More Than Hick Towns and Horse Farms: Underrated Villages in Upstate NY

By: Shyana Fisher

Most New Paltz students love exploring, but how many have actually traveled further than the Hudson Valley? In no particular order, here are a few upstate towns that don’t get the love from New Paltz that they deserve.

Lake George, NY

A short two hour drive from New Paltz gets you to this rustic little village. I remember when I was growing up my family and I would camp there at the RV park and play mini-golf. The lake itself can become a little crowded in the midst of summer, but with The Factory Outlets and Six Flags Great Escape just a few minutes away, it’s hard to be bored.

Saratoga Springs, NY

Oh Saratoga. How you baffle me. On the one hand, pretentious snobs make their way to the horse races to bet on their favorites and drink moscow mules in the shade. This actually is a fun way to spend the afternoon because you can pretend you belong to the upper class. If you are a little tired of playing make-believe, head over to main street for some bougie shopping or visit the first Stewart’s Shops ever built. To truly understand “upstate culture,” try to snag some tickets to a Dave Matthews Band concert at Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). A perfect way to end the night.

Middleburgh, NY

I contemplated long and hard about adding this to the list, but I feel like Schoharie County has got a few gems, and this just might be one. I pass through this small village on my way back to campus and I’ve grown to love it for its quirks. The small main street is home to some very good pizza at Hubie’s, and further out of town are strawberry fields and a farmers market that has the best vegetables. If this wasn’t enough, take the five minute drive to Schoharie and have lunch at the Apple Barrel Cafe. Nature buffs should check out Vroman’s Nose for some high quality hiking with a great view.

Ithaca, NY

Wineries, camping, and college, oh my! This small city is home to both Cornell and Ithaca College, and is reminiscent of New Paltz. The hippie culture is alive and well here, and the main stretch has hoards of great restaurants and local shops. It is a very pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, and if you are of age, the wineries around here are A+. Follow the Finger Lakes Wine Trail for some off-the-beaten-path vineyards.

Cooperstown, NY

Ah Cooperstown. The best-kept secret of Otsego County. Baseball draws you in, but this quaint little village has much more to offer than just history. Heading into town you will find Brewery Ommegang: a local brewery and concert venue for smaller indie names. Once you hit main street, stop for a bite at the Doubleday Cafe (The turkey avocado B.L.T. is my absolute favorite) before venturing over to the Glimmerglass Lake for a relaxing afternoon by the water. Other points of interest include The Otesaga Hotel, Clark Sports Center, The Baseball Hall of Fame, and the Farmers Museum. Before you leave town, don’t forget to grab a freshly baked cookie from Schneider’s Bakery.


A version of this post originally appeared in “Clarity” The Teller May 2019 Issue 6

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