Want to treat yourself to a local getaway for a little fun, rest, and relaxation? You don’t have to go far for an escape from your everyday routine. Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or a weekend getaway (or two!), there are thousands of miles of natural wonders to explore, hundreds of hidden gems to discover, and world-class resorts to experience nearby on your New York State staycation!
Originally published: 9/2/20
Ready to go? Click on a region below to explore curated staycation ideas.
Credit: @amparo.the.photog on Instagram
Bronx Zoo (pictured): Home to over 6,000 creatures large and small, the 265-acre Bronx Zoo is the largest metropolitan zoo in the country. The popular monorail safari ride and the spacious indoor and outdoor exhibits offer plenty of amazing animal-viewing opportunities anytime. To celebrate the zoo’s 125th birthday, this spring, your family can explore the all-new Animal Chronicles, a walking trail of more than a quarter mile featuring gigantic, immersive eco-sculptures that showcase key achievements in the Bronx Zoo’s history of saving animal species and connecting New Yorkers to wildlife.
Queens County Farm Museum: Tucked away in the Little Neck section of Queens, the Queens County Farm Museum is a 47-acre working farm with greenhouses, an orchard and herb garden, farm machinery, and cattle, sheep, pigs, and goats waiting to be discovered. Enjoy a calendar full of events including Blooms at Queens Farm and Milk and Honey Month. Visitors can shop for produce at the farm store.
Snug Harbor: Snug Harbor Cultural Center & Botanical Garden is another flower-filled oasis located on the Staten Island waterfront. Housed on its grounds, you’ll find the Staten Island Museum, which has an exhibit dedicated to the history of the mastodon, and the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art, the borough's largest and oldest contemporary art gallery.
Overnight (New York City)
Credit: @adventuring_millennial on Instagram
Chelsea: Stay at the High Line Hotel, a chic boutique hotel with a historic vibe (the building is a federal landmark) and accolades from the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards and the Condé Nast Traveler Reader’s Choice Awards. From there, you’ll be steps from the city’s beloved High Line Park (pictured), an elevated walkway on former rail tracks that offers beautiful Hudson River views and green places to relax. Practice your golf swing while enjoying river views at Chelsea Piers. Just bring yourself—balls and clubs are provided (you can also use your own clubs if you prefer). Stop by Chelsea Market for some shopping and tasty treats—several vendors offer outdoor dining along the market on 15th and 16th streets, and other goodies are available for takeout; see what’s open here. And if you love art, the esteemed Whitney Museum of American Art offers free entry every Friday night and second Sunday of the month.
For more information on these and additional New York City Staycation Guides, visit our partners at NYC Tourism.
Montauk Lighthouse (pictured): Venture to the easternmost tip of New York State for stunning ocean views from the grounds of the Montauk Lighthouse. Climb the tower, visit the Montauk Lighthouse Museum, which houses historical documents signed by George Washington, and grab a souvenir at the Lighthouse gift shop. And don’t leave town without trying a fresh lobster roll by the sea at Gosman’s Dock when it reopens for the summer season in May 2024.
Planting Fields Arboretum State Historic Park: Pack a picnic and enjoy strolling around the 400+ acre property designed by Fredrick Law Olmsted and others on Long Island’s storied Gold Coast. Full of rare plants from around the world, the grounds abound in scents and color, offering plenty of Instagram-worthy photo-ops, including the exterior of the impressive Coe Hall mansion.
Stony Brook Village Center: For a day of great shopping and eating, head over to Stony Brook Village Center, a commercial district built to look like a traditional New England village with white clapboard buildings. While there, be sure to check out the unique microbrew craft beer and cheese pairings at Brew Cheese, take a private chocolate-making workshop at Chocolate Works (advanced reservations required for workshops), and enjoy a leisurely afternoon tea service at Robinson’s Tea Room, named one of the bests places for high tea in the U.S. by Travel & Leisure.
