New York City is bustling with entertainment, food, art, and energy. However, there is so much more to the state of New York than just the world-famous city that bears its name, including amusement parks, caves, beaches, castles, RV parks, lakes, golf, drive-in theaters, breweries, and mountains. The spectacular Niagara Falls draws millions of visitors each year. New York has played a central role in the nation’s history and many monuments and museums remind visitors of that history and provide a glimpse into the past. Here are the best places to visit on a day trip or weekend getaway in New York, including the Catskills, Fire Island, Albany, Saratoga Springs, Rochester and Montauk.
1. New York City
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The five boroughs that make up New York City have more attractions, amusements, sites, and landmarks than one can imagine. Perhaps the best shopping in the United States can be found here, with luxury clothing shops, technology, phenomenal books, toys, and homewares. Art lovers flock to New York for its countless museums and galleries that seem to lie along almost every street.
There are enough cultural events to keep any visitor busy, including iconic Broadway Shows. Of course, no trip to the Big Apple would be complete without a visit to the Empire State Building, Times Square, and the Statue of Liberty. With fantastic food, events, attractions, and more, visitors had best plan to stay awhile.
2. Lake Placid
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Lake Placid is a village in the Adirondack Mountains located near the lake of the same name and is one of the best places to see in New York. The beautiful Adirondack Mountains have nearly endless sites, activities, and attractions to entertain visitors with hiking trails passing near lakes and through the mountains.
Home of the 1980 Winter Olympics, visitors can take in some Olympic history at the Olympic Museum and visit the Olympic Sports Complex. Summer activities include kayaking or canoeing at Mirror Lake, going on a boat tour of Lake Placid, and rafting or tubing along a local river. Shopping options include a wide range of local and boutique shops where visitors can shop for the perfect gift or souvenir from their time in Lake Placid. Things to Do in Lake Placid
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Lake George is a town in the Adirondacks, which are named after the lake of the same name. Visitors who come to enjoy the lake will find no shortage of water sports and activities. From laidback sight-seeing cruises to adrenaline-packed parasailing or jet-skiing, Lake George has it all. Other outdoor attractions include zip lining at the Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course, tubing and rafting trips, or visiting the Six Flags park, Great Escapes.
The town’s many relaxing spas can help you relax and unwind after a long day enjoying the lake. Should the weather not be ideal for enjoying the outdoors, Lake George is also home to several performing arts and live music venues as well as interesting museums. Things to Do in Lake George
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Thousand Islands is a popular outdoor destination on the border of New York State and Ontario, Canada. The area’s peaceful bays and miles of shoreline make for a vacationer’s paradise. While most of the islands are privately owned, many are public and feature many popular attractions, landmarks, and amusements including historic lighthouses, castles, and museums.
Outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, and diving are readily available. The area boasts scores of hotels, campgrounds, and golf courses while boat tours are one of the most popular ways to take in the islands. Visitors who take the tours will be afforded the chance to visit many islands as well as hear the rich history of the area. Keep reading for more great places to see in New York.
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Buffalo is a city on the eastern shores of Lake Erie in western New York that offers a wide range of activities for any type of visitor.
Art galleries and museums such as the Albright-Knox Gallery, the Buffalo Museum of Science, and the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park provide visitors with a range of cultural and educational opportunities. Families will have plenty to do at Buffalo Zoo, the botanical gardens, and the city’s many parks. Buffalo is also a great place to enjoy the outdoors, whether it be fishing at Unity Island or taking in the lovely panoramic views and beautiful sand beach at Woodlawn Beach State Park.
Next read: Best Things to Do in the Catskills and Best Things to Do in the Hudson Valley
6. Finger Lakes
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The Finger Lakes region is home to a group of 11 long, narrow lakes in Central New York. Famous as the state’s wine-producing region, the Finger Lakes area features over 100 wineries and vineyards. The Finger Lakes isn’t just for adult tourists, though, and family-friendly activities abound, including museums such as the Glenn H. Curtis Aviation Museum and the world’s largest museum of play – the Strong National Museum of Play.
Many tourists come to the area for the beautiful scenery and outdoor activities. Visitors can enjoy biking, hiking, boating, fishing, and much more in the area’s state parks and other outdoor areas. Next read: Finger Lakes Weekend Getaways
7. Places in New York: Albany
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Albany is located on the west bank of the Hudson river and is the capital city of New York. Visitors can tour many of the city’s mansions and historic buildings such as the New York State Executive Mansion, the Ten Brock Mansion, and Schuyler Mansion. Cultural attractions include visiting the Institute of Art and History and taking in a live performance at the historic Palace Theatre.
