Canada Street in Lake George, New York, via OlegAlbinsky /

11 Offbeat Towns to Visit in New York

The great state of New York, consisting of more than just New York City, is home to hundreds of villages, towns, and cities. Each of these places bring their own charm and beauty to the stature and influence of the state as a whole, yet some add in some historical aptitude and individuality as well. Here are eleven offbeat towns in New York State that are well worth visiting. From Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes Region to Lake Placid in the Adirondack Mountains, each of these towns has its own special attractions and attributes that make it stand out as one of a kind.


Downtown Canandaigua, New York.
Downtown Canandaigua, New York. Image credit Ritu Manoj Jethani via Shutterstock

The town of Canandaigua, located in the Finger Lakes Region of upstate New York, is home to a plethora of amenities that cater to a quaint, down-home demeanor. Situated in the center of Ontario County, Canandaigua is home to the Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park, which showcases nine beautiful gardens and a magnificent Victorian mansion, and the Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum. The Granger Museum is a dedication to Gideon Granger, the longest-serving Postmaster General of the United States, as well as the four generations of Grangers who followed in his footsteps. Canandaigua is also close to several natural attractions, like Canandaigua Lake which, formerly Humphrey Bogart’s favorite summer vacation spot, now supplies drinking water to about seventy thousand people daily.

Alexandria Bay

The view of waterfront homes in Alexandria Bay surrounded by striking fall foliage along St Lawrence River
The view of waterfront homes in Alexandria Bay surrounded by striking fall foliage along St Lawrence River, via Khairil Azhar Junos /

The pastoral town of Alexandria Bay has several attributes that label it as an off-the-beaten-path town with a great link to the past. Lying astride the banks of the St. Lawrence River, opposite Wellesley Island and the town of Rockport, Alexandria Bay is home to Boldt Castle and the Boldt Yacht House, as well as in close proximity to Grass Point State Park and Mary Island State Park. Both state parks offer a variety of opportunities for camping, fishing, hiking, and picnicking. Some other attractions worth visiting in and near Alexandria Bay are Thousand Island Bridge and the Cornwell Brothers Store & Museum. The museum showcases the importance of the St. Lawrence River in the past as well as today.


Woodstock, New York
Woodstock, New York. Editorial credit: solepsizm /

Situated deep within the Catskill Mountains, the town of Woodstock is best known for lending its name to a particularly famous music festival from the 1960’s, even though the festival actually occurred approximately forty miles to the southwest, on a dairy farm in Bethel. Today, Woodstock (the town) provides a variety of great opportunities to explore the boundless outdoors. Overlook Mountain and Catskill Center Thorn Preserve are both relatively close to town and are both a great experience for the entire family, while Mower’s Flea Market, which is open every weekend and has been named one of the top ten flea markets in America by FODOR’s travel guide, offers everything from toys to antiques.


Aerial view of the Esopus Creek Bridge in Saugerties, New York
Aerial view of the Esopus Creek Bridge in Saugerties, New York

Situated between the Hudson River and Catskill Park, in Ulster County, the picturesque town of Saugerties is a haven for adventure while not being overly inundated with multitudes of tourists. The Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Falling Waters Preserve, and Esopus Creek Conservatory, three great opportunities to intermingle with the animals, call Saugerties home. There are also several points of interest in and around town, including Opus 40, a park based around man-made structures, and the Saugerties Lighthouse, established in 1869. The lighthouse is now a premium bed & breakfast inn while still maintaining its lighthouse duties, offering a touch of extra light to the waters of the Hudson River in the dark of the night.

Lake George

The scenic town of Lake George, New York.
The scenic town of Lake George, New York.

Lake George (the town) is conveniently located at the southwest corner of Lake George (the lake). This charming, peaceful town is home to a variety of attractions, including Magic Forest Theme Park, Prospect Mountain, and Lake George itself, which is a thirty-two mile long, spring-fed lake. Some other exciting activities in and around the town of Lake George would be visiting the Fort William Henry Museum and hiking up to Shelving Rock Falls. The original Fort William Henry was built in 1755 during the French/Indian War. The museum accompanying it showcases some of the history of Fort William Henry. It also promotes several events throughout the year, like “Battles and Beverages” every March, which is a tribute to the anniversary of the museum’s opening.


Street view of Skaneateles.
Street view of Skaneateles. Image credit PQX via Shutterstock.

