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You never know the hidden gems that you could possibly come across unless you happen to hear it from a friend of a friend. Well, consider us that friend because we have come across several places to visit in New York State that simply cannot be ignored. Whether you are a traveling family who loves a good road trip or you would rather fly in alone with just your partner outside of the hustle and bustle of city life, there is more than you think to be explored in upstate New York. From the four-diamond hotels to the local cuisine and excursions, you’ll never look at upstate New York quite the same again once you experience the luxury outside the city.
If you are looking for luxury accommodations outside of the major city without the luxurious price tag, then upstate New York is the place to be year round. Here are several places to visit in New York State to add to your bucket list of vacation stays.
Harbor Hotels in New York State
Chautauqua Harbor Hotel
Revitalized and reignited, Celeron, New York has more to offer than your typical vacation getaway. The Empire state takes on a new twist for road tripping with your family or as a romantic getaway. Leave behind the hustle and bustle of city life, especially in the Big Apple, and take a stop along the quaint lakes and rivers of upstate New York with luxury accommodations offered by the trio Harbor Hotels.
Not only will you indulge in their modern facilities featuring four-star accommodations, at the Chautauqua Hotel you’ll soon find yourself releasing all your cares and stresses because everything is right at your fingertips.
- Plush and inviting bedding that will make any aches melt away
- Morning coffee and tea bar on every floor
- Serene and tranquil moments by the fireside
- Waterfront dining and cocktails
- Indoor pool and jacuzzi
Even if you decide to make this trip a relaxing one, be sure to visit the local attractions and amazing foods Celeron has to offer. After all, the famed Lucille Ball thought it was a fantastic place to be born!
Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel
Another four-diamond gem is tucked away within a valley of city life that favors the ‘turn off my notifications’ crowd. Even if you need to do some business work here, the quiet life never felt so productive. Reenergize your soul on your next stop up north as you take in the views of Seneca Lake at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.
Be sure to grab one of only six luxury suites to fully immerse yourself into the moment; it truly is luxury on the lake. Every soul could use some R&R with a side of pampering while taking in the view of the lake. Wrap yourself in luxury every morning with their in-room plush bathrobe after you have just stepped out of the jacuzzi tub and relax with a cup of coffee as you watch the sunrise over the lake. Whenever you please, have your favorite wine sent up to you so you can watch the sunset on the balcony before your next day’s excursions.
Planning a family trip? The Harbor Hotels should absolutely be on your list of places to stay! Just because you have luxury accommodations it doesn’t mean it’s not kid-friendly. Harbor Hotels provide amenities like:
- 100% Non-smoking environment
- Indoor pool and jacuzzi
- State park within walking distance
- Outdoor patio for eating and free play for the kids
1000 Islands Harbor Hotel
Situated on the St. Lawrence River, views of this gorgeous upstate New York waterway surround you. The 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel was made for year-round excursions, so you never have to “wait” for your season of travel to match up with the hotel’s. A rich history of discovery awaits you in this town that can claim it’s very own four-diamond gem amongst this quaint little village.
The stunning morning and evening views from this Harbor Hotel property invoke a sense of tranquility and moments of deep breathing. Even when life gets you down and you are bombarded with stress, taking a few deep breaths can significantly reduce your stress levels. Here, it is exactly where you can do that, literally all day long. So, take a deep breath before you say goodnight to the sun and welcome a new and deeply refreshing day.
Any of these harbor hotels are perfect places to visit in New York State, either as a family who loves to take road trips to explore or for a couple who wants to solely focus on themselves. Be sure to gas up and hop in the car with comfortable clothes and a ready camera, because the road trip between these hotels has some gorgeous scenery, welcoming wineries, favorable foods, and local treasures you won’t find if you are stuck in an airplane.
Place to Eat in New York State
Did you ever think about where exactly the famed Thousand Island Dressing came from? The dressing that has found its way to nearly in every grocery store in America has its origins in upstate New York. Though you may find many folk tales about just how it came to be, one thing is for sure, its birth is here among the Thousand Islands. That is not all upstate New York has to offer. Add these restaurants to your stops and you’ll be instagramming more than just selfies! After all, when planning the places to visit in New York State, you obviously need to eat along the way!
American cuisine at its finest in Celoron, NY! Enjoy your meal indoors with beautiful stone accents to set the mood of calm and enjoyment or step onto the patio with views of nature, fire pits, and your loved ones. You can expect your breakfast, lunch, or dinner to be served with expert hands to not only thrill your palate but please the eyes as well. This is when you may get in trouble and take in more than your belly can handle!
On your way to Watkins Glen, be sure to stop at the Blue Pointe Grille. Like its sister restaurant, Lakehouse Tap & Grille, you can expect the same flare and zeal for its American dishes, but with a new view. The atmosphere surrounds you with sounds of nature and the finest local ingredients to bring you tender steaks, ocean-fresh seafood, and bursting green and colorful salads that make even the gardens themselves jealous!