Long Island Music & Entertainment Hall of Fame: The center puts Long Island’s musical and entertainment heritage to the forefront with a large exhibition space exploring the region’s music history and club scene, a theater, performance space, and an official “Hall of Fame”, celebrating more than 120 artists that have been inducted since the organization got its roots in 2004. Get into a “New York State of Mind” when you visit the first ever exhibit dedicated to Billy Joel! Explore the 50+ year career of the legendary musician and Long Island native. On your visit, you’ll get to admire some of the Piano Man’s most prized possessions, rare memorabilia, behind-the-scenes videos, vintage instruments, and historic photos, many of which are donated by Billy Joel himself and have never been seen before in public.
Overnight (Long Island)
North Fork: Feel like you’re in Tuscany with a stay at the Sannino Vineyard B&B, an intimate property offering a suite and a villa rental, each with their own private entrance, kitchenette, views of the family-owned vineyard, and a full hot breakfast delivered straight to your door. Explore 60+ North Fork wineries offering a diverse array of varietals in gorgeous outdoor settings. Head over to Harbes Family Farm (reopening for the season April 20, 2024) for a barnyard adventure the whole family will love, including mazes, obstacle courses, and so much more. Stop by the Long Island Aquarium for over 100 exhibits of fascinating marine life. Head down to the East End’s South Shore and get even closer to nature at the Quogue Wildlife Refuge, which is home to seven miles of trails where you can explore diverse habitats from ponds to Dwarf pine-dotted forests.
Storm King Art Center: The Storm King Art Center is a 500-acre open-air sculpture park with stunning views of Storm King Mountain that uses the ground as its floor, the air as its walls, and the sky as its ceiling as it plays host to some of the most renowned large-scale art pieces in the world from artists including Barbara Hepworth, Isamu Noguchi, and more. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, split your day with a kayak tour of Bannerman Island with Storm King Adventure Tours in warmer months.
Dia Beacon (pictured): A former Nabisco box-printing factory along the Hudson River turned modern art museum, Dia Beacon (advanced tickets suggested) is home to thought-provoking artwork from 1960 to today. Just a short walk from the museum, Beacon’s bustling Main Street offers cool cafes and places to eat, including restaurants at the Roundhouse, where you can dine with a view of the city’s urban waterfall.
The Warwick Valley Apple Trail: The Warwick Valley Apple Trail in New York’s Orange County is home to half a dozen family farms and orchards that offer an incredible array of apple varieties (and other seasonal fruits!) all available for the picking, as well as quaint farm stands full of freshly picked produce, mouth-watering baked goods and cider donuts, ice cream stands, places to picnic, and full-service eateries like the outdoor beer garden at Pennings Farm Market.
Historic Hudson Walking Tour & Warren Street Antiquing: A quaint small city on the Hudson River, Hudson is known for its world-famous antique shops that line its main thoroughfare, Warren Street. This very walkable city’s streets are as full of history as its shops, featuring every style of architecture since the late 18th century and sites on the Underground Railroad. Explore with an in-person tour with Big Onion Walking Tours, a group of knowledgeable guides with a perfect 5-star TripAdvisor rating.
Overnight (Hudson Valley)
New Paltz: Think you need to fly to Europe to stay in a storybook castle? Enter Mohonk Mountain House (pictured), a stunning Victorian castle resort on Lake Mohonk surrounded by 40,000 acres of forest and wildlife. Room rates are all-inclusive, which means that in addition to a room fit for royalty, guests receive three gourmet meals a day and get access to a cruise ship-style schedule of daily activities, along with miles of picturesque hiking trails and so much more. With at least 150 things to do on-site at Mohonk, you could easily enjoy several days without ever leaving the property, but those who venture out to explore the surrounding area will be rewarded by equally charming villages and world-class wineries. Head to the heart of New Paltz for a stroll down Historic Huguenot Street, a 10-acre National Historic Landmark District featuring stone-house museums that tell the stories of the area’s French Huguenot settlement during the Colonial Era. Download the free Historic Huguenot Street Walking Tour app for a look at what’s inside. Indulge in a top-notch wine tasting at Whitecliff Vineyard and Winery, recently recognized for their “Best Chardonnay” in a global winemaking competition, or at Robibero Winery, which was named “Best Family-Friendly Vineyard” by Hudson Valley Magazine and offers plenty of outdoor space and table games to keep the kiddos occupied (pups also welcome!)
