Main Street in village of Saranac Lake in Adirondack Mountains, New York. Image credit Wangkun Jia via Shutterstock

13 of the Friendliest Towns in New York

New York may have a reputation for being stuck up or rude, but it is one of the friendliest states to visit for families, particularly in its small-town department. Find charming pursuits and friendly residents living amid tamed nature's embrace that fill up your senses, even on a quick getaway from the city or out of state. From immersive cultural attractions to scenic scenery in historic vestiges and refreshing nature, you will have fun, relax, and recharge. Enjoy access from big cities to the many lake locales for water fun, boating, and atmospheric sunset strolls among some of the friendliest locals in the US.


Covered bridge in Allegany State Park
Allegany State Park.

Allegany is the coziest cradle in-between the tranquil Salamanca and Olean for a real serene slice of countryside heaven in Cattaraugus County. Escape into this peaceful town from the storms of life in the city and away from the rushing sights amid heated steel, into a refreshing rural scenery with walkable streets and friendly residents. This safe harbor for your soul fills you up with energy as you relax and adopt the local pace of life on a getaway or vacation in New York. Find your favorite pastimes among the tranquil atmosphere, or relax on a stroll along the immaculate streetscape that whispers of the simple life's pleasures.

Allegany makes your personal fairytale come to life as you soak in the small-town feel for which you yearn and unwind in the oasis of calm around the enchanting landscape. Find a comfortable, cozy cabin or a local inn to explore in the natural embrace that brings you back to life. Take a stroll along the enchanting Allegany River Valley Trail, which works magic on even the most tired bodies and old souls to revitalize and sharpen your senses for carefree experiences after you leave dreamland.


 Wells College campus with the main building tower. American college
 Wells College campus in Aurora. Image credit PQK via Shutterstock

The charming village of Aurora emanates waves of tranquility where you will find more simple life pleasure than you ever thought possible and start enjoying every day again. Immerse yourself in the magic scene of the main drag along historic building sights fringing the eastern shore of the beautiful Cayuga Lake. Start your day with a coffee and a stroll along the water's edge for one-on-one time with the peacefully reflecting colors of the architecture in the lake. Ogle through the local pottery places and join a painting class in town where nature works wonders on your imagination, or get inspired over wine tastings along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.

Aurora is the place to relearn relaxation and seize every moment while out and about with friendly residents. Soak in the culture, nature, and sights on a bike ride through the charming town until the evenings call for an atmospheric fare in the outdoors at 1833 Kitchen & Bar with innovative dishes and cocktails. The local laidback lifestyle will feel natural the second day as you get used to sipping drinks to the sound of water and maybe even ordering takeout from a local favorite, the Fargo Bar & Grill.


Waterfront view in Corinth in Upstate New York
Waterfront view in Corinth in Upstate New York.

The pretty town of Corinth in Saratoga County, along the southern edge of Adirondack Park, boasts a kind of atmosphere found nowhere else in the state. Escape the city with your friends or family into a carefree environment with friendly residents, less than 15 miles north of Saratoga Springs. Corinth inspires nature for days spent in the outdoors, like exploring Saratoga Corinth and Hudson Railway. Enjoy the family-friendly Corinth Reservoir Recreational Area for your favorite pursuits, and take the refreshing Spruce Mountain Trail that frees your mind on a stroll.

Recharge at Rocco’s Pizzeria or Amore Pizza on some of the best flatbreads of your life with succulent toppings. For a memorable summertime getaway to relax and refresh express-style, experience a weekend spent at the Alpine Lake Campground or Rustic Barn Campground that immerses you in the natural environment. Stop by the friendly Agape Farm in the vicinity or rent their cabin to explore outward, just a hop from the downtown scene of fun and entertainment.


Visitors in Croton Gorge Park, New York
Visitors in Croton Gorge Park. Image credit Leonard Zhukovsky via Shutterstock

Feel yourself relax and breathe easy before you even enter Croton-on-Hudson, a Hudson River village in Westchester. It's just a quick one-hour drive from New York City into an environment that feels alien to your nature-starved soul, with feel-good pursuits and scenery all around to roam and let your mind wander into the blissful neverland. Sightsee the beautiful arched bridge over a dam and stop for a selfie to commemorate the peaceful moment of gently gurgling waters. The 18th-century stone house and brick ferry house of Van Cortlandt Manor are picture-worthy homes of New York’s famous family.

