Loading...
For New Annual Subscribers
Save $15 now through March 31st
Save Now

Upstate New York Road Trip: Natural Wonders and History

Niagara Falls – Watkins Glen State Park – Cooperstown – Lake George – Lake Placid
Trip Length
5-9 days
Route Distance
469 mi
Stops
5

Some folks think snow and cold when they think of Upstate New York (and that can be true in the winter months), but this area is a less well-known gem for vacationing – it is chock full of incredible natural beauty, magnificent waterfalls, countless freshwater lakes, mountains, great museums, charming towns, performing arts, and some of the nicest state parks in the country. Summer is the busiest season, but fall foliage time is equally enchanting and less crowded (albeit many of the warm weather beach and water activities may not be possible). This trip starts at iconic and inspiring Niagara Falls, continues to the beautiful and outdoorsy Finger Lakes Region, then on to Cooperstown of baseball fame, recreation-rich Lake George, and then finishes with Lake Placid (think Winter Olympics) in the Adirondack Mountains. There are hikes galore, boating and fishing, whitewater rafting, scenic railroads, scenic drives, casinos, caves, historic sites, amusement parks, casinos, and racetracks. You could spend a month in the area and never be bored. The beauty and activities in this region are sure to enchant!

Who Will Love This Trip
This is a trip with a mix of sight-seeing, nature, and water activities. Kids will enjoy this as will active adults. Summer is the mildest weather, given the long, cold and snowy winters. Fall (with stunning fall foliage) and Spring are also good times to visit.
Stop 1: Niagara Falls, NY
1-2 day stay
Description - Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls has a special place in many Americans' hearts. Its gorgeous and massive falls – visible from both the U.S and Canadian sides of the Niagara River – have been attracting tourists and honeymooners for hundreds of years. A visit to Niagara Falls is a mesmerizing experience. There is so much to explore and enjoy from the amazing view of the falls from both sides of the border, taking a boat ride on the famous Maid of the Mist, trying out an Adventure Pass for access to all major attractions, visiting Bird Kingdom or Clifton Hill for fun activities, attending dinner shows or exploring the Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens and Marineland. It's a great place to spend time with family and friends or even alone, and offers something unique for everyone! Let AdventureGenie help you plan the perfect RV road trip to Niagara Falls!

Note: If you want to visit the Canadian side you will need a passport. The Canadian side offers more amenities. AdventureGenie does not (yet) have campgrounds in Canada, but you can stay on the American side and visit the Canadian side (if you bring your passport).

Top Things to Do - Niagara Falls

The Falls may be your main focus but there are plenty of other things to do:

Boat Ride on the Maid of the Mist – Take a boat ride on the famous Maid of the Mist and experience the breathtaking beauty of Niagara Falls. Expect to get wet!

Niagara Falls Adventure Pass – Try a Niagara Falls Adventure Pass to have access to all the major attractions like Hornblower Cruise, Journey Behind the Falls (tunnels), Whirlpool Aero Car, the upper observation deck at the foot of the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, the tropical Butterfly Conservatory, and more! For the tour behind the Falls, you will get raingear to stay dry!

Niagara Falls State Park – this 400-acre park overlooks the Falls and has trails and gardens for viewing the Falls. It is America’s oldest state park and was designed by Frederick Olmstead.

Old Fort Niagara – Walk in the footsteps of history at the restored Old Fort Niagara which has been the possession of the U.S., France, and Great Britain at various times since the 1700s. Before the completion of the Eerie Canal, it was a strategic access point for the Great Lakes. Check the calendar for special events and military re-enactments.

Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage – this wonderful museum celebrates the town’s history of support of the Underground Railroad.

Bird Kingdom – On the Canadian side, visit Bird Kingdom and explore the largest free-flying indoor aviary in the world with over 350 birds of 80 species.

Scenic Walks – Take a walk on The Great Gorge Trail on Table Rock Centre in Niagara Falls State Park for amazing views of Horseshoe and American Falls from both sides of the border.

Visit Clifton Hill’s Street of Fun – Across on the Canadian side, spend an evening at Clifton Hill with family, friends or even alone for some extraordinary fun activities like a wax museum, haunted houses, dining, rides, live music shows and much more!

Dinner Theater Magic Show – Enjoy a dinner show across the river in Canada at the Greg Frewin Wild Magic Dinner Theatre with incredible magic tricks and illusions!

Niagara Parks Botanical Garden – Explore Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens (in Canada) for unique floral displays in the 99 of acres of gardens, such as Canadian themed gardens, and tropical display greenhouses.