Rail Explorers: Ride the rails at your own pace with the pedal-powered Rail Explorers in the Catskills. Get the gang together and choose from a tandem or quad explorer for your journey. Experience the magic of the Ulster & Delaware Railroad as you travel alongside the Esopus Creek through the beautiful woods of the Catskill Mountains. Under a canopy of maple and birch, with the river rushing by and the mountains in the distance, this 8-mile round trip tour is an unforgettable experience.
Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (pictured): 55 years ago, Bethel played host to the iconic Woodstock Festival. Today, The Museum at Bethel Woods sits on the site of the 1969 festival and pays homage to the life and times of those who made Woodstock a household name.
Catskills Scenic Trail: Explore 26 miles of a former Ulster & Delaware rail bed trail that offers beautiful mountain vistas as it winds its way through the farming valley and small towns of the Catskills region. Hike it on foot or rent a bike from the Roxbury General Store—a great place to pick up local artisan-made souvenirs, gifts, toys, and more!
Credit: @newyorksherpa on Instagram
Mount Tremper: Treat yourself to a stay at the luxurious Emerson Resort & Spa in the heart of the Catskill Mountains. Enjoy a rejuvenating massage at the award-winning spa, a meal at the highly-rated Woodnotes, and some retail therapy at The Shops at Emerson, or just get away from it all by relaxing in an Adirondack chair creekside. The Catskills region is known as the birthplace of American Fly Fishing. Front desk staff can help guests book a guided fly fishing excursion with a pro-Catskill Mountain Angler. Stop by the Catskills Visitor Center and climb the 80-foot fire tower on-site for an aerial view of the Catskills, or explore 1.5 miles of easy hiking trails. Explore charming nearby villages like Phoenicia, voted one of America’s Top Ten Coolest Towns by Budget Travel Magazine, and home to the famous Phoenicia Diner (pictured).
Credit: @dutchapplecruises on Instagram
Dutch Apple Cruises (pictured): Take a cruise along the Hudson River and soak in the sights along the historic waterfront For the first half of the cruise, the vessel’s Hudson River Historian will share stories about the history of Albany and share points of interest along the river. As the boat makes its way back to Albany, passengers have time to relax and take in the views — including possible bald eagle sightings! Food and beverages can be purchased on board.
Visit Downtown Saratoga: Head downtown for lunch and a self-guided tour through town. Saratoga has more restaurants per capita than even NYC, so there is a cuisine to suit every taste! The legendary Saratoga Racetrack reopens for its 2024 summer season, and is thrilled to host the Belmont Stakes for the first time in history.
Albany Institute of History & Art: Founded in 1791, the Albany Institute of History and Art is one of the oldest museums in the United States. While the Hudson River School paintings are worth the price of admission alone, you can’t miss the awe-inspiring story of how modern science helped uncover surprising details about Albany’s very own 3,000-year-old mummy in the “Ancient Egypt.”
Saratoga Springs: Rest your head at the #1 TripAdvisor rated Homewood Suites by Hilton Saratoga Springs, which offers spacious suites, the convenience of an in-suite kitchen, and complimentary breakfast to help you start your day on the right foot. The hotel is right across from Saratoga Spa State Park (pictured), a 2,379-acre park where you can find mineral springs and geysers that shoot water as high as 15 feet into the air! In addition to picturesque trails, the park offers access to public swimming pools and tennis courts. Inside the park, you’ll also find the Saratoga Auto Museum, which boasts an impressive collection of antique cars, classic cars, race cars, Indy cars, sports racers, and stock cars in a renovated bottling plant. Get on the water with a sail on Saratoga Lake with ADK Cruise & Charter. Want the boat all to your crew? Private charters are also available! Enjoy a nostalgia-filled night at the movies at nearby Malta Drive-In, reopening in April 2024.
Chittenango Falls State Park (pictured): Spend the day hiking for views of the 167-foot waterfall at the heart of Chittenango Falls State Park from every vantage point. Along the way, keep an eye out for unique fauna and critters that you won’t find anywhere else on Earth—like the Chittenango ovate amber snail. A large picnic area with tables and grills makes for a memorable outdoor lunch spot.
