Select Page

21 Best Things to do in Upstate NY

New York

Upstate New York is a nature lover’s paradise. Outdoor things to do in Upstate NY include visiting attractions like Adirondack Park, Ausable Chasm, Letchworth State Park, and Niagara Falls. Meanwhile, one of the best things to do in Upstate New York in October is to see the fall foliage at Adirondack Park. 

As for things to do in Upstate NY in winter, rest assured there are plenty of things to do in Upstate New York in November and beyond. This includes going cross-country skiing in the aforementioned parks or warming up inside at the Corning Museum of Glass. Popular family attractions in Upstate New York include Seabreeze Amusement Park and Lake George Expedition Park. Keep reading for more things to do in Upstate New York this weekend. You won’t be bored with this bumper list of things to do in New York State this weekend.

Adirondack State Park
By Alexander Sviridov

1. Adirondack State Park

Adirondack Park is the country’s largest publicly protected area. Spread over six million acres (that’s bigger than several New England states), 2.4 million acres belong to New York State, while the remainder is privately owned. Known for its epic fall foliage, Adirondack Park is a year-round destination. It has over 2000 miles of hiking trails, 3000 lakes and ponds, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, museums, cross-country ski centers and so much more.

Ausable Chasm
Courtesy of Wikipedia

2. Ausable Chasm

Ausable Chasm is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks. Located near Keeseville, the sandstone gorge is one of the area’s most popular tourist attractions and one of the country’s oldest natural attractions. There are various ways for visitors to experience Ausable Chasm, including rock climbing and rappelling, hiking, scenic raft or tube tours, and mountain biking on 15 miles of trails. With guided and self-guided winter tours available too, Ausable Chasm offers year-round adventure.

Boldt Castle
Courtesy of Wikipedia

3. Boldt Castle

One of the most unique things to do in Upstate New York is to visit Boldt Castle. It was built for George C. Boldt, the wealthy owner of New York City’s renowned Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Located on Saint Lawrence River’s Heart Island, the six-story castle features 120 rooms, Italian-style landscaped gardens, and a drawbridge. Accessible by water taxi, private boat, and tour boat, visitors can do self-guided tours of Boldt Castle from mid-May to mid-October.

Corning Museum of Glass
By Prayitno

4. Corning Museum of Glass

Speaking of unique things to do in Upstate New York, the Corning Museum of Glass is a museum solely dedicated to the art, history, and science of glass. Established by Corning Glass Works in 1951, it now houses the world’s most comprehensive glass collection, with over 50,000 glass objects. Galleries include Contemporary Art and Design, and 35 Centuries of Glass. There are hot glass demonstrations daily, and visitors can take part in glass-making workshops.

Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt Homes
Courtesy of Wikipedia

5. Eleanor Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt Homes

The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site preserves Springwood, the estate that was the birthplace, lifelong home, and burial site of the United States’ longest-serving president. The site is also home to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, and 30 acres of gardens and walking trails. Two miles away is the Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site (the only one dedicated to a First Lady), which preserves the home she called Val-Kill.

Fort Ticonderoga
Courtesy of Wikipedia

6. Fort Ticonderoga

Formerly known as Fort Carillon, Fort Ticonderoga is a large star fort located between Lake Champlain and Lake George. Built by the French in the 18th century, three battles took place here during the Revolutionary War. Today, Fort Ticonderoga is a tourist attraction, with military museum exhibitions, scenic boat cruises onboard the Carillon, living history demonstrations, hands-on activities for children, the Heroic Corn Maze, historic King’s Garden guided tours, and hikes through the Carillon Battlefield.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve
Courtesy of Wikipedia

7. Minnewaska State Park Preserve

Located on the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, Minnewaska State Park Preserve is an easy 1.5-hour drive from New York City. It’s home to many waterfalls, rugged terrain and cliffs leading to beautiful viewpoints, three lakes, lush hardwood forest, 35 miles of carriage roads, and 50 miles of hiking and biking trails. Besides hiking and biking, other popular things to do within Minnewaska State Park Preserve include rock climbing, boating, swimming, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing.

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Courtesy of Wikipedia

8. National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Baseball is known as America’s favorite pastime and the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown is dedicated to preserving the sport’s history and celebrating legendary players, managers, umpires, and executives. The nonprofit museum’s collection includes 40,000 artifacts and three million library items. There are exhibits on Babe Ruth, women who have impacted the game, African Americans in baseball, and influential Latin players. For an insider’s look, join a custom tour experience.

Natural Stone Bridge and Caves
By pcdazero

9. Natural Stone Bridge and Caves

The Natural Stone Bridge and Caves has been a family-owned tourist attraction for over 200 years. Home to the largest marble cave entrance in the eastern United States, there are several self-guided nature and cave trails, while the Summer Adventure Tour takes you on a cave crawl. In winter, Natural Stone Bridge and Caves offer a snowshoe tour (toasted marshmallows included). This is one of the best outdoorsy things to do in Upstate NY.

Seabreeze Amusement Park
Courtesy of Wikipedia

10. Seabreeze Amusement Park

Located in Rochester, a family day out at Seabreeze Amusement Park is one of the area’s most beloved summer traditions. Featuring more than 70 attractions, there’s truly something for every member of the family at Seabreeze Amusement Park. This includes the wave pool, lazy river, slides, and Soak Zone at the waterpark. Then there are fun thrill rides like Log Flume, Wave Swinger, and Jack Rabbit, which is the country’s oldest continuously operating roller coaster. We vote Seabreeze as one of our top things to do in Upstate NY with kids.

The Wild Center

11. The Wild Center

Within the aforementioned Adirondack Park, you will find The Wild Center. The natural history museum’s prized attraction is The Wild Walk, which is an elevated trail across the Adirondack treetops. Inside, there are daily animal encounters, the Flammer Theater, and the Hall of Adirondacks, which houses both animal and plant species. Outdoors, visitors can enjoy guided or self-guided walks, canoe and stand-up paddleboard tours, and kids can have fun at the Pines Wild Play Area. Another great thing to do in upstate NY with kids.

Fort Ontario
Courtesy of Wikipedia

12. Fort Ontario

Fort Ontario has a long and turbulent history. First destroyed by the French in 1756, the star-shaped fort you see today was the fourth installment rebuilt in the early 1840s. From 1944 to 1946, it was also the country’s only refugee camp for Jewish victims fleeing the Holocaust. Today, people can visit the Fort Ontario State Historic Site to tour its various rooms, see the rotating exhibits, and enjoy its impressive Lake Ontario views.

George Eastman House

13. George Eastman House

Established in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography. Housing one of the world’s oldest film archives, the museum is located on the estate of George Eastman, who was the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company. Its collection features several million objects in the realm of photography and cinema. Home to temporary exhibitions, the Dryden Theater, landscaped gardens, workshops, and daily tours, don’t miss the George Eastman Museum experience.

George F. Johnson Carousels
Courtesy of Wikipedia

14. George F. Johnson Carousels

Did you know that Upstate New York is known as the world’s carousel capital? Entrepreneur George F. Johnson donated six wooden vintage carousels to community parks around the Binghamton area between 1919 and 1934. He asked that all carousel rides be free and they still are today. In operation from Memorial Day to Labor Day, families can visit the antique merry-go-rounds at places like Ross Park, Recreation Park, C. Fred Johnson Park, and Highland Park.

Harriet Tubman Home
Courtesy of Wikipedia

15. Harriet Tubman Home

The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park in Auburn and Fleming is home to three important places: the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, the Harriet Tubman Residence, and the Thompson A.M.E. Zion Church. Tubman was a political activist and a prominent Underground Railroad conductor. The Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged fulfilled her dream of creating a home for both poverty-stricken and elderly African Americans. Now a museum, it’s open Tuesday to Saturday.

