We celebrate the diversity and revival of our area through annual cultural festivals, professional sporting events, art exhibitions, and the wide variety of ethnic eateries and local mom-and-pop style restaurants.
Adventure and Discovery for EVERYONE!
In every direction, your journey takes you on a ride filled with adventure, riveting beauty, outdoor splendors, and some of the most delicious and unique dishes you’ve ever tasted.
Nature speaks in Upstate New York. Just stand still for a moment and let the rustling trees and birdsong take away your stress and worry. We are home to the breathtaking Adirondack Mountains, miles of hiking trails, cascading waterfalls, and glistening lakes as far as the eye can see. A paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, Upstate New York presents endless, seasonal activities for everyone.
Culture, art, sports, and cuisine flourish, matching the grandeur of the outdoors. You’d think that you were in a much larger city by the impressive array of cultural events that our area brilliantly displays. We’re not kidding when we say there is an adventure for EVERYONE!
ENJOY ALL FOUR SEASONS
How do you spend your summers? Summertime in Upstate New York means warm weather, lots of sunshine, boating on the lake, backyard bar-b-ques with lawn games, golfing, camping, baseball games, strawberry picking, field days, and SO much more! Pack some popcorn and head to a drive-in movie theater, visit the Great NY State Fair, find your next vintage treasure at our seasonal Antique Shows, and slap on some sunscreen to travel to Old Forge for a day on the lake or at Enchanted Forest Water Safari. If watersports suit your fancy, Summer is the perfect season for swimming, canoeing, waterskiing, paddle boarding, fly fishing, or exploring waterfalls at some of our breathtaking state parks.
(Click here for our 3 State Parks in 3 days blog/itinerary Letchworth State Park and Watkins Glen, Pixley Falls)
Are you a Craft Beer fan?
Enjoy live music every week at Saranac Thursdays while you sample Saranac’s seasonal, summer beer from the 4th oldest, family-owned brewery in the United States, or pay a visit to a handful of locally owned breweries in the area!
One of the most historic and notable events of the Summer season, is Utica’s famous Boilermaker Road Race!
Lace up your running shoes and run alongside somealongside of some of the greatest athletes in the world in the 15K, or volunteer to pass out popsicles, water and orange slices in one of the most inclusive, supportive, and diverse community events of the year!
Have we mentioned the Post-Race Party?
Just because the temperature drops doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Wintertime in Upstate New York is one of the most ethereal, romantic, and beautiful sights you’ve ever seen. Gazing out your window at the yard blanketed with crisp, white snow as you sip your morning coffee while wearing your warm and cozy flannel pajamas is one of the most satisfying moments of the season. Winter becomes an outdoor playground for children and adults alike. From building a snowman to snowshoeing, downhill or cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, or tubing, winter offers so many opportunities to enjoy yourself.
Visit a Christmas tree farm where you can cut down your own tree. Then, buckle the kids in the car and take an evening drive to marvel at the holiday lights while the snow gently falls. Later, curl up with hot cocoa in front of a crackling fire while the kids recount their favorite light displays on their evening ride. Wintertime in Upstate offers ice sculptures, polar plunges, and a Winter Solstice community bonfire. Finally, don’t forget to wear your favorite matching pajamas and purchase your ticket to the Adirondack Railway’s annual Polar Express Train Ride, a lively rendition of the classic holiday movie.
“It’s Fall, y’all!” Upstaters interpret that as the time of year filled with pumpkin spice and everything nice! Our area is an Autumn paradise- prepare yourself for gorgeous Fall foliage as far as the eye can see- from deep auburn to glistening golds, to ruby reds to burnt sienna and every shade in between. Whether hiking in the Adirondack Mountains or taking a scenic country drive, nothing can prepare you for the majestic beauty of Fall.
Fall activities are loved and enjoyed by all. Pumpkin farms, apple picking, corn mazes, and hayrides can be the perfect family fun day or a romantic date to take that special someone- travel to one of the many apple orchards Upstate has to offer, sign up for a spiked cider tasting and watch the sparks fly. If you haven’t sampled Apple Cider Donuts, your life is about to change in a fantastic way that you never thought possible! Oh, and if Halloween is your thing, just wait and see how the locals celebrate!
As the last snowflakes begin to melt, purple crocuses and yellow daffodils emerge to let you know that the long cold winter is giving way to a colorful explosion of rebirth. And when you see the first robin on your lawn, Spring as arrived! This season is home to the CNY Maple Festival- offering over 80 maple syrup vendors, delicious maple-themed dishes, and a pancake eating contest- and Spring also marks the beginning of trout season- so break out your fishing pole, tall boots, and waders, as The State Department of Environmental Conservation will stock more than 2.3 million catchable-size brook, brown, and rainbow trout.
Ice cream fans delight when Spring appears – Upstate New York boasts over 100 local roadside ice cream stands that reopen after a winter hiatus. When their doors finally open, you can count on long lines, smiling faces, and lots of soft-serve cones of every flavor!
If you’re an animal lover, Spring is also the ideal time for horseback riding through the Adirondacks, before the summer months bring the heat.
Another popular Spring favorite is embarking upon the Easter Bunny Express- The Leatherstocking Railway Historical Society and the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad offer fun-filled train rides with the Easter Bunny himself.
Fun. Fusion. Flair.