Continue your way up north and rest your traveling souls while you dine at the Seaway Grille in Clayton, NY. The chefs bring their creativity of flavor and presentation right to your plates. The presentation will look so appealing, it’ll be hard to dig in and mess it up to enjoy all the wonderful flavors of the local ingredients perfectly matched together. Still boasting the American classic cuisine, you’re sure to create memories, full bellies, and cheers until the next meal.
Whether you want to indulge in everyday favorites rated by the locals or stimulate your tastebuds with the daily specials, Bella’s won’t disappoint. Dine on the deck year round to gaze over the scenery on their heated deck while you enjoy a meal with your loved ones or local entertainment to complete your night. Be sure to take advantage of their full bakery items either in-house or to go as a reminder of why you need to go back!
Think casual, family-friendly, and good ‘ole family eats. Just a hop across the street from the beautiful 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, sit your family down to a casual lunch or dinner before you continue on with your afternoon excursions or nighttime local activity. Featuring American favorites like pizza, burgers, sandwiches, and kids’ menus, there is plenty to choose from for even the picky eaters in your family.
For some reason, there doesn’t seem to be much that we need to say about ice cream other than, what day(s) will you stop by? After all, Ben & Jerry’s isn’t your everyday average frozen delicacy. They are on a mission to not only give you more flavors than you can try within a single week, but they care about where your ingredients are sourced from. By supporting consumer knowledge on GMO labeling, they are a step ahead of the game to keep their products pure and tasting amazing without potentially harmful ingredients to do so. This has definitely made the list of places to visit in New York state, in order to enlighten your tastebuds, one cool and delicious bite at a time.
Mark your calendars, add multiple reminders, and book your stay to attend a delicious festival of food in Chautauqua. It’s a food-lovers paradise for one full week, prepared exclusively by the best regional restaurants, local farms, and finest wineries and breweries in the area. During the week of August 18th – 23rd, explore the food festival’s theme: “Exploring Race and Culture in America with Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center.” Don’t miss out on one of the best food festivals in upstate New York!
Kick back and relax among Chautauqua Lake’s most comfortable place to dine while overlooking the stunning Chautauqua Lake. They feature five different dining rooms for a unique and varied experience while you are waited on. It’s okay if you allow a little moan of pleasure to escape your lips after the chef has prepared your traditional American favorites like Prime Rib, Chicken, and Veal dishes. With fresh ingredients and creative flavors designed by master chefs, you’re dining experience just got an upgrade to Magnifique!
Get ready to be impressed by this upscale Italian restaurant that will have your head spinning with its extensive list of elegant entrees. An intimate setting awaits you and your guest(s) as you dine on European cuisine featuring gourmet, traditional, and authentic Italian selections. Sit back and relax as the attentive staff meets all of your needs in this surreal atmosphere that will certainly have you saying, We are definitely coming back here again! Whether you decide to dine for a full evening or meet friends over chatter and cocktails, the Bellini Lounge is a great place to add to your restaurant list.
Ellicottville Brewing on Chautauqua offers you an unprecedented lakeside experience in the hideaway town of Bemus Point, NY. The locals cherish the freshly inspired American dining experience driven by the seasons. Enjoy a wide range of their locally brewed ales, craft cocktails, and local events while trying out some of your American favorites. This is a seasonal restaurant, so from May through November, be sure to stop by and take some time with those you love while thoroughly enjoying every morsel you eat and sip you drink.
NY State Attractions
When you think about going on vacation, sure, you pick the hotel that meets your needs and choose your dining experiences based on recommendations, but now, what will you do in between your slumber and dining experiences? Laugh, of course! It’s just one of many excursions you can experience first hand while finding places to visit in New York State.
Think you’re funny? You probably are! At the National Comedy Museum, walk among the Greats of comedy figures that have had Americans belly-laughing on the radio, stage, and on your television screens. Take a visit to the museum for a personalized tour of your comedic style while learning from the top comedians on how they get their funniest inspirations, as well as their tumbling downfalls on their road to stardom. Interactive games, shows, documentaries, videos, and even a hologram theater featuring top comedians are all right there in front of you!
Nothing beats a personalized tour of the National Comedy Center which is plenty of fun and full of laughs. You may want to consider getting season passes…it’s just that great of place to visit. So whether you are a local or a traveler adding to your list of places to visit in New York State, the Comedy Center is a must-visit for laughs destination.
For the outdoor traveling enthusiast, block off about 2 hours of your day to explore the short, but thrilling trails Panama Rocks has to offer. Bursting with wildlife, the nooks and crannies are something no man could ever replicate. This family-owned gem features step rock formations in which to squeeze, leap, and climb through. Either face your fears of tight places or snap a photo and keep on walking!
