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The Ultimate Upstate New York Road Trip
The best way to see Upstate New York in the summer is by packing up the car and hitting the road! This way you’ll get to experience the breathtaking scenery, enjoy the best attractions and wineries, and snag some great photos. Follow the route below to hit every stop from start to finish, or mix and match to choose your own adventure!
For a day of fun and sun, head to Darien Lake Amusement Park New York's largest water and theme park. Darien Lake has everything from thrilling roller coasters and family favorites to in-park concerts and nightly laser light shows. And there’s plenty of lodging options if you want to spend the night and do it again the next day!
Take a drive through Letchworth State Park, or get out and explore 66-miles (106-kilometers) worth of hiking trails. There are three major waterfalls and the views are spectacular! Pack a picnic and enjoy the lush forest, or consider their white-water rafting and kayaking options for a different view of the park.
No roadtrip is complete without grabbing some grub at a diner! One of my favorites is Brian’s USA Diner, located just minutes from Letchworth’s Mt. Morris entrance. Everything on the menu is delicious – but the dishes are even better with a side of curly fries!
Release your inner kid at the Strong Museum of Play, in Rochester, NY. Visit the Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden, step into the world of Sesame Street, or play an old-school arcade game. Fair warning, even adults won't want to leave! Then head over to the George Eastman Museum, located on the estate of George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography and motion picture film. Exhibits encompass several million objects in the fields of photography, cinema, and photographic and cinematographic technology.
When you're ready to hit the hay, spend the night at the Hilton Garden Inn in Downtown Rochester. They have an indoor pool, glass enclosed arboretum, 24-hour fitness center and lunch and dinner served daily at Drifters, their onsite restaurant.
Bristol Mountain is just as fun to visit in the summer as it is in the winter. Zip-line over 5,000 feet in their canopy tour or take on a series of tree-top challenge courses in their Aerial Adventure Park. There's also a smaller Adventure Park for the tikes, ages 4-7.
For a place that both kids and adults can enjoy, stop at Long Acre Farms, home to JD Wine Cellars. Kids can feed goats, pan for gemstones, play on a giant spider web, or jump on the large jumping pillow, and you can sample delicious Finger Lakes wines in their tasting room or buy a bottle and relax on their outdoor patio.
Shop 'til you drop at the Waterloo Premium Outlets. With over 100 stores featuring both designer and brand name outlets, you’ll find something stylish for the whole family!
Feeling lucky? Swing by Turning Stone Casino for a chance to win big. But Turning Stone is waaay more than just a casino - dine at one of their many restaurants, relax at their spa, hit a few golf balls on one of their courses, and enjoy plenty of other entertainment options.
What's a family vacation without a friendly competition? Cruise on over to Pole Position Raceway, located in Syracuse in Destiny USA or in Rochester in The Marketplace Mall, for an exhilarating experience. This indoor go-kart race is perfect for anyone with a need for speed.
Keep the adventure alive at Howe Caverns in Howes Cave, NY. The experience takes place both above and below ground, from their cave tours that are 156 feet below the Earth's surface, to their High Adventure that includes rock wall climbing, a ropes course and zip line. For a real blast, try their H20G0 Ball, which combines a 12-foot inflatable ball, 5 gallons of water, 1,100 feet downhill, and one eager participant!
Spend a day in Ithaca, NY for a combination of 150+ waterfalls, lots of quirky shops, and plenty of dining options – in fact, Ithaca has more restaurants per capita than NYC! Then wash it all down at one of their breweries, cideries, or wineries.
While you're in the southern Finger Lakes, visit the Corning Museum of Glass. Watch a live glass-blowing demonstration, and once you think you've got the hang of it, try your hand at blowing your own glass! Instructors will walk you through the process and at the end you'll have a unique souvenir to remember your trip.
Keep heading west and you'll reach Allegany County, with numerous museums to discover, including the Pioneer Oil Museum, the Cuba Cheese Museum, and the Canaseraga Shawmut Station Museum. If you happen to be driving through on July 21-23, the Great Wellsville Balloon Rally makes the sky comes alive with vibrant colors and assorted shapes. Set up at Island Park as almost 40 hot air balloons are inflated across four baseball fields.
Finish your road trip in Chautauqua County, the southwest tip of New York State. Visit Jamestown, the (unofficial) Comedy Capital of the world, for some fun and laughs. Or get in touch with the other side at Lily Dale Assembly, the world's largest spiritualist community. They offer seminars, workshops, public clairvoyance and healing services, and registered mediums.
Choose your path and explore Upstate New York. With so many options, you can spend a weekend or the whole summer!