The Charm of New York Small Towns

New York State is much more than the Statue of Liberty and bright city lights of New York City. Small towns in New York really should not be overlooked, and though they are blinded literally by their more populous and popular downstate neighbor of NYC, real travelers know that true New York lies in the humility of the New York small-town charm.

Here are a few reasons why visiting a small town in New York should reign priority over visiting NYC.

The Charm 

Though New York City can be charming at times, it’s not exactly the first adjective that comes to mind when describing the Big Apple. Small towns in New York, however, are the epitome of charm.

Take Clinton, NY for example, with its quaint main street filled with locally owned stores selling anything from homemade soaps to quirky greeting cards.

Find antique shops off of major highways, diners in isolated parts of the state, and bustling downtown areas like the one in Saratoga Springs.

The Mom-and-Pop Shops

While NYC certainly does have many local mom-and-pop shops, they are sadly outnumbered by the commercialism of chain stores.

Find a Starbucks on every corner in Manhattan, but in small towns, find gems like Utica Coffee in Utica, Tailgate & Party in Saratoga Springs, and Grace Tyler Winery in Cleveland.

There’s nothing more authentic than stumbling into a pot that can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

The Food

New York City has great cuisine, and no one will argue that. However, for those looking for a more intimate experience, with a higher chance of meeting the faces and names behind the food, small towns in New York have some true and tried traditional foods.

Eat a proper garbage plate at Nick Tahou Hot’s, the place that originated them in the neighboring city of Rochester, NY.

The Humble Atmosphere

There’s too much hustle and bustle in the city, and it seems like everyone walking around has an attitude.

For those looking for a place with a bit more humility than the over-hyped Wall Street finance bros and pinkies-up Upper East Side families, head to a small town in New York instead.

There’s nothing more humbling than the simple life in the countryside and being surrounded by trees instead of buildings.

The People

Let’s face it; New York City has a reputation for not having the kindest people in the world. Though this isn’t entirely true, and New Yorkers are likely to help visitors navigate the chaotic streets of Times Square and the East Village, New Yorkers are often in a hurry, in their own world, with places to be and no time to waste.

This is the opposite attitude of small-town New Yorkers. Life is slow, and people are often humble and friendly. Take Rochester, NY for example, which was just voted as the most neighborly city in the USA.

The Nature

From national parks to waterfalls to some of the country’s cleanest lakes, New York small towns offer something that the city simply can’t provide: a slice of sweet nature.

New York’s small towns are beautiful, from the charm of Hudson to the history of Cooperstown to the waters of Oneida Lake.

Find waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park, hiking trails in the Adirondacks, slippery ski slopes in Hudson, and be amazed at just how blue the water is at Green Lakes State Park in Syracuse.

The Accommodation

Long gone are the days when New York City accommodations could be found for under $300/night. For that price, expect simply a room that’s the size of a shoebox, probably tagged with at least an extra $50 for any type of add-on.

For those who not only don’t want to break the bank but would enjoy something a bit more spacious, try heading to a lake house in Upstate New York. Oneida Lake is a great place for getting away from it all, and it’s about a five-hour ride from The Big Apple.

The Road Trips

Driving a car through the Empire State is easily the best way to enjoy its diverse beauty. Why limit a trip to only one town when a road trip can allow visitors to see several? In winter months, head up north through Lake Placid and the Adirondacks.

In the summertime, head down to The Catskills. Take a wine tour with a designated driver around the Finger Lakes region. No matter which road-trip travelers decide to take, as long as it’s in the state of New York, it’s guaranteed to be scenic.

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Images courtesy of (Image: Hoboken Girl), (Image: Chanatrys), (Image: Visit Rochester), (Image: AFAR Magazine), (Image:, (Image: Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust), (Image: Time Out) and (Image: Trippsavvy)

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