Take the whole family along either by foot, following the maps provided, or strap them on and let their gazes fall upon every detail their little eyes can absorb. The highlight of Panama Rocks actually isn’t just the natural trails. During late July, the site hosts the Wild America Nature Festival. The entire location comes alive with:
- Nature Art
- Wild Animals to see and touch
- Local Food Vendors
- Activities for kids and adults alike
- An experience the kids will NEVER stop talking about
Be sure you, take time to practice your ax throwing skills! Mom, dad, and even the kids, it’s time to polish up your ax-throwing skills. Give it a try, because next thing you know, you’ll want to do it over and over again, just to ring the bell (bullseye)! If you are coming from out of town, be sure to check out the local camping forest locations. Some forest camps even offer free camping!
The timeless actor and actress duo is still very much alive in Lucy’s hometown via the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum. Located in the heart of downtown Jamestown, New York you’ll find a warm welcome from the First Couple of Comedy! Enjoy seeing the original and priceless costumes, awards, photographs, and other vintage memorabilia preserved from the estates of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
Start off your tour with just the push of a button to hear audio clips from Desi’s autobiography and the humbling stories of Lucy’s youth. Even then, her antics as told by her childhood pals, were still smile-inducing tales of a young girl destined for the limelight.
Take a walk through the legacy that has been honored and cherished here in Jamestown, NY. Lucy and Desi cracked up generations of people who needed a great laugh and some time away from stress. As one of our favorite places to visit in New York State, hands-down, this is the place stroll through even if you aren’t a die-hard Lucy fan. Her legacy, her beauty, and the history of comedy have some of their origins beginning right here with this famous couple. And if it’s not for you specifically, perhaps a loved grandparent would appreciate a walk down ” I Love Lucy” memory lane!
Take a trip back in time with this stunning organic architecture featuring the idea of building houses from the land up. Designed by the famed Frank Lloyd Wright, he built this masterpiece in 1931 after 5 years in production. Imagine harvesting limestone right out of the beach and using Lake Erie’s beach sand for the materials in the stucco and plaster for the home of your dreams.
That is exactly what you will still find today in this organic architectural masterpiece. Enjoy walking through the gardens inspired by the Asian principles from Japan as the builders who intentionally rejected the style and layouts of formal European gardens. Truly a history buffs’ must-see!
For the outdoor lover and explorer, one of the places to visit in New York State is Watkins Glen State Park. The magnitude and beauty of the waterfalls and rushing water enhances your senses and experience in this magical place. As one of the most famed of the Finger Lakes State parks, within two miles, you’ll experience Glen’s stream descending 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs. So that means you’ll get to wow your Instagram account with 19 waterfalls as your backdrop along the course of your hiking and exploring experience.
There is only one story to be told here and that story is all about glass. It’s the one story that has many tales and imaginative experiences that await you. Take a step into another world filled with the most comprehensive collection of glass the world’s ever known. Think of it as a library of glass. If you didn’t know, glass is a versatile yet primitive material that piques the interests of artists, scientists, and historians even in today’s modern world.
There’s a new story to be told once you enter the museum and a lifetime of memories to be shared when you are finished. Who knows, you may even end up attending one of the top glassmaking schools in the world because of a story that speaks to your heart and soul! Glass may not be at the forefront of your mind as one of the places to visit in New York State, but it should be.
The perfect place for kids among the green pastures of the sanctuary is 275 acres of new life. They house over 800 rescued farm animals where you can spend the day with them and take an hour-long guided tour to learn more about the animals and how they were rescued. There’s an area to sit and have lunch and take in the scenery and new life these animals get to live. Be sure to visit the unique gift shop for keepsake memories and learn how you can support animals having a new and abundant life!
For Visitor Center hours and tour times, please click here.
A castle for the love of your life. That’s what George C. Boldt, millionaire proprietor of the world famous Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City, had set out to do for the love of his life, his beloved Louise. Settled on the picturesque island that forms a heart, the construction began in 1900. However, tragedy befell George when his beloved suddenly passed away in 1904. Upon her death, all construction ceased until 1977 when his grand plans where once again reignited to restore the dedicated castle to what it may have looked like had George and his beloved completed the castle and lived the rest of their years there. Take a walk through history when you visit the Boldt castle as one of the places to visit in New York State.
The Boldt Castle is one of magnificence that graces the hearts of lovers and visitors alike. Take a look at what it has become today and what it might have been. *Due to high waters, the castle is very much accessible – the famous Boldt boathouse, however, is not (at the time of this writing).
For boat enthusiasts, your number one stop is The Antique Boat Museum. Here you’ll find preserved boats and related artifacts that were a part of history in North America, particularly the St. Lawrence River. Boating is like driving here! If you want to get to an island among the 1000 islands New York State is known for you better own a boat.
