Welcome

Upstate New York Towns: My Favorites to Visit

map of upstate New York towns
Here is a map with some small upstate New York towns and the roads to get there

I grew up on Long Island but fell in love with the mountains of upstate NY during family vacations. As a young adult, I spent 6 years living in rural western New York south of Rochester. This prompted me to write this post based on my love of these small upstate New York towns. I hope you fall in love with them through my words and pictures so that you are inspired to visit.

Here are some affiliate links with things you might need for your trip:

Upstate New York Towns: Geneseo

A house covered with snow in one of the upstate New York towns
My old college home on Elm Street

An Anglican take on an Iroquois word meaning “beautiful valley”, this Geneseo is aptly named. I first moved here as a college student. The town was easily walkable which was great because I didn’t own a car. However, the view led me to apply to the college. It reminded me of my summer vacations in the mountains at Lake George.

The University

brick clock tower covered with vines in one of the upstate New York towns
SUNY Geneseo Campus

Part of the State University of New York, Geneseo ranks high as a high quality education for a low price. Not only that but there are 50 undergraduate degree programs and graduate programs in accounting and education. In addition, teacher to student ratio is small. The college started as a teaching college in 1871. As a result brick buildings covered with ivy decorate the campus. Of course since that time the college has added new buildings keeping with the original theme. In addition, they started using geo thermal heating a few years ago to conserve fuels.

Nearby the student union is a gazebo where you can sit and watch the sunset over the valley. Moreover, in fall the leaves on the trees turn vibrant color. Then in winter the the campus becomes a winter wonderland covered with snow. The north side of campus was famous for kids traying down the hill.

college dorm with willow trees covered with ice
Monroe Dorm after the ice storm

The Town

Bear statue covered with snow in Geneseo, one of the upstate New York towns
The bear is still there!

Quaint shops fill main street. You can visit Sundance Books run by hippies that went to school here and fell in love with the town. There is the Big Bear Cafe where you can find old timers sitting around drinking coffee at any time of the day shooting the breeze. Then there is the bear statue in the fountain in the center of town. Rumor has it that if a virgin graduates from the college the bear will climb down from the statue and run away. Needless to say, there it remains to this day.

Several bars are within walking distance of the college and main street so no need to find a designated driver. The younger crowds head to the Vital Spot or the In Between, named so because of its location between campus and main street. Both have dancing. If you prefer someplace quieter to mingle with friends there is the Palace Lounge or . My friends and I spent many nights (and afternoons) at the Idle Hour. This was a combination college student/locals hang out. Some weekends they had live bands.

Hungry? Stop in Aunt Cookies Subs or head across the street for Momma Mia’s pizza. Make sure you get blue cheese to dip the crust in.

Upstate New York Towns: Conesus

shows a boat on a small lake in one of upstate New York towns
Conesus Lake in Summer

Fresh out of college and newly married, my husband and I moved to a cottage on Conesus Lake. We rented a three bedroom two bath furnished place right on the lake. It had a dock and a little rowboat. The great room had a huge picture window that we joked was our tv. Before the weather turned cold we would watch people waterskiing, canoeing, fishing, and motorboating. During the fall, the reflection of the leaves in the water was magical. Then in winter when the lake froze over we would watch people snowmobile across the lake. Many of the cottages are available for seasonal rentals.

I returned a few years ago with my current husband and we stumbled upon Deer Run Winery at one end of the lake. Of course we had to go in for a tasting and buy a few souvenirs.

shows the front of a winery in one of the many upstate New York towns
Eagle Crest Vineyards

Upstate New York Towns: Leicester/ Mount Morris

a woman standing next to a haystack in a field in Leicester, NY
The haystack is almost as big as me!

These are small towns even by small town standards. I have included them because I have stayed in Leicester many times in the home of my ex-in-laws who are the best family someone could ask for. It is next to Mount Morris which contains the Mount Morris Dam and one entrance to Letchworth State Park. Other than that these towns have only convenient stores with a gas station or a tiny main street. They are worth driving through if you are driving past on 390. It is worth the detour, especially in fall to drive down winding country roads with all the vibrant fall colors.

