Six of the Best Small Towns in New York

2:45 pm  |  23.04.2021

Many travelers are keen to visit major, popular cities around the world to explore sights and explore new sites. Although small cities are often overlooked, they provide a better understanding of local culture and allow travelers to communicate with locals in unusual ways.


America was built on small cities, and fortunately, many of them are still thriving. From the coast to the coast and from the top-down, travelers and open-minded travelers can feel what it’s like to live in a completely different place or perhaps even surprisingly similar to what they’re used to. Whether you own a car or rent one, small cities are best explored on road trips to enjoy the sights at a slower pace. It is one of the most beautiful small towns to visit in the USA.

Bovina, Delaware County

The smallest town on this list in terms of population (just over 630 people), Bovina. Weekend visitors can sample life on the farm with a visit to Green Shepherd’s grass-fed farm (call ahead) and the farm shop at Bovina Valley Farm.

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The latter sells artisanal cheeses, meats and maple syrup in nearby Delhi. Bovina’s only restaurant, Brushland Eating House, serves meals made with local ingredients in a cozy atmosphere. Brushland effectively captures the simplicity and community feel of a historic eatery. Additionally, it offers spacious on-site accommodation, making it a great base for exploring the heart of the Catskills.

Callicoon, Sullivan County

Located directly on the Delaware River, Callicoon is an ideal base for water sports enthusiasts and fly fishers.

There are numerous entrances for fishing enthusiasts on the river, as well as organized tours and DIY kayaking and rafting. Downtown is lined with several restaurants, not to mention the Western Hotel and Callicoon Brewery. A few miles south of town, Skinners Falls makes for an ideal seaside resort with a handful of sheltered pools. 

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Further out of town, the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts (home of the Woodstock Festival 1969) regularly hosts concerts and houses a Woodstock Museum. A great option for families and animal lovers is to plan a tour of Apple Pond Farm, which offers educational programs on cheese-making and the chance to interact with the goats and sheep. Riverside Retreat Nine River Road is the perfect location for a relaxing Catskill vacation.

Clayton, Jefferson County

Located on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River, Clayton serves as the gateway to the Thousand Islands – a collection of 1,864 islands located on the US-Canada border.

Before embarking on a trip to the islands, explore the restaurants, museums, shops, and galleries of the quaint waterfront town. The Antique Boat Museum displays hundreds of well-preserved wooden boats and hosts an antique boat exhibition in the summer. 


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The revitalized Clayton Opera House, a holdover from the spa town’s heyday, brings shows and musical acts back to Clayton’s stage. Clayton Distillery and Coyote Moon Vineyards offer tours and drinks for the adult crowd. Take time to explore the beautiful islands and their architectural masterpieces Boldt and Singer Castles.

Cooperstown, Otsego County

There’s a lot more to Cooperstown than the Baseball Hall of Fame. The town is picturesquely situated at the foot of Otsego Lake, which you can easily explore by kayak or pontoon from Sam Smith’s Boatyard.

More leisurely waterfront activities include lunch at the Blue Mingo Grill or a swim on the beach at Fairy Springs Park or Glimmerglass State Park. Across the lake, the Glimmerglass Festival features world-class performances from Broadway musicals to classical operas – including David Sedaris and composer Stephen Sondheim.

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The main street is worth a stroll to browse the cafes and shops. Right next to Main, The Smithy shows work by talented local artists. Cooperstown’s back streets deserve further exploration as hikers can see the historic architecture from the early 19th century and beyond. Families will love to visit the Farmer’s Museum, a working farm with exhibits, demonstrations and a vintage carousel. Other dining options include Origins Café, which serves delicious organic food in a nursery surrounded by wandering golden retrievers, and the newly renovated Hawkeye Grill at the Otesaga Hotel.

East Aurora, Erie County

Located about 30 minutes southeast of Buffalo, East Aurora was the land of the city’s millionaires in the early 20th century.

One of these families, the Knoxes, kept an estate that was recently converted into a state park with trails for horse riding and hiking. The main attraction of East Aurora is the historic village with numerous restaurants, cafes, art galleries and shops. 

Old Five and Dime, Viddlers is full of quirky trinkets and has been in operation since the 1930s. The city’s excellent dining scene includes Portuguese cuisine at Bica e Vinho, Rick’s am Main, Griffon Gastropub, and Elm Street Bakery. For a dose of American history, visit Millard Fillmore House – tours of the 13th President’s home are available on weekends from June through October.

Gilbertsville, Otsego County

Faced with the threat of permanent flooding from dams, this village – literally – stayed afloat by earning an award on the National Register of Historic Places.

Located in the town of Butternuts, the village of Gilbertsville is home to several distinctive architectural structures including the Greek Revival-style Gilbertsville Academy, The Major’s Inn in Gothic and Tudor styles, and the Tudor-style Gilbert Block, which houses artist studios and a General store.

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The only hotel in the village is the Empire House, where the locals gather for dinner and drinks on the terrace. Gilbertsville Farm, a popular wedding location outside the village, offers glamping accommodations for weddings and retreats, as well as weekly goat yoga. Cooperstown is just a 35-minute drive away, making Gilbertsville a day trip. It is the smallest village on this list with a population of less than 400.

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