New York, New York State, USA

17 Beautiful & Scenic Towns in Upstate New York – That You’ll LOVE!

April 4, 2022

Are you looking for a list of the most scenic towns in upstate New York? If so, keep reading!

If you’re searching for inspiration around the most scenic towns in upstate New York, you’ve come to the right place!

As one of the most beautiful parts of the USA, there are so many beautiful and scenic towns in upstate New York, but we’ve chosen our favorite ones for this list!

So whether you’re looking for travel inspiration, or planning a weekend away, hopefully, one of these scenic towns in upstate New York will be perfect for you!

So let’s get into our list of the best scenic towns in upstate New York!


17 beautifully scenic towns in upstate New York!


Alexandria Bay

The first place on our list of scenic towns in upstate New York? It’s Alexandria Bay!

Praised for its gorgeous scenery, expansive vistas, and picturesque town center, it’s unsurprising that this place is always packed with enthusiastic tourists.

If you’re not sure what to do in Alexandria Bay, start your trip by taking a boat out on the St. Lawrence River. It’ll become obvious why this town made our list of scenic towns in upstate New York.

Uncle Sam Boat Tours provides an excellent tour of the area, and you’ll be able to visit the area’s most popular castles on your trip: Boldt Castle and Singer Castle.

Partial to a glass of fine wine? We suggest heading to the Thousand Islands Winery. Known for its fantastic wine tastings, friendly staff, and unbeatable views, it’s part of the reason Alexandria Bay is one of the most scenic towns in upstate New York!

Read more about Alexandria Bay: 15 fun things to do in Alexandria Bay, New York


Beacon

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Beacon has long been one of the most popular scenic towns in upstate New York, and that’s partially down to its location. Just an hour and a half from the Big Apple, this place has been a favorite amongst city workers for years.

If you enjoy art, you won’t want to miss Dia:Beacon during your visit. Spanning 300,000 square feet, it’s one of the area’s most fascinating attractions.

Should you prefer a more relaxed approach to artwork, we suggest visiting Second Saturday instead. Held on the second Saturday of every month (figures!), this exciting exhibition incorporates live music and food tastings into its calendar.

To get some fresh air into your lungs, why not head up to Mount Beacon? Practically unspoiled and offering excellent views over your surroundings, it’s an incredible thing to do in Beacon, and one of the big reasons it made our list of scenic towns in upstate New York.

Once you reach the top, you’ll understand why this charming area is considered one of the most scenic towns in Upstate New York.

Read more about Beacon: Our ultimate guide to visiting Beacon, NY


Canandaigua

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Another great choice for scenic towns in upstate New York, is Canandaigua. Just under an hour from Rochester Canandaigua is a fascinating spot that should make it onto anyone’s list of scenic towns in upstate New York.

Decidedly quaint and naturally beautiful, this is one of the scenic towns in New York that is perfect for city slickers looking for an escape to the rural countryside.

While you’re here, we highly recommend visiting the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park.

Boasting some of the most gorgeous gardens in town, it’s partly responsible for Canandaigua being named one of the most scenic towns in upstate New York!

If you’d prefer to get a taste of local life, why not explore the bustling downtown area? Packed with artisanal stores and plenty of restaurants, it’s a wonderful place to settle in for the afternoon.


Skaneateles

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Next on our list of scenic towns in upstate New York, it’s Skaneateles. Located alongside Skaneateles Lake (figures!) in Onondaga County, this is one of those small quaint towns perfect for a weekend getaway.

This is one of those scenic towns in upstate New York that has peaceful energy. The village is surrounded by natural beauty, and there are cute little shops, B&Bs and plenty to see.

It’s always popular with visitors but doesn’t tend to get overcrowded, which is great. Oh, and it’s one of those scenic towns in upstate New York that is beautiful all year round. No matter the season.

Read more about New York State: 9 amazing all-inclusive resorts in New York State


Cold Spring

Editorial credit: James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

If you’ve been looking to cover every single spot that’s made it onto the National Register of Historic Places, be sure to add Cold Spring to your list of scenic towns in upstate New York to check out!

This place is best known for its restored 19th-century buildings, but the village center itself is regarded for its incredible charm, quaint boutiques, and independent stores.

We highly recommend setting aside plenty of time to strolling between blocks and picking up trinkets! Also just enjoy the views in this pick for scenic towns in upstate New York.

If you fancy exploring the area’s fine architecture, be sure to hit up the historic Pollepel Island. Home to the famous Bannerman Castle, you can spend hours exploring this fascinating site and learning about its architect Frank Bannerman. Be sure to allocate some time to explore the beautiful gardens too!

