Aerial view of the Lake George and the Tongue Range, one of the best places to visit in New York State

17 Best Places to Visit in New York State (By a Local)

As a New York local, I can tell you that there is no shortage of unique places to visit in New York State.

I love exploring all that New York has to offer. In this one state, you can visit the bustling New York City, get lost in small towns like Livingston Manor, and explore numerous hiking trails and historic landmarks. 

I’ve compiled a list of the best places New York State has to offer including popular places and hidden gems. There are so many things to do and places to explore in this diverse state.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

17 Best Places to Visit in New York State


Visit the third largest metro In New York State, packed with art, museums, and attractions.

Overlooking view of the High Falls and the city skyline of Rochester
High Falls

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Rochester Hotels on Booking

Rochester is an underrated city in Upstate New York that sits on Lake Ontario in the Finger Lakes region. It is the fourth largest city in New York State.

Rochester has a great culinary scene, museums, and a rich industrial history. The famous Kodak Tower offers daily film factory tours. Be sure to check out the Susan B. Anthony and George Eastman Museum if you’re a history fan. 

The incredible High Falls of the Genesee River are located in the downtown area. I recommend the Genesee Brew House for fantastic rooftop views of High Falls and some delicious Bavarian pretzels!

Niagara Falls State Park

Take in picturesque views of Niagara Falls and enjoy miles of hiking trails and family-friendly fun.

Magnificent view of a red boat near the Niagara Falls State Park
Niagara Falls

📍 Google Maps | Where to Stay in Niagara Falls | 👉 Browse Niagara Falls Hotels on Booking

Niagara Falls State Park is one of the best places to visit in New York State. The state park has over 400 acres and is located on the southern end of Niagara Gorge and sits on the Canadian border. The surrounding area is full of family-friendly activities for the perfect weekend outing.

The Maid of Mist boat tour is one of Niagara Falls’ most popular attractions for getting as close to the falls as possible. Check out the helicopter tours or try the aerial Whirlpool Aero Car if you’d prefer to see Niagara Falls from above. The three waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, are an incredible sight. 

The Niagara Glen Nature Reserve has guided hiking tours and nearby Devil’s Hole State Park is perfect for hiking, picnics, and fishing. There’s no shortage of great food options on the New York and Canadian sides, so bring your passport! 


A college town in New York’s Finger Lakes region full of waterfalls, arts and culture, and family attractions.  

View of the peaceful street in Ithaca Commons
Ithaca Commons

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Ithaca Hotels on Booking

Ithaca is a lively city with arts, culture, and plenty of surrounding nature. It’s located on the southern shore of Cayuga Lake in Tompkins County in Upstate New York. This area is one of my favorite places to visit in New York State.

Ithaca’s attractions include the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art and The Museum of the Earth. Ithaca is also home to Cornell University, which has a stunning campus and great views. For restaurants, I recommend Simeon’s American Bistro in Ithaca Commons. 

Buttermilk Falls State Park is a great park in Ithaca with 811 acres of nature to explore. It has a series of cascades, rapids, and a natural pool. Seneca Lake is another great nearby place to explore. It’s the largest and deepest of the glacial Finger Lakes and only a 45-minute drive from Ithaca.

Lake Placid

A scenic lake nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, offering fresh mountain air and stunning views. 

View of the fall foliage reflecting on Lake Placid
Lake Placid during Autumn

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Lake Placid Hotels on Booking

Lake Placid is one of the best places to visit in New York State. Lake Placid and its village of the same name are nestled in the Adirondack Mountains and offer scenic mountain views, waterfalls, hiking trails, and plenty of restaurants and shopping. 

Swimming and canoeing are particularly popular at Lake Placid. Fishing enthusiasts will enjoy Lake Placid’s famous rainbow and lake trout fishery. Avid hikers will enjoy nearby Mount Marcy, which is the highest peak in the region and can be reached via the Van Hoevenberg Trail. 

Lake Placid’s Main Street has family-friendly restaurants like Lisa G’s for American Bistro and the Lakefront Smoke Signals. There are boutique shops, sporting stores, and an Imagination Station store for kids. The Lake Placid Olympic Museum is perfect for sports fans! 

Cayuga Lake

Spend a day on the longest and second deepest lake in the Finger Lakes region, packed with family fun in central New York.  

