20 Towns and Cities in New York State

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There is so much more to New York State than its namesake city. The state is filled with exciting cities to explore, history to uncover and art to inspire. Within New York State are the stunning Fingerlakes, a region surrounded by mountains, forests and of course the lakes themselves. On the shores of these lakes, you will find bustling cities Syracuse and Ithaca, which perfectly pair the rugged outdoor lifestyle with the cosmopolitan way of life in a city. Each city in New York is filled with impressive museum collections where you can uncover the history of salt, revisit your childhood at Play or simply marvel at some of the country’s best works of art and sculpture.

Due to their diverse populations, the food is an eclectic blend of cultures and cuisines. With many cities in New York state having seen an influx of European immigrants, expect to find traditional American dishes with a twist. Here, you’ll find some of the best European dishes outside of the continent and plenty of cosy family-run restaurants. Each city offers its own unique blend of culture, activity, food and adventure. Here are 20 cities in New York State that you cannot miss.

Towns and Cities in New York State

20 Towns and Cities in New York State To Visit

1- New York City

view to New York City from Empire State Building
New York City is the largest and most well-known city in New York State.

No trip to New York State would be complete without spending some time in the Big Apple.

With its bright lights and big city energy, New York has plenty of things to do and see.

Explore some of the best shopping opportunities in the USA at Macy’s, Bergdorf Goodman and Bloomingdales, or look for vintage finds and treasures at one of the city’s independent boutiques.

Book lovers should visit The Morgan Library and Museum, an impressive, cosy, yet awe-inspiring collection of rare books, artefacts and paintings.

Inside are handwritten scores from Mozart, the manuscript for A Christmas Carol and plenty of ancient texts.

Indulge your senses further by dining in Chinatown in Lower Manhattan in one of the many restaurants or grabbing authentic Chinese cuisine from a street vendor as you continue to explore. 

For some baseball, book your Yankee tickets well in advance to make sure you grab the best seats.

2- Buffalo

Buffalo New York Skyline
Buffalo is one of the larger cities in New York.

Buffalo is New York State’s second-largest city and one of the state’s most popular destinations due to its location on Lake Erie, close to Niagara Falls.

Marvel at the beauty of flowers and plants at Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens.

The botanical gardens feature lavish and ornately designed gardens filled with colourful flowers and a beautiful European-style domed glass house filled with tropical plants.

Canalside Buffalo is a waterfront area of the city filled with restaurants, bars, cafes, spaces to relax and opportunities to get onto the water.

This area is popular during summer when the weather is warmer, with people enjoying taking a paddle boat down the canal, simply enjoying a cold beer, or sipping a glass of wine with a view.

3- Rochester

Beautiful Rochester city skyline from river canyon
Rochester is one of the larger cities in New York by population.

Rochester has fascinating museums and historical sites, plenty of culture and delicious dining opportunities.

Learn about women’s rights and the fight to get the vote at Susan B. Anthony House on a guided tour.

Inside the home are many things from Susan B. Anthony’s life and her campaign to make democracy fairer.

If you are visiting with children, let them have fun at the Strong Museum of Play, the largest children’s museum in the state.

Here they will find many interactive exhibits, play areas, games and more all linked to play.

4- Syracuse

view of syracuse vertical
Syracuse may not be one of the largest cities in New York but it’s a delightful one to visit.

Syracuse is in the Finger Lakes region and is a city surrounded by immense natural beauty.

Pair city life with a trip into the outdoors to make the most of this lakeside metropolis.

Syracuse is a city filled with museums offering insights into everything from classical landscape paintings to the history of canals.

A unique museum-going experience can be found at the Museum of Salt, as the city once provided salt for the entire USA.

After getting your fill of education, head to the famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Que to fill up on delicious grilled meats.

This BBQ restaurant has appeared on the Food Network and Good Morning America, and has several locations across the state, Syracuse being their original spot.

Try the crisp and spicy Cajun Fried Catfish, or keep it classic with Bar-B-Que pork ribs in a smoky, sticky sauce.

5- Ithaca

On Cayuga Lake in the Finger Lakes region lies the city of Ithaca, famous for being the home of Cornell University.

As Ithaca is in the Finger Lakes region, access to nature is easy and plentiful.

Take a gentle hike to Taughannock Falls State Park to see the tallest single-drop waterfall on America’s east coast.

The waterfall emerges from a thick forest, falling over a harsh cliff into a pool below.

Hikes take you to the water’s edge or enjoy the views over the falls by taking a few steps from the parking lot.

Indulge in a scoop or two of locally made ice cream at Purity Ice Cream, which has served sweet-toothed locals since 1936.

Choose from various flavours, toppings and sauces, including chocolate raspberry truffle, pumpkin praline and classics like vanilla or strawberry.

6- Albany

Alfred E. Smith Building and One Commerce Plaza
Albany is the capital city of New York state.

One of the most famous sights in Albany is the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, with its two towering red-brick spires that are unmistakable pieces of architecture in the city’s skyline.

