Hidden gems are waiting to be discovered in Upstate, New York. Beyond the bustling streets of the city, this region boasts breathtaking natural beauty, rich history, and unique local culture. From the rolling hills of the Enchanted Mountains to the serene waters of the Finger Lakes, Upstate, New York is a treasure trove of hidden places waiting to be explored. In this blog post, we’ll take a journey to discover some of the most intriguing and lesser-known destinations in this beautiful region. So, let’s pack our bags, hop in the car, and set out on an adventure to explore the hidden wonders of Upstate, New York.
The Enchanted Mountains of Cattaraugus County
Nestled in the southwestern corner of Upstate, New York, the Enchanted Mountains of Cattaraugus County offer a stunning natural beauty that has captured the hearts of visitors for generations. With its rolling hills, cascading waterfalls, and serene forests, this region is a nature lover’s paradise. At the heart of this area lies the Allegany State Park, one of the largest state parks in the country, covering over 65,000 acres of land. The park boasts over 18 miles of hiking trails, several fishing streams, and two lakes, which are perfect for canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.
Aside from the state park, the Enchanted Mountains region is also home to some of the most charming small towns in Upstate, New York. Ellicottville is a quaint village that is a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts, while Salamanca is known for its cultural events and outdoor activities. This region is also home to the Seneca Nation of Indians, whose rich history and traditions are still alive and celebrated today. The Seneca-Iroquois National Museum in Salamanca is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in learning about the native culture of the area.
Finger Lakes Wine Country
Upstate, New York may not be the first place that comes to mind when thinking about wine regions, but the Finger Lakes Wine Country is slowly but surely making a name for itself. This region, located in the western part of the state, is home to over 100 wineries and has been dubbed the “Napa Valley of the East.” What sets the Finger Lakes wine apart from other regions is the unique terroir that results from the lakes’ proximity. The lakes create a microclimate that allows for the production of cool-climate varietals, such as Riesling, Chardonnay, and Gewürztraminer.
Aside from wine tasting, the Finger Lakes region offers a plethora of outdoor activities, from hiking and biking to boating and fishing. The Watkins Glen State Park is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the area. The park boasts a series of 19 waterfalls, winding trails, and spectacular views of the surrounding gorges. The Corning Museum of Glass is another must-visit attraction, where visitors can learn about the history of glassmaking and watch demonstrations of glassblowing.
The Adirondacks region of Upstate, New York is a sprawling wilderness area that offers endless opportunities for outdoor exploration. With over 6 million acres of land, the Adirondacks are home to numerous hiking trails, lakes, and mountains that are perfect for a wide range of outdoor activities. The High Peaks Wilderness Area is one of the most popular destinations in the Adirondacks and boasts over 46 mountain peaks that are over 4,000 feet in elevation.
Aside from outdoor activities, the Adirondacks also offers plenty of cultural and historic attractions. The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is a nature museum that features interactive exhibits and educational programs that showcase the wildlife and ecology of the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Experience in Blue Mountain Lake is another must-visit destination that provides visitors with an immersive experience of the Adirondack’s history and culture.
Lake Placid is a popular destination within the Adirondacks region, and it has been home to two Winter Olympics games. Visitors can explore the Olympic facilities, such as the bobsled track and the ski jumps, and even try their hand at some of the Olympic sports themselves. The town also offers a range of dining and shopping options, as well as access to nearby hiking trails, lakes, and mountains.
Ithaca and Tompkins County
Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, Ithaca and Tompkins County offer a unique blend of natural beauty, vibrant local culture, and educational opportunities. Home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, this area has a thriving student population that has contributed to its diverse and eclectic atmosphere. Visitors to the area can explore the gorges and waterfalls of the nearby state parks, such as Taughannock Falls State Park and Buttermilk Falls State Park. The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is another must-visit destination that features over a dozen wineries and offers a taste of some of the best local wines. Ithaca’s downtown area is known for its vibrant arts scene and unique shopping and dining options. The Ithaca Farmers Market is a popular attraction that showcases the local produce and crafts of the area.
The Hudson Valley
Stretching from New York City to Albany, the Hudson Valley region is a stunning blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. This area is home to some of the most charming towns in Upstate, New York, such as Hudson, Rhinebeck, and Woodstock, which offer a range of unique shopping and dining experiences. The region is also home to several historic sites, including the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, and the United States Military Academy at West Point.
The Hudson Valley is also known for its stunning natural beauty, with its rolling hills, lush forests, and picturesque waterways. The Hudson River School of painters, a group of 19th-century artists who were inspired by the natural beauty of the region, made the area famous for its stunning landscapes. The Walkway Over the Hudson, a pedestrian bridge that spans the Hudson River, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area. The Hudson Valley is also home to several state parks, such as Minnewaska State Park and Bear Mountain State Park, which offer a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, biking, and boating.
The Thousand Islands
The Thousand Islands region of Upstate, New York is a unique and beautiful area that boasts over 1,800 islands dotted along the St. Lawrence River. Visitors to the area can explore the islands by boat, kayak, or canoe, and experience the stunning natural beauty of the area. Boldt Castle, located on Heart Island, is a popular attraction that offers a glimpse into the history and architecture of the area.
Aside from the islands, the Thousand Islands region is also home to several charming towns and villages, such as Clayton and Alexandria Bay, that offer unique shopping and dining experiences. The Antique Boat Museum in Clayton is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in the region’s nautical history. The region is also home to several state parks, such as Wellesley Island State Park and Keewaydin State Park, which offer a range of outdoor activities, including hiking, fishing, and camping.
The Catskills are a beloved destination for outdoor enthusiasts and those seeking a break from the hustle and bustle of city life. This mountainous region boasts some of the best hiking trails in Upstate, New York, including the famous Devil’s Path and the Escarpment Trail. Visitors to the area can also explore the numerous streams and waterfalls that dot the landscape, such as Kaaterskill Falls and Buttermilk Falls. The Catskills are also home to several charming towns, such as Woodstock and Phoenicia, that offer unique shopping and dining experiences. The area has a rich artistic history and was a haven for musicians, writers, and artists in the mid-20th century. Visitors can explore this cultural legacy by visiting the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which is located on the site of the famous 1969 Woodstock Festival.
The Erie Canalway
The Erie Canalway is a historic waterway that stretches 524 miles across Upstate, New York, from Albany to Buffalo. This engineering marvel, which was completed in 1825, transformed transportation and commerce in the United States and played a crucial role in the growth and development of the region. Visitors to the area can explore the many museums, historic sites, and recreational opportunities that the Canalway offers. The Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse is a must-visit destination that showcases the history and legacy of the canal. The Canalway is also home to several charming towns and villages, such as Pittsford and Brockport, that offer unique shopping and dining experiences. Visitors can also enjoy recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and biking along the Canalway.
Upstate, New York is a region full of surprises and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. From the stunning natural beauty of the Enchanted Mountains to the unique terroir of Finger Lakes wine country and the endless outdoor exploration opportunities of the Adirondacks, there is something for every traveler. So, pack your bags and hit the road to uncover the hidden wonders of Upstate, New York.