Should you prefer to explore the natural side of Cold Spring – we’ve got you covered. This is one of the scenic towns in upstate New York with incredible hiking trails, and the Breakneck Ridge Loop is amongst the most rewarding in the state.

Read more about Cold Spring: Fun things to do in Cold Spring, NY


Saugerties

Editorial credit: James Kirkikis / Shutterstock.com

Our next suggestion for the best scenic towns in Upstate New York, is Saugerties. You’ll find Saugerties on the west bank of the Hudson River, surrounded by all those stunning riverside landscapes.

Saugerties is only a short drive from Woodstock (which we’ve mentioned further down this list). A visit to both of these scenic towns in Upstate New York would be a great trip idea!

Then you get to visit two amazingly scenic towns in Upstate New York in on visit!

Perhaps the most scenic part of this town though is the Saugerties Lighthouse – something you simply have to see if you plan on paying Saugerties a visit.

Read more about East Coast travel: 41 fun things to do in Portland, Maine


Cooperstown

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Cooperstown may be one of the smallest scenic towns in upstate New York, but it certainly packs a punch. 

Known for housing the National Baseball Hall of Fame, The Farmers Museum, and the popular Fenimore Art Museum, this place packs a bunch of big-city attractions into a tiny area – it’s no wonder this place is considered one of the best scenic towns in upstate New York!

As Cooperstown is located right on Otsego Lake, you can unwind from the more intensive activities with a relaxing boat ride on the water.

If you’d prefer to take to the trails instead of hitting the water, this is one of the scenic towns in upstate New York that’s easily explored by foot.

We suggest heading to the beautiful Glimmerglass State Park before checking out the local eateries and breweries in town.

Read more about Cooperstown: 14 things to do in Cooperstown, NY


Ithaca

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Our next suggestion for scenic towns in upstate New York, is Ithaca. Ithaca is slightly larger than some of the scenic towns in upstate New York, but that doesn’t make it less beautiful!

Actually, with Ithaca’s increased size, come more culture and things to do – which is great if you plan on staying for a few days.

This is one of those scenic towns in upstate New York with plenty of restaurants to choose from, cafes, galleries, and other lovely stuff to fill your time.

It’s a great choice for scenic towns in upstate New York, we think you’ll love it.


Ellicottville

If you’re searching for scenic towns in upstate New York that offer unbeatable skiing opportunities, then you can’t do better than Ellicottville.

Located just an hour from Buffalo (one of the snowiest areas in the USA!), you can whizz down the slopes without worrying about the powdery snow melting into mush.

Should you be here during the summer, we highly recommend exploring the downtown area and hitting the ever-popular gold courses.

As one of the most scenic towns in upstate New York, you can expect impressive views wherever you go – however, they’re particularly gorgeous from Holiday Valley (otherwise known as the best resorts and golf courses in the area!). 

If golfing isn’t your style, why not hit the resort’s aerial adventure park for some high-flying fun? Whatever you choose to do here, this is one of the scenic towns in upstate New York that you won’t forget in a hurry.


Lake Placid

Located in the Adirondack Mountain area, Lake Placid is one of the scenic towns in upstate New York that’s often forgotten about. Despite being steeped in natural beauty and fascinating history, it’s one of the lesser-visited scenic towns in upstate New York. To turn the tide, we highly recommend checking it out!

This area has hosted the Winter Olympics multiple times, so it’s perhaps unsurprising to learn that this is one of the scenic towns in upstate New York that offers plenty of snow-based activities during the winter months.

Whether you’re looking to ski, go snowshoeing, or hit the slopes on a board, there are several exciting activities here that will pique your interest. If you’d like to learn even more about this town’s Olympic journey, simply head to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum!

During the summer, this is one of the scenic towns in upstate New York that’s favored for its hiking, kayaking, and fishing opportunities.

If you keep an eye out, you’ll spot beautiful wildflowers (red columbine are particularly prominent here) and local fauna as you move along the trails.

Regarded for its natural beauty and always a popular spot for ski enthusiasts, Lake Placid is one of the scenic towns in upstate New York that you shouldn’t sleep on!


Tarrytown

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Our next suggestion for the best scenic towns in upstate New York, is Tarrytown. Tarrytown sits on the eastern shore of the Hudson River, so it’s close to the water and surrounded in natural beauty.

It’s location is enough reason for us to include it on our list of the best scenic towns in upstate New York. But this scenic town in Upstate New York is also full of local history, including dutch settlements.

If you’re looking for scenic towns in upstate New York with history and great points of interest, then Tarrytown is a great choice.