Animal Adventure Park: Go from checking out the live webcams to visiting the giraffes, kangaroos, and hundreds of other animals at this popular park. Get up close to your favorite furry friends when you book a sloth encounter, capybara play time, or painting with penguins.
Brew Central: The entire Central New York region is considered “America’s Craft Brew Destination!” With miles of idyllic farmland, craft brewers are able to produce the highest quality farm-to-glass beverages you’ll find anywhere. Visit brewcentralny.com for trail maps and lists of must-visit pubs and tasting rooms.
Overnight (Central NY)
Cooperstown: Known as “America’s Most Perfect Village” and the birthplace of America’s pastime (baseball!), Cooperstown is an ideal getaway with its charming downtown and enviable location on the peaceful shores of Otsego Lake. Relax at the lakeside Otesaga Resort (pictured). A Historic Hotels of America Member and AAA Four Diamond property, the Otesaga boasts an elegance that recalls a bygone era. Enjoy breakfast on the patio, play a round on the award-winning Leatherstocking Golf Course, then head into town to explore Main Street, just a five-minute walk from the hotel. Get your fill of baseball history at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, where you can see artifacts from the game’s most famous moments. Nothing goes better with baseball than beer, and Cooperstown’s own Brewery Ommegang makes some of the very best, which you can sample in flights while listening to live music in a beautiful outdoor beer garden set amidst the rolling hills of Central New York. While you’re in town, stop by the Farmers Museum to see what life was like back in the 19th century through interpretative performances by costumed actors. Also worth a visit is the Fenimore Art Museum and its impressive collection of Native American artifacts and American folk art.
The Wild Center & Wild Walk: Walk among the treetops of the Adirondack forest on the Wild Walk at The Wild Center, an experiential museum dedicated to connecting visitors with the natural world around us. The only elevated walkway in the region, the Wild Walk offers visitors a bird’s eye view of the 6 million–acre Adirondack Park.
Ausable Chasm: Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks,” the Ausable Chasm is a two-mile-long gorge that was formed by glacial activity 500 million years ago. Today, visitors can explore five miles of scenic trails. Once there, you will also have the option to add a Riverwalk tour to your experience (reopening May 2024).
Fort Ticonderoga (pictured): Learn about New York’s role in the American Revolutionary War through a visit to the reconstructed Fort Ticonderoga, where you can watch live reenactments complete with period costumes, lose yourself in a seasonal massive corn maze, and smell the fragrant heritage flowers in the King’s Garden.
Revolution Rail Co.: Take a scenic ride across the Hudson River on 2– or 4-person tandem rail bikes with Revolution Rail Co.! Your pedaling will be rewarded with gorgeous views and even a riverfront photo op at the turnaround point taken by the rail co’s pro staff (included in the price of the ride). Advanced tickets are required.
Credit: @whiteface_mt on Instagram
Lake Placid: A village so nice that it hosted the Winter Olympics twice, Lake Placid offers plenty to do for sports fans and nature lovers alike. Stay at the eco-friendly Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, recipient of the Audubon’s Society highest Platinum Eco Rating for Hotels, and enjoy amenities like a private beach on Mirror Lake, free-to-use kayaks and paddleboards, and water sports— and, in winter, ice skating and dog sled rides. Some rooms and suites have kitchenettes and the resort is pet-friendly, so the whole family is welcome to come along! While in town, stop by the Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum, where you can browse memorabilia and visit the arena that hosted the famous 1980 Winter Olympics “Miracle on Ice” hockey game. If it’s a view you’re after this spring (after the ski season ends), take a scenic ride to the top of Little Whiteface on the Cloudsplitter Gondola (pictured) or drive up Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway (check to see that it is open, as closures can occur into spring) and get a snack from the highest food truck in New York State! Challenge your travel companions to a competitive game of Disc Golf at Whiteface Mountain – your favorite new sport that you may not have heard of (think golf but with Frisbee-like discs). For even more of a rush, take a ride on the new Sky Flyer Zipline, which runs parallel to the Olympic ski jump and takes riders soaring on a 30-degree decline. Cap off your visit with an easy walk along a stunning waterfall at High Falls Gorge.