If visiting in spring, be sure to make time in your day to admire the tulips and other spring flowers in Washington Park.

Frederick Olmstead and Calvery Vaux, the designers of NYC’s Central Park, designed Washington Park and filled its 81 acres (33 ha) with pleasant walks, vibrant flowers and beautifully presented flowerbeds.

Wander around the historical Schuyler Mansion on the banks of the Hudson River to step back in time to the 1800s.

The mansion has rooms decorated and furnished to reflect its history and range of artefacts from its owners, which included Philip Schuyler, a general from the Revolutionary War.

7- Watertown

Watertown is the perfect New York State to enjoy various outdoor activities and water sports.

Take a guided tour of the water and raft along the Black River.

The river has seven miles (11.2 km) of water, perfect for whitewater rafting.

If land-based outdoor activities are more for you, spend some time in Marble Street Park. The trails in the park are short and perfect for a quick hike.

As you explore the city on foot, call into the Paddock Arcade, an 1850s shopping arcade filled with stores, cafes and restaurants, including one specialising in European cakes.

8- Saratoga Springs

Blurred Road Through Saratoga Springs
Saratoga Springs is one of the smaller cities in New York state popular for horse racing and mineral baths.

Saratoga Springs is a beautiful, quaint, leafy city in New York State.

The city is famous for its natural springs, which can be seen and drunk at Saratoga Spa State Park.

To experience the power of the city’s spas in a truly relaxing and meditative environment, head to Roosevelt Baths and Spa.

The spa includes a range of treatments using the 55-degree spring water, including bathing options in sunken tubs and a range of massages.

Continue to relax by sampling a range of crisp, fresh and full-bodied wines at Galway Rock Vineyard and Winery.

Enjoy your wine with a cheese plate filled with local cheeses that perfectly pair with your drink as you enjoy the views.

9- Yonkers

Flag of Yonkers, USA
Yonkers is one of the cities in New York on the Hudson River.

Sitting on the banks of the Hudson River is the city of Yonkers, which is often overlooked due to its proximity to New York City, however, it is well worth a visit.

Spend some time wandering around the pristinely manicured gardens of Untermyer Gardens, a beautiful green space in the city filled with some of the best plants in the state.

The gardens are divided into themed areas, including the Temple of Love and the Rock Garden.

On a visit to the Hudson River Museum, take the time to explore the Glenview Mansion, which sits on the museum’s grounds.

The mansion is beautifully preserved inside and out and filled with items and decor from the mansion’s history.

10- New Rochelle

The Westchester city of New Rochelle lies alongside the Long Island Sound and is the perfect city destination with a small-town atmosphere.

New Rochelle has many excellent restaurants, including plenty of Michelin Guide winners.

Head to award-winning Maria, a family-owned Italian restaurant for some of the tastiest dishes.

Enjoy a range of fresh pasta with delicious sauces, including black linguine with lobster and shrimp, to Roman classic cacio e pepe.

Get outdoors and enjoy the views across the Long Island Sound from Hudson Park. The park also has a beach which is ideal for relaxing in the sun during the summer.

11- Mount Vernon

Immerse yourself in the history of America at the Bill of Rights Museum.

The museum outlines how the Bill of Rights was formed and features an 18th-century printing press, the original legislative journal from Congress’ first session, and plenty of historical artefacts about the city.

Get to know the city by exploring Downtown on foot, taking in the farmers market, plenty of bars for a drink and various independent stores.

If you are visiting with children, a must-visit is Wilson’s Waves, an exciting waterpark.

Bodysurf down the waterparks’ 5.5m (18 ft) waterslide, ride a wave in the wave pool and encourage little ones to enjoy the water at the small pool play area.

12- Schenectady

Schenectady’s roots go back to 1765 and the city is filled with historical buildings and references to its founding.

The city’s name is originally Mohawk Indian and means ‘Over the Pine Plains’.

One of the city’s oldest buildings is the Mabee Farm Historic Site. Jan Mabee built the farm in 1705 and it has been passed down through the generations for more than 300 years.

Explore the farmhouse to uncover the town’s history and how life was back in the late 1700s.

Sample delicious food in the city at Arthur’s Market, a historical cafe.

The cafe building dates to the late 1700s, and it has been serving delicious dishes for more than 225 years.

Enjoy traditional American bakery items such as rich chocolate chip cookies, sweet and sticky cinnamon rolls, or treat yourself to one of their many ‘Take and Bake’ dishes to enjoy savoury comfort food at home.

Take and Bake dishes include pot pies, hearty roast chicken and, of course, the classic mac and cheese.

13- Utica

The city of Utica sits at the foot of the Adirondack and Catskill mountains and is filled with old American charm, beautiful buildings and stunning scenery.

One of the best places to explore the city and the surrounding natural beauty is the Adirondack Scenic Railroad.

The train departs from Utica station and winds through thick leafy forests and past glistening streams.

