Upstate New York is one of the most scenic and laidback areas in the United States. It’s the complete opposite of New York City. One way to truly enjoy and appreciate this part of the country is by taking a scenic drive. The three best scenic drives for Upstate New York are covered below. 

Route 80

Route 80 cuts through the middle of the state and is primarily an east-west route. Starting from the East, this drive crosses the Mohawk River. From there, the first recommended stop is the Arkell Museum, which collects, preserves, researches, and presents American Art and Mohawk Valley History. Continue east until hitting the Owen D. Young School, which is known for its architecture and grounds, including small waterfalls in the back. 

The next stop is Ostego Lake in Cooperstown. In addition to Cooperstown being home to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Ostego Lake is one of the state’s prettiest lakes. Activities include fishing, boating, and swimming—fish for pickerel and bass in the spring and lake trout and smallmouth bass in the fall. 

Gilligan’s Island ice cream shop in Sherburne is an excellent place to end the outbound trip. It’s a unique ice cream shop because it’s possible to mix ice cream with frozen yogurt and soft serve, and there are specialty ice creams based on each holiday.

Route 30

Begin your trip at the New York and Pennsylvania border and drive northeast through the Catskills. The beautiful scenery will include rivers, lakes, peaks, and small hamlets. Along the way, you will find there are plenty of antique shops in this area as well. Continue north to the peaceful and secluded Woodchuck Lodge, the historic house of naturalist and writer John Burroughs. 

Next up will be the Town of Middleburgh. Despite being a small town, there is much to do and explore. This includes Vroman’s Nose Hiking Trail, Green Wolf Brewing Company, Dr. Best House & Medical Museum, Middleburgh Winery, Barber’s Farm, and Under the Nose Gifts n Goodies. 

The best place to end the trip is at Landis Arboretum. This is a unique greenhouse thanks to old-growth farms, trees, and shrubs worldwide, a nationally recognized collection of oaks, and 8+ miles of trails. 

Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway

Start in Wilmington and journey through the Adirondacks. Stop at all nine viewing points for the best experience. The 4,867-foot ascent will end at the top of Whiteface Mountain, the fifth highest peak in the state. Eat at the Castle Café at the top of the mountain while enjoying views of Lake Placid below.