Aquarium & Rides – Also on the Canadian side, have fun at Marineland which is home to killer whales, dolphins and other marine animals along with exciting rides, water features, and roller coasters!

Niagara Falls, NY Activities
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Falls Tours
  • Botanical Gardens
  • Aquarium
  • Museums
  • Theater
  • Amusement Parks
  • Bird Sanctuary
  • Fishing
RV Campgrounds Near Niagara Falls, NY

While the Niagara Falls area has dozens of private campgrounds to choose from, there are also several state park campgrounds as well. Four Mile Creek State Park and Golden Hill State Park are a great nearby option. Let AdventureGenie help you find a great campground for your Niagara Falls road trip!

Stop 2: Watkins Glen State Park - Seneca Falls, NY
1-3 day stay
Description - Seneca Falls

Imagine steep waterfalls cutting through rocky gorges. Add freshwater lakes, history, charming towns, an abundance of world-class state parks, and you have the Finger Lakes! Located a few hours’ drive from Niagara Falls, the Finger Lakes are a series of 11 beautiful glacial lakes and are one of the best destinations for outdoor activities in the state. With lush rolling hills, forests, and waterfalls, this area provides plenty of options for hiking, camping, swimming, canoeing and kayaking. Picking which of these gorgeous lakes to stop at is a conundrum for sure! Enjoy a relaxing boat ride across these tranquil waters or take a scenic drive on its many picturesque roads to explore interesting attractions like Watkins Glen State Park with magnificent gorges and 19 waterfalls. The region is rich in cultural heritage with historical sites like Seneca Falls, offering unique insight into the past. Whether you are looking for adventure or leisurely escapes, this captivating place will not disappoint! While you can’t go wrong with any of the Finger Lakes, we have chosen the Watkins Glen State Park area on Seneca Lake – but feel free to change stops in our Trip Planner after you select “Take this Trip.”

Top Things to Do - Seneca Falls

The Finger Lakes are worthy of their own GenieTrip since there is so much great stuff to see and do at each of the eleven lakes. Until then, we have picked some of the most popular things for this trip:

Watkins Glen State Park – known for its spectacular views of waterfalls and gorges, Watkins Glen State Park is the most well-known of all the Finger Lakes State Parks. Many visitors are left spellbound by its beauty. The Glen’s stream descends 400 feet, past 200-foot cliffs and 19 waterfalls. Walk the Gorge Trail, which winds over and under waterfalls and past the spray of Cavern Cascade. The wonderful South Rim Trail is 2.5 miles long and overlooks the gorge. Take a dip in the Olympic-size pool or take a tour in the summer through the gorge. Bow hunting for deer is permitted in season.

NASCAR’s Watkins Glen Raceway – Catch a NASCAR event and/or enjoy one of the great experiences at the track.

Seneca Falls – Nestled between Cayuga Lake and Seneca Lake, be sure to check out the history-filled hamlet of Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the women’s rights movement and the “Gateway to the Finger Lakes.” The Women’s Rights National Historic Park and the National Women’s Hall of Fame both celebrate the history of the Women's Suffrage Movement. Also consider stops at the William Seward House Museum and a boat tour or walk along the Cayuga-Seneca Canal (which connected the pivotal Erie Canal with the Finger Lakes and global commerce). The town has concerts and festivals throughout the year, including the annual Jazz Fest and Waterfall Music Festival. Stop at the Seneca Falls Heritage & Tourism Center which includes the Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry.

Wildlife Refuge – Take a leisurely stroll through Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge which is home to a wide variety of birds and animals. Try spotting a Bald Eagle!

Corning Museum of Glass – South of Watkins Glen, on Seneca Lake, is the town of Corning, New York, famous for its glass industry, with its world class museum. The museum includes glass pieces spanning 3,500 years, from Egyptian artifacts to modern pieces, plus workshops and demos.

Letchworth State Park – Often known as the "Grand Canyon of the East," this wonderful state park has the Genesee River roaring through it. The river has three major waterfalls between jagged cliffs reaching 600 feet in some places. It’s a hiker’s dream with more than 66 miles of trails. According to the Park, there is also horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing, as well as “nature, history and performing arts programs, guided walks, tours, a summer lecture series, whitewater rafting, kayaking, a pool for swimming and hot air ballooning.”