Take your kids to explore the nautical and cultural heritage embedded among the St. Lawrence River in Clayton, NY. Here you’ll enjoy the Antique Boat Auxiliary and the famous antique boat show that’s been around since 1965 and is now an annual celebration! August 2 – 4th marks the 2019 55th Annual Antique Boat Show & Auction.
You may have missed this year’s celebration, however, it certainly is trip-planning-worthy as one of the places to visit in New York State in the years to come. You get to taste and drink (all you can) the quality “Made In New York” products that range from candy, cheeses, meats, nuts, dips and sauces, maple products, cookies, fudge, soda, coffee, popcorn, distilled spirits, and our favorite, New York State wines.
Walk among over 70 exhibitors and 30+ wineries from Long Island to the Finger Lakes and even up to the Canadian border. Sample, taste, touch and enliven your senses. It’s also kid-friendly as well, so it’s perfect for the whole family.
Take a drive on over to the historic Rock Island Lighthouse on the beautiful St. Lawrence Seaway. Many kids activities await you while you learn more about the lighthouse and what it stands for. Then when you are ready, take them up (or just you and your partner for a moment) the stairs of the lighthouse and enjoy a bird’s eye view from the lantern room.
Don’t forget to stop by the museum in the keeper’s quarters and learn about the full history of the island, its keepers, and of course, the beautiful St. Lawrence River. For those family members who couldn’t be on the trip with you, be sure to grab a souvenir from the gift shop!
Breweries & Wineries to Visit in New York State
From farm to glass, it takes just small batches of spirits to know that they are unparalleled in their field of custom distillery. They are unique because of the grains they use, the passion behind their craft, and of course the genius minds who make it all happen. You can be sure that they only use the best, local ingredients in their spirits. You may have a difficult choice choosing just one bottle (we recommend flights too), but you’re guaranteed to come back for more because every last drop is worth it.
Whether you are passing through onto your next destination for places to visit in New York State, or you happen to be a local yourself, Souther Tier is a down-to-earth place to kick back, enjoy your company, and know that every Friday through Sunday, there’s a tasting room for you to enjoy!
Once you visit the heart of the Finger Lakes, the next obvious stop is the Finger Lakes Wine Country, New York. With over 30 wineries, you can experience tastings and unique flavors to stimulate your inner wine-snob all year long.
The great wines that will flood your senses start with the great grapes grown in and around Seneca Lake. They cater to every palate so there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Even if you are just starting your wine-tasting journey, this is the perfect place to spread your beginner wine-tasting-glasses! Learn more about the styles and types of wines available for tasting and make a wine-connoisseur of yourself.
There’s a place where the summer sun cascades over the countryside and vines of luscious and plump grapes sit ready to be turned into some of the most flavorful and talk-worthy wines in the country. If you didn’t know, the Thousand Islands region was referred to by early Native American tribes as “the Garden of the Great Spirit”. Within these ‘gardens’ the spirit of the earth, watered by the lake infuses its nourishment into the vines and grapes giving you award-winning wines at your table.
You’ll find that home hospitality greet you at each family-owned winery for that personal touch and warmth. All offer a dynamic range of wine choices: classic reds, whites, and roses. All infused with a personal touch and a regional twist with new flavors and custom techniques that bloom into fruition each year. On your way into town, out of town, or an intentional destination stop, take a moment to tour, sit and sample, and then treat yourself to a few of your favorites to take home.
From the farm to your favorite spirit – Clayton distillery is the epitome of a family-owned operation. Grown locally on their land is the base for most of their products, keeping it as clean and smooth as anything you can find on the market. New to spirits? You’ll be happy to see the wide range of products like vodka, mixed berry vodka, gin, barrel-aged gin, un-aged corn whiskey (moonshine), limoncello, orangecello, strawberry rhubarb liqueur, maple strawberry liqueur, raspberry liqueur, bourbon, maple whiskey, and three flavored moonshines. If that wasn’t tasty enough, visit their products page for detailed descriptions.
If a distillery is something you love to frequent, add these suggestions to your places to visit in New York State during your next road trip. The craft behind distilling is unmatched and unique to the Finger Lakes region, but you’ll have to find that out for yourself!
If you haven’t already, taking a trip to the inner cities of New York can be thrilling and exciting. However, if you are looking for another piece of New York State to visit, upstate New York is bucket-list worthy as one of the places to visit in New York State as a vacation destination. The abundance of growth, hospitality, and diamonds in the rough you are sure to find are no match to a hustle and bustle type of vacation. These 28 places to visit in New York State are perfectly suited for lovers, families, or even single minded business trip people. There’s a little something for everyone in upstate New York; from laughs to lakes, it’s time to visit New York State.
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