Enjoy the compact downtown area on an easy stroll, evoking friendly vibes along the crowdless streets, and visit the popular Croton Gorge Park. Its 97 fresh-air acres are great for bonding times over recreational pursuits, picnics, and explorative hikes. Return for wintertime cross-country skiing in this scenery-abounding park and your downtown favorite, hip Croton Tapsmith with a taproom, for a cozy snowy evening. Enjoy the local brews and locally sourced food from the nearby Hudson Valley and feast like it's summertime year-round at Ocean House Oyster Bar & Grill.


People in downtown in Ithaca, New York
Downtown in Ithaca, New York.

This hometown of Cornell University is full of friendly students and a whole lot of history. Escape the city into its laid-back lifestyle along the streets, with an equally sophisticated feel, a new-age flair, and budget-conscious experiences at many hotspots. Find stunning art abounding amid a great mix of relaxing and exciting attractions that keep even the most restless occupied. The outdoors abound as a free way to let the energy out and stretch the muscles after a week of class time.

The laidback small town in nature's gorgeous embrace has been a beloved Upstate NY destination for generations, right next to the enormous Cayuga Lake. Explore this heart of the Finger Lakes region and tour the University grounds on a sunny day stroll with a picnic for nostalgic youthful vibes without the studying part. Find some of New York's best state parks, over 100 waterfalls, and the Finger Lakes wine country. Visit the must-see Buttermilk Falls or Ithaca Falls famous gorges and recharge on Ithaca's thriving food scene, including local, international, and farm-to-table restaurants in between local galleries and indoor and outdoor performance spaces.


Crowds of visitors at the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, New York.
Crowds of visitors at the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, New York. Image credit Alexanderstock23 via

Visit Rhinebeck for a real love affair in a small-town embrace with friendly residents, feel-good pursuits, and a historic atmosphere with a modern cultural flair abounding. The town with Presidential ties where Chelsea Clinton tied the knot is also popular for the finest dining restaurants, home décor, and antiquing places. Rhinebeck is the Hudson Valley's cultural hub for art galleries, independent film showings, performance venues, museums, and historic buildings galore. Just visit and see how effortlessly the town adapts to your style of vacation or getaway with friendly pursuits.

From a charming local bookstore to a flying adventure at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome for $100 just outside of town, which is also one of the state's coolest historical museums, you will never have a dull moment. Climb "the tower" in Ferncliff Forest, with mountain and fat biking trails around, as well as camping, to fulfill all your outdoorsy desires. Indulge at a variety of tasty restaurants, like Terrapin or Cinnamon Indian Cuisine, and tour the Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn, the oldest continuously operating hotel in the US. The annual Rhinebeck Arts Festival is a great reason to come back to see and buy from the friendly local artists and craftsmen.

Sag Harbor

Beach goers on Foster Memorial Beach in Sag Harbor
Beach goers on Foster Memorial Beach in Sag Harbor. Image credit Jaclyn Vernace via

Fall in love with the Hamptons all over again in the charming small-town atmosphere of Sag Harbor, a town that will never leave your mind as a first-timer. Much like its eastern New York neighboring towns, Sag Harbor is a real piece of countryside pleasure, with an attractive streetscape wrapped in nature and a beating heart along its adorable Main Street.

With a waterfront marina and more laid-back vibes than East Hampton, Southampton, and Amagansett, Sag Harbor is a top choice for nature ventures as much as for strolls through its picturesque downtown area. Find family-friendly activities like the popular Sag Harbor Whale & Historical Museum within an impressive historic mansion. Sag Harbor is also a shoppers' paradise, with places like the luxurious Loveshack Fancy lifestyle store.

Saranac Lake

Overlooking Saranac Lake, New York in the fall
Overlooking Saranac Lake, New York.

Saranac Lake is a great getaway into a small, lakeside town atmosphere with something for everyone on a relaxing getaway or vacation. Exchange the hurried feel and mundane city sights for refreshing scenery with live music and year-round events against the gorgeous backdrop of the Adirondacks. Immerse yourself in the cozy mountain town vibe by the lake with hikes, water pursuits, recreation along the banks, and pure relaxation at all the sights.

Saranac Lake's long-standing history as the most beloved NY vacation town for generations is also popular nationwide. You will meet a lot of friendly locals and people from all walks of life, as the sunny atmosphere makes it impossible not to fall into a happy-hop dance. Fall for charming nature, exciting attractions, and outdoorsy adventures, and visit in the winter for the most magical holiday time, skiing and tubing at Mount Pisgah. Enjoy the diverse shopping scene year-round, replete with local brands, antique stores, and boutiques.