Wine Tasting – The Finger Lakes region is renowned for its increasingly well-regarded wines and has three wine trails – the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, Keuka Lake Wine Trail, and Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

Taughannock Falls State Park – the namesake falls alone is worth the trip to this popular state park in Trumansburg (on Cuyaga Lake). Taughannock Falls descends 215 feet over rocky cliffs towering 400 feet above the gorge. Check out the great views from the gorge and rim trails. The park also has a marina, boat rentals, fishing, camping, and other amenities.

Bike, Boat & Walk the Historic Erie Canal – Bike, paddle, boat, walk or ride the train at the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor. There are more than 25 museums and historical sites along the 100-mile canal corridor, plus four national parks! Boat tours are a journey back in time!

Scenic Drives – Consider one of many scenic drives to enjoy the majestic beauty of this area.

Watkins Glen State Park - Seneca Falls, NY Activities
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Boat Tours
  • Swimming
  • Museums
  • Historic Sites
  • Scenic Drives
  • Water Activities
  • Canoeing, Kayaking, & Paddling
  • Hiking
  • Hunting
  • Fishing
  • Snowshoeing/X-Country Skiing
RV Campgrounds Near Watkins Glen State Park - Seneca Falls, NY

The Finger Lakes region offers many great towns and parks for camping. There are more than 15 state parks with camping from which to choose: Buttermilk Falls State Park, Fair Haven Beach State Park, Cayuga Lake State Park, Fillmore Glen State Park, Gilbert Lake State Park, Hamlin Beach State Park, Keuka Lake State Park, Letchworth State Park, Newtown Battlefield Reservation State Park, Robert H. Treman State Park, Simpson State Park, Stony Brook State Park, Taughannock State Park, and Watkins Glen State Park. The Finger Lakes area also has plenty of private RV parks as well. Let AdventureGenie help you find the perfect campground for your road trip through the Finger Lakes!

Stop 3: Cooperstown, NY
1-2 day stay
Description - Cooperstown

Cooperstown, New York, with its Baseball Hall of Fame, is an iconic stop on an American road trip. Most folks don’t know that Cooperstown also has an historic diamond mine, caverns, a picturesque lake, and an utterly charming town. Even those who aren’t avid baseball fans will enjoy Cooperstown

Top Things to Do - Cooperstown

Just walking around Cooperstown will charm your socks off, but be sure to check out these area attractions:

National Baseball Hall of Fame – In the town where baseball first began in 1839, the history of America’s favorite pastime is wonderfully displayed at this iconic, world class museum. Baseball fans will be in heaven here!

Cooperstown Dream Park – Youth baseball players dream of getting to play in Cooperstown, home of the prestigious American Youth Baseball Hall of Fame Invitational Tournaments. The park’s goal is to “provide a life-enriching experience for young boys and girls who love the game of baseball.” And boy-oh-boy do they fulfill their mission! With 22 fields and wonderfully organized programs, kids and parents enjoy competition and camaraderie here.

Museums – If you’ve had enough of baseball, check out the Fenimore Art Museum, the Farmers’ Museum, and the Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad.

The Otesaga Resort – on the shores of Lake Otesaga near downtown Cooperstown, step back to the days of grandeur at this historic and grand resort with lovely grounds and good dining options.

Herkimer Diamond Mines – prospect for diamonds...sort of! The “diamonds” are actually quartz crystals and the above ground surface mine is a fun activity for kids. Also enjoy a huge jewelry store, a museum, a fossil-and-gemstone sluicing area, and "Randy" the authentic dinosaur skull. The mines also happen to have a KOA Resort.

Cavern Tours – Explore the Howe Caverns and the Secret Caverns for some cool and dark fun.

Cooperstown, NY Activities
  • Museums
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Canoeing, Kayaking, & Paddling
  • Fishing
  • Cave Tours
  • Mine Tours
RV Campgrounds Near Cooperstown, NY

You will find plenty of camping options in and around Cooperstown. State parks include Glimmerglass State Park, Betty & Wilbur Davis State Park, and Gilbert Lake State Park. Cooperstown has plenty of nearby private campgrounds. Let AdventureGenie help you find a great campground to visit baseball history in Cooperstown!

Stop 4: Lake George, NY
1-3 day stay
Description - Lake George

About 200 miles northeast of the Finger Lakes (and 100 miles northeast of Cooperstown) is another long, thin and beautiful lake in the Adirondack Mountains on the border of Vermont and New York State. Lake George is popular as a vacation playground – with boating, fishing, hiking, dining, and loads of natural beauty. Accommodations range from ultra-posh to rustic, and everything in between. Plenty of campgrounds and state parks make this an ideal spot on your RV road trip to Lake George and Upstate New York. Be sure to check out the lovely town of Saratoga Springs (just south of the village of Lake George) with its famed thoroughbred horse racing track and outdoor performing arts center. Starting in 1864, the track has hosted the Travers Stakes, the oldest major thoroughbred horse race in the United States. The track is open July – September annually. The town of Lake George is busy during the summer months but does offer loads of amenities. Bolton Landing and Diamond Point are also great lakeside towns.