Planning your Trip to Upstate New York

Here are the average temperatures for the Rochester area so you can use this to figure out what to pack. However, remember that average temperatures are just that, average. I have seen it get down to 40 F at night during the summer and a heat wave of 70F in February so be prepared when packing, and check the weather ahead of time.

a chart of average temperatures for upstate New York towns

To get here you will need to fly into the Frederick Douglass-Greater Rochester International Airport. You will definitely need to rent a car as you will be traveling to remote areas, which is half the fun!

Check Trip advisor or Airbnb for places to stay and seasonal things to do. If this is your first booking through Airbnb, click here for a one time discount. You can read more about Letchworth State Park and find additional websites in my post Letchworth State Park, New York, a Well Kept Secret. The Finger Lakes Region also boasts many winery trails one being The Seneca Lake Wine Trail. You can pick up many brochures at the airport.

These affiliate links display great gifts for the traveler in your life:

I hope you enjoyed reading my nostalgic ramblings about upstate New York towns. I hope it inspires you to research the area further and immerse yourself in the culture by making the trip.


Warning: Use of undefined constant php – assumed ‘php’ (this will throw an Error in a future version of PHP) in /home/customer/www/exploretheroadwithdonnamarie.com/public_html/wp-content/plugins/magical-posts-display/includes/blocks/posts-tab.php on line 421
shows the road to Sanibel from the passenger seat of a vehicle
Road Trip Guide: How to plan and execute the ultimate journey
December 14, 2020

Central Florida This road trip guide will help alleviate the bumps in the road so to speak. Often when people think of a road trip,…

Read More
shows the road to Sanibel from the passenger seat of a vehicle
Road Trip, to New Orleans
January 4, 2021

A few years ago, my husband, Dan and I took a road trip from South Florida to New Orleans for our anniversary. Originally, we wanted…

Read More
Important People in Black History: Where To Learn About Them
February 15, 2021

Explore the road with me as we journey through Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee to learn about important people in black history. Originally this was meant…

Read More
Fall Foliage and Festivals: Best Destinations Around the World
August 23, 2021

The air turns crisp, the leaves change colors, and in the USA it’s football season. However, fall is so much more. In addition to fall…

Read More
Blueberry Wine: Boost Your Immune System with these Sensational Libations
August 30, 2021

Central Florida has more to offer than theme parks. On a recent trip to central Florida, my husband and I decided to check out some…

Read More
Shows a statue of three musicians on Bourbon Street in New Orleans
New Orleans, Hidden Gems
August 19, 2020

Sculpture Garden at NOMA subscribe here New Orleans is mostly associated with Mardi Gras, women flashing their breasts for beads and drunken debauchery. However, New…

Read More
Shows a bike decorated with blue and white flowers in Tarpon Springs
Robust Tarpon Springs, Authentic Greek in America
August 4, 2020

Bike Art in Tarpon Springs by Warren Gregory sign up for my newsletter The town of Tarpon Springs started as a Greek sponge harvesting village.…

Read More
Small Town Florida: Enjoy the Hidden Magic and Get Away From it All
July 19, 2021

As we drove up Florida Turnpike towards small town Florida and away from our crazy South Florida lives, I began to relax. My tiki bar…

Read More
shows limestone formations in Florida Caverns State Park
Caverns in Florida: Sleep under the Stars
May 3, 2021

Did you ever want to try spelunking? Experience timeless caverns in Florida, and then go camping at Florida Caverns State Park. We initially stopped here…

Read More
Romantic Rentals Panama City Beach, Share the Love
April 5, 2021

When looking for a beach getaway, look for rentals Panama City Beach. sign up for newsletter The Florida Panhandle has approximately 200 miles of white…

Read More
Great Romantic Getaways in Florida: Where to go for Valentine Day
January 11, 2021

Are you looking for ideas for romantic getaways in Florida? I compiled this list of romantic spots in time for you to make plans for…

Read More
view of The Gulf of Mexico from Cedar Key
Cedar Key, Explore a Private Escape for Two
September 22, 2020

The Island Place Cedar Key, a cluster of small islands west of Ocala, rests in the Gulf of Mexico. My husband and I stayed at…

Read More
No post found!
No post found!

1 thought on “Upstate New York Towns: My Favorites to Visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *