New York State is full of unique world-class attractions from natural wonders to bespoke castle resorts, indoor waterparks, and Olympic ski mountains. Our roundup of the top 19 most-visited places on ILOVENY.com in 2019 features awe-inspiring destinations sure to create memorable trips for years to come.
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A beautiful scenic drive that runs through Harriman State Park (pictured) to Bear Mountain, Seven Lakes Drive, which, true to its name, winds its way past seven lakes, belongs at the top of any New York road trip itinerary. The route is especially stunning during fall foliage season and is well-paired with exploring hiking trails like the one up to Anthony’s Nose for picturesque views of Bear Mountain Bridge and the Hudson River.
With over 8,000 acres of forests, fields and streams, 40 miles of hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing trails, and more than 1,000 climbing routes, Mohonk Preserve is a top all-season destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Intrepid explorers will love the organized hikes and snowshoeing treks, while young naturalists will delight in craft-making activities and demonstrations focused on local critters.
The largest marble cave entrance in the eastern U.S., the Stone Bridge is one of the Adirondack region’s most stunning natural wonders. This kid-friendly attraction offers hikes easy on the littlest feet and fun activities like a “dino dig,” bouldering walls, and jewelry making. But it’s not just fun and games—adventure-junkies will love the adrenaline-pumping tours through the caves.
Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks,” Ausable Chasm is a 500-million-year-old wonder offering scenic vistas and plenty of adventure. Take in the rush of waterfalls as you walk along nature trails through a primeval Adirondack forest, or float between chasm walls on a rafting or tubing trip on the Ausable River. Inspired to spend the night? Book your spot under the stars at the Ausable Chasm Campground.
With the greatest vertical drop in the east and storied past as the site of the 1980 Winter Olympic alpine skiing events, Whiteface Mountain is home to some of the country’s best slopes where you can shred alongside today’s brightest Olympic hopefuls. No need to be intimidated though, as Whiteface also boasts a great learning program for beginners of all ages. Even if you’re not athletically inclined, the Cloudsplitter Gondola ride’s sensational views of the Adirondack Park make the visit worthwhile in its own right.
An all-inclusive four-season resort in the Hudson Valley, Rocking Horse Ranch offers a fun time the whole family will be sure to love! Between the 500+ acres of horseback riding trails, Big Splash indoor waterpark, tubing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and top-name family entertainment, there are plenty of memories waiting to be made.
One of the most romantic resorts in New York, this real-life fairy tale castle is the perfect place for a little R&R. Treat yourself to a luxurious spa treatment or an exquisite food and wine pairing dinner with a view of Seneca Lake. Named a World’s Best Wine Hotel by Wine Enthusiast, Belhurst offers the perfect perch for touring the Finger Lake region’s many award-winning wineries.
A regular on the top 10 best resorts lists in many travel publications, the ritzy Lake Placid Lodge offers rustically elegant digs on the secluded shores of Lake Placid. Whether you decide to hike the Adirondack high peaks or go fishing on the lake (pro tip: the chef will cook your catch for dinner that evening at the acclaimed hotel restaurant!), roast s’mores by the bonfire, or indulge in an in-room massage, there’s no shortage of activities for a memorable getaway.
Named the #3 Best State Park in the U.S. by a major publication, Watkins Glen State Park features a spellbinding gorge trail that winds its way through 19 waterfalls along 200-foot cliffs. One of the best New York State parks for camping, Watkins Glen features rustic sites and cabins that will make you want to stay awhile.
A stunning Scottish-inspired castle nestled on Dark Island in the St. Lawrence River, Singer Castle offers plenty of stories and hidden surprises in its 28 rooms and passageways. You can even see what it feels like to be King or Queen for a day by renting the Royal Suite, a one-bedroom apartment that takes up an entire wing and can sleep six. The rental comes with all the trappings of royalty—exclusive reign over the castle for the night, a delicious catered dinner, continental breakfast, and an extended private tour.
Whether you’d rather race down a snow-covered mountain, fly on a zipline, or splash away on an indoor water slide, Greek Peak Mountain Resort offers all-weather family fun. While you could easily find enough activities for a few days on the property alone, its Cortland location makes it easy to explore the Finger Lakes and Central NY regions.
Treat yourself to a world-class spa experience at the Mirbeau Inn & Spa. With gardens that look like they came straight out of a Monet painting, the 12,000-square-foot spa hotel offers the ultimate chance to get away from it all in a most charming setting. Pamper yourself with a treatment (or two… or three) and make room for an exceptional farm-to-table dinner at the Mirbeau Dining Room.
If you’ve been waiting to scratch "taking a dog sled tour" off your bucket list, come to Lake Placid and wait no further! Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours offers visitors the opportunity to feel like an Arctic explorer—if only for a short while. You'll climb aboard a sled tied to six to eight well-cared-for Alaskan Huskies that will take you for a quick loop around frozen Mirror Lake, surrounded by Adirondack beauty!
Though the Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark opened just this past April, this “new kid on the block” has quickly become one of the state’s most popular attractions. The largest indoor waterpark in New York, the Kartrite offers plenty of thrills that will keep you splashing away. The resort features a luxury mountain lodge setting, so spend a night or two.
It’s not every day you can find yourself in the middle of a high stakes (yet totally safe) train robbery straight out of an old Western, delight all your senses as you take in the holiday magic on “The Polar Express,” or visiting with the Easter Bunny himself, but on the Catskill Mountain Railroad, all this and more is possible! In addition to themed rides, this historic steam-powered locomotive offers stunning leaf-peeping on the popular Fall Foliage Ride. All aboard!
Voted the #1 State Park in the U.S. in a survey by a major publication, Letchworth State Park is often called the “Grand Canyon of the East” for its awe-inspiring 600-foot gorge. Take a pic with three Insta-worthy waterfalls and explore this 14,350-acre scenic park featuring miles of hiking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing trails, or get a bird’s eye view from a hot air balloon flight with Balloons Over Letchworth.
3. New York Zipline Canopy Tours at Hunter Mountain (Catskills)
Climb 600 feet above the ground and get ready for the adrenaline rush of a lifetime! The New York Zipline Canopy Tours at Hunter Mountain is the longest, highest and fastest zipline canopy tour in North America and the second-largest in the world, with stunning views of the Catskills in all four seasons.
Nestled in the heart of the Adirondacks, the Wild Center’s mission is to bring people closer with nature. Explore hours-worth of live indoor exhibits and hands-on experiences, and walk along the treetops on the Wild Walk, a unique elevated trail that includes a four-story treehouse, swinging bridges, and a giant bald eagle’s nest that provides a rare view over an Adirondack forest.
If you’ve been dreaming of staying in a lakeside Victorian castle, it’s time to make that dream a reality! An award-winning National Historic Landmark Resort, the Mohonk Mountain House is a year-round all-inclusive resort in the Hudson Valley with no shortage of activities—hike 85 miles of scenic trails, go mountain biking, play a round of golf or tennis, explore the grounds on horseback or in a horse-drawn carriage, indulge in a spa treatment and enjoy exquisite cuisine prepared by top chefs. A kids’ club and teen and junior naturalist programs also offer a host of fun activities for young visitors.