Top Things to Do - Lake George

While relaxing and water activities on the crystal-clear waters of Lake George may be all you want, there are plenty of other fun family-friendly things to see and do:

Lake George – the bustling small town of Lake George is filled with souvenir shops, ice cream shops, and the like, near and on Canada Street. Popular "Million Dollar Beach" has lifeguards, swimming areas, parking, and a public boat launch.

Boating, Rafting, Cruises & Watersports – Finding fun things to do on the water is easy and rentals are plentiful (including parasailing, jet skis, wakeboards and scuba diving). Nearby Bolton Landing also offers water activities.

Moreau Lake State Park – This 6,200-acre state park on the southwest shore of Lake George, with 20 miles of hiking trails, offers camping, picnic facilities, beaches, shower facilities, boat launches, fishing, hunting and more.

Fort William Henry Museum – This living history museum with live character actors is actually a British-built fort from the 1700s and takes you back in time to the French and Indian Wars.

Great Camp Sagamore Museum – This National Historic Landmark showcases grand Adirondack architecture and takes you back to the Gilded Age when the wealthy vacationed here at 27 "camps." They offer guided tours of the facilities as well as guided hikes and paddle tours.

Hyde Collection Art Museum & Historic House – This small art museum houses a world class collection of European and American artists, including Botticelli, El Greco, Rembrandt, Rubens, Degas, Seurat, Picasso, Renoir, Eakins, Hassam, Homer, and Whistler.

Scenic Drives – Consider a scenic drive for vistas of the lake and Adirondacks. Great in summer and even better during fall foliage.

Saratoga Race Course – This thoroughbred racecourse has been delighting fans for more than 150 years. Tours are available and the track Is only open in the summer months. Get ready to place your bets!

Saratoga Performing Arts Center – This world-class performing arts venue is set inside the 2,400-acre Saratoga Spa State Park, with hiking trails, tennis courts, a pool complex, and two beautiful golf courses. Open in summer, the Center offers music, drama and educational activities and more.

Saratoga Casino – One of the most popular entertainment venues in the area, the casino offers live harness racing on its track, multiple dining venues, a casino, and live entertainment.

Hike in the Adirondack Mountains – Find the perfect trail to enjoy the Adirondacks and lake views.

Fort Ticonderoga – North of Lake George on the southern shore of Lake Champlain is the massive Fort Ticonderoga, built in the 18th Century by the French (and now a great living history museum). It played a pivotal role in the French and Indian War and the American Revolution. Fun for kids and adults.

Amusement Parks – Visit nearby amusement parks like Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark and the Lake George Expedition Park for fun-filled family entertainment.

Lake George, NY Activities
  • Boating
  • Beaches
  • Watersports
  • Swimming
  • Canoeing, Kayaking, & Paddling
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Golf
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Museums
  • Historic Sites
  • Performing Arts
  • Racetracks
  • Casinos
RV Campgrounds Near Lake George, NY

Finding a good campground – public or private – is easy in and around Lake George as long you plan in advance during the busy summer season. States parks (and those on state land) with campgrounds include: Moreau Lake State Park, Hearthstone Point Campground, Lake George Battleground Campground, Eagle point Campground, Rogers Rock Campground and Scaroon Manor State Park. Many private RV parks and resorts offer plenty of activities and amenities for the whole family. Let AdventureGenie help you find a great campground for your road trip to Lake George and Saratoga Springs.

Stop 5: Lake Placid, NY
1-3 day stay
Description - Lake Placid

About 90 minutes north of Lake George is another charming mountain lake town. Lake Placid is famous for hosting both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics and is a great winter sports destination. But Lake Placid, much like Lake George, is a wonderful playground in the summer and stunning when fall colors are gleaming. Adirondack Park’s 6.1 million acres (larger than Yellowstone, Glacier and Everglades National Parks combined!) are ready to be explored with great hiking, rivers, streams and wildlife. The Olympic Center and Museum showcase the area’s Olympic legacy and the 1980 “Miracle on Ice,” when the underdog U.S. Men’s Hockey Team triumphed over the U.S.S.R. The town of Lake Placid actually sits on the shores of Mirror Lake, just north of its namesake lake. Spot some of the Adirondack Great Camps which were constructed during the Gilded Age by the wealthy to blend into the natural environment. The mountain lake vistas and fresh mountain air will delight, no matter when you visit. Let AdventureGenie help you plan the perfect RV road trip to Lake Placid and the Adirondacks!

