Fall colors at Lake George, New York.

These Are The Best Towns Worth A Vacation In New York

New York is the world-renowned destination for the Big Apple and bountiful nature, embracing some of the state's top towns. These 10 charmers of New York are definitely bucket-list worthy for the next getaway on vacation in the state. 


The Ontario County Courthouse stands out on Rochester in downtown Canandaigua, New York
The Ontario County Courthouse stands out on Rochester in downtown Canandaigua, New York. 

The town known as “The Chosen Spot” by the Seneca tribe is really the prime for a picture-perfect vacation. The lakeside getaway, only 25 miles southeast of Rochester, spreads along the northern Lake Canandaigua bank adorned by nature. It is one of the most-famed Finger Lakes, with plenty of boating, kayaking, and paddle-boarding through scenic vistas. The stunning Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion offers a dry, scenically charged time spent in the fresh air. Culture fans will also love checking out the historical Granger Homestead and the Carriage Museum showcasing over 100 antique carriages. 

The historic downtown comes sprinkled with art galleries in between countless B&Bs lining the streets laden with architectural marvels. The Lake House on Canandaigua is the highest-demanded hotel in the region, featuring an idyllic setting and great access to the outdoors right from the doorstep. There are plenty of great local restaurants to refuel and absorb the cultural vibe in the most-atmospheric surroundings. The Simply Crepes serves a delicious light breakfast to start the day, with the Reuben Schnitzel at the Rheinblick German Restaurant, great for in-between activities, and a revved-up cheeseburger from The Green Front to end the night. 

Cold Spring

Ruins and landscaping at Bannerman Castle in Cold Spring, New York
Ruins and landscaping at Bannerman Castle in Cold Spring, New York. 

Cold Spring is a charming little town with lots of sights and experiences for a memorable vacation in New York. The laidback atmosphere and only 2,000 residents make it a prime choice for easygoing and relaxation-seekers. The town spreads along the iconic Hudson River's banks in a scenic locale that is only an hour's drive from the Big Apple. Its walkable downtown area comes sprinkled with restaurants serving varied cuisine and many historic architectural landmarks. The history buffs thoroughly enjoy seeing the gorgeous Bannerman Castle, as well as visiting the West Point Foundry Preserve.

The scenic setting offers plenty of outdoor adventures for active vacationers, such as boating and kayaking on the river, hikes, golfing, and bike rides. The town boasts tons of well-preserved 19th-century buildings in the downtown area. Locals also take great pride in the many independent shops to peruse for a unique find while on a stroll along the charming streets. One must stop at the locally-renowned Moo Moo's Creamery for a drool-worthy treat. 


Downtown Geneva, New York
Downtown Geneva, New York. Editorial credit: PQK / Shutterstock.com

Geneva is the epitome of a vacation destination for any taste and the most popular base on the largest of the Finger Lakes, Lake Seneca. It is set in the heart of the region's wine scene, with plenty of picturesque countrysides to escape. The small town known for its "uniquely urban" vibe is home to 13,000 lucky residents perusing vibrant streets full of diversity and amenities. Its atmospheric streets are laden with big-city attractions, including renowned restaurants, art galleries, film festivals, local and various shopping opportunities, and many more discoveries.

The exceptional downtown square known as Exchange Street is strewn with populated bars, innovative eateries, and homey breweries, seeing scores of locals and tourists alike throughout the day. The nearby culinary epicenter spreads along the narrow Linden Street that gets closed to traffic on weekends. A real food-galore promenade is a gathering place for long hours spent socializing over exquisite creations and mingling with drinks right on the road.


A landscape view of Olana State Historic Site in Greenport, New York
A landscape view of Olana State Historic Site in Greenport, New York. Editorial credit: Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock.com

The atmospheric town of Greenport is a former fishing village, a major whaling port in the 18th and 19th centuries, and an oystering center for decades. It is known as one of New York's prettiest towns, with a beach setting and surrounding vineyards that are a hotspot for tourists. The idyllic vacation destination is also beloved by culinary aficionados, with all of the wines complementing a whole seafood fair and many fine-dining establishments. Greenport is home to 2,000-some residents and once hosted Walt Whitman, who taught a semester of English at a local high school. 

The seaside town is set on the northern fork of Long Island, along the banks of the Peconic River. It offers endless natural strolls with scenic sights, boat rides, and all of the water fun during summertime. There are numerous museums to cover for the rest of the year, along with historic sites and in-town attractions. The countless breweries in-between wineries will diversify each evening of the vacation spent. The quaint locale and easygoing atmosphere are beloved by the R&R-seekers, while big-city amenities are only a short train ride away in Manhattan.


Overlook of Cornell University Campus from Uris Library in Ithaca, New York
Overlook of Cornell University Campus from Uris Library in Ithaca, New York. 

Ithaca is a small, vitality-emanating college town in upstate New York. The "it" vacation destination in the state is full of historic landmarks, attractions, and laidback pastimes for any taste, all in the embrace of gorgeous nature. The highly-cultural town features unique and incredible restaurants, fabulous art galleries, live music events, and vibrant festivals throughout the year. The grounds of Cornell University offer the most lively and energetic atmosphere to wander around and feel transported back to the youthful days.

Ithaca spreads along the banks of the enormous Lake Cayuga, right in the heart of the Finger Lakes region. It is surrounded by 28,000 acres of state forest with over 150 waterfalls, including some of New York's finest in close vicinity. There are the Buttermilk Falls and Ithaca Falls, along with a myriad of gorges hidden behind the shores of the lake. The town is a must-visit for avid explorers to set base and get out into the immensely-breathtaking natural beauty around. 

