. Andrews

Here you can see beautiful views of the Hudson Valley.

From there, continue up the trail to Boulder Rock for even better views!

5 State Lookout
7604 NY-23, Acra, NY 12405

5 state overlook in New York state
Don’t miss the pull-off for the 5-State Lookout!. Photo by L. Andrews

If you love views as far as you can see, a must-see is the 5 State Lookout in Windham, NY. The area is maintained by New York State and has a dedicated pull-off where you can get out to see views of the Hudson River Valley and 5 states. On a clear day, you can see several mountain ranges including the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains of Vermont, the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts, the Helderberg Mountains in New York, and the Connecticut Valley.

Woodstock Brewing
5581 NY-28, Phoenicia, NY

Inside Woodstock Brewing
Woodstock Brewing Phoenicia, NY. Photo by L. Andrews

If you’re looking for a fun place to visit in the Catskills, stop by Woodstock Brewing for some food and drink!

The brewery was founded by two friends in a garage and has grown to a 15-barrel brewery.

We had so much fun sitting outside under heaters or you can sit by the fire pit.

The brewery is open Thursday – Sunday (closed Monday – Wednesday).

It’s worth the stop!

Best Things To See In The Hudson Valley

Walkway Over The Hudson State Historic Park

Highland entrance: 87 Haviland Road, Highland, NY 12528
Poughkeepsie entrance: 61 Parker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Upper Landing Park (elevator entrance): 83 N. Water St., Poughkeepsie, NY 12601

Walkway Over The Hudson New York
Entrance to Walkway Over The Hudson.

The Walkway Over The Hudson is the World’s Longest Elevated Pedestrian Bridge

Located in Poughkeepsie & Hyland New York, the Walkway Over The Hudson is 1.28 miles from one gate to the other. It stands 212 feet above the Hudson River.

Open 7 a.m. – Sunset (may be closed due to winds or lightening)

There is free parking and fee-based parking on both sides of the bridge. There is no fee to visit Walkway Over The Hudson except during special events.

Dogs on a leash are welcome on the walkway.

Historic Mohonk Mountain House
1000 Mountain Rest Road, New Paltz, NY 12561

The Mohonk Mountain House is a Victorian Castle Resort founded in 1862 and surrounded by 40,000 acres of pristine national forest. This National Historic Landmark features farm-to-table cuisine and an award-winning spa.

You can also purchase a day pass for hiking the 85-trails on the property.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve
5281 Route 44-55, Kerhonkson, NY 12446

Minnewaska State Park New York
Fun Hiking Trails at Minnewaska State Park Preserve. Photo by L. Andrews

Minnewaska State Park Preserve is located in Ulster County, NY. It’s situated on the Shawangunk Mountain ridge and features waterfalls, lakes, hiking, biking, and swimming.

Dogs are welcome on the trails on a leash. Take the loop trail around the lake for some awesome views – but don’t let the trail fool you – it has some incline and may get your heart pumped up!

Related Reading: Best Hiking Trails In Minnewaska State Park

As you can see, there are so many things to see in upstate new york that it will be hard to choose where to go first! But, trust me, take a drive to go sightseeing in upstate new york. You’ll be glad you did!

More Travel Posts You Will Enjoy

25 Road Trip Essentials To Pack For A Family Road Trip

18 Amazing Things To See In The White Mountains

How To Plan An Awesome Trip On The Mount Washington Cog Railway

Best Things To See In Acadia National Park

Get The Ultimate Road Trip Planner HERE!

Pin This For Later!

You may also like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *