The 11 Coolest Small Towns in New York for a Summer Vacation

New York City is undoubtedly the main place that most tourists think of whenever the US state of New York is mentioned. Yet beyond the boroughs of the Big Apple, New York State also boasts a rich abundance of fascinating history, great attractions, and natural beauty that make it a wonderful place to explore. For great alternatives to the noise and bustle of the big city, the small towns of the state are an ideal way to experience the big state. This article takes a look at the 11 coolest small towns in New York that you can visit during summer vacation.

Cooperstown

The Sandlot Kid statue at the entrance to Doubleday Field in Cooperstown, New York. Editorial credit: Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock.com

A mecca for any baseball fan, Cooperstown is home to the United States National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, founded in 1936. Located on the southern edge of Lake Otsego, this town of less than 2,000 people is also the site of Fenimore House Museum and its fine collection of New York folk art. For a slice of life in the 19th century, tourists can also enjoy the Farmer’s Museum and its recreated village of 1800s trade and craft shops.

Ithaca

View of Ithaca Falls on the campus of Cornell University in the Falls River Gorge, Ithaca, New York
View of Ithaca Falls on the campus of Cornell University in the Falls River Gorge, Ithaca, New York.

Ithaca is a popular higher education destination in the eastern United States, as it is home to the famous Ithaca College and Cornell University. Located in the Finger Lakes region of New York and on the southern shore of Lake Cayuga, Ithaca contains many hiking and biking trails and small waterfalls that attract several tourists each year. A great place to enjoy nature and culture, Ithaca is a great place for a weekend getaway in Western New York.

Narrowsburg

Construction of Tusten Theater and Tusten Town Hall at 210 Bridge Street in Narrowsburg, New York
Construction of Tusten Theater and Tusten Town Hall at 210 Bridge Street in Narrowsburg, New York. Editorial credit: Alizada Studios / Shutterstock.com

With a population of less than 500, this Sullivan County town on the banks of the Delaware River can certainly be easily overlooked. But tourists who step inside will certainly not regret their visit to this place of genuine charm and beauty. Stroll Main Street, full of quaint antique and souvenir shops and an assortment of casual eateries, ideal for those on the road. Outdoor adventurers will also appreciate the opportunities to kayak the Delaware River and ride the waves near Skinner’s Falls for a wet and fun time!

jamestown

Motorists will enjoy their stay in Jamestown, just 121 kilometers from Buffalo. One must visit the great rock formation of Panama Rocks for an exceptional encounter with a true geological wonder or go shopping in one of the many stores and other boutiques all around. Ideal for a two- to three-day stopover, Jamestown is also home to the National Comedy Center, dedicated to the development of the art form in the United States and recognized as a place of cultural significance by the United States Congress.

Lake Placid

Award-winning Lake Placid Lodge in Lake Placid, New York
Award-winning Lake Placid Lodge in Lake Placid, New York. Editorial credit: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

The host city of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid, is located right in the heart of the Adirondack Mountain Range. Although known for its winter sporting activities, Lake Placid is also a great place to visit in the summer. Try hiking, biking, sailing and even fly fishing in this town of 2,500 people. For beautiful views of the surrounding mountain range and a peaceful upstate New York getaway, Lake Placid is the most welcoming place for the whole family.

Rhinebeck

Crowds of visitors to the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, New York
Crowds of visitors to the Dutchess County Fair in Rhinebeck, New York. Editorial credit: Alexanderstock23 / Shutterstock.com

Looking for stunning views of the Catskill Mountains? Then Rhinebeck is exactly what you need! Nestled in the Hudson Valley, this charming town is home to a number of cute specialty shops, small performance venues, local galleries and home-style restaurants, perfect for solo travelers or families. Within the city is also a village called “Rhinebeck”, which further adds to the small feeling of yesterday in this quiet, peaceful and truly welcoming place away from the big city of New York.

kingston

Rondout Creek flows under bridges on the waterfront in South Kingston, New York
Rondout Creek flows under bridges on the waterfront in South Kingston, New York.

Kingston was first settled in 1652 and was declared the first capital of New York State in 1777. As one of the oldest cities in America, Kingston has a very rich history, especially since the period of the American Revolution. History buffs certainly won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit and walk through several historic sites. These include the Stockade district or the many cemeteries, churches and other 18th and 19th century buildings and taverns, many of which have been added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Dawn

Macmillan Hall at Wells College Campus in Aurora, New York
Macmillan Hall at Wells College Campus in Aurora, New York. Editorial credit: PQK / Shutterstock.com

Directly on the shores of Cayuga Lake, Aurora is a beautiful getaway for everyone. Take advantage of the Grande Rue lined with historic buildings from the 19th century or take a walk or cycle along the water’s edge in this charming village of 724 inhabitants. Stop on the Cayuga Lake Wine Route to sample excellent local spirits, savoring an assortment of local and imported wines. And, of course, an eclectic range of small restaurants and cute shops give Aurora a welcoming feel.

New Paltz

Mohonk Mountain House on a lake with a dock and a small rocky island in New Paltz, New York
Mohonk Mountain House on a lake with a dock and a small rocky island in New Paltz, New York.

Just a 90-minute drive from Manhattan, New Paltz is ideal for those looking for an outdoor vacation. Home to a range of hiking and biking trails and plenty of outdoor parks, this city of 14,000 is a great escape into nature. The Lemon Squeezer Trail (considered one of the best in New York State) is a perfect spot for photographers (both amateur and professional) with stunning and unique rock formations as the Wallkill River flows through it. For a pleasant excursion that offers a coveted moment of quiet reflection, New Paltz is a great summer destination in New York.

Ellicottville

A beautiful place to enjoy ziplining, hiking, biking, and more, Ellicottville and its population of 1,300 is a charming spot in Western New York. First settled in the early 19th century, the city is a great place to enjoy small-town New York life, with many of the conveniences of a big city. Shop the Washington Street District, enjoy local entertainment and dining, or visit the Nannen Arboretum for a very enjoyable summer weekend.

Hudson

Historic Victorian townhouse building with bay windows located in Hudson, New York
Historic Victorian townhouse building with floor to ceiling windows located in Hudson, New York. Editorial credit: Alizada Studios / Shutterstock.com

There is high quality accommodation, fine dining and a diverse range of shops in Hudson, a town north of New York. More than 100 unique shops run by local entrepreneurs can be found in this town of 6,000 people, along with some 90 art galleries and antique shops. Stop at a cafe, pub, bakery or other local business to get a taste of New York culture outside of the Big Apple. On the way out, tourists should not miss the Firefighting Museum, dedicated to the firefighting industry and to all those who worked and died in the fight against fire control.

New York State is often overlooked as a whole in favor of its largest metropolis, New York. But, beyond the concrete jungle of the Big Apple, the cities of New York offer a wide range of good reasons to visit. From historic roots to beautiful natural landscapes to charming local attractions, a summer spent in New York’s cities is sure to be filled with adventure, fun, and memories to last a lifetime.

Comments are closed.