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Top 7 Off The Beaten Path Things To Do In Upstate New York

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The state of New York has become almost synonymous with its most well-known city, the iconic New York City. While the big apple does offer endless things to do, it’s far from the only thing the state has the offer. Here are seven off-the-beaten-path things to do in the upstate New York area.

hot air balloon over waterfall

1. Explore Letchworth State Park

This one’s probably a bit more well-known to New York natives, but for those visiting the state for the first time, this is still a less widely known gem you won’t want to miss. This stunning state park is home to several gorgeous waterfalls, the tallest of which cascades approximately 70 feet into the Genesee River.

Waterfall in Letchworth State Park.

2. Visit Watkins Glen

Here’s another great day trip option from New York City. Watkins Glen is a small town located about four hours from the big apple. This charming town is home to some absolutely gorgeous hiking spots, such as those you’ll find winding through waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park. Afterward, head into town to enjoy a meal at a local restaurant such as Jerlando's Ristorante and Pizza Co.

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Waterfall at Watkins Glen State Park.

3. Check Out This Quartz Mine

The Herkimer diamond mines aren’t home to literal diamonds. Instead, it’s home to a stunning kind of quartz that naturally offers the appearance of a well-cut diamond known as Herkimer diamonds. By visiting there, you have the opportunity to find and take some home for yourself – talk about a one-of-a-kind souvenir!

A Herkimer diamond crystal.

4. Take An Underground Boat Ride In This Cave

Caves probably aren’t the first thing that comes to mind when New York is mentioned, but you can explore a subterranean wonder yourself with a visit to Howe Caverns. Located about 3 and a half hours from New York City, these caverns are a great option for a day trip. You can not only look forward to a walking tour of the cave but also an underground boat ride. Tickets can be purchased here.

Howe Caverns in New York.

5. Enjoy A Short Hike To A Gorgeous Waterfall

Chittenango Falls is a gorgeous waterfall that plummets a stunning 167 feet. You can see it yourself via a short, half-mile hike. The falls, and the state park it resides in, are generally open year-round. In the winter, the falls may be partially frozen over, creating mesmerizing ice formations, while in the summer, the water plummets majestically over rocks. For those who do consider a trip in the winter months, you’ll want to check for any weather advisories before heading out, and be sure to bring a warm jacket.

Chittenango Falls in New York State.

6. Check Out This Small Town

Saranac Lake is a small town nestled in the Adirondacks. That is absolutely amazing to visit any time of year. The village is located nearby the more widely known Lake Placid. Saranac Lake may not be able to post having hosted the winter Olympics, but it still has plenty to offer as reasons to visit. If you’re going in the winter months, the town is an amazing place for a variety of winter sports, including ice skating and skiing.

Also likely be able to avoid some of the crowds that you may find in more widely known places. Summertime brings a wide variety of outdoor recreation as well, from hiking to paddle boarding. And, of course, the local shops in galleries in the town are great to check out here around.

Aerial view of the town of Saranac Lake.

7. Visit The Oldest Covered Bridge In The US

See a unique piece of American history with a visit to this covered bridge. The oldest still-standing bridge of its kind in the United States, the Hyde Hall Covered Bridge, is a truly one-of-a-kind place to visit.

Hyde Hall Covered Bridge.

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Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.


Wednesday 26th of April 2023

Maybe we should define what "off the beaten path" means. All of these are packed in season

Amy Olsen

Sunday 5th of March 2023

None of these are off the beaten path if you live in upstate NY.