The USS Slater is a historic WWII-era ship that offers hour-long guided tours for tourists interested in military history. Outdoor activities nearby include hiking scenic trails at John Boyd Thacher State Park and fishing at the Washington Park Lake. Things to Do in Albany
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Ithaca is a city in the Finger Lakes region and a good jumping-off point for exploring the lakes, wineries, waterfalls, and more that make up the area. Ithaca has a notable college town feel to it as it is home to Cornell University as well as two smaller colleges.
Ithaca boasts several museums, including the family-friendly Sciencenter children’s museum, which offers a hands-on learning environment for kids. State parks such as Robert H. Treman and Buttermilk Falls offer visitors an opportunity to explore the outdoors, take a hike, or go for a swim. Interestingly, the Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca is the North American seat of the Dalai Lama.
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Rochester is a city in western New York and a thriving cultural destination full of great art, culture, and food. Several historic homes are open for touring, including the home of civil rights activist Susan B. Anthony.
The city’s many green spaces include golf courses, waterfalls, an arboretum, and hiking trails. The Memorial Art Gallery displays stunning art exhibits from medieval times to the 20th century. The Seneca Park Zoo is a popular family destination and includes an African Safari. Spend a day at the Seabreeze Amusement Park for more fun for the entire family. Things to Do in Rochester
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The Long Island town of Montauk is a laidback seaside town where visitors can relax and take in their surroundings. Seal watching is a popular reason tourists come to Montauk as these entertaining creatures frequent the shores of Montauk Point State Park.
Hither Hills State Park has access to ocean swimming as well as a 40-acre pond and sites for camping. Second House is an interesting historical cottage that was built for shepherds in the 1900s. Visitors can visit the cottage and a 1797 lighthouse to add a touch of history to their trip. The beaches, wine, golf, diving, museums, shopping, and more make Montauk a popular weekend trip from New York City. Things to Do in Montauk
11. Niagara Falls
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Niagara Falls is made up of three waterfalls which have the combined highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world and a drop of more than 165 feet. The three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls straddle the border between the United States and Canada.
Technically, Horseshoe Falls lie mostly in Canada while the smaller Bridal Veil Falls and the American Falls lie entirely in the United States. Visitors to the falls can take part in the Maid of the Mist boat ride, which takes passengers to the area of the rapids just below the falls. Visitors can also use walkways along Prospect Point Park to view the falls. Every night, the falls are illuminated, which makes for an impressive display. Things to Do in Niagara Falls
12.Places in New York: Syracuse
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Syracuse is New York’s fourth largest city and is located in upstate New York. Visitors can learn about the history of the city, region, and the ingenious Erie Canal at the Erie Canal Museum. The Milton J. Rubinstein Museum of Science is perfect for families and features hands on exhibits and tours.
For outdoor fun, guests can go ice skating at Clinton Square or relax at one of the city parks such as Thornden and Elmwood Parks. Both Onondaga Lake Park and Hiawatha Lake offer opportunities to enjoy activities on and near the water while the nearby Clark Reservation State Park features impressive cliffs, a beautiful lake, and guided nature walks. Things to Do in Syracuse
13. Saratoga Springs
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Saratoga Springs is a bohemian, laid back college town well known for horse-racing, the performing arts, and the nearby springs. The Roosevelt Baths and Spa at Saratoga Spa State Park is the only place where you can still take in the springs.
The state park also includes golf courses, a large swimming pool, trails for hiking and cross-country skiing, ice rinks, picnic areas, and the well-known Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Visit from July to September and take in a horse race at the country’s oldest thoroughbred track - the Saratoga Race Course. The downtown features restaurants and local shops to explore after a day soaking in the baths or cheering on your favorite horse. Things to Do in Saratoga Springs
Narrowsburg is a charming little town on the Delaware River in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains, surrounded by forests, lakes, streams, and rolling hills. Once a bustling logging town, Narrowsburg today attracts outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds: Canoers, kayakers, and rafters who come to float down the clear waters of the Delaware River, and hikers who hit the trails as soon as the weather permits. Anglers come for trout, walleye, and smallmouth bass and hunters chase whitetail deer, turkey, and black bear. The Great Outdoors is not the only reason to visit Narrowsburg. The town is well-known for its rich cultural and art activities. It is the home of the Delaware Valley Opera, the Delaware Valley Arts Alliance, the Tusten Theatre, and the Tusten-Cochecton Library. The best time to come for a visit is in the summer, during one of town’s street festivals such as art fair Riverfest and the Honey Bee Fest, popular with families.
