New York

The Most Beautiful Places in Upstate New York

Get outta town and explore them all.

Jim Vallee/Shutterstock
Jim Vallee/Shutterstock
Jim Vallee/Shutterstock

As we carry on in this strange there-but-not-quite-there stage of the pandemic, we may still be baking zeitgeisty loaves of banana bread but we’re not holding ourselves hostage either. With the COVID vaccine rollout underway, big vacations are on the horizon and now is the time for easy escapes to help us remember that just because the future feels uncertain, it doesn’t mean weekends have to be.

From bird sanctuaries and hiking on a treetop trail, to secret sidewalks or finding safe haven at a historic estate, getting lost in the most beautiful places of upstate New York-from the Catskills to Rochester-has never been better. And while the State of New York has returned to a new normal, check the following destination websites for the latest updates and stick to the CDC’s recommendation to wear masks and continue social distancing.

Dave Smith/Flickr
Dave Smith/Flickr
Dave Smith/Flickr

Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area

Fort Edward 
Fly the coop to this 13,000-acre bird sanctuary near the historic Hudson River town of Fort Edward. A year-round birder’s paradise amidst picturesque farmland and rolling hills, the critical¬†grassland habitat is a riveting experience, even for those who don’t know Barry. Among the more than 100 species that breed here, expect to see snowy owls, red-tailed hawks, Northern Harriers, and the state-endangered short-eared owl. This offbeat refuge is a local secret, so it’ll likely be just you and the raptors as you walk the 1/2-mile trail and take in 360-degree views from the observation deck.
Amazing Airbnb Nearby: Out on a Limb – A Magical Treehouse

Troutbeck
Troutbeck
Troutbeck

Troutbeck

Amenia
Follow in the footsteps of Hemingway, Hughes, Thoreau, and Emerson, by visiting the Troutbeck, a timeless cool kids club for creatives, forest bathers, and those who appreciate laid-back luxury (especially when it’s affordable). Since 1765, the property has served as a country inn, a tavern, and the site of two meetings that would lead to the formation of the NAACP. Today, in a new era of workations, it’s not the mountains but this romantic 250-acre historic estate that’s calling. The myriad book nooks are intoxicating; the farm-to-table restaurant alone merits the two-hour train ride; the new wellness facility is like a shot of serotonin; and the activities are top-notch in any season-think tennis, swimming and riverside hammocks in summer and axe-throwing, falconry excursions, and apr√®s-ski in winter. But the true beauty of Troutbeck is how quickly you’re able to simply relax. And out of office or not, don’t be surprised to find yourself dabbling with a pen and sipping an old-fashioned like it’s your job.

Flickr/Wild Center
Flickr/Wild Center
Flickr/Wild Center

The Wild Walk

Tupper Lake
Head to this 81-acre playground for nature lovers. Nestled 45 feet up in the Adirondack forest at The Wild Center (the first LEED-certified museum in New York), the permