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18 Fun Things to Do in Upstate New York, NY

Ishaan Govardhan Sep 4, 2019
In stark contrast to the busy metropolitan area of New York City, which lies to its south, the charming upstate region is where New Yorkers go when they need to slow things down for a bit. The wide open spaces up here will make you forget that you're just a stone's throw away from the urban jungle of NYC.

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The sheer amount of natural beauty waiting for you among the mountains of Upstate New York is sometimes overshadowed by the magnetic pull of NYC. If you give it a chance, you'll find that there's a great time to be had in Upstate New York's sprawling wilderness, which is dotted by a handful of towns.

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Kick off your upstate getaway at the greatest natural wonder to be found in all of New York: the raging Niagara Falls at the Canada's border with New York. River Niagara feeds Lake Ontario with an unimaginable flow rate of 6 million cubic feet per minute!

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Of course, the best way to experience the forceful fury of the most popular waterfall on Earth, is a boat ride that gets as close to the Niagara Falls as safely possible. Prepare to get wet!

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If you're the outdoorsy type, you should explore any of the 46 peaks of the Adirondack Mountains wilderness. Step out of the car for a scenic hike. For bragging rights, you should climb Mt. Marcy: at 5,344 ft, it's New York's highest peak.

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Don't miss this chance to find out how much you can handle, by going whitewater rafting on the turbulent water near Niagara Falls or on the 17 gruelling miles of the Hudson River Gorge, among other upstate spots.

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Set off on a peaceful nature walk along any given trail that meanders through the lush canopy of Letchworth State Park. Autumn transforms all of upstate New York every year, but the changing leaves of Letchworth are like heaven for shutterbugs.

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And while you're there, you'll feel like spending the night. Set up camp at one of Letchworth's serene campsites for an unforgettable family night in the wild.

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Most anglers must have heard about the upstate town of Roscoe: the Trout Capital of the Catskill Mountains. Head over there to fish on one of Roscoe's sought-after trout streams.

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In winter, drive up to Greek Peak of the Finger Lakes region for some fun in the snow. There are designated lanes just for fast-paced snow sledding and snow tubing!

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Summers are for sailing. Hop on a yacht and head for the tranquil waters of River St. Lawrence's Thousand Islands. It's easy to picture oneself sailing between the gorgeous islands that seem to float on this river.

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And as for the towns of upstate New York, start with a visit to the Capital Region: the historic city of Albany. Check out the magnificent New York State Capitol.
For a change of pace, you can trace the history of the Underground Railroad with a tour of everything related to the great Harriet Tubman. History buffs will know to head for the upstate towns of Auburn and Fleming.

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The next city on your list should be the bustling town of Buffalo. Perched on the scenic shore of Lake Eerie, Buffalo oozes the kind of small town charm that makes it perfect for a "daycation".

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You can't leave Buffalo without trying what is perhaps the greatest and most iconic dish ever to come out of New York: a plateful of decadent Buffalo Chicken Wings. And you haven't had Buffalo Wings till you've eaten them at Buffalo's Anchor Bar, where they were invented!

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Next up, swing by scrappy little city of Cooperstown, where you can spend a day among the all-time greats: at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

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When it comes to upstate New York, its thriving agriculture scene ensures that there are plenty of rolling vineyards and apple orchards to frolic around in. Check out the sprawling McGregor Vineyard or go apple-picking at Albany's Altamount Orhards

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Where there are vineyards, there is wine, and upstate New York has grown some of the most exquisite wines you'll ever taste. For a comprehensive tour of the region's wines, set off on the Cayuga Wine Trail, which covers 16 wineries!
As one of the nation's foremost apple producers, New York has its share of cideries. Sip some signature New York hard apple cider at the Finger Lakes Cider House for a flavorsome experience that you won't soon forget.
The craft breweries boom that took over upstate New York in the mid-90s is now back with a vengeance, which is great news for beer-lovers! With literally hundreds of breweries and brewpubs to choose from, you should start at the oldest one: Genesee Brewing Co. of Rochester.

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Every Labor Day, the skyline of Dansville erupts in a colorful spectacle of dozens of hot air balloons which are launched at once, as part of the annual New York State Festival of Balloons. And of course, you can ride one!