Top Things to Do - Lake Placid

Winter, Spring, Summer, or Fall – the Lake Placid region has an overabundance of activities. Here are a few of the most popular:

Whiteface Mountain – Hike or drive to just near the summit of New York State’s fifth highest mountain. On a clear day you can see the Green Mountains of Vermont, the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and the skyline of Montreal. Whiteface Mountain is used in the winter for skiing and Olympic Alpine training.

Canoeing, Kayaking, & Paddling – both lake and river paddling are great options in the Adirondacks.

Olympic Sites – Lake Placid’s Olympic history is not all in the past. There are several training camps today for various Alpine sports. The venues that were used during past Olympics are collectively known as the Legacy Sites, and they still host events today. So check the schedules to plan your trip.

Fishing – Avid and novice fishermen and women will find plenty of catches in the many lakes and streams near Lake Placid.

Hiking and the High Peaks – Rivers, valleys, lakes, ponds, and mountains make this area a hiker’s dream. The 46 highest peaks in the Adirondacks are known as the “High Peaks”,” and the Lake Placid area has nine of them, most of them over 4,000 feet high. There are plenty of less intimidating hikes as well.

Adirondack Experience – The Museum on Blue Lake – sitting on 120 acres on Blue Mountain Lake, the Adirondack Experience, explores the past and present, present and future. It has 24 galleries and historic buildings, boat builders, and basket makers. Hiking trails and dining. The massive new "Life in the Adirondacks" interactive museum exhibition has wonderful artifacts, images, films and audio experiences.

Ausable Chasm – this wonderful museum (open in summer only), will help you learn about the history, culture, and artifacts of the Adirondack region. It has wonderful restored homes and cabins as well as boats, art, artifacts, tools, railroad cars, and more. Kids and adults will love the bobsled rides!

Boating & Watersports – Bring your own, rent one or take a boat tour on Mirror Lake or Lake Placid. Watersports are a lot of fun on these calm mountain lakes.

Lake Placid, NY Activities
  • Hiking
  • Fishing
  • Biking
  • Canoeing, Kayaking, & Paddling
  • Boating
  • Beaches
  • Watersports
  • Winter Sports
  • Golf
  • Museums
  • Performing Arts
  • Museums
RV Campgrounds Near Lake Placid, NY

There are plenty of great public and private campgrounds in and around Lake Placid. Public camping options include: Meadowbrook Campground, Lake Placid Volunteer Fire Department Campground, Meadowbrook – Adirondack Preserve Campground, and Wilmington Notch Campground. Let AdventureGenie help you find a great campground for your road trip to Lake Placid!

Like this GenieTrip? Pressing “Take This Trip” will input this into our Trip Planner so you can start planning!

Special Thanks to Karen T. for this GenieTrip Itinerary! We welcome suggestions for other great trips from our GenieUsers!

Upstate New York Road Trip: Natural Wonders and History
Niagara Falls – Watkins Glen State Park – Cooperstown – Lake George – Lake Placid
Length
5-9 days
Distance
469 mi
Stops
5

Some folks think snow and cold when they think of Upstate New York (and that can be true in the winter months), but this area is a less well-known gem for vacationing – it is chock full of incredible natural beauty, magnificent waterfalls, countless freshwater lakes, mountains, great museums, charming towns, performing arts, and some of the nicest state parks in the country. Summer is the busiest season, but fall foliage time is equally enchanting and less crowded (albeit many of the warm weather beach and water activities may not be possible). This trip starts at iconic and inspiring Niagara Falls, continues to the beautiful and outdoorsy Finger Lakes Region, then on to Cooperstown of baseball fame, recreation-rich Lake George, and then finishes with Lake Placid (think Winter Olympics) in the Adirondack Mountains. There are hikes galore, boating and fishing, whitewater rafting, scenic railroads, scenic drives, casinos, caves, historic sites, amusement parks, casinos, and racetracks. You could spend a month in the area and never be bored. The beauty and activities in this region are sure to enchant!

Who Will Love This Trip

This is a trip with a mix of sight-seeing, nature, and water activities. Kids will enjoy this as will active adults. Summer is the mildest weather, given the long, cold and snowy winters. Fall (with stunning fall foliage) and Spring are also good times to visit.
Top