National Museum of Play at The Strong (pictured): What’s more fun than a museum dedicated to the art of play? Not much! Step into a life-sized storybook, geek out with vintage video games, and take a nostalgia-filled stroll through the history of toys and games from as early as the 1700s to today. The Strong hosts Sensory Friendly Sunday programs for visitors with autism; visit the Strong's website for registration links when available.
Genesee Country Village & Museum: Step back in time at the Genesee Country Village & Museum, an authentic living history museum set in a 700+ acre 19th-century village. Costumed interpreters perform demonstrations featuring 1800s culinary arts and trades (pottery, cooper shop, tinsmith, blacksmith), tend to farm animals and heirloom gardens, and walk the grounds to answer visitor questions.
Beak & Skiff Apple Farm, Store, Distillery & Winery: Young visitors will love Beak & Skiff for the apple picking, excellent donuts, and sweet apple cider, while the young at heart will enjoy the on-site 1911 Distillery’s tasting room where you can order samples to try on site or buy hard cider and apple-based liquor products to go.
Women’s Rights Hall of Fame: Trailblazing American women from Anne Hutchinson to Oprah Winfrey and beyond are honored in this info-packed hall where visitors can read the impressive biographies of some of the most important figures in American History.Download the I LOVE NY app and take a free audio walking tour to learn even more about this charming town and its role in the suffrage movement, sparking a social justice revolution felt around the world.
Overnight (Finger Lakes)
Credit @firelightcamps on Instagram
Ithaca: Think camping means roughing it? Think again! At Firelight Camps (pictured), you’ll be sleeping in a luxurious safari tent on the glampgrounds of the boutique La Tourelle Resort & Spa (also a great option if all tents are booked on your desired dates). Wake up to a cup of coffee on your private porch and turn down with s’mores roasted over a bonfire that will be set up for you by the camp’s friendly staff. Head into town for quality dining and shopping at the pedestrianized Ithaca Commons, wash it down with some of the renowned Finger Lakes wine region’s finest tastings on the Cayuga Wine Trail, and chase waterfalls all across Ithaca. The slogan “Ithaca is GORGES!” was coined because the area has 150 waterfalls within a 10-mile radius. Take to Cayuga Lake for a relaxing boat ride. Go bird watching at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
Credit: @erinphillips on Instagram
Old McDonald’s Farm (pictured): Old McDonald had a farm...and it was in the Thousand Islands region of New York State! Go mini-golfing with the whole fam and nosh on fresh goodies like donuts and ice cream. Learn about the process of dairy farming, visit over 200 farm animals, and watch as dairy cows are milked on a private tour of the farm’s dairy!
1000 Islands Scenic Tours: Exploring the majestic St. Lawrence Seaway on your own boat doesn’t have to break the bank thanks to 1000 Islands Scenic Tours. An easy on/easy off pontoon boat or 26’ authentic wooden Lyman will pick you up from Alexandria Bay for a private tour customized to your interests, whether it’s getting closer to nature and wildlife or admiring island mansions and fairytale castles.
Fishing on the St. Lawrence River: In addition to being named the best place in the country for bass fishing by Bassmaster Magazine, the St, Lawrence River and neighboring Lake Ontario, are famous for northern pike, muskellunge, brown trout, and salmon. Hire an expert guide to take you out on the water and show you the ropes, err, lines. Find an outfitter on the Visit 1000 Islands website.
Overnight (Thousand Islands-Seaway)
Clayton: Book yourself a lush room or suite with comfy pillow-top mattresses and a view of the St. Lawrence River at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel (pictured), the region’s premier luxury property. The resort’s Clayton village location is ideal for exploring on foot, wheel, and boat as the hotel has its own dock. Walk over to the Antique Boat Museum (reopening for the season May 4, 2024) to browse 29,000 square feet of exhibit space boasting an impressive collection of antique boats and take a speedboat out for a spin with a “Ride the River” tour. See why Native American tribes referred to the region as “the Garden of the Great Spirit” (no, it wasn’t because of 1000 Island dressing) with a visit to the excellent wineries along the Thousand Islands-Seaway Wine Trail and the Clayton Distillery (Moonshine slushies!) to see why producers in this burgeoning craft beverage hub have been winning awards and earning rave reviews. No trip to the Thousand Islands is complete without fishing, and you can angle away from the docks at Cedar Point State Park, one of the oldest parks in the New York State Parks system.