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Baseball fans flock to Cooperstown because it is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame as well as Doubleday Field, the ball park that is said to be the birthplace of baseball. The city also has a fair share of other museums, including the Farmers’ Museum, which is a living museum that shows life on a 1840s farm, and the Fenimore Art Museum.
Fun for the whole family awaits at the Cooperstown Fun Park, which features laser-tag, go-carts, bumper boats, mini golf, and a full arcade. Fall is a particularly beautiful time to visit to take in beautiful foliage as well as visit the Fly Creek Cider Mill, which makes old-fashioned apple cider and a variety of sweet treats.
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Cold Spring is a small village with a large amount of history that was home to important Civil War general Gouverneur K. Warren. The village is a popular weekend getaway for many New York City residents and is easily accessed by commuter rail from the metro area. The town is nestled in beautiful rolling hills and features many bike paths, hiking trails, and beautiful streams.
The downtown area features boutique and local shops that sell antiques, clothing, and more. Coffee houses and restaurants supply a wide range of refreshments and many feature outdoor dining and live entertainment. The park along the river’s edge is a popular place for visitors to unwind after a long week’s work.
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Long Island is both the largest and longest island in the contiguous United States. Long Island is technically made up of four counties, two of which (Kings and Queens) are boroughs of New York City (Brooklyn and Queens). Most people in the city only consider the more suburban areas of Nassau and Suffolk counties to be “Long Island.”
A popular escape from the hustle and bustle of New York City, Long Island offers a quieter, more laidback way of life and plenty of things to do for tourists. Popular summer resorts line the shores, along with windswept dunes and old whaling and fishing ports. There are many parks, family farms, museums, and beaches, making Long Island a popular destination for families.
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The Adirondack Mountains is a mountain range in upstate New York containing more than one hundred peaks at heights ranging from just over 1000 feet to over 5000 feet high. The area really shows off its splendor in the fall, when the changing leaves are at their peak, but year-round activities make the Adirondacks a great place to visit at any time of year.
Hiking, canoeing, and camping are some of the most popular activities and many of lakes are good for fishing and boating as well. However, if you visit during the colder months, the several ski resorts and Nordic ski trails provide plenty of winter fun.
19. Mohonk Preserve
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The Mohonk Preserve is a large nature preserve with 8,000 acres of forests, cliffs, and streams to explore. The preserve contains more than 40 miles of trails and over 70 miles of carriage roads that are available for multi-purpose use. The trails are perfect for hiking, trail running, cycling, Nordic skiing, horseback riding and more.
Mohonk is home to the Shawangunks (the Gunks, for short) climbing area, which is one of the most popular climbing destinations in America and has climbs of varying difficulties. The visitors’ center offers valuable information for enjoying the preserve as well as a butterfly garden and exhibits geared toward adults and children alike. Read more
3197 US-44, Gardiner, NY 12525, Phone: 845-255-0919
20.Onondaga Lake Park
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Onondaga Lake Park is a park on the banks of Onondaga Lake near Syracuse. The park includes miles of shoreline where visitors can have a picnic and relax by the lake. It also offers many activities such as boating, bike rentals, in-line skating, and more.
Paved trails traverse the park for visitors’ use and the Shoreline Walking Trail is a two-mile walking and running path that only allows foot traffic. The East Shore Recreation Trail allows bicycling and in-line skating while the West Shore Trail passes through more nature and is perfect for outdoorsmen. The park includes a dog park, skate park, and a visitors’ center as well as a marina with a paved boat launch.
126 Lake Drive, Liverpool, NY 13088, Phone: 315-451-7275
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Ellis Island is located in New York Bay and was the spot where over 12 million immigrants entered the United States from Europe and the rest of the world. The island is part of the Statue of Liberty National Monument and is home to a museum of immigration.
The museum tells the stories of the immigrants who came to America for a better life and the workers who took care of immigration processing and kept Ellis Island running. The vast museum collections display historical artifacts from both Ellis and Liberty Islands in interactive and informative exhibits.
Statue of Liberty National Monument, New York, NY 10004, Phone: 212-363-3200
22.Panama Rocks Scenic Park
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Panama Rocks Scenic Park is a park with impressive rock formations located in Chautauqua County. The rock formations are surrounded by a one-mile hiking trail and visitors are permitted to go off-trail and explore on their own.
The woods contain many caves, crevices, and passageways for visitors to discover. The park is located only 15 minutes away from Chautauqua Lake and visits to both places could easily be combined into a day trip. The park is a great place to spend time in nature but is only open seasonally so it’s recommended that visitors check the website before making the trip.