A small boardwalk leading to Cayuga Lake that is surrounded by greenery
Cayuga Lake

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Cayuga Lake Hotels on Expedia

Cayuga Lake is the longest of New York’s Finger Lakes at 38 miles long, and it offers year-round fun for the whole family. The area has plenty of hiking, boat tours, arts and culture, and wineries and breweries to enjoy. 

I recommend driving along the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway for stunning lake views and a stop at one of the 16 wineries. Nearby Robert H. Treman State Park is 1,110 acres large with waterfalls and swimming holes. The Montezuma Wildlife Refuge is the best place to look for wildlife. 

Wine lovers will enjoy the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, as it’s the oldest wine trail in the United States and features tastings and special events. I also recommend Wolffy’s Grill and Marina as a great restaurant for casual dining and lake views. 

📚 Related Reading: 7 Day New York Road Trip Itinerary

New York City

Discover endless adventures in the Big Apple and experience world-class entertainment, museums, food, and so much more.

View of the crowd at the Times Square in New York City
Times Square during rush hour

📍 Google Maps | Where to Stay in NYC | 👉 Browse New York City Hotels on Booking

A trip to New York is incomplete without a visit to New York City. Your entire family will enjoy some of the world’s best museums, food, attractions, and skyscrapers here. The top of the Empire State Building and One World Observatory offers world-class views from above. 

Head to midtown to enjoy the entertainment of Times Square, with Radio City Music Hall, and visit nearby Rockefeller Center. Little Island in Hudson River Park is a unique spot for urban nature. 

Some of the best things to do are in Central Park, such as the Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, Strawberry Fields, and the Central Park Carousel. From the excitement of Times Square to world-class dining, music venues, and more, everyone can find something to enjoy in The Big Apple!


A small city in the Hudson Valley of Upstate New York with great restaurants, attractions, and views of the Hudson River.

View of the calm Orange Lake from the Lakeview House Restaurant
View of Orange Lake from Lakeview House Restaurant

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Newburgh Hotels on Booking

Newburgh is a small city that sits on the Hudson River. Newburgh is one of the best day trips from New York City and it’s also one of the best places to visit in New York State! Autumn is the best time to visit.

What makes Newburgh unique is that it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s the only remaining nineteenth-century gunpowder manufacturing site in New York State. 

I recommend checking out the boat tours on the Hudson River for stunning views of the Hudson Highlands. Hudson Taco is my favorite restaurant here and has some of the tastiest guacamole I’ve ever had, plus waterfront views! 

📚 Related Reading: 25 Best Things to Do in Hudson Valley

Lake George

Enjoy family-friendly activities on and along this 32-mile-long lake at the southern end of Adirondack Park in Upstate New York.

View of the blue sky and water in Lake George with the mountain range view in the distance
Lake George

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Lake George Hotels on Booking

Lake George is the perfect New York destination for families and couples any time of the year. The town of Lake George is located in New York’s Adirondack region and offers year-round fun. You’ll find crystal-clear waters, forests, whitewater rafting, boating, bass fishing, and so much more.

Million Dollar Beach is great for swimming in the summer and Shepard Park’s beach has an amphitheater overlooking the lake. Check out Gore Mountain Nordic Center for cross-country skiing a 40-minute drive northwest in winter. 

Lake George hosts the Adirondack Balloon Festival in late September, which features various hot air balloons. There are plenty of fantastic dining options at Lake George as well, like Charlie’s Bar & Kitchen and Bistro LeRoux for a date night. 

Taughannock Falls State Park

A 215-foot waterfall with an easily accessible mile-long trail suitable for all ages to enjoy.  

Overlooking view of the picturesque and hazy Taughannock Falls State Park
Taughannock Falls in the haze

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Hotels near Taughannock Falls State Park on Expedia

Taughannock Falls State Park is sure to take your breath away—it’s one of the best places to visit in New York State! The gorge and rim trails are perfect for families and solo travelers, and you can enjoy views of the Taughannock Falls from above and below.

Taughannock Falls State Park is a great place for hiking, camping, kayaking, paddle boarding, cross-country skiing, and skating ponds. I highly recommend visiting in autumn for the beauty! 

The state park is a 15-minute drive from Ithaca, with plenty of options for food, shopping, museums, and attractions. The Inn at Taughannock Falls has a great seasonal restaurant with waterfront views of Cayuga Lake. 

