The name ‘New York’ no doubt conjures up visions of towering skyscrapers, yellow cabs and coffees in Central Park. The bright lights of the Big Apple are world-famous; millions flock to them each year and most fall in love with what they see.
Of course, New York City is the biggest urban area in the much larger New York State. In fact, Manhattan is merely the south-eastern tip of a region that’s slightly larger than England. And that’s why we think that what lies a few hours’ drive out of the city may be its best-kept secret.
Instead of just staying in Manhattan on your New York city break, hire yourself a car and head out on the open road. From tiny farming communities to sleepy towns and modern cities, Interstate 87 and US Route 20 pack in all you could possibly want to see. The two roads take you the entire width and half the length of the state, serving up a hefty slice of Americana in the process.
A Road Trip from New York to Buffalo – Via Albany
9hrs 30mins drive time
Day 1 – New York to Albany
We begin our journey in the Big Apple. You’ll need to head north out of the city along Interstate 87. After just under an hour’s drive, you’ll reach the spectacularly beautiful Harriman State park. If you fancy sparing an hour or two, New York state’s second largest park is well worth a visit. With over 200km of hiking trails to enjoy, it’s something of a forested paradise, and we strongly recommend a picnic on the edges of Lake Sebago.
As your journey continues north, parallel with the Hudson River, you’ll reach the town of Kingston. Pull in here for your first taste of small town America. The Uptown Stockade District was the original capital of New York State, and as such it’s home to some of the finest period architecture in this corner of the U.S. You’ll also find the Hudson River Maritime Museum, where you can learn about the rich industrial heritage of the region.
If you’re feeling peckish, dive into the town of Saugerties 10 minutes further north. If you’re looking to eat on the road, you can’t beat Slices of Saugerties for an authentic, New York-style pizza – but if you’ve time to spare, grab a seat in the Love Bites Café. For brunch, we can’t recommend the corned beef hash bowl enough, but they’ve managed to make the humble omelette something of a speciality too. Later in the day, their locally sourced shrimp scampi or the viva la vegan burger are must-trys, followed by a slice of Apple Blueberry Pie to top it all off.
A little under an hour more and you’ll arrive in the city of Albany, which is technically New York State’s capital – believe it or not. We recommend you rest your head here for the night – if only after enjoying a pint or two at the City Beer Hall.
Day 2 – Albany to Auburn
With three and a half hours of driving today, you’ll want to rise reasonably early. To see the best of New York state, you need to follow US Route 20 out of Albany. Interstate 90 might be the faster option, but you won’t get to see as much along this fast-moving freeway.
Passing through a mixture of quaint towns and open countryside, you’ll eventually reach East Springfield. Take a left turn here and you’ll cut through Glimmerglass State Park, skirting the banks of the beautiful Otsego Lake. Where the waters end, you’ll enter Cooperstown. This small and unassuming little spot, known as “America’s Most Perfect Village”, is home to a surprising number of attractions, including a Heroes of Baseball Wax Museum, the National Baseball Hall of Fame, an Opera House and a Farming Museum. For lunch, we recommend the Cooperstown Diner, where a massive stack of pancakes should be in order.
A good two and a half hours along Route 20 and you’ll reach Cazenovia, where just off the road, you’ll spot the Empire Farm Brewery. This area was once the hop capital of the US, so it’s no surprise you’ll find plenty of breweries in this neck of the woods. This one’s brand new, only having been built in 2016, and offers not only a tour of the facility but a swanky restaurant and bar. As long as you’re not the designated driver – why not sample what’s on offer?
Re-joining Route 20, you’ll continue west for the best part of an hour. We recommend you rest your head in the town of Auburn, where there’s plenty of large hotels and all the amenities you’ll need.
Day 3 – Auburn to Buffalo
Setting off along Route 20 once again on the final day of your road trip, you’ve about three hours of driving ahead of you today. To your left-hand side, you’ll pass the very northern tips of the famous Finger Lakes, one of which the town Canandaigua borders. Here, the Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion are a must see. The spectacular house and its 50 acres of botanical gardens are like something from a fairy tale, and make for a dreamy afternoon if the sun’s shining.
Continuing for around an hour, a left turn at the junction with state Route 19 will take you north to the town of Le Roy, where a seriously unusual attraction awaits. Often called ‘America’s favourite dessert’, Jell-O was invented here back in 1897 and the town now hosts a dedicated Jell-O Museum. Packed full of quirky artefacts, it’s a journey through the history of a true American delicacy.
Returning to Route 20, you’re just an hour from the city of Buffalo. It’s here that your road trip will finish, but the city’s well worth a day or two’s stay. Attractions include the Buffalo Zoo, Botanical Gardens and the Albright-Knox Art Gallery – and also not to mention the world-famous Niagara Falls.
Discover the real America when you head out on your New York State road trip. Let us get you there with flights from Manchester to New York.