Home United States New York 20 Best Small Towns in New York State

20 Best Small Towns in New York State

ithaca newyork state

New York City is the state’s most famous landmark. It’s enormous, bright, and full of fantastic sights and activities. Small towns in New York are some of the most charming places in America, but Manhattan doesn’t have the same innate appeal.

Visit one of New York’s charming towns to relax, recharge, and become one with the region’s natural beauty, whether it’s a pristine lakeside community or a quaint mountain hamlet.

1. Saratoga Springs

saratoga springs ny usa the hudson river
What a stunning location to visit. Upstate New York’s Saratoga Springs is a charming little town.

It’s like strolling through a picture postcard in this sleepy town. Elegant Victorian homes have beautiful verandas adorned with porch swings. Streets are lined with towering trees, and gardens are bursting with vibrant blooms. There’s something for everyone’s senses here.

Now is the time to seek out peace. The town’s name comes from the bubbling spring that it sits on the banks of. Bring a picnic or eat at one of the many charming local eateries if you want to spend the afternoon outside.
A trip to one of the many nearby museums is a must. Saratoga Automobile Museum, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, and National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame are just a few of the many museums in the area.

2. Skaneateles

Skaneateles is a small town located on the shores of Finger Lake. This lake is Syracuse’s primary source of drinking water, located just 30 minutes away. It’s hard to find anything wrong with “skinny-atlas” or “skanny-atlas,” as the name of the town goes.

Many historic Victorian and Greek Revival homes have sweet rocking chairs on their porches, adding to their charm. If you’re in the mood for some retail therapy, head to East Genesee Street. Unique local shops, galleries, and restaurants can be found in this area.

A popular tourist destination is Skaneateles Lake. Throughout the year, it provides a breathtaking view and is an ideal location for water sports.

3. Greenport

Even before you can see the ocean, you can smell it in this lovely fishing village. Greenport, on Long Island’s North Fork, is a tourist hotspot with a reputation for excellent service. Its charming restaurants serve up a fresh, locally-sourced fare, and the residents are friendly and helpful.

The peaceful bob of sailboats on the horizon adds to the tranquility. There are numerous farm stands scattered throughout the countryside that sell healthy snacks that can be enjoyed as you drive through the beautiful countryside.

To put it another way, Greenport’s laid-back, natural country vibe stands in stark contrast to its more glitzy and exclusive neighbor (we’re looking at you, Hamptons). You’ll find pristine beaches, art galleries, vintage shops, and perfectly arranged houses.

4. Ithaca

ithaca newyork state
More than just a picturesque college town, Ithaca, the home of Cornell University, is an incredible destination in its own right. However, a tour of the Ivy League campus is a must-do. Historic buildings create a mystical atmosphere in the neighborhood.

Located in the heart of town, Ithaca Commons offers an array of shops, eateries, and entertainment options. And if you’re more of a museum person, there are plenty to choose from.

Natural splendor is a big draw for visitors. Villagers and tourists alike flock here to take in the stunning gorges that line the area. These have waterfalls that are so beautiful that your camera will beg you to photograph them.

5. Woodstock

It’s no secret that Woodstock, New York, has become a mecca for music fans. Located in Ulster County’s Catskill Park, this small town has a population of just over 6,000 people.

Tinker Street is lined with one-of-a-kind stores selling everything from vintage postcards to hippie-inspired clothing and jewelry. A walk down this nostalgic strip can make you forget that you live in the year 2020.

There are numerous restaurants in this area that serve up some of the city’s best local cuisine. There are plenty of options for the plant-based diet here.

6. Lake George

lake george new york boat cruise
Lake George, located at the base of the majestic Adirondack Mountains, is a picturesque town well worth a weekend trip.

Lake George makes the most of its colossal size and stunning surroundings to great effect. The town itself is full of cute boutiques and restaurants to please any taste, while the town’s name is derived from a sparkling lake. All kinds of water sports are available, including whitewater rafting, kayaking, and SUP. In the year-round practice of hiking and horseback riding

7. Penn Yan

With the main street straight out of a picture book, Penn Yan sits atop Keuka Lake’s eastern arm, taking full advantage of lake country life. The Keuka Outlet Trail begins in Penn Yan and winds its way toward Seneca Lake, passing waterfalls that once powered the area’s many 1800s mills. Visit the Windmill Farm & Craft Market for a taste of a county fair, where you can purchase locally produced goods like freshly dug creamer potatoes and a four-pound jug of honey.

8. Sleepy Hollow

Known for its association with Washington Irving’s legendary tale of the same name, Sleepy Hollow makes for an excellent quiet getaway and is located just under an hour’s drive north of New York City. It is considered to be one of the most haunted places on the planet due to the presence of the story’s infamous specter, the Headless Horseman, as well as the town’s atmospheric cemetery.