Further to the west, on the east end of the Finger Lakes Region in upstate New York, Skaneateles sits astride the northern boundaries of Skaneateles Lake. Home to Carpenter Falls and Bahar Nature Preserve, not to mention Skaneateles Lake, the town of Skaneateles is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Skaneateles Lake is considered to be one of the highest Finger Lakes, at almost nine hundred feet above sea level, and there are also several parks in Skaneateles, including Cliff Park, Thayer Park, and Shotwell Memorial Park. Plus, if hiking is necessary for getting the most out of nature, the Charlie Major Nature Trailhead is approximately a mile long and runs from Mill Road to Crow Hill Road, following along a pastoral stream.

Sleepy Hollow

Downtown Sleepy Hollow, New York
Downtown Sleepy Hollow, New York. Image credit Andrew F. Kazmierski via Shutterstock

Sleepy Hollow is perhaps best known for being the main inspiration Washington Irving utilized while penning his classic known as “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” in the early eighteen hundreds. Possibly surprising to common knowledge though, some other famous people have ties with this small town and this town’s even more famous cemetery. Andrew Carnegie, well-known for spearheading the growth of the American steel industry, and Elizabeth Arden, who built a cosmetics empire in the nineteen twenties, are both interred in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. There are also several natural attractions in close proximity to Sleepy Hollow. Enjoy an invigorating hike at nearby Nyack Beach State Park with friends or experience a night beneath the stars with the family out at Croton Point Park.


East Market Street in Rhinebeck, New York.
East Market Street in Rhinebeck, New York.

North of Sleepy Hollow, yet south of Saugerties, on the east side of the Hudson River in Dutchess County, the town of Rhinebeck is home to a rich history all its own. Along with the Wilderstein Historic Site and the Rhinebeck Historical Society, Rhinebeck is also home to God’s Acre, the final resting place of forty-three brave men who gave their lives for their town and country during the American Revolution. There are also several establishments to experience a gourmet meal with friends and/or family, including Terrapin Restaurant and Gigi Trattoria on Montgomery Street, and Le Petit Bistro on Market Street. Primrose Hill Bed & Breakfast, on Ackert Hook Road, is an excellent choice of lodging, in case staying the night is in the itinerary.


Lewiston, New York as seen from the dock on the Niagara River
Lewiston, New York as seen from the dock on the Niagara River. Image credit Atomazul via Shutterstock.

Just above Niagara and Niagara University, the town of Lewiston, as well as its enclosed village, is a haven for unexplored adventure. Home to the Tuscarora Heroes Monument and the Freedom Crossing Monument, Lewiston is a town with great historical significance. Yet there are natural attributes to this unique town as well, like the Joseph Davis State Park, which offers great opportunities for biking, hiking, picnicking, and fishing, and the War of 1812 Bicentennial Peace Garden Trail, which showcases a variety of natural beauty. There are even several sources in Lewiston to showcase science, including the Niagara Power Project Visitor’s Center and the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Power Station, which has tours available year round.

Watkins Glen

Seneca Lake at Watkins Glen, New York.
Seneca Lake at Watkins Glen, New York.

Watkins Glen, another town sitting astride one of the many lakes of the Finger Lakes Region, is home to a plethora of natural attractions, like Watkins Glen State Park. This almost 800-acre park offers all the amenities of the typical state park, including camping at an official state park campground and hiking along one of several trails, like the Watkins Glen South Rim Trail, Punch Bowl Road, and the Finger Lakes Trail to Ebeneezer’s Crossing. There are also several activities to be enjoyed in town, like exploring Franklin Street, which sports many fine places to experience the local cuisine. Seneca Harbor Station and Blue Pointe Grille offer some great fish choices, while Thai Elephants specializes in curries and dumplings.

Saratoga Springs

Downtown Saratoga Springs in New York
Downtown Saratoga Springs in New York

Though most know this town due to its extensive interest in horse racing, namely the Saratoga Racing Hall of Fame, the town of Saratoga Springs is also home to several natural attractions. Yaddo Gardens, the Saratoga Farmers Market, and the Saratoga Springs Waterfront Park all supply natural amenities, though each in its own way. There is also a significant historical ambiance to the town of Saratoga Springs in the venue of museums, to arouse the heart of the historian. Saratoga Automobile Museum, the Saratoga Springs History Museum, and the New York Military Museum are all in Saratoga Springs. The Saratoga Spa State Park, located on Roosevelt Drive, even offers camping for the night.

 In Conclusion

In conclusion, even though New York City and its five Burroughs get a great deal of credit and recommendation, there are some great towns, villages, and cities across upstate New York that are well worth visiting as well. From Canandaigua, and the Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park, to Saratoga Springs, and the Saratoga Spa State Park, there are some excellent offbeat towns just waiting to be experienced a second time, or even for the first time.

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