While New York City gets most of the attention, there’s a whole lot more to the state of New York including some gorgeous drives to fascinating places. Get to know the rest of the state with these fun road trips.
The Finger Lakes
Stretching 372 miles from the border with Massachusetts to the border of Pennsylvania, U.S. Route 20 serves as New York State’s longest road trip. Rolling hills peppered with generations-old farms dot the pastoral landscape. Once a primitive Native American path that ultimately helped the westward movement in the state, U.S. Route 20 is rich with historic sites.
In Seneca Falls, discover the bridge that inspired “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Visit the supposed birthplace of Memorial Day, Waterloo. Detour off the route for a day trip to explore the Finger Lakes region, including “gorge-ous” Watkins Glen. Best known for its wine trail along with ample breweries, the bounty of this fertile land attracts visitors from around the world.
Embrace farm life with a visit to Sunset View Creamery in Odessa. Here you’ll find delicious cheeses and friendly cows available for cuddling. Yes, cow cuddling is a thing and an experience you won’t soon forget. Continue the adorable farm animal theme at Four Seasons Alpacas the lovable alpacas await along with cute New Zealand pigs and super furry bunnies. Pop into the shop for some uber-soft alpaca scarves, hats or gloves. If you’re road tripping in the fall, take advantage of apple season by picking your favorite varieties at Apples & Moore.
Where to Stay: Sleep under the stars at NaturLuxe & Stars. This luxury glamping experience adds a little adventure to your road trip. Choose from safari tents, bell tents or platform tents. All are stylish and impeccably decorated. www.naturluxeandstars.com
Spanning nearly 42 miles from New Jersey’s side of the George Washington Bridge north to Bear Mountain Bridge, the Palisades Parkway changes the perception of New York immediately. Rising with the elevation, this drive hugs the Hudson River. Arch stone bridges, forests dressed in autumn splendor, and traffic much more polite than any you’ll find on the city streets emerge. Since the city looks so peaceful and beautiful from the outside, be sure to stop at the overlooks for gorgeous vantage points of the skyline.
At the northern end of the Palisades, spend a little time exploring Bear Mountain State Park. Rising from the west bank of the Hudson River, these rugged mountains beckon to city folk eager to get outside and explore. Hiking trails, picnic groves and a large playing field for sports are among the highlights. Take a spin on the Bear Mountain State Park Merry-Go-Round featuring hand-painted scenes of the park and 42 hand-carved seats of animals native to the area including black bear, wild turkey, Canadian geese and more.
Where to Stay: Check in to the historic Bear Mountain Inn. Opened in 1915, this historic property exudes a rustic-luxe vibe. www.visitbearmountain.com
Delaware River to the Catskills
Carved into rock, New York Route 97 winds hundreds of feet above the Delaware River curving in harmony with the waterway below providing beautiful views of the Catskills. Arriving in Hancock, continue the exploration by following the East Branch of the Delaware River traveling through charming towns, villages and hamlets along NY 30 as you wind your way through the Catskills.
Historically known for the bluestone quarrying, logging and farming industries, sites on the route highlight the region’s past. In Delaware County, the route laces through 61 miles of picturesque hills, valleys and historical sites. Covered bridges, galleries, local family-owned restaurants, and numerous attractions along the way provide plenty of entertainment. For recreational enthusiasts, the Catskills region offers plenty of options including hiking, kayaking and fly-fishing.
Further north in the Catskills, venture to Route 23A between Hunter and Palenville. Just 12 miles in length, this granddaddy of Catskill Mountain roads zigzags around hairpin turns as it navigates narrow passages. You’ll pass through the painted town of Tannersville. Be sure to stop in for lunch at Maggie’s Krooked Café and Juice Bar—a local favorite. This area boasts one of the tallest waterfalls in the state, Kaaterskill Falls. It’s definitely worth a hike.
Where to Stay: Check into the cozy Eastwind Hotel where views of Windham Mountain meet Scandinavian-designed interiors. www.eastwindny.com