Lake George

Beautiful mountain view at Lake George, New York
Beautiful mountain view at Lake George, New York. Editorial credit: Joice Brinkerhoff / Shutterstock.com

The sweet town is a paradise for nature lovers and outdoor adventure vacationers in the state. The popular locale is proximate to Upstate New York, with city-dwellers actively streaming in for tubing, boating, kayaking, wakeboarding, and parasailing on the lake. There is an abundance of various accommodations in town, along with places to camp for a well-rounded natural escape.

Lake George features great sandy beaches for peaceful relaxation or cozy get-togethers at any time of the year within natural sights and endless water vistas. The history fans will love visiting Fort William Henry along with its coinciding museum, while the Prospect Mountain Highway is everyone’s beloved drive along the town with breathtaking vistas that calm the soul and ease the eyes.


An aerial view of the Robert Moses Hydroelectric Niagara Power Station in Lewiston, New York
An aerial view of the Robert Moses Hydroelectric Niagara Power Station in Lewiston, New York. 

The small and highly-atmospheric town of Lewiston has an unbeatable claim to fame as the closest to Niagara Falls. The world-renowned cascade spanning the US-Canada border draws thousands of national and international visitors each year that Lewiston lovingly caters to receive. There are enough attractions to please all, including excellent shopping boutiques and great restaurants for delicious bites and memorable sit-down times. There's The Silo with its signature Haystack Sandwich, the Brickyard Pub & BBQ, along with the self-promoting Hibbard's Original Frozen Custard.

The main thoroughfare of Center Street ends at the Niagara River with Canada to the other side and plenty of things to see and do on the way. One can start a day full-of plans at the Orange Cat Coffee Co. before stretching the muscles at the Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park via a scenic stroll. Aside from a variety of watersports, there's the famously-thrilling experience with the Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours. The 45-minute ride takes one into the heart of the Niagara Gorge and through the Devil's Hole rapids in a soaking and fun adventure.

New Paltz

Mohonk Mountain House across a lake with a dock and small rock island in New Paltz, New York
Mohonk Mountain House across a lake with a dock and small rock island in New Paltz, New York. 

New Paltz offers an escape into nature with all of the comforts of the modern world for the best, well-rounded vacation. The hub for outdoor adventurers boasts many great staying places to set base. Then, there's rock climbing, biking, and kayaking, all on the table, along with vast green spaces to relax right in town. The Main Course and Lola's Cafe offer great menus to recharge before heading to the vibrant nightlife entertainment scene. For drinks, there are the fancy Robibero Winery, the laidback Kettleborough Cider House, and several late-night bars. 

The college town close to New York City and Albany boasts an energetic, cultural vibe, with a large student population and wonderful historic district giving it a balanced appeal. The Huguenot Street Historic District on the National Historic Registry was built by the descendants of the original first settlers, the 12 Huguenots. They occupied 40,000 acres along the nearby Wallkill River with the most amazing views of the Hudson, inspiring them to build upon the locale.

Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake, New York
Saranac Lake, New York. 

The town is set on the beautiful namesake lake at the stunning mountainous backdrop. It guarantees a lifetime vacation, going locally as "The Adirondacks' Coolest Place." The vibrant streets brim with attractions, creative eateries, arts, and cultural events. The Saranac Laboratory Museum details the interesting history of the town as a warm-weather destination for tuberculosis patients in the past. The outdoor fans will find myriad fresh-air pursuits to diversify each day with a new venture. There are many exciting hiking trails for all levels, including climbers, canoeing or kayaking the turquoise depths, as well as waddling in the incredibly-clear shallows with a fishing rod.

The historical Adirondack Carousel in town features scenes painted by local artists, along with 24 hand-carved animals indigenous to Adirondacks. The quintessential masterpiece beloved by families is unlike anywhere in the world and a must-see for every visitor. The gorgeous lakeside town has long been favored by New Yorkers for a vacation in the Adirondacks for the vibrant streets with live music and events throughout the year. For the upcoming season, there's great skiing and tubing at Mount Pisgah, cozy cafe visits, and exploring the town's fantastic shopping scene on a holiday spree, including local brands and antique stores.

Saratoga Springs

A landscape view of downtown Saratoga Springs shopping district on Broadway
A landscape view of downtown Saratoga Springs shopping district on Broadway. Editorial credit: Brian Logan Photography / Shutterstock.com

New Yorkers rank the town just north of Albany as one of the state's best places to settle. The big-city amenities and a whole array of varied attractions that even locals never get tired of will suit any taste for a wholesome vacation. Saratoga Springs was settled by the English colonists in the 17th century, after which it played a part in the American Revolution. The culturally-rich town boasts a home base for the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York City Ballet summer residencies. The mineral spring in town was also the destination for the state's elite during the Gilded Age.

The enchanting Saratoga Spa State Park features winding hiking trails, geysers, and a golf course. The lively town with rich entertainment includes a history of horse racing with a well-utilized track today, resorts and spa visits, and the Broadway main street. It is one of the best thoroughfares in the Upstate, running through Saratoga Spring's atmospheric downtown. There are immense shopping opportunities in plenty of boutiques and local shops between countless popular eateries. Atmospheric favorites for any time of the day include Mrs. London's Bakery, Hattie's Restaurant, and Osteria Danny, as well as Hamlet & Ghost for drinks. The Saratoga Casino Hotel features a casino, live music performances, and more great restaurants.

These scenic towns with vibrant streets are bounded by lakes and mountains for a real getaway to get R&R in New York away from noise and fumes. The diversified scenes with a myriad of attractions within and outdoor pursuits around will leave lasting impressions as the most memorable vacation ever.

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