National Comedy Center (pictured): A hearty laugh is a timeless treat, and the National Comedy Center delivers in spades. Over 50 interactive exhibits take you through the history of comedy through the use of curated clips from your favorite shows, movies, and stand-ups, artifacts and costumes from the all-time greats, and the chance to put your own stamp on comedy history with experiences like a Stand-Up Karaoke bar and a green screen studio that puts you in the middle of iconic scenes like “I Love Lucy’s” chocolate assembly line (candy not included). Combine your visit with the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum just a short walk away.
Lake Erie Wine Trail: Thanks to the fertile soils surrounding Lake Erie, the Chautauqua-Allegheny region has long been an epicenter of Concord grape production. While most of the grapes grown here go into juices and jellies, this abundance of grapes has given rise to the award-winning wineries on the Lake Erie Wine Trail. Be sure to try the area’s signature ice wine—made using grapes frozen while on the vine!
Ellicottville: A four-season destination with options ranging from traditional hotel rooms to fully-equipped condo rentals, Holiday Valley Resort packs in plenty of family fun on-property. Whether you choose to hit the links for the area’s best golfing, swing from the treetops at the Sky High Adventure Park, get a rush of adrenaline on a Mountain Coaster ride, go on a jewel and fossil hunt, splash around in the pool complex or just enjoy the mountain views from the chair lift, you’re guaranteed to find something for every sense of adventure. Head to downtown Ellicottville for bespoke village shopping and stop by the Ellicottville Brewing Company (pictured) for a tasting in a beautiful outdoor beer garden. Don’t miss Rock City Park for a family-friendly hike through enormous rock formations and crevices of this prehistoric ocean floor, referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World” for its outcropping of quartz conglomerate—the largest on Earth.
Credit: Visit Buffalo Niagara
Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center (pictured): This is a great place to learn about New York’s important role in the abolitionist movement and in helping freedom seekers escape slavery. Located in the 1863 U.S. Customs House in Niagara Falls, the heritage center offers a view onto the location of the former International Suspension Bridge that many freedom seekers, including Harriet Tubman, used to cross into Canada. Advanced ticket purchases highly recommended.
Walking Tour of Downtown Buffalo: See why Buffalo became known as the Queen City on Explore Buffalo’s thoughtfully curated walking tour series that includes walks like Downtown Walking Tours, Sacred Spaces Tours, and City Hall Tours. Advanced reservations required, including for Explore Passholders.
Cave of the Winds: Get up close and personal with the power and majesty of Niagara Falls at the Cave of the Winds. After donning a requisite souvenir poncho, take an elevator down into the awe-inspiring Niagara Gorge where wooden walkways lead to the “Hurricane Deck,” mere feet from the base of the Bridal Veil Falls. Advanced reservations required.
Overnight (Greater Niagara)
Credit: @carrouselmuseum on Instagram
Lockport: The story of New York’s growth into the state it is today cannot be told without the story of the Erie Canal, and there’s no better place to see this history in action than the bustling canal town of Lockport, NY. Get a taste of warm Western NY hospitality and retro vibes at the family-owned Lockport Inn & Suites. Explore the canal through a narrated ride with Lockport Locks & Erie Canal Cruises through the famed “Flight of Five”—a system of historic locks that lifts boats up 50 feet. Kids and kids at heart will love the Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum (pictured), a collection of hand-crafted and refurbished carousels—and yes, you can ride! See why the Greater Niagara region is a golfer’s paradise on the Robert Trent Jones II designed-course at Seneca Hickory Stick Golf Course (must bring your own clubs), and cap it all off with a toast to memories well-made at one of 12 wineries on the Niagara Wine Trail.
If an attraction or place of lodging is crowded or sold out, don’t worry—there are thousands of great places to stay and visit in New York State! We’ve highlighted just a few here, but you can find many more by checking the “Things to Do” and “Places to Stay” sections of our website. Download the I LOVE NY app to find places nearby while you’re on the go.
Please refer to each venue’s website and call ahead before making plans and setting out for the day as seasonal opening dates, amenities, and availability may change.