Although this is true, it does not prevent thousands of tourists from flocking to the town each year to see the historical sites associated with the author’s short story and its subsequent film and television adaptations. You can also wander around the Old Dutch Church and the various manors and estates that dot the surrounding area, in addition to exploring the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery itself.

Visitors can go fishing or kayaking along the Hudson River, in addition to taking tours around town. Around the Rockefeller State Park Preserve, there are also opportunities to go hiking, biking, and horseback riding, among other activities.

9. Cold Spring

Cold Spring is a good place to go if you want to get away from the city. Find serenity in this small historic town, which is best known for its 19th-century buildings on the banks of the Hudson River. It’s also a great place to shop.

When it’s hot outside, people spend their weekends on the water. They go kayaking, swimming, fishing, and SUPing to work up an appetite. When they get there, they go to the town’s center, which has restaurants with personality and the friendliest staff in the whole area. It’ll be fun for people who like shopping to get to know people who run small boutique stores.

10. Lake Placid

Since Lake Placid is tucked away in the Adirondack Mountains, it’s easy to see why this year-round resort town is so popular with tourists. There’s a wide variety of outdoor activities to choose from, as well as the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics that were held there.

The town’s proximity to the mountains has made it a popular destination for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding, but it also offers great opportunities for summer activities like hiking and mountain biking. Swimming, kayaking, ice skating, and tobogganing are all popular winter activities on the area’s nearby lakes and waterways.

The small town has a charming center with beautiful views of the surrounding lakes, forests, and mountains in addition to its world-class skiing and snowboarding.

11. Saranac Lake

saranac lake new york state
The small town of Saranac Lake, New York, is nestled among the breathtaking scenery and natural beauty of the Adirondack Mountains, and it truly is as picture-perfect as they come. It is a popular tourist destination because of its location alongside the reflective waters of Lake Flower, as well as the beautiful woods and waterways that surround it.

Visitors have been drawn to the shores of the small community since its founding in 1819, first for the clear and restorative mountain air, and later for the excellent outdoor activities and festive Winter Carnival that the community has to offer. While visiting places such as the Robert Louis Stevenson Memorial Cottage and the Saranac Laboratory Museum, it is also a pleasant place to stay in one of the town’s charming old “cure cottages.”

You can do a lot more than just stroll along the lakeside; you can participate in fantastic watersports and visit the numerous art galleries and historical sites. One of the most enjoyable times to visit is during the winter carnival when a variety of snow-related races, concerts, and celebrations are held throughout the city.

12. Ellicottville

Despite the fact that it is only 1 square mile in size, “The Village” of Ellicottville is jam-packed with fun, activities, shops, restaurants, and history that will appeal to people of all ages and interests.

Walk down the main streets and you’ll discover a community that is genuine and welcoming. Let yourself be pampered while exploring a diverse range of fine dining establishments, unique boutiques, a microbrewery, and intriguing art galleries in this welcoming community. The Nannen Arboretum is a tranquil retreat where you can take in the sights of rare trees and shrubs as well as the sounds of nature. Ellicottville’s 19th-century charm has been lovingly preserved in the town’s homes and historic buildings, which are situated on quiet tree-lined roads.

Gado offers Indonesian imports, while Kazoo II offers unique toys and gifts for all ages. Nature’s Remedy carries natural soaps, foods, and health-related items, while Alexandra’s carries gifts and cards. The Purple Doorknob is a store that specializes solely in socks. All of these shops can be found in downtown Ellicottville. There is an impressive selection of high-quality specialty ski and snowboard shops, as well as numerous other options. Ellicottville is truly a shopper’s paradise, and there isn’t a single chain store to be found here!

This small town is the epitome of the American dream, and many of the shops are open from 10 a.m till 6 p m., as has been the tradition for generations. Here’s a list of stores that will be open later in the evening: Watson’s Chocolates will be open until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday are the days to visit. Monday through Thursday until 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday until 10 p.m., and Sunday until noon. Nature’s Remedy, Gado Gado, and Alexandra’s are open until 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Friends enjoying themselves at the Ellicottville Brewing Company

However, if it is a social interaction that you seek, you will be hard-pressed to find a better place to whet your appetite or dance the night away than Ellicottville. We have a diverse range of establishments, ranging from bistro to disco, from Italian to down-home American, each with its own distinct personality.

