Top 12 Road Trips in New York State: Escape and Enjoy The Sights

New York State boasts much more than the dynamic streets of New York City. It’s a haven for road trippers, with its picturesque landscapes, quaint towns, and awe-inspiring scenic routes.

We’ve got the ultimate list of the top road trips in New York State, ideal for anyone eager to leave the city buzz behind and soak in the beauty around.

Whether you’re into nature, and history, or just need a peaceful weekend escape, these journeys have something for everyone.

Some of these destinations are less than a hundred miles from New York City, making them easily accessible for a quick trip.

1. Seneca Lake Wine Trail

The Seneca Lake Wine Trail in New York State is a splendid road trip option for those looking to explore the state’s renowned wine country.

The trail itself is around 79.7 miles long, with an estimated driving time of about 1 hour and 45 minutes, excluding stops.

From New York City, the starting point of the trail, Atwater Vineyards, is approximately 250 miles away, translating to about a 4 to 5-hour drive depending on traffic and the exact starting location in NYC.

For a thorough exploration of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, it’s advisable to allocate at least 2 to 3 days. The journey begins at Atwater Vineyards, which offers stunning views of Seneca Lake and a selection of exquisite wines.

The route also includes a stop at the opulent Belhurst Castle in Geneva, offering a combination of winery, brewery, and accommodation options.

2. Catskills and Hudson River Trip

The Catskills and Hudson River trip is an enchanting road trip that showcases the natural beauty and historical charm of New York State.

Catskills and Hudson River Trip

Starting from New York City, the Catskills are approximately 100 to 150 miles away, depending on your specific destination within the region. This translates to a driving time of about 2 to 3 hours.

For a comprehensive experience, it’s recommended to allocate a minimum of 2 to 3 days for this trip.

The Catskills region is known for its stunning natural landscapes, offering an abundance of outdoor activities.

The Hudson River adds to the allure, with opportunities for boating, fishing, and riverside picnics.

3. Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley road trip offers a blend of culinary delights, artistic experiences, and hidden gems, all within a region rich in natural beauty and cultural heritage.

Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley, easily accessible from New York City, can be reached within 1 to 3 hours, depending on the specific areas you plan to visit. For a comprehensive experience, a road trip of 2 to 3 days is ideal.

Your gastronomic journey can begin at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, where you can indulge in meals prepared by future culinary stars and explore the campus.

The Hudson Valley’s farm-to-table ethos is evident throughout, with numerous farmers’ markets and farm stands offering fresh, local produce, artisanal cheeses, and homemade goods.

4. Finger Lakes

A Finger Lakes road trip offers a blend of nature, history, and wine exploration, making it a perfect getaway from New York City.

Finger Lakes
Farther Up the Dead End Road” by andyarthur is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Photo may have been modified, resized, or cropped from original.

The region, approximately 280 to 373.7 miles from NYC, can be thoroughly enjoyed over 3 to 7 days, depending on how deeply you want to dive into the experiences it offers.

Begin your adventure by visiting the major five lakes – Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, and Skaneateles.

Here are some must-visit destinations to include in your Finger Lakes escapade:

  • Watkins Glen State Park: Discover the enchanting 400-foot-deep gorge with remarkable rock formations and 19 waterfalls.
  • Buttermilk Falls: Located in Ithaca, follow the lovely trails that lead to this breathtaking waterfall.
  • Finger Lakes Wine Country: Explore the diverse range of wineries and sample their delicious offerings. Don’t forget to visit the picturesque vineyards!
  • Glacier-etched landscapes: Immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of nature by venturing through the 580-mile Finger Lakes Trail.

While traveling through the region, you can also expect delectable dining experiences and cozy accommodations to rest at night.

5. The Hamptons

The Hamptons promises an enchanting journey, filled with diverse attractions and scenic beauty. Located approximately 100 miles east of NYC, The Hamptons is accessible within a 2 to 3-hour drive, depending on traffic.

The Hamptons
The Hamptons, Long Island, New York” by Dougtone is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo may have been modified, resized, or cropped from original.

For a comprehensive experience, plan for a 3 to 5-day road trip. A recommended first stop is at Old Westbury Gardens, about 30 miles from NYC, where you can explore the magnificent Charles II-style mansion and its beautifully landscaped grounds.

Continuing east, the 40-mile marker brings you to the quaint village of Patchogue, a perfect spot for a lunch break and to enjoy local shops and the waterfront.

As you venture further, around 70 miles from the city, the charming town of Riverhead offers a delightful detour.

Here, you can visit the Long Island Aquarium and the Hallockville Museum Farm, providing insights into the region’s marine life and agricultural history.

For wine enthusiasts, the North Fork, branching off just before reaching The Hamptons, is a must-visit. This area is dotted with numerous vineyards and wineries, offering tastings and tours.

6. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is a journey full of diverse experiences and scenic beauty. Covering a distance of approximately 400 miles, this trip can be comfortably completed over 3 to 4 days, allowing ample time to explore various attractions along the way.

Niagara Falls

Starting in New York City, the first leg of the journey could include a stop in the historic city of Albany, New York’s capital, about 150 miles north of NYC.

Travelers can enjoy the stunning architecture of the Empire State Plaza and the New York State Museum.

As you approach Niagara Falls, around 400 miles from New York City, the landscape transforms, offering a glimpse of the magnificent falls themselves.

The town of Niagara Falls offers various viewpoints and experiences like the Maid of the Mist boat tour and Cave of the Winds.

