Sometimes the best part of living in NYC is leaving NYC, and the best things to do in upstate New York let you do just that. Sure, the city has world-class parks, museums, stadiums, stores and restaurants, but escaping the chaos offers a nice respite every so often (even if you only stay at one of the best upstate New York resorts for a long weekend). The best part is, you don’t even have to leave the state to have some incredible experiences on weekend getaways. Beyond Hudson Valley, here are some of the best places to visit in New York State for everything from wine tasting to admiring fall foliage.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to upstate New York
Best things to do in upstate New York
Cayuga Wine Trail
Can’t make it to Napa but want to spend a weekend sipping and tasting wine? Look no further than the Finger Lakes, which are gaining national adoration for the small wineries, many of which focus on Riesling. Just a short drive from Ithaca, the Cayuga Wine Trail is home to 16 wineries (and a cidery!), all of which will let you walk in for tastings for just a few dollars (bring cash). Enlist a designated driver—cell service is unreliable at best, and cabs aren’t available to scoop you off the side of the road. 2770 Ernsberger Rd, Romulus, NY (800-684-5217, cayugawinetrail.com)
Seeing Niagara Falls (from the New York side, obviously) is an American rite of passage, and as New Yorkers, you have no excuse not to take the trip up to see this breathtaking natural wonder. In addition to the iconic Maid of the Mist boat tour (you know you want a selfie in that poncho), Niagara Falls is also home to beautiful hikes, an aquarium and a panoramic restaurant. (infoniagara.com)
New York State Capitol
New York City may seem like the center of the universe, but the capitol of our state is, of course, a few hours upstate in Albany. Take a free tour of the capitol building to see where Governor Andrew Cuomo works and where the laws for New York State are decided. State St, Albany (518-474-2418, empirestateplaza.org)
The National Baseball Hall of Fame
Home to two of the world’s most beloved Major League Baseball teams, it’s no surprise that the Baseball Hall of Fame is in New York State. Browse the Hall of Fame Awards, memorabilia, museum artifacts and more at this historic shrine to all things baseball. 25 Main St, Cooperstown (888-425-5633, baseballhall.org)
Seneca Falls and New York Women's History Trail
You could spend an entire year tracing the National Park Service’s Women’s History Trail, but why not start where it all began? Women’s Rights National Park, home to America’s first official Women’s Rights Convention in 1848, includes historic landmarks like abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s house. 136 Fall St, Seneca Falls (315-568-0024, nps.gov)
Just a short train ride from Manhattan, this critically acclaimed restaurant by chef Dan Barber serves a $238 tasting menu highlighting the flavors of the Hudson Valley. Sure, it’s expensive, but can you really put a price on excellence? Those who don’t want to splurge can still visit the Stone Barns Center and eat at the café for a taste of local deliciousness. 630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills (914-366-9600, bluehillfarm.com)
New York City may be surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, but that can’t compete with the serenity of a lake. This Adirondack destination truly has something to offer all year round, whether you want to get cozy in a cabin in colder weather or rent a cottage to sail and swim to your heart’s content in the summer heat. (lakegeorge.com)
Empire Farm Brewery
New York State’s craft beer scene is worth exploring beyond the confines of Brooklyn Brewery and Singlecut Beersmiths. Syracuse’s Empire Brewing Company opened a more rural brewery in nearby Cazenovia in 2016 to encourage agricultural tourism and craft brewing. Take a tour, drink beer, enjoy yourself, repeat. 33 Rippleton Rd, Cazenovia (315-655-2337, empirebrew.com)
Looking for a getaway?
This bar and lounge in Astoria offers Latin-American spirits and craft cocktails in addition to the usual wine and beer options. Whether you come for happy hour, a date or girls’ night out, you’ll likely hear global tunes like bachata, salsa, cumbia and Latin jazz playing on the speakers. Tufted sofas, dark wood built-ins and dim lighting create a dark, moody ambiance. Visitors should also keep an eye out for occasional RuPaul’s Drag Race screenings, themed parties and other pop culture-infused events.
Venue says: “Come in and unwind or catch up with friends listening to our classic Salsa, Bachata, Cumbia, Latin Jazz and more! Feel at home in our Sala!”