Top 5 Places to Visit in New York State

Updated On: March 07, 2023

scenic view of a lake with color changing leaves in New York

Someone says the phrase New York State, what comes to mind? Is it the giant skyscrapers? The New York city skyline? The pizza?…Apples? Well, for most, New York is composed of a bunch of big buildings on a tiny island. However, the state of New York has plenty more to offer.  New York State is home to almost 20 million people. Of that 20 million, about 12 million people live spread out over a 55,000 square mile radius. If you’re like me and struggling with the math on that one; it’s a lot of space for a small number of people.

Due to the large amount of space, New York is composed of mostly small towns, mountains, corn-fields, lakes, natural springs, and so much more. Picture the perfect American town and that’s what you’ll get traveling through New York state.

We want to help you find the best of the best places to visit in New York, to create memories and capture the beauty that New York state has to offer. Below is a list of just a few of the best towns in New York state.

Saratoga Springs

Located just an hour away from Albany, the capital of New York, Saratoga Springs is a deeply historical and beautiful town with many attractions bringing travelers from all over the world. Founded in the late 18th century, the town was originally introduced to English settlers by native american tribes for the mineral springs that ran through the woods. These mineral springs were said to have healing powers. This claim launched the first attraction of Saratoga. As more people moved from New York city up north, Saratoga became a place of rejuvenation and relaxation. In the early to mid 19th century, Saratoga was home to mineral bath houses and large resorts based around the use of these mineral springs.

Today, these historical resorts are still open and operating. Perhaps one of the most infamous resorts is the Gideon Putnam Hotel. The hotel gets its name from a businessman who monopolised on those traveling to the springs for treatment by first opening a tavern and many other establishments surrounding Saratoga Springs. This hotel is a part of the state park located in Saratoga and offers a variety of lodging, dining and spa options. It is the perfect place to rewind and soak in the history of Saratoga.

After your day of spa treatments and massages, spend your Saturday at the race tracks. The Saratoga race track is the oldest in the US and therefore, esteemed with tradition. On a hot summer’s day, with women in large fancy hats and sundresses, men in linen suits and the smell of dust and money in the air, the tracks are not to be missed. Whether you’re an avid gambler, or just there for the fun, the Saratoga race tracks have it all. Sit outside with a cooler and your friends, or splurge on clubhouse passes and walk among some of the wealthiest people in the country, the Saratoga race tracks is an event you can’t skip.

Saratoga is the town to see some true american culture, and live it up in the world of relaxation and history.

Saratoga race track in New York state                                              Image Credit: Joshua Adams/Unsplash

Thousand Islands

Nestled at the very edge of New York state, the Thousand Islands are a sight to behold. Lined along the St. Lawrence river and Canada, the Thousand Islands are filled with camping, castles, and family fun activities. The 1000 Islands, as the locals say, is not only rich in history, but filled with outdoor activities for every type of traveler. The area borders New York state and southern Ontario with literally thousands (1,864) of islands. Some small, and some big islands, are home mansions, get-away cabins, and even castles!

The best way to view the Thousand Islands is through the town of Alexandria Bay. Take a helicopter or hot air balloon and see the islands from a birds-eye view. Or take the day to explore them up close and personal with a boat tour. On your boat tour, make sure to stop off at Boldt Castle. Most tour boats make a point of stopping here to let patrons walk the ground of this magical heartbreaking masterpiece.

Boldt Castle began construction on heart island by George C. Boldt in the year 1900. The castle was to be built for his beloved wife. Only four short years later, Boldt messaged to stop all building immediately. The worst had happened. George’s wife Louise has died suddenly. For over 73 years the castle sat untouched, the dream was about 75% completed before construction was halted. Boldt never returned to the castle, as he couldn’t imagine being there without his love Louise.

Today, Boldt Castle is preserved by the state of New York, with an indoor pool, a play house for Boldt’s children, draw bridges, gorgeous gardens, and underground tunnels. Boldt Castle is a beautiful spectacle with a heart-wrenching history. This landmark is a must-see in the Thousand Islands.

After your day on Heart Island, spend the evening walking along the quaint streets of Alexandria Bay, or stop for dinner at Windows on the Bay, an American-style restaurant overlooking the waterfront.

With so many things to do in Alexandria Bay, it is the perfect place to bring the family, or your loved one for an idyllic weekend trip.

Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands, New York state

                             Image Credit:


Known as one of America’s best small towns, Cooperstown is a perfect place to visit. Not only is the town and surrounding area gorgeous, it is packed with traditions, history, and nostalgia.

Cooperstown has many descriptors. To most, it is the location of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, world-renowned for fans of the sport. To others, it is home to the art and history museums, the Glimmerglass opera house, or the popular Cooperstown beverage trail.