13. Cooperstown

Calling Cooperstown, New York “America’s hometown,” the town combines small-town charm with world-class attractions such as the National Baseball Hall of Fame, which is a must-see for baseball fans as well as an excellent window into American history. The Farmers’ Museum, acclaimed opera at the Glimmerglass Festival, craft breweries, excellent restaurants, four-season events, and outdoor recreation—from golfing and sailing on the lake to hiking and snowshoeing in Glimmerglass State Park—all await you in this picturesque setting.

14. East Aurora

Located in the Erie County of New York, East Aurora is a small town just south of Buffalo, NY. The village retains its small-town charm while also offering a slew of worthwhile sights for tourists to take in. The Roycroft Campus, where the American Arts and Crafts Movement got its start in the 1890s, sits right in the middle of the village’s business district. Several historic structures can be found here, many of which still show evidence of the original craftsmanship that characterized them back in the day. A stay at the Roycroft Inn is the ultimate way to experience life in the early 1900s. The Millard Fillmore House Museum, Vidler’s 5 & 10, and the old Riley Street Station, which is now home to an English-style gastropub, are also worth a look. Some attractions may be closed for a short time or require reservations. For the time being, some restaurants only allow diners to order food to be picked up from the establishment.


In the small town of Amenia, just north of the Connecticut border, weekenders looking for old architecture, antique shops, and views of the Connecticut countryside will be delighted. As the Latin word for “pleasant to the eye” suggests, Amenia is a visually appealing place. The Berkshire foothills and pastures scattered with bales are just a few examples. Residents enjoy fly fishing and horseback riding as well as a 23-mile paved trail that passes right through the village of Harlem Valley. Troutbeck, a historic hotel on 250 acres with barns, streams, a heated pool, and Adirondack chairs around fire pits, is the perfect place to unwind in the middle of nature.

16. New Paltz

New Paltz, New York, is best known as the location of the magnificent Mohonk Mountain House, and it is a popular vacation destination for New Yorkers looking to get away from it all. This small town, located only 83 miles north of Manhattan, is one of the most beautiful small towns in the vicinity of New York City.

When it comes to getting a glimpse into the past, the Huguenot Street Historic District is unbeatable. Located on a 10-acre parcel of land, this National Historic Landmark Historic District contains seven stone houses from the early 18th century.

The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, which runs through the town, is an excellent place to spend a morning or afternoon hiking, horseback riding, or biking through more than 21 miles of caves and woodland.

Numerous visitors choose to use this charming college town as a base from which to explore the nearby Shawangunk Ridge, a rocky mountain range that beckons the young and adventurous to hike or climb its craggy mountains.

17. Canandaigua

Canandaigua is the most picturesque town in the Finger Lakes region, and it is a popular tourist destination. There are immaculately manicured gardens, interesting historic sites, and cultural landmarks here, which is aptly named because it means ‘The Chosen Spot’ in the local Native American language.

In the beautifully preserved historic center are magnificent mansions and monuments, as well as a number of excellent museums. Aside from taking in the beautiful flower beds and gardens of its sprawling estates, you can also indulge in fine dining or visit one of the region’s many wineries.

The lake also offers a variety of enjoyable watersports and outdoor activities, while the nearby Roseland Waterpark features slides, pools, and a lazy river for visitors to enjoy.

18. Aurora

The small town of Aurora, located on the shores of Cayuga Lake, is a picturesque setting that is ideal for relaxing getaways and vacations. It is only an hour away from either Rochester or Syracuse and is home to some beautiful old historic buildings as well as idyllic inns and cozy B&Bs. It is also easily accessible from both cities.

Most famous for being the location of the prestigious Wells College, which was founded exclusively for female students, the town is a pleasure to stroll around. Everywhere you look, you will find beautifully preserved historic homes and college buildings. Despite the fact that students make up the majority of the population, the town retains a charming small town appearance and feel.

In addition to taking photographs of the town’s charming center, visitors can take advantage of the beautiful scenery and outdoor activities offered by Long Point State Park, as well as sample fine wines along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.

19. Chatham

Chatham, New York, is a typical small town in upstate New York, nestled between the Hudson River and the Berkshires. Among the rolling farmland and nature preserves are historic sites, craft breweries and cideries, and some of the best food in the country.

20. Livingston Manor

Livingston Manor, located in the heart of the once-famous Borscht Belt, is making a major comeback. With everything from the five-star Chatwal Lodge and the chic Callicoon Hills – both of which will open nearby in 2021 – to the carbon-neutral Catskill Project, a group of contemporary eco homes set on 90 beautiful acres, the charming Catskill town and its Sullivan County neighbors are in the midst of a hotel and housing renaissance. Local favorites include The Kaatskeller, which serves wood-fired pizza and cocktails under twinkling lights, the Upward and Catskill breweries, and Main Street Farm, which grows organic vegetables (two words: smoked trout).