11 Rock Hill Road, Panama, NY 14767, Phone: 716-782-2845
23.Taughannock Falls State Park
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Taughannock Falls State Park is a natural attraction centered around the waterfall of the same name. Taughannock Falls is an impressive 215-foot-tall waterfall viewable from hiking trails through the gorge and around the rim. Cayuga Lake is also part of the park and features a full-service marina with boat launches and a beach nearby.
The park’s trails are popular for hiking in the summer and can be used for cross-country skiing in the colder months. The trails pass many natural skating ponds and sledding slopes for added winter fun. Campsites and cabins are available for overnight rentals.
1740 Taughannock Blvd., Trumansburg, NY 14886, Phone: 607-387-6739
24.The City of Niagara Falls
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The City of Niagara Falls sits on the banks of the Niagara River across from the city of Niagara Falls, Canada. The main tourist attraction is the waterfall that shares its name with and connects the two cities. In addition to the iconic waterfall, the city of Niagara Falls also boasts several casinos.
The Seneca Nation runs the Seneca Niagara Casino & Hotel, which features 99 gaming tables and 4,200 slot machines as well as the biggest hotel in New York State outside Manhattan. The Niagara Science Museum is a more family-friendly attraction featuring exhibits of scientific instruments dating back to the 1700s.
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Poughkeepsie is the largest city in the Hudson Valley and a good place to delve into the history of the region. Many visitors come to visit Springwood, the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.
The many historical places near Poughkeepsie include Locust Grove, which is the estate and home of Samuel Morse, and the Bardavon Opera House. The opera house still hosts performances in this interesting, 1869 building. The city has many green spaces as well as the popular Walkway over the Hudson, which is the longest footbridge in the world and crosses the Hudson River from Poughkeepsie to the town of Highland on the other bank.
25 Best Places to Visit in New York
- New York City, Photo: Courtesy of sokolova23 - Fotolia.com
- Lake Placid, Photo: Courtesy of oldmn - Fotolia.com
- Lake George, Photo: Courtesy of V. Korostyshevskiy - Fotolia.com
- Thousand Islands, Photo: Courtesy of demerzel 21 - Fotolia.com
- Buffalo, Photo: Courtesy of demerzel 21 - Fotolia.com
- Finger Lakes, Photo: Courtesy of demerzel 21 - Fotolia.com
- Places in New York: Albany, Photo: Courtesy of demerzel 21 - Fotolia.com
- Ithaca, Photo: Courtesy of scribe right - Fotolia.com
- Rochester, Photo: Courtesy of Andy - Fotolia.com
- Montauk, Photo: Courtesy of Jorg Hackemann - Fotolia.com
- Niagara Falls, Photo: Courtesy of sic 2005 - Fotolia.com
- Places in New York: Syracuse, Photo: Courtesy of jiawangkun - Fotolia.com
- Saratoga Springs, Photo: Courtesy of doncon 402 - Fotolia.com
- Narrowsburg, Photo: stock.adobe.com
- Cooperstown, Photo: Courtesy of debra millet - Fotolia.com
- Cold Spring, Photo: Courtesy of rmbarricarte - Fotolia.com
- Long Island, Photo: Courtesy of luciano mortula - Fotolia.com
- The Adirondacks, Photo: Courtesy of light photo 2 - Fotolia.com
- Mohonk Preserve, Photo: Courtesy of Ruth P. Peterkin - Fotolia.com
- Onondaga Lake Park, Photo: Courtesy of jovannig - Fotolia.com
- Ellis Island, Photo: Courtesy of Felix Mizioznikov - Fotolia.com
- Panama Rocks Scenic Park, Photo: Courtesy of Paul Lemke - Fotolia.com
- Taughannock Falls State Park, Photo: Courtesy of Benjamin Sullivan - Fotolia.com
- The City of Niagara Falls, Photo: Courtesy of sic 2005 - Fotolia.com
- Poughkeepsie, Photo: Courtesy of lightningboldt - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of frank 1 crayon - Fotolia.com
Robert Treman State Park
Robert Treman State Park is a natural park with the impressive Enfield Glen gorge as its centerpiece. Hiking trails lead visitors past 12 waterfalls, including a 115-foot waterfall called Lucifer Falls. Hikes feature impressive views of the gorge and the surrounding scenery. The park offers several accommodation options, including tent and RV camping as well as cabin rentals.
Several lifeguarded swimming areas are available, including a pool beneath a waterfall. Amenities and activities at the park include playgrounds, a swimming beach, picnic tables, fishing, and hunting. Visitors can reserve sheltered pavilions for private parties and events.
105 Enfield Falls Road, Ithaca, NY 14850, Phone: 607-273-3440