Magic Forest
By Mobilus In Mobili

16. Magic Forest

One of the most family-friendly things to do in Upstate NY in summer is to visit the Magic Forest amusement park at Lake George Expedition Park. Open from May to October, Magic Forest has been a crowd-pleaser since 1963. It features 24 rides, including the famous train journey through the forest. Dino Roar Valley is also located at Lake George Expedition Park, where you can see (and hear) life-sized dinosaurs along a forested trail.

Old Erie Canal Heritage Park
By Gene ploss

17. Old Erie Canal Heritage Park

Another seasonal attraction is the Port Byron Old Erie Canal Heritage Park. It’s home to three main visitor attractions: the enlarged Erie Canal Lock 52 from 1854; the 1894 Erie House Complex with a (refurbished) tavern and hotel, mule barn, and blacksmith shop; and the newly-established visitor’s center. Offering people a glimpse at life on the Erie Canal in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, the visitor’s center also features interactive displays and canal exhibits. 

Enchanted Forest Water Park

18. Enchanted Forest Water Park

For a fun thing to do in Upstate NY during summer, you should visit New York’s largest water park – Enchanted Forest Water Park – with over 50 rides and fun activities for kids and the entire family. Located in the Adirondack mountains in the town of Old Forge, New York, this sprawling water amusement park has regular amusement rides in addition to all the water rides. With splash pools, lazy rivers, and water slides with a thrilling drop, there is something for all ages here, and we’d highly recommend adding the Enchanted Forest Water Park to your list of best things to do in Upstate New York with kids.

Niagara Falls
Courtesy of Wikipedia

19. Niagara Falls

Sitting on the United States and Canada border is a group of three waterfalls, called Niagara Falls. However, it’s also the name of the closest city to the falls on both sides of the border – just to make things confusing. But in Niagara Falls, NY, visitors can get up close to the powerful falls on the Maid of the Mist cruise, check out the view from the Observation Tower, and visit the Aquarium of Niagara.

Letchworth State Park

20. Letchworth State Park

The official New York State website calls Letchworth State Park “one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern United States.” Recently voted the best attraction in the entire state, the Genesee River roars through the park’s gorge and over three amazing waterfalls. Surrounded by lush forest, there are also 66 miles of hiking trails. Other activities within Letchworth State Park include horseback riding, mountain biking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, cross-country skiing, and snow tubing. 

Bellhurst Castle

21. Bellhurst Castle

Located on the shores of scenic Seneca Lake, Belhurst Castle has been voted one of the state’s most romantic places. The three-story Belhurst Castle was built in the romanesque revival-style between 1885 and 1889; using sandstone from nearby Medina. Today, the estate is home to three hotels, two restaurants, two ballrooms, a world-class spa and salon, and the award-winning Belhurst Estate Winery. If you’d like to stay inside the historic castle, there are 11 guestrooms available.

Related Travel Guides

16 Best Things to do in Albany NY

The capital of New York State, Albany is home to numerous historic attractions, performing arts centers, and excellent museums. Although the city is not as vibrant as the Big Apple, It’s still an excellent destination for a weekend trip. From visiting attractions such...

14 Best Things to do in Niagara Falls NY

14 Best Things to do in Niagara Falls NY

Located just a short drive from Buffalo, the American side of the Niagara Falls is one of the world’s must-visit destinations. Home to a beautifully landscaped state park, powerful whirlpools, and attractions such as the Old Fort Niagara, Earl W. Brydges Artpark, and...

16 Best Things to do in Syracuse NY

Located in upstate New York, Syracuse is more than just one of the country’s coldest places. There are plenty of free things to do in Syracuse, NY, including visiting Onondaga Lake Park and wandering around its historic downtown district. If you’re more interested in...

Other Travel Guides