The cuisine scene in the Upstate area is thrivin’ and jivin’ like nowhere else, and diversity of the name of the game. Utica and the surrounding areas are home to AMAZING food- known for its one-of-a-kind, specialty dishes that you won’t find anywhere else on the map- Half Moon cookies, Chicken Riggies, Utica Greens, Tomato Pie and Jelly Buns being some of the local favorites. You’ll also find homemade sausages and pastas, hand-formed pierogies, stuffed grape leaves, hand-rolled Pho noodles, house made marinades and wood-fired pizza crust recipes passed down from generation to generation, all proudly represented in the Upstate food arena.
Ethnic eateries, restaurants, and food trucks representing every culture proudly fill the neighborhoods and street corners. The history of cuisine in the Upstate area is quite fascinating. What was once an Italian American dominated scene in the early 20th century (attributed to Italian immigrants who settled in Utica to work in the factories and mills) has notably transitioned to an all-encompassing representation of worldly cultures thanks to a recent immigration of refugees from Bosnia and Southeast Asian regions.
The modern wave of newly welcomed inhabitants has served as an economic engine for the Upstate area, most remarkably in the form of cuisine, and some of our most iconic food attractions are hole in the wall cafes serving dishes that are guaranteed to make your mouth water.
Let’s root, root, root for the home team!
Looking for some chills and thrills without braving the outdoor, frosty elements in Upstate New York during the wintery weather? Prepare to cheer loudly and FEEL the energy- stay warm and toasty in the stands watching the fastest team sport in the world: professional hockey!
Embrace the contagious energy of the fans, rushes of adrenaline, and nonstop entertainment as there is NEVER a dull moment! Upstate is home to the Utica Comets, an AHL affiliate of the New Jersey Devils.
Are you a professional soccer fan? Utica proudly hosts the Utica City FC at The Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium (also home to the Utica Comets). Take our advice and be sure to check out The Miller Lite Biergarten when purchasing tickets for a game- where you can experience games “European style” from field level and enjoy all-you-can-eat German food while you cheer!
The Upstate area is also home to Syracuse University, which means you’re only a short drive away from watching the Syracuse Orange teams play at the Carrier Dome. Fan favorites include both Syracuse Basketball and Football.
During the Spring and Summer, take the beautiful country drive to Cooperstown, the birthplace of baseball, and pay a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame. The most magical moments of baseball live on in Cooperstown every day. You’re more than likely to catch an American Youth Baseball game at Dream Field while you’re there, as you watch nostalgia and the future of the sport combine into one fantastic time.
If you have a NEED for SPEED, drive slightly north and check out High Voltage MIX- an off-road motocross racetrack. The venue is home to the NYS Championship race weekend each year. Brace yourself for exhilaration, anticipation, and a grand ole good time!
Prepare to be Entertained
Concerts. Theater. Fine Arts. Museums. Casinos. Wineries. Racetracks. Outlets. The list goes on and on…. Prepare to be entertained because we’ve got it all in Upstate New York! Experience traveling Broadway plays and while you soak in the beauty and grandeur of the historic Stanley Theater and play your hand at blackjack or bet on the ponies at the Vernon Downs Casino and Racetrack! For a weekend getaway, drive the 90 minutes to Saratoga and spend the day at their world-famous racetrack watching some of the fastest Thoroughbreds in the world run, and take in a summer concert while you’re there at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC). Treat your palate to wine tastings and vineyard tours at our local Upstate wineries or travel a few hours West to the Finger Lakes region and immerse yourself in vino country.
Have the time of your life at the Turning Stone Resort Casino- experience 2,000 slot machines, 66 Vegas-style table games, one of the top three Bingo Halls in the world, the largest poker room in New York State, swanky dining and lodging, renowned indoor and outdoor golfing, entertainment tickets, VIP lounges, holiday displays, trendy nightclubs, and the most luxurious spa. Perfect for weddings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, romantic weekend getaways, golf excursions, a couples massage, a family dinner experience and everything in between.
Art enthusiasts are sure to love The Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute- a regional Fine Arts center founded in 1919 and located in Downtown Utica. The institute has three program divisions: Museum of Art, Performing Arts, and School of Art. Enjoy a substantial permanent collection of internationally recognized works, in addition to a breathtaking courtyard and awe-inspiring architecture and design of the museum itself.
The perfect place to plant your roots and raise a family.
This is most highlighted and exhibited in the abundant number of family-friendly activities our area has to offer. Lace up your sneakers, pack a picnic lunch, and load the dog in the car as you prepare for outdoor adventures with the family! Upstate is home to gorgeous Nature and walking trails, hiking trails, the Adirondack Mountains, campgrounds, glimmering lakes, and water sports galore- whether at Sylvan Beach or Enchanted Forest Water Safari (where the fun never stops).
Become an annual passholder at the Utica Zoo, and experience amazing events in every season- the animals and staff are always happy to see you! Your youngsters will get a kick out of mining for gemstones at the Herkimer Diamond Mines- where you can keep any diamonds you find, and we guarantee they will enjoy exploring Howe’s cavern as well.
Embrace history with the kids and visit our multitude of forts and battlefields in the Upstate area and combine family fun with education and an appreciation of the past. The Utica Children’s Museum also serves as a fantastic environment that support every child’s natural curiosity to learn through play-based exploration.
Seasonal favorites such as Apple picking, sipping cider, finding your way out of the Corn Maze, driving to Star Hill to see the largest spectacle of Christmas Lights around, spectating at the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, enjoying the annual Irish and Renaissance Festivals, and roasting S’mores on Hinkley Lake after a day of fun in the sun are always popular with families.