You’ve got Lyndhurst Mansion, Sunnyside, (which was the home of Washington Irving) as well as Castle Hotel & Spa (a 19th-century Norman-style castle). Talk about a full itinerary!

Read more about New York State: 10 Beautiful castles in New York State


Lily Dale

Lily Dale is one of favorite locations in Upstate New York, and it’s certainly one of the most scenic towns in upstate New York.

There are so many reason to visit the beautiful Lily Dale, and whilst this town may be small – it’s certainly not unremarkable!

One of the top reasons people visit Lily Dale is because of the connection this small town seems to have to the spiritual realms and paranormal.

If you’ve ever wanted to experience a psychic reading or meet with a medium, this is the place to do, as there are plenty in Lily Dale to choose from. Another perfect choice for scenic towns in upstate New York.

Read more about Lily Dale: 7 great reasons you should visit Lily Dale, NY


Rhinebeck

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Located just 2 hours from Penn Station, Rhinebeck is one of the most beautiful scenic towns in upstate New York. 

Decidedly more bougie than a few of our other picks, we suggest living as the locals do by trawling through the Farmers Market or checking out Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill for some quiet contemplation.

If you’d like to receive a cultural education while you’re here, we highly recommend checking out some of the many museums, galleries, and performing arts centers in the area. After all, even the most nature-heavy scenic towns in upstate New York offer something when it comes to the arts!

If you’d like to add a bit of excitement to your visit, why not check out the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome. Home to the largest collection of airplanes in the world and boasting an impressive program of fighter flights and airshows, it’s well worth visiting.

Regardless of whether you’re looking for high-flying action or a spot of culture, Rhinebeck is one of the scenic towns in upstate New York that you shouldn’t miss.

Read more about Rhinebeck: 15 fun things to do in Rhinebeck, New York


Saratoga Springs

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Best known for its cultural and historical center, Saratoga Springs is one of the most fascinating scenic towns in upstate New York.

Not only can you walk through important sections of Revolutionary War history, but you can learn all about the town’s association with horseracing at the National Museum of Racing before watching the real deal at the Saratoga Race Course.

If it’s automobile races you’re more interested in, a trip to the Saratoga Automobile Museum wouldn’t go amiss!

If you’re looking for scenic towns in upstate New York with plenty of natural beauty, you won’t be disappointed here. The Yaddo Gardens is renowned for its stunning blooms and sprawling green space, and you can spend hours just ambling through the area and drinking it all in!

Whatever you choose to do in Saratoga Springs, you’ll certainly agree that it’s one of the scenic towns in upstate New York that’s well worth visiting.

Read more about New York State: Top 15 things to do in Saratoga Springs, NY


Sleepy Hollow

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If you’re looking for scenic towns in upstate New York to visit in the fall, then we can’t recommend Sleepy Hollow enough!

You may have heard of Sleepy Hollow because of the spooky ghost stories (and that’s one reason to visit for sure!) but this is one of those scenic towns in upstate New York that is known for being absolutely beautiful too.

Visiting in fall gives you a chance to enjoy all the foliage and autumn colors, as well as the spooky history (like ghost tours). It’s a great choice for scenic towns in upstate New York.


Scenic towns in upstate New York: Lake George

Next on our list of scenic towns in upstate New York, it’s Lake George. Located in the gorgeous Adirondacks, Lake George is certainly one of the most scenic towns in upstate New York.

Best known for its 32-mile-long lake, it’s unsurprising that most visitors to this picturesque area are happy to spend their vacation meandering along the lakeside!

As you explore the area, you’ll marvel at the expansive vistas, secluded coves, and various wooded islands that characterize the area.

Once you’ve had your fill of the aesthetics, you can hit the water for some swimming, fishing, or boating! However, as this is one of the most scenic towns in upstate New York, we highly recommend allocating plenty of time to sightseeing and nature trails!

Oh, and don’t leave without exploring Prospect Mountain and the Fort William Henry Museum for a touch of history.

Regardless of whether you’re a history buff or are in the market for a total nature escape, this is one of the scenic towns in upstate New York that has you covered.

Read more about Lake George: Top 15 things to do in Lake George, NY


Woodstock

Next on our list of scenic towns in Upstate New York, it’s Woodstock. Woodstock is a pretty famous location in Upstate New York (ever heard of the festival by the same name?!).

But it’s not just famous for that iconic festival, it’s also a really scenic and beautiful location to enjoy some time away from the city.

Woodstock is definitely one of the best scenic towns in Upstate New York.

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We hope this list of scenic towns in upstate New York has been helpful and given you plenty of ideas for where to visit next!

Which of these scenic towns in upstate New York will you visit next? Let us know!

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