Fire Island

An island located off the southern shore of Long Island with beaches, picnic spots, golf, and a 19th-century lighthouse. 

Panoramic view of the Fire Island Lighthouse with the cloudy sky in the background
Fire Island Lighthouse

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Fire Island Properties on VRBO

If you’re planning a beach trip, Fire Island is one of the best places to visit. The area is full of things to do for all ages, from boating and sailing to exploring the Fire Island National Seashore. The island sits off the south shore of Long Island and is only two hours from New York City.

The Fire Island Lighthouse is full of history, with stunning views from the top of the tower. At the most western point of Fire Island, Robert Moses State Park has picnic areas, beach shops, a golf course, and a volleyball court. The ocean beachfront has boat rides and tours available for guests. 

The area has plenty of nightlife for adults looking to dance and have fun. Cherry’s On The Bay is a waterfront spot known for Sunday brunch. Fire Island is also known for being really LGBTQ+ friendly.

Glen Cove, Long Island

A hidden gem city with beaches, parks, and breathtaking views on the North Shore of Long Island.

View of the silhouette of people at the shoreline of Sea Cliff Beach during sunset
Summer sunset at nearby Sea Cliff Beach (open to residents only)

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Glen Cove Hotels on Booking

The city of Glen Cove on Long Island is one of the best places to visit for couples looking for a relaxing trip. This city is under an hour from New York City and is a hidden gem on Long Island’s North Shore.

Enjoy hiking, sea views, and Native American history at Garvies Point Museum & Preserve. The Holocaust Memorial & Tolerance Center of Nassau County has galleries, exhibits, and artifacts. I highly recommend The Glen Cove Salt Cave for some spa wellness. 

The downtown area has plenty of restaurants. I recommend La Bussola Restaurant for some Italian cuisine. Tavern 227 in nearby Sea Cliff is one of my favorite restaurants in New York!

Livingston Manor

A charming small town in the Catskills region of Upstate New York, full of local restaurants, boutiques, hiking trails, and history.

View of Willowemoc Creek surrounded by greenery
View of Willowemoc Creek from the patio of Main Street Farm Market Cafe

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Livingston Manor Properties on VRBO

New York State has plenty of charming small towns, including Livingston Manor. This hidden gem is a small hamlet in Sullivan County surrounded by the beauty of the Catskill Mountains.

Be sure to bring your family to the Catskill Fly Fishing Center & Museum if you’re looking for a calm New York getaway. The museum sits on a stunning 53-acre campus of mountainous beauty. The Livingston Manor Covered Bridge is a great place to fish and picnic. 

Livingston Manor’s Main Street has incredible restaurants. The Smoke Joint is a must for barbeque and Main Street Farm Market Café is great for enjoying fresh market ingredients.

Letchworth State Park

Enjoy 14,427 acres of this scenic park in Western New York with hiking trails, waterfalls, and mountainous forestry.

The red Genesee Arch Bridge over the Letchworth State Park
Genesee Arch Bridge at Letchworth State Park

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Hotels near Letchworth State Park on Booking

Letchworth State Park is located in Northern New York State and is known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” The 14,427 acres of lush forest, access to the Genesee River, and large waterfalls make it one of the best places to visit in New York State. 

Letchworth State Park has 66 miles of hiking trails and is a great state park for horseback riding, biking, whitewater rafting, and hot air balloon rides. It’s the perfect place for winter activities as well, with snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.

Letchworth State Park has year-round fun for all age groups. The restaurant, Caroline’s, at Glen Iris Inn, has incredible food and overlooks the park’s tallest waterfall

Saratoga Springs

A family-friendly city just north of Albany that’s home to 21 public mineral springs as well as history, arts and culture, and museums.

View of the colorful buildings along Downtown Saratoga Springs
Downtown Saratoga Springs (photo: Enrico Della Pietra / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Saratoga Springs Hotels on Booking

Saratoga Springs is a 40-minute drive from New York’s state capital, Albany, and it’s packed with adventure. 

Saratoga Springs has naturally carbonated mineral springs and is known as “the Queen of the Spas.” Saratoga Spa State Park offers amenities like the Roosevelt Baths and Spa, a performing arts center, and many pools for all ages. 

