Aside from the Big City, New York State is known for its stunning scenery, beautiful lakes, and numerous small communities. American small-town culture is strong all over New York, from arts centers to rural farm towns. At a first glance, outsiders may think that all of New York’s small towns are basically the same, but take a closer look and you’ll find that each has something special about it. It’s hard to decide which are the most interesting or the most beautiful, but a handful of towns stand out above the rest. Take a look at New York’s ten most beautiful small towns. Maybe you’ll find a destination for your next vacation!
Greenport’s tagline is “You don’t have to go far to get away.” It certainly seems that this is the case! This small fishing town is simply lovely in every way: the well-kept yards, the neat rows of houses, the inviting beaches, and the oceanscapes. Although the town has charming historic attractions to enjoy, the residents keep the town glowing with new things to admire, like fresh art in the galleries and tempting dishes at restaurants. It’s little wonder than Greenport is a popular place stay at a Bed and Breakfast or buy a condo.
Aurora is a village in the town of Ledyard, New York. It is located on the shores of Cayuga Lake, and has fewer than one thousand residents. The small town feel is what lends a special charm to Aurora. Much of the population are students of Wells College, a small school that was once only for women. One notable graduate of Wells College is Pleasant Rowland, the creator the American Girls series of books and dolls.
The village of Cold Spring is a lovely historic town that still has the same slow, rustic feel as it did when it was built in the 19th Century. Many New York City folk travel the 50 miles by bus to visit this small town on the weekends and get away from all the traffic of the big city. The town is built on the edge of the Hudson River, so locals and visitors can enjoy the fun of kayaking, swimming, and fishing as well as the shopping and dining that the quaint, old-fashioned businesses offer.
You probably know that Cooperstown is the location of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, but you probably didn’t know that it was founded by and named after the father of James Fennimore Cooper, author of The Last of the Mohicans. Back then, of course, the town was much more remote and less developed. Over the years, it has been home to countless writers and art collectors, a testament to its inspiring aura.
This small village is tucked away into the Adirondack Mountains. Although it only has a population of about two thousand, is has seen many significant historic events. John Brown, the abolitionist, built his farm here and was buried on his property. The town was also hosted the winter Olympics twice. Lake Placid is beautiful all year round, and it has opportunities for endless winter and summer activities ranging from skiing to boating.
The area surrounding Woodstock has been inhabited for time unknown, but the first non-native settlers founded the town of Woodstock in the 18th Century. While Woodstock is traditionally a center for arts and music, its major claim to fame is the Woodstock Festival, an event held at a private farm miles from the town that celebrated the counter-culture of the 1960s. There have been countless artists and musicians who have made their homes in Woodstock, drawn to both the natural beauty and the artistic culture of the community.
Every season is stunning in Skaneateles. In the summer, boats dot the lake and children celebrate the summer holiday in the sunshine. In the fall, the leaves ignite the town in a blaze of fiery color. In the winter, the town turns out in historic garb for the weekly Charles Dickens Christmas Festival. In the spring, flowers bloom throughout the town as soon as the last of the snow melts away. The town has a delightful historic district and an even better scenic view of Skaneateles Lake.
Saranac Lake calls itself “The Adirondack’s Coolest Place” because it is both rather cold and very fun to visit. The culture of the Adirondacks is strong in this chilly mountain village. Summertime in Saranac Lake is wonderful, but both tourists and locals look forward to the beauty and fun that comes with the first snowfall. The biggest event of the year is the Winter Carnival, a celebration complete with maple treats, local brews, and a community-built Ice Palace that is fit for Queen Elsa.
Westfield, a small town on the edge of Lake Erie, embodies the best of small town America. Farmer’s markets, art fairs, and shows in the park are all part of everyday life for residents. The town is also known for its vineyards and wine. At the end of the 19th Century, the founder of Welch’s Grape Juice moved his company to Westfield in order to take advantage of the excellent culture of grape growing. Visitors can taste locally-made wine at one of the local wineries. For the ultimate Westfield experience, visit a winery that doubles as an art gallery.
"Canandaigua" is a Native American word meaning “The Chosen Place.” This town is certainly a place that many have chosen to live, and it’s easy to see why. This town is perfectly manicured, with gorgeous gardens spilling colorful blooms from behind fences and along sidewalks. Visitors to Canandaigua enjoy strolling through Sonnenberg Gardens, a sprawling plot of color that represent gardening styles from a handful of different cultures. The town also draws tourists for its other activities, including wine tastings, a waterpark, and ropes courses.