New York State Road Trip: Unique Small Towns and Cultural Centers

7:42 am  |  01.11.2021

The center and north of New York are known for picturesque natural landscapes, a seemingly endless range of outdoor leisure activities, and numerous historically significant places that go back to the early days of European settlement. 

The road trip presented here takes you to the biggest attractions as well as cultural hotspots and historical sites that only the state of New York has to offer.

Woodstock and Bethel: Places Where Music History Was Made

Once you’ve picked up your rental car at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), head to the Catskills. The popular holiday region attracts all year round with beautiful nature, rustic mountain resorts, and diverse cultural attractions. Little Woodstock was considered an artist colony by the painters of the Hudson River School as early as the end of the 19th century.

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The name of the place will forever remain inextricably linked with the legendary music festival of the same name from 1969 – even though the event actually took place around 90 km further southwest in Bethel. 

The former festival site is now home to the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, which regularly hosts open-air shows and the Museum at Bethel Woods with nostalgic and bizarre memorabilia from the Woodstock era.

Minutes away is the Catskill Distilling Company. Remember to buy a few bottles of the house’s own craft spirits after the tour, as they are perfect as souvenirs and souvenirs. After you have strengthened yourself in the Dancing Cat Saloon, you continue to Cooperstown in the north.

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Cooperstown: Baseball Mecca

The route to the center of New York leads through a beautiful mountain landscape. Cooperstown only has around 2,000 inhabitants, but it also has several important attractions for fans of American culture. The writer James Fennimore Cooper – famous above all for his novel “The Last of the Mohicans” – grew up here. Many of his works are located in and around Cooperstown.

For many years it was rumored that the sport of baseball was invented by Abner Doubleday in Cooperstown. Although this has now been clearly refuted, the place recklessly continues to market itself as the birthplace of baseball. 

The biggest visitor magnet in Cooperstown is the National Baseball Hall of Fame with countless memorabilia and the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery. The tour can be combined with a game at Doubleday Field.

For a sweet end to your day in Cooperstown, take a detour to the historic Fly Creek Cider Mill. On-site, you can try different types of cider made from crunchy local apples and purchase farm-fresh jams or hand-made sauces before continuing to the Finger Lakes region. After an eventful day of sightseeing, the restaurant The Hawkeye Bar & Grill of the Ostesago Hotel awaits you with thin-crust pizzas from the stone oven and classics such as homemade meatloaf or turkey casserole. There is also the idyllic lake panorama for free.

Finger Lakes: Small Towns, Extraordinary Museums

Finger Lakes are 11 narrow lakes where you can find a wide range of water sports and outdoor activities. Corning is an absolute must for museum enthusiasts. The nickname “America’s Crystal City” is no coincidence: The Corning Museum of Glass includes the world’s largest collection of art and everyday objects made of glass.

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Here you can look over the shoulders of glassblowers and then try to create your own work of art out of glass. The museum’s latest attraction is the impressive Contemporary Art + Design Wing in a modernist building with a glass ceiling that sits enthroned on the lawn like a giant glass cube. Inside, over 70 contemporary works of art are on display.

The imposing Special Projects Gallery presents changing exhibitions with large-format installations. After your tour of the museum, a visit to The Cellar restaurant is a good idea. The wine list in particular is impressive. The range of modern dishes from the fusion kitchen ranges from fresh scallops and free-range beef burgers to decadent cheese platters. All desserts are homemade. Tip: Try the Cellar S’mores. The luxury version of this American classic consists of the typical S’mores with a rich chocolate ganache.

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Chautauqua: Cultural Sights in the Idyllic Hinterland of New York

A good two hours west of Corning, Chautauqua welcomes you with outdoor activities, beautiful nature, and a year-round calendar of events for the whole family.

The historic Chautauqua Institution on the northwest shore of Lake Chautauqua has lectures as well as various art, music, and theater performances on the program. In nearby Jamestown, the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum shows stage props, costumes, sets, and other memorabilia from the popular TV series “I Love Lucy”.

Alternatively, you can let off steam at the fairground attractions and rides on the east side of the lake at Midway State Park, one of the oldest amusement parks in the country. At the Peek ’n Peak Resort, which is open all year round, you have the opportunity, depending on the season, to go skiing, play golf, or swing on ziplines.

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If you plan on staying overnight, you can indulge yourself in the resort’s in-house spa and restaurants before taking your return flight from Buffalo Niagara International Airport the next day. Of course, you can’t leave Buffalo without stopping by the Anchor Bar. After all, the first Buffalo Chicken Wings were served here in 1964!

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