Saratoga Springs

Shops and traffic in Saratoga Springs, New York
Shops in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Saratoga Springs is the town that will lift you out of the city dump, literally and metaphorically, with a refreshing nature full of activities and friendly residents always willing to share the best secrets of their beloved NY town. Find your personal ideal of heavenly pastimes, from the famous natural spring that relaxes the body and soothes the soul to the spirited horse racing track or the wonderful cultural scene that excites the mind.

Peruse the local Saratoga Farmers Market through scrumptious vibes of cultural sights, fresh fruits, and veggies, and feel your dopamine levels soar. Saratoga Springs is officially among the friendliest getaways in New York for a weekend escape from work to recharge and jump back in the game or a whole family-friendly vacation. So the next time you are feeling a little down, take a day trip from New York for a pick-me-up.


Shops and Restaurants on Skaneateles Lake in upstate New York.
Shops and Restaurants on Skaneateles Lake in upstate New York. Image credit PQK via

Skaneateles is a charming town with friendly residents and a popular lakeside destination with the sparkling waters of the namesake lake. The picturesque town spread emanates waves of pleasantville with a fringe of verdant banks and beaches, making it perfect for nature enthusiasts, water fans, and history hunters through downtown sights. Immerse yourself in the sought-after small-town vibe on a getaway from the city or a whole vacation worth of scenic relaxation and fun pursuits for the entire family.

Stop by the cool Skaneateles Antique and Classic Boat Show to ogle at the state's top beauties, or take out your own vessel to splice the glittering surface. Join the town's concert crowd around the central gazebo in the square, which has been a summertime gathering place for live music and entertainment for decades. The quaint town at the northernmost tip of Skaneateles Lake comes alive in the summertime, which transitions into the most beautiful fall foliage adorning the lake. Visit during the holiday season for the atmospheric Dickens Christmas Festival from late November and each weekend through December.


Front Facade of the Hotel Morey in Tivoli, New York
Hotel Morey in Tivoli, New York. Image credit KMarsh via Shutterstock

The recently reinspired tiny town of Tivoli is one great place to discover, on a family-friendly escape in the state. Find pursuits wrapped in scenery for any taste throughout this compact 1.5-mile village. Stumble upon one quality find after another of hip new businesses like the mobile All That Java, a tiny coffee house concept, or the new-age-meets-tradition Irish pub for the best whisky of your life. Nature fans can have their own ventures, like kayaking at Tivoli Bays or hiking alongside it via trail, before all gather for the evening performances at Kaatsbaan Cultural Park.


The Waterville Triangle Historic District
The Waterville Triangle Historic District. Image credit Doug Kerr via Wikimedia Commons

Waterville, New York, is a hidden gem that stands out among other towns by the same name in the US as the friendliest one. Immerse yourself in a real tranquil streetscape through feel-good pursuits and small-town pleasures like the finger-lickin-good Roc-Star Ice Cream and Eatery on a hot summer's day.

Waterville is a true treasure trove of delights for all tastes, with scenery abounding. Savor the moment over flavors dancing on your tastebuds at the mouthwatering, family-friendly Waterville's New York Pizzeria, and take a stroll through the Root Glen's verdant paradise for wildlife sightings and photoshoot opportunities. The heart of Waterville calls back for an atmospheric evening and the next day's adventures through the history-laden Waterville Triangle Historic District.


Street view of Woodstock, New York.
Street view of Woodstock, New York. Image credit solepsizm via

This recognizable town for the iconic ‘60s festivals, not just by New Yorkers but with universal followers, screams with life's simple pleasures. Woodstock will charm you all around despite being only a few blocks long, with a concentration along its Main Street in the Hudson Valley. Find its decorated artistic thoroughfare abuzz on a stroll and many places to peruse and relax, like local restaurants, vibing bars, and cozy cafes amid bookstores.

Immerse yourself in the hippie-dripping dreamland built on the hype of the famous concert in the 1960s that didn't even take place in Woodstock. Enjoy the family-friendly atmosphere with something for everyone, and let the small-town feel and nostalgic vibes of how New York once was envelop you. The concentration of sites, art, and local culture, with live music and urban pursuits overflowing, make this delightful little town like no other.

New York is not all rush and no rest; there are many friendly towns abounding with feel-good pastimes in the refreshing embrace of nature. Visit one of these quaint towns, each with a unique character and excitement for all, like unique eateries, quality shopping, and artsy delights. These darling little towns feel made for relaxing and enjoying life's simple pleasures with your loved ones. Immerse yourself in the small-town atmosphere on a memorable getaway that will overwhelm your senses and leave impressions of a lifetime.

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