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What to see in New York State: 11 little-known but interesting places


Alina Prikhodko

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More than 2022 million people visited New York State in 291,5, many of whom headed to Upstate to experience what it has to offer.

Believe me, there's a lot to see, from a historic Native site in the Finger Lakes hills to a Jewish refugee museum on the shores of Lake Ontario. Travel and leisure compiled a list of hidden gems in the Empire State.

1. Sam's Point Preserve and the Ellenville Ice Caves

Sam's Point is the highest peak in the Shawangunk Mountains, popularly called the Gunks. This natural area is located within Minnewaska State Park, a popular local destination for hiking, rock climbing, and scenic panoramic views of Indian Rock.

If you visit this park, don't miss the opportunity to explore the Ellenville Fault Ice Caves, a series of trails and glacial caves carved out by the movement of the Earth's core. These ancient dwellings are culturally significant as they once served as a gathering place and refuge for Native Americans. The Verkerder Kill waterfall, which can be seen from the trail (it is on private property), is also worth a visit.

2. Buffalo's West Side Bazaar

This international food and shopping market consists of stalls owned by immigrants and refugees who received microloans through the Westminster Economic Development Initiative (WEDI) in Buffalo. For many, this was the first step to a new life.

On the subject: Holiday Fun in the Tri-State: Where to Go and What to See

WEDI, a non-profit business incubator, not only provides microloans to aspiring entrepreneurs, but also organizes educational programs to ensure their success. Newest point The Bazaar opened in 2023 on Niagara Street and features an African grocery store and eateries serving Egyptian, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Korean, Congolese and more.

3. Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum

This small but important museum, opened in 2002, tells the story of the 982 refugees, mostly Jews, who came to the country as part of the American Safe Haven program during World War II. Most of these refugees, many of whom escaped Nazi concentration camps, were housed at Fort Ontario in Oswego. The exhibits presented here tell the story of their journey and experiences escaping persecution in Europe.

4. Genesee Country Village & Museum

On 240 hectares of the museum's territory there are three American villages, into which 68 houses and buildings were moved from nearby cities. These are the Gas Light District (1860-1900), Center Village (1830-1870), and the Pioneer Settlement (1790-1820), home to a farm, pottery studio, school, and working brewery. It hosts special events throughout the year, including the Landing House Naturalization Ceremony on the Fourth of July and holiday programs highlighting the traditions of the cultures that settled upstate New York in the 4th and XNUMXth centuries.

5. New York's Amish Trail

The largest portion of the Amish community lives in Pennsylvania, with Old Order Amish also concentrated in southwestern New York State. To experience their culture, drive through the bucolic countryside of Cattaraugus County and the Chautauca-Allegheny region south of Buffalo and find the New York Amish Trail.

Hand-painted signs indicate shops and small businesses selling baked goods, jams and handmade items such as blankets. (Stores are closed on Sundays and some on Wednesdays.) And while you may be tempted to take photos for social media, the Amish prefer not to be photographed.

6. Ganondagan State Historic Site

Located in Victor, Ontario, Ganondagan State Historic Site allows visitors to experience five centuries of Indigenous art, culture and history, as well as learn about the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederacy and its message of peace. You can also tour the full-size Seneca Bark Longhouse, which was recreated based on Native American life in the 1600s.

7. Rochester Public Market

The Rochester City Public Market, which has been open since 1905, has more than 300 vendors. They offer local produce as well as meat, seafood, eggs, dairy and a variety of prepared foods from throughout the Finger Lakes region. The market is home to coffee shops, breweries and restaurants, including Velvet Belly, where Chef Jeremy Nucelli prepares some of Rochester's best sushi and Asian-influenced dishes.

At the end of November, the market transforms into a festive place decorated with twinkling lights, selling freshly cut Christmas trees, wreaths and handicrafts. There are special events here with music, shopping, horse-drawn carriages and an appearance by Santa.

8. Sonnenberg gardens

The Sonnenberg estate includes a late 1,1th-century Queen Anne-style mansion, a greenhouse complex, and nine historical themed gardens around the world. The first phase of the $XNUMX million renovation has now been completed and will soon feature a new café, visitor center and educational space. The estate is open from May to October.

9. Valcour Island

Accessible only by boat, Valcour Island attracts nature and history buffs for its recreational and camping opportunities, as well as its connection to the Civil War. This is one of the six islands of Lake Champlain near Plattsburgh, New York, and the site of a decisive battle during the struggle for independence.

Valcour Island has 29 primitive campsites and 11 miles of hiking trails, one of which takes you to the Bluff Point Lighthouse, built in 1874 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors must make their own way to the island by boat (from Peru, New York) as there are no ferries or public transportation available.

10. Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center

This small museum and heritage center is located on the banks of the Niagara River, which was the last barrier to freedom for slaves traveling north on the Underground Railroad. The museum's permanent exhibit, “Another River to Cross,” takes visitors on a fun, guided tour of the museum. She tells the personal stories of freedom seekers who fled the South before and during the Civil War. From the museum, housed in a former 1863 U.S. Customs House, you can walk across the street and stand among the remains of the Freedom Bridge where most slaves crossed into Canada.

11. Walkway Over the Hudson

Walkway Over the Hudson is the world's longest elevated pedestrian bridge. This steel cantilever bridge spans the Hudson River and connects Poughkeepsie to the east and Highland to the west. Once a railway bridge, it was converted into a pedestrian path in 2009 and is now a prime spot for running, walking, cycling and leaf-peeping in the fall.


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