For nature lovers, a detour to Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” about 60 miles southeast of Niagara Falls, offers hiking trails with breathtaking gorge views.

7. Thousand Islands

Thousand Islands, a scenic archipelago along the U.S.-Canada border in the Saint Lawrence River, promises a unique blend of natural beauty, history, and outdoor activities.

Thousand Islands

This journey spans approximately 330 miles and is ideally spread over 4 to 5 days to fully embrace the varied experiences along the way.

Starting from New York City, one of the first notable stops could be at the historic West Point Military Academy, about 50 miles north of NYC. Visitors can explore the West Point Museum and enjoy stunning views of the Hudson River.

As you progress towards the Thousand Islands, a stop in Syracuse, about 250 miles from NYC, offers a mix of cultural and natural attractions, including the Erie Canal Museum and Onondaga Lake Park.

Upon reaching the Thousand Islands region, approximately 330 miles from New York City, visitors can enjoy boat tours around the islands.

For those interested in outdoor activities, the region offers ample opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and hiking, especially in Wellesley Island State Park.

8. Chautauqua-Allegheny Route

Embarking on a road trip along the Chautauqua-Allegheny Route from New York City is a journey through diverse landscapes and rich cultural experiences, spanning approximately 400 miles.

Chautauqua-Allegheny Route
Allegheny Front” by Nicholas_T is licensed under CC BY 2.0. Photo may have been modified, resized, or cropped from original.

Ideally, you should allocate around 7 days for this trip to fully immerse yourself in the unique offerings along the way.

Your trip starts in the Southern Tier region of New York State, which boasts some of the most stunning scenery and outdoor activities.

One key highlight is Chautauqua Lake, an idyllic 17-mile-long lake, offering numerous fishing spots and pop concert venues along its 41-mile shoreline.

As you continue your journey, you’ll come across the picturesque town of Ellicottville, which is a great spot for skiing, snowboarding, and mountain biking.

There’s also a variety of local breweries, fine dining establishments, and galleries for you to enjoy.

9. Albany and The Capital Region

A road trip from New York City to Albany and the surrounding Capital Region is a journey that spans approximately 150 miles. To fully appreciate the adventure, allocating at least 3 to 4 days is advisable.

Albany and The Capital Region

As you embark on your journey, consider taking a quick detour through the suburb of Loudonville, known for its lavish mansions and tree-lined streets.

Those who prefer a family-oriented adventure won’t be disappointed, as the Capital District offers numerous family day trips and staycation ideas. In Saratoga Springs, for instance, you can visit the National Museum of Dance.

If you’re in the mood for a water park experience, check out Splashdown Beach or The Kartrite Resort & Indoor Waterpark.

For a more winter-focused trip, there are several options within driving distance of the Capital Region. Mystic, CT, with its historic downtown and renowned aquarium, is just 2 hours and 50 minutes away.

10. Central New York Sightseeing

Planning a road trip through Central New York is an enchanting journey that immerses you in a diverse blend of natural beauty, historical landmarks, and cultural experiences.

Central New York Sightseeing

The region, roughly a 200 to 250-mile drive from New York City, is easily accessible for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

This trip can be comfortably spread over 3 to 5 days, allowing ample time to explore and enjoy the various attractions along the way.

Continuing your journey, take a detour to Central New York’s attractions like Cooperstown, which is about 3 hours and 30 minutes from the city.

This quaint town is home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and the beautiful Glimmerglass State Park.

11. Montauk Highway

Montauk Highway, also known as NY Route 27A, is a scenic drive that takes you through the iconic Hamptons and ends in Montauk. The distance from NYC is 96 miles.

Montauk Highway

The journey begins in Southampton and spans nearly 40 miles through lovely towns, charming villages, and pristine beaches.

Along the way, make sure to stop and explore local attractions like the Parrish Art Museum or just enjoy the ocean views.

As you near the end of the route, the Montauk Point State Park awaits with its famous lighthouse, offering stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

For a complete experience, allocate around 3 to 4 days for this road trip. This duration allows ample time to explore the various towns and attractions along the route without feeling rushed.

12. Ocean Parkway

Traveling from New York City to Ocean Parkway, a scenic drive along the southern shore of Long Island, is a journey full of diverse attractions and beautiful landscapes.

Ocean Parkway
Ocean Parkway – Long Island, New York” by Dougtone is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0. Photo may have been modified, resized, or cropped from original.

The total distance from NYC to the beginning of Ocean Parkway is approximately 40 miles, which can be covered in under an hour without traffic. It is a day or two road trip.

Ocean Parkway offers breathtaking views of the coastline and runs parallel to the Atlantic Ocean. This charming drive starts at the Robert Moses Causeway and runs about 15 miles to Jones Beach Island.

Along the way, you can stop at Jones Beach State Park, one of the most popular beaches in New York, known for its fine sandy beach and a boardwalk that offers various eateries and recreational activities.

The park also hosts concerts at the Jones Beach Theater, a popular venue for summer performances.

Top Road Trips in New York State: A Recap

New York State’s road trips offer a blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and relaxation.

Traverse the Seneca Lake Wine Trail with its scenic vineyards, explore the historic Catskills and Hudson River, or marvel at Niagara Falls’ grandeur.

For a combination of outdoor adventure, cultural experiences, and historical discovery, the Thousand Islands and the Albany-Capital Region tours are ideal.

Each journey provides a distinct experience through New York’s varied landscapes and heritage, catering to diverse interests and guaranteeing memorable travel moments.

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