A range of journeys take in this beautiful landscape with destinations including Old Forge and Remsen on a shorter hop, or head out to Big Moose on a nine-hour journey in pristine natural surroundings.

Relax and unwind with a cold beer from FX Matt Brewing Company, a Utica brewery that has been making an award-winning beer, Saranac, since 1888.

Learn about the company’s brewing process on a guided tour before sampling some of their best beers.

14- Niagara Falls

View of Niagara Falls from Made of the Mist boat
Niagara Falls is one of the popular cities in New York for visitors.

When visiting the city of Niagara Falls, only one tourist destination springs to mind; the falls themselves.

Wander around New York States’ oldest park and take in its many hiking and nature trails, enjoy a picnic in one of many scenic picnic areas, and of course, take in the immense views of the falls.

Uncover the secrets of 18th-century Old Fort Niagara for something a little more historical.

The fort was a crucial outpost during the colonial wars, with soldier’s and locals’ stories told through interactive exhibits and, during the summer, live reenactments.

15- Binghamton

Binghamton is ideally placed for access to nature and is filled with Victorian charm.

Head out on foot and explore the city streets or venture into nature on one of the city’s many hiking trails.

While exploring one of the city’s parks, look out for Binghamton’s collection of antique carousels, of which there are six in total, all dating to the early 1900s.

The largest carousel is in C. Fred Johnson Park and dates to 1923.

The carousel is ornately decorated with 72 carved figures to ride, gold-framed mirrors and plenty of hand-painted decorative panels.

16- White Plains

white plains ny city street scenes and skyline
White Plains is a lovely city to explore in New York state, especially in spring.

White Plains offers big-city vibes with a small-town feel.

The city is the epitome of suburban life with plenty of family-friendly attractions, a slower pace, and cosy restaurants while offering the hustle and bustle of the big city.

If you spend time in White Plains during spring, a must-visit spot is J Harvey Turner Memorial Park to see its spectacular cherry blossom.

Over 100 Japanese cherry blossom trees bloom in vivid shades of pink yearly.

When the trees are in full bloom, the park throws a Cherry Blossom Festival.

Grab a bite in interactive surroundings at Melting Pot, a tasty fondue restaurant offering plenty of rich melted cheese with succulent meats, crisp vegetables and fresh fish.

17- Montauk

Picture taken in Montauk on a sunny morning
Montauk may not be one of the major cities in New York but it’s popular for its beautiful beaches.

Montauk lies at the end of the Long Island Peninsula, surrounded by sandy dunes, lighthouses and plenty of Atlantic waves.

Whilst exploring this East Hampton gem, venture onto the bluffs and beaches where you may find harbour seals and catch a glimpse of humpback whales in the water.

Climb to the top of the oldest lighthouse in the state, the Montauk Point Lighthouse.

George Washington commissioned the lighthouse in 1796, and since then, its light has protected ships sailing close to the peninsula.

The views from the top, particularly at sunrise, offer a romantic glimpse over Montauk State Park and out to the ocean beyond.

18- Poughkeepsie

Nestled in the Hudson River Valley is the city of Poughkeepsie. Poughkeepsie is easily commutable from New York City as it is the last stop on the northern Hudson line.

Lose yourself in the beauty of Locust Grove estate, a historical estate dating back to the early 1900s.

The park covers 200 acres (81 ha) and has streams, waterfalls and beautiful greenery.

Explore the home of the first governor of New York State, George Clinton, at the beautiful Georgian Clinton House State Historic Site.

The home was built in 1765 and, following a devastating fire, was rebuilt by soldiers in 1783.

19- Cooperstown

bench by sidewalk in Cooperstown, New York
One of the smaller towns in New York state, Cooperstown has quite a few attractions.

Cooperstown sits on the southern edges of Otsego Lake and is surrounded by woodland, grassy meadows and tranquillity.

Many visitors flock to Cooperstown to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which shares historical artefacts, including photographs and memorabilia of its players, managers and umpires.

There are plenty of opportunities for photographs with statues of the greats at the Baseball Wax Museum, located close by.

Explore Fenimore Art Museum and learn more about American Indian culture through works of art.

The museum also includes fine and folk art collections and photography from the 19th and 20th centuries.

20- Troy

Troy is the perfect blend of vibrant city life and history and is known locally as the home of Uncle Sam.

Step back in time at the unique and incredibly well-preserved Troy Savings Bank Music Hall.

Troy Savings Bank built the hall in 1823, where it operated as a local bank before being transformed into an elegant music hall in 1875.

Inside the hall is a large stage, plenty of red velvet seats, and pastel pink and blue walls.

Enjoy a cosy meal in Naughter’s, a diner with a neighbourhood vibe.

Expect emerald green booths, a long wooden bar and plenty of delicious food.

Order the Reuben with Naughter’s house-corned beef with a side of crisp home fries, or opt for the delicious vegan Industry Eggplant burger, filled with a golden hash brown and topped with pesto mayonnaise. 

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.