For a first visit to Cooperstown, there are some essential experiences you need to have. The first is the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Doubleday Field. Founded in 1939 the museum and field were built simultaneously. Just down the street from each other, the museum and field live together. Take a walk through the museum and experience the history, nostalgia, and best moments of baseball. After, take a stroll along Main Street, stop in the many souvenir shops and feel like you’re walking through a set of a movie. Next, catch a local game at Doubleday field. Later, stop for lunch at one of Cooperstown’s many delicious restaurants. A personal favourite is the burger from Mel’s.

If baseball isn’t your passion, there is still plenty to do. If history interests you, visit the Farmer’s Museum. Be propelled back to the early 19th century by walking through a preserved village where the history is so close you can smell it through the wooden floor boards, taste it through the candy in the general store, and hear it through the birds in the rafters of the barns. When you return to modern day, head across the street to the Fenimore art museum to see both modern and ancient exhibits. Here you can find a beautiful exhibit on Native American history and how they impacted the Cooperstown area.

Lastly, Cooperstown is all about having fun. As the saying goes: “We are a drinking town, with a baseball problem”. Cooperstown is home to dozens of breweries, wineries, distilleries and bars. With so many options, there is really only one way to go about hitting every spot. Rent a van  with a personal driver from Doubleday Drivers and hit the trail! Comprising seven locations with the possibility of adding more to your list, this is a great way to see Cooperstown, interact with locals, and taste some great beer, wine, and liquor.

Whatever you decide to do in Cooperstown, there will be no shortage of good times, and memories to last a lifetime.

front entrance of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, located in Cooperstown, New York state                                                            Image Credit:iloveny/Facebook

Lake Placid

Once home to the 1932 and 1980 winter olympics, Lake Placid is for all of your outdoor activities and adventuring. At the tip of the Adirondack State Park, Lake Placid is nestled in the mountains and a perfect spot to get away any time of year.

In the winter months, Lake Placid is great for hiking, ice climbing, skiing, ice skating, and snowshoeing. Get a day pass to Whiteface mountain and see the Olympic park from above. Or, grab a professional guide and spend the day ice climbing the high peaks. If you’re feeling less adventurous, head over to the Olympic oval and spend the day ice skating. After spending the day outside in the cold, head inside to Mike’s Pizza for a hot meal, or a cold craft beer and a warm fire at Big Slide Brewery & Public House.

We understand the cold and snow aren’t for everyone. Luckily, Lake Placid is just as fun and action packed in the summer months! With the lake thawed out, it is the perfect time to go fishing with Wiley’s Flies, take a boat tour, or just relax at the town beach. If you require more exercise and thrill-seeking experiences, you can take a guided hike up Whiteface mountain, or go mountain biking with Wild Flow tours.

Later, walk the streets of Lake Placid where there are plenty of shops, or visit the Lake Placid Olympic museum. Finish off the day with dinner at the Great Adirondack Brewery Company and ice cream at Emma Lake Placid Creamery.

No matter the time of year, Lake Placid has adventures for all.

Ski jump from Olympic games. Located in Lake Placid, New York state                                                   Image Credit: iloveny/Facebook


Last on our list of places to visit in New York state is Skaneateles. Don’t let the name deter you from visiting this lovely town. Pronounced “skan ee at lass”, this town is settled in the finger lakes region of New York. As a part of the finger lakes, Skaneateles is known for its quaint streets, lake views and wineries. This small-town is a lovely spot for a weekend trip or staycation.

The summer and fall are the best times to visit this little town. With the lake at your fingertips (see what I did there?) There are a bunch of lake-centered activities, rent a boat or kayaks and spend the day floating in the sun. If you want more of a relaxed boating experience, consider Mid-lakes Navigation for a lake cruise. Then meander through the streets and into the little boutiques of Skaneateles or stop by the local farmers market. Enjoy lunch on the lake at Bluewater Grill & Blue Goose, before spending the afternoon brewery and winery hopping from Finger Lakes on Tap to the Skaneateles Brewery.

After your day of fun, stay at the Sherwood Inn. Established as a tavern in 1807, this historic Inn has all the charms of a modern day stay while keeping the historical integrity of the building. Relax in one of the 25 remodeled rooms and enjoy dinner and drinks in the lovely tavern.

Wherever you stay in Skaneateles, and whatever you decide to do, this small-town is the much needed escape you’ve been looking for.

main street Skaneateles, New York state                                                    Image Credit: iloveny/Facebook

These five New York state towns are the perfect way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city; or explore off the beaten path. The towns are filled with happy-go-lucky locals, great activities, dining, and relaxing rest places. They are an example of the beauty New York state has to offer. Beyond the sleepless city, there is a quiet place to rest your head, to rejuvenate your mind, and explore the outdoors. Whether you’re visiting New York for the first time, looking for new adventures in the state, or looking for an escape from the city, these well-visited towns are sure to meet all your needs.

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