There are many great places to visit in the Empire State. It’s not just “The City”


New York City alone attracts around 67 million tourists annually. The Big Apple is, of course, amazing and everyone should probably see it at least once. But New York City isn’t all that New York has to offer. 


Whether you’re looking for nightlife, scenic views, or family fun, the rest of New York state can offer that and more.



Lake Placid
Lake Placid, the region. The lake is around here somewhere Photo provided by Wonderlust





Located in the Adirondack Mountains, this is a smaller village named after the nearby lake. Spend your days hiking on the mountain trails, canoeing on beautiful lakes, or sight-seeing. Be sure to plan your visit in the Fall so you can enjoy the amazing view of the still changing foliage. 


Lake Placid was home to the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. You can visit the Olympic Center or the Olympic Sports Complex to get a look at those illustrious championships. It’s also a great location to try your hand at Winter Olympic sports, such as snow skiing or ice skating. Or you can skip the skiing and go straight to the apres ski and have a few drinks by a fire somewhere.





Rochester is not a city everyone automatically thinks of as a destination, but, located on Lake Ontario, it is the third most populous in the state, and it’s a beautiful city, without as many tourists crowding around you as NYC. 


You can spend a full trip just browsing the various museums, including The Rochester Memorial Art Gallery, The George Eastman International Museum of Photography and Film — Eastman Kodak started and is headquartered here — and the little known but awesome Strasenburgh Planetarium. Lovers of the live arts can catch a performance at the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra or the Rochester City Ballet.


Besides a bustling nightlife, the city is also full of plenty of parks and family-friendly attractions. The Seneca Park Zoo is home to over 90 animal species. Which, when you think about it, is a lot of animal species.





You can’t miss Niagara Falls. As in you mustn’t.


3,160 tons of water flow through the falls every single second. While you’ve probably seen photos and videos, the falls are something you need to experience first-hand to truly comprehend the size and beauty. Take a guided hike, stand on the hurricane deck, or get a front-row view with a boat tour. Just don’t throw yourself off in a barrel. That’s so 1930s.


If you have your passport on you, and you should, in general, plan to visit the Canadian side of Niagara Falls while you’re at it. You can visit one of the Canadian wineries in the area, which are world renowned, so stop your snickering there in the back…


Niagara Falls, arguably one of the most beautiful spots in America, is a complete State Park. So beyond the falls, there are plenty of other activities and accommodations to keep you busy and comfortable. Including camping, naturally. 



National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown Photo provided by Wonderlust





Want a peaceful and secluded vacation? If so, consider the hidden treasure that is Elka Park. 


Pack hiking boots because Elka Park is home to both Indian Head Mountain and Huckleberry Point Trail, where you’ll have endless miles of trails to explore. You can discover a few hidden waterfalls on your hikes, such as Plattekill Falls. (“kill” is the early settler Dutch word for “stream”)


If you want a little more action, Elka Park is centrally located. Tannersville, North-South Lake, Hunter Mountain Ski Resort and Phoenicia, all fun and rugged-country destinations, are within 20 miles.


If you’re looking for a beautiful and remote place to stay while visiting the area, check out these cabin rentals.





This fun town is most famous as the home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. The museum is baseball history, and a living shrine to the greats that played the game. There are over 40,000 artifacts and 3 million library items. 3 million! Who counts these? 


There is even a whole exhibit dedicated to the baseball legend Babe Ruth, the original and ultimate Bad Boy of baseball. 


While you’re there, visit Cooperstown Bat Company. They create bats for all levels of players, from high school teams to MLB players. 


But Cooperstown isn’t just all baseball. Other notable tourist locations include the historic Hyde Hall and the Fenimore Art Museum. Catch a ride on the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad, which features special tours based on the season, such as the Halloween special which didn’t happen this COVID-altered year. 





This region has 11 long and narrow lakes, hence the unique name. Legend has it that a Native American god, approving of the beauty of the area, placed his hands on the landscape (he had 11 fingers, go with it) and made impressions in the ground that became these world famous lakes.


The Finger Lakes area is also famous, perhaps more interestingly, for its vineyards and wineries. In all, there are over 100 of them, to sample the different wine varieties, learn about the process of creating wine, and tour vineyards. There are group tours and shuttles that allow you to experience the best wineries “responsibly”, like that’s a plus.


And, of course, this being (way) upstate NY, there are state parks to explore.



Finger Lakes
Falls on Taughannock Creek in the Finger Lakes region Photo provided by Wonderlust