Away from the big cities, New York State is home to unique and charming small towns that are the perfect setting for a weekend getaway. Whether you're looking for an outdoor adventure at Lake Placid or a relaxing vacay with the girls in Saratoga Springs, the small towns of New York offer a whole array of experiences. If you're thinking of road-tripping across the state, there are a few small towns that definitely need to be on your list of places to visit.
In upstate New York, Saratoga Springs is your go-to location for a relaxed spa weekend. The town is famous for its natural mineral springs, where the water is said to have great health benefits. When you're not sitting back and relaxing, the town is home to a whole range of live music venues, galleries, and museums. If you want to try your luck at winning a few bucks, the Saratoga Race Course has been in operation since 1863.
Hudson is a picturesque town known for its riverfront parks, incredible architecture, and upscale restaurants. Visitors can enjoy views of the Catskills or take a guided tour of the historic buildings within the town. The Hudson Opera House dates back to 1855 and holds a number of festivals and events throughout the year, including the town's annual music festival.
Popular with outdoorsy folk, Lake Placid is a great place for hiking, skiing, and watersports. The Olympic Sports Complex from the 1980 Winter Olympics is certainly worth a visit, and you can also tour the bobsled and luge tracks. If you prefer to be part of the action, head to the slopes at Whiteface Mountain Ski Resort or take a dip at Mirror Lake.
Ithaca is in the Finger Lakes region and is known for its beautiful natural scenery. If you're looking for a walking weekend, head to Buttermilk Falls State Park to enjoy the must-see famous gorges. Ithaca also offers a thriving food scene where visitors can enjoy local and international cuisine as well as farm-to-table food. On a rainy day, the town has an abundance of local art galleries and performance spaces to visit.
The charming town of Skaneateles is nestled on the shores of the lake with the same name. This picturesque town is the perfect place for history buffs and boat lovers alike. In the center of the town is the historic gazebo that hosts summer concerts for everyone to enjoy. There's also the Skaneateles Antique and Classic Boat Show, where you can ogle the most beautiful boats in the state.
Fans of baseball should take a trip to Cooperstown. Home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, the town is the perfect place for a sports-oriented getaway. For more baseball, visitors can explore Doubleday Field, where some say the first baseball game was played way back in the 1800s. When you're finished, head to the Fenimore Art Museum. If you book your trip during the summer, you can enjoy a production at the Glimmerglass Festival, the second-largest opera festival in the US.
Popular with boaters and anglers, Alexandria Bay is home to the Antique Boat Museum, which boasts a collection of 300 historic boats to explore. If weather permits, taking a scenic boat tour of the Thousand Islands region is definitely worth your time, as you'll see the most beautiful sunsets and stunning views of the islands. For a glimpse into the past, head to the town's historic Boldt Castle. The castle used to be a private home for the millionaire George Boldt but has now been restored by the Thousand Islands Bridge Authority.
Rhinebeck is all about food, festivals, and art. The town is home to a number of galleries and studios. It's also the home of the annual Rhinebeck Arts Festival for local artists and craftsmen. When you're not enjoying the festival, take a tour of the Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn, the country's oldest continuously operating hotel, or indulge in the town's local farm-to-table restaurants.
Known for the legendary music festival of 1969, Woodstock has become an oasis for the bohemian and artistic community. Along with the Woodstock Museum celebrating the festival, the town hosts an annual Halloween parade that draws thousands of visitors from across the country every year. For a breath of fresh air, you can take a hike in the nearby Catskill Mountains or browse the town's unique shops and galleries.
Lake George is the perfect vacation spot, complete with a bustling waterfront, boat rides, amusements, and an abundance of greenery. The waterfront is perfect for an urban retreat for shopping and entertainment, while a hike up Prospect Mountain offers panoramic views of the lake. For a laid-back day, rent a kayak, take a swim, or sit back on the lakeside. You can also take a ride on the Lake George vintage steamboat.
Chautauqua is a unique town that combines the lakeside resort lifestyle with culture and knowledge. The town hosts a whole range of lectures and performances in the Chautauqua Institution, or you can enjoy live music at the town's Amphitheater. For those interested in golf, the Chautauqua Golf Club hosts numerous professional tournaments throughout the year.
For a weekend away with friends, Geneva is the perfect place. Located in Finger Lakes, the town is renowned for its scenic vineyards and stunning kayaking and paddleboarding. Sign up for wine-tasting classes to learn more about the region's varietals and take a tour of the Finger Lakes Wine Center. After a tipple, opt for a little health kick by visiting the Seneca Lake State Park for a swim or a sail.
Aurora is a great small town for slowing down. The charming town is the perfect place for a bike ride to enjoy the historic buildings and views of Cayuga Lake. During the day, take time to try out the wide range of classes hosted in the town. Your choices include local pottery, painting, or wine tasting along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. In the evening, feast outdoors and enjoy the sounds of the water while sipping cocktails and experiencing Ethiopian cuisine.
Beacon is a great place for hiking. The Mount Beacon Trail offers panoramic views of the Hudson River and is perfect for getting a blast of fresh air. Rather than staying indoors at art galleries, art lovers can enjoy different mediums of art outdoors during the Summer; Beacon is home to many outdoor murals and sculptures that create a great day trip. Perhaps one of the biggest attractions, however, is Beacon's range of craft breweries, such as the Hudson Valley Brewery and the Industrial Art Brewing Co.
The waterfront in Cold Spring is a great little shopping destination for anyone who loves to browse in antique shops. If you're a history buff, explore the town's West Point Foundry Preserve, which played a key role in the Industrial Revolution. Alternatively, visitors can enjoy a laid-back train ride along the Hudson River to enjoy the stunning surroundings.