The Saratoga Race Course is perfect for horse racing fans and has seasonal special events and races. The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame offers a collection of exhibits and galleries. The National Museum of Dance and the Saratoga Automobile Museum are ideal for history lovers. 

Congress Park has picnic spots and many summer events if you’re looking to relax. Downtown Saratoga Springs has plenty of shopping and restaurants, too, like Olde Bryan Inn. 

Saint Lawrence River

Spend a day exploring the Thousand Islands archipelago in the Saint Lawrence River, right on the border of New York State and Canada.

View of the boats sailing on Lake Ontario with a clear blue sky in the background
Boats on Lake Ontario for Labor Day, 2023

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Saint Lawrence River Properties on VRBO

The Saint Lawrence River sits on the Canadian border. It begins at Lake Ontario and connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. The coolest part of the Saint Lawrence River is the Thousand Islands archipelago. A group of over a thousand islands dot the Saint Lawrence River and offer activities for all ages, making it one of the best places to visit in New York State.

Take a boat ride through the U.S. and Canadian waters and tour the picturesque Thousand Islands. There’s everything from woodlands, waterfalls, castles, and lighthouses to see with a local boat tour. 

The Thousand Islands region has 28 state parks offering hiking, camping, and boating. Singer Castle and Boldt Castle are two fairytale-like castles that are beautiful to see from the river.


Enjoy museums and a buzzing food & drink scene in New York’s second-largest city, right on the border of Lake Erie.

Aerial view of the boats docked at the marina in Buffalo
Aerial view of Buffalo

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Buffalo Hotels on Booking

The city of Buffalo in Western New York is a great destination for sports fans and buffalo wing enthusiasts. Buffalo is the birthplace of the first buffalo chicken wing and I highly recommend visiting Anchor Bar to watch a Buffalo Bills game.

Buffalo has tons to do for other visitors, too. Enjoy the lively boardwalk at downtown Canalside with public art displays and local events. With waterfront views, you can bike, kayak, roller skate in the fall, and ice skate in the winter. I recommend enjoying the historic Buffalo Botanical Gardens and indulging in the city’s fantastic craft beer scene.

Buffalo also has fantastic museums, from the Naval Museum to the Buffalo History Museum. If you enjoy modern and contemporary art, The Buffalo AKG Art Museum is one of the oldest art museums in the United States. 

Watkins Glen State Park

Discover endless outdoor activities in the most famous state park in New York’s Finger Lakes region.  

View of the beautiful Rainbow Falls of Watkins Glen State Park
Watkins Glen State Park

📍 Google Maps | 👉 Browse Watkins Glen State Park Hotels on Booking

Watkins Glen State Park in Upstate New York is a natural wonder. This is especially so for those who want to explore the great outdoors in New York’s Finger Lakes region. Glen State Park is home to 19 waterfalls and gorges, campsites, picnic areas, and natural swimming pools. 

Watkins Glen State Park is a great spot for campers and day visitors alike. You can enjoy fishing in nearby Seneca Lake or hike the Watkins Glen State Park Gorge Trail. Those wanting a challenge should try the 11-mile Finger Lakes Trail to Ebeneezer’s Crossing. Be sure to check out Roseland Waterpark during the summer if you’re traveling with kids.

FAQs About Places to Visit in New York State

What are the best places to visit in New York State near NYC?

The best places to visit in New York State near NYC are Glen Cove, Fire Island, and Newburgh.

What are the best places to visit in New York State during winter? 

The best places to visit New York State during the winter are Lake George, Letchworth State Park, and Buffalo. These places offer seasonal activities like winter carnivals, ice skating, skiing, and more.

What are the best places to visit in Upstate New York? 

The best places to visit in Upstate New York are Saratoga Springs, Livingston Manor, and Ithaca during the fall. Letchworth State Park, Watkins Glen State Park, and places in the Finger Lakes region like Cayuga Lake are the best places to visit in the summer.


Thanks for reading this list of the best places to visit in New York State. Rent a car, pack a bag, and enjoy the scenery of this great state! For more helpful information on visiting New York, read our guide on the best New York City travel tips next.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate (you can leave feedback after clicking submit)

Help us help you travel better!

Your feedback really helps ...

What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?

Leave a Reply

All comments are moderated for compliance with our community guidelines. Most importantly be kind & be helpful!

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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.