Main Street in Cooperstown, New York state. Editorial credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani /

9 Must-See Historic Towns in New York

New York is known worldwide for its many cultural and historical landmarks. Geological wonders like Niagara Falls and the Catskill Mountains are some of the most sought-after travel destinations. New York City is one of the most famous cities and one of the financial epicenters in the world.

These are just some of the most popular reasons to travel to New York. But, there is also an abundance of historic towns and sites that are well worth discovering, and the fact that they are not on the radar of big-city travelers can be a bonus. Let's look at the importance of nine must-see historic towns in New York.


Main Street lined with colorful buildings in Cooperstown, New York.
Main Street lined with colorful buildings in Cooperstown, New York. Editorial credit: Steve Cukrov /

Cooperstown is a small village in central New York, most notably known as the home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. This famed institution is brimming with one-of-a-kind artifacts, interactive exhibitions, and a Plaque Gallery. Just down the road is Doubleday Field, a renowned baseball field built in 1920 and named for Abner Doubleday, an American Civil War general.

Another significant museum is The Farmer's Museum, which illustrates 19th-century farming life. Other significant museums are here, like the Fenimore Art Museum, which displays Native American artifacts. The Inn at Cooperstown completes this must-see trip. It, too, is on the National Register of Historic Places and offers a host of tour packages to the various historical sites along with room rates.

Saratoga Springs

Downtown, Saratoga Springs, New York.
Downtown, Saratoga Springs, New York. Image credit Brian Logan Photography via

Saratoga Springs is unprecedented in the world of horse racing. Along with the Saratoga Race Course, it is also home to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, which exhibits past and present trophies. The Saratoga Automobile Museum is also a must-see for gearheads who love vintage automobiles.

Along with the museums with historical exhibits, there are several historic neighborhoods showcasing handsome Victorian-era homes and tree-lined streets. Union Avenue is home to lovely vintage mansions, Grand Avenue has a carriage house, and Broadway contains preserved commercial buildings now home to local businesses. Saratoga Springs is not only home to natural springs and natural beauty but also full of historical elegance.


East Market Street in Rhinebeck, New York
East Market Street in Rhinebeck, New York, via Ritu Manoj Jethani /

Rhinebeck is in the scenic Hudson Valley, just east of the Hudson River. For a small town, it has many documented and artistic sites to offer. It is a cultural haven with galleries and museums, views of the Catskill Mountains, and history.

The Wilderstein Historic House and Museum is the most noteworthy historic site in town and is considered the most architecturally important structure in the Hudson Valley. It is a 19th-century Queen Anne mansion formerly owned by the presidential Roosevelt's cousin, Margaret Suckley. The Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn is a three-star inn that exemplifies the atmosphere of Rhinebeck. The fabled inn has been continuously operated since 1766 and has retained its colonial charm.

Lake George

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

The town of Lake George is named after the lake it borders and is in the protected region of the Adirondack Mountains. It is a popular summer leisure destination and home to many historic sites. One of the structures is a 1755 British Fort, now the Fort William Henry Museum.

A review of the town's history reveals its prominence in the formation of the nation and its widespread popularity as America's first vacation area. The Lake George Historical Association has many town history documents that can be browsed. The museum is in a converted pre-1840s courthouse and is open for guided tours. The town is a popular vacation spot, but the historical sites make Lake George a special place to visit.

Oyster Bay

Oyster Bay Town Hall.
Oyster Bay Town Hall. Image Credit: Antony-22 via Wikimedia Commons

Oyster Bay, named in 1615 for its abundance of shellfish, is today a historic town closely linked to the Roosevelts. The Roosevelt family has made Oyster Bay home since the mid-19th century. The Roosevelt patriarch originally rented a home here, and in 1885, Theodore built his beloved Sagamore Hill. The mansion became the country's first "summer white house" after he became the 26th president in 1901.

Along with the Roosevelt legacy, Oyster Bay has long been an integral seaport and a mecca for spies during the Revolutionary War. There are well over 30 historic sites, and the Main Street Association has maps to guide you through the Roosevelt, colonial, and other historic areas. Such sites include the Moore Building, Fleet's Hall, and The Stoddart House. This town is a history buff's dream, and it takes several days to explore all the historic sites throughout town fully.


Aerial view of Fort Ticonderoga, New York.
Aerial view of Fort Ticonderoga, New York.

An Iroquois word for "between two waters," Ticonderoga was pivotal during the American Revolutionary War. In 1775, the fort of the same name became the first offensive victory for the American forces. Ironically, Benedict Arnold captured it with the assistance of a British Spy.

The Hancock House is a heritage home that once belonged to Thomas Hancock, uncle of founding father John Hancock, and is open to the public. For a different type of history, visit the Star Trek Original Set, where many Trekkies dress for the part. The American historical significance of Ticonderoga cannot be overstated, and it is one of the must-see historic towns in New York.

New Paltz

Summer street scene in New Paltz, New York
Summer street scene in New Paltz, New York. Editorial credit: Michael LaMonica /

New Paltz has a ten-acre National Historic Landmark District in the Hudson Valley on Huguenot Street. Over 300 years of history are on display at one of the seven stone house museums and a 1717 French church, the original language of the settlement. The original burying ground can still be visited, and a preserved original wigwam exists.

The well-preserved historic district was founded in 1894 and, since then, has been carefully preserved by the Huguenot Patriotic, Historical, and Monumental Society. This is the original settlement of the Huguenots in New York and is an extraordinary piece of American history.

Seneca Falls

Historic church building, Seneca Falls, New York
Historic church building, Seneca Falls, New York. Editorial credit: Alizada Studios /

The Elizabeth Cady Stanton House was the first property in Seneca Falls to be registered on the National Register of Historic Places. Since then, the number has ballooned to ten, including the Wesleyan Methodist Church and the Amelia Bloomer House. The historic district makes up the 19th-century core of Seneca Falls and includes vintage architecture on both commercial and residential structures.

As expected, several fascinating museums are here, such as the It's A Wonderful Life museum. This museum celebrates the classic movie and delves into why Seneca Falls is the real Bedford Falls. Another notable site is the Women's Rights National Park. The women's rights movement started here in 1848, and the park is a lasting legacy of one of the most important social movements in American history.


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.

Named after New York mayor Morgan Lewis, Lewiston is a quaint and historic village in Niagara County. It holds monumental claims to fame in American history. It was the site of the first American Revolutionary War battle and the Underground Railroad's pivotal final stop. Geologically, it was where the famed Niagara Falls formed over 12,000 years ago.

The Freedom Crossing Memorial on the riverbank is a touching monument to the ones seeking freedom in Canada in the 19th century. The Lewiston Museum, housed in a 19th-century church, displays these historical tales and showcases artifacts. This is one of the most historic towns in New York on multiple levels and should not be excluded from any upstate trip.

New York State has been critical in forming the United States from the earliest settlers to the modern-day government. These nine towns are the most historical, and each one is simply fascinating in its significance. New Paltz has relics of the first French settlers in the state, while Ticonderoga and Lewiston's roles in the Revolutionary War were monumental.

The historic architecture of towns like Rhinebeck is stunning and makes people dream of times gone by. The community historic societies of each town have lovingly and painstakingly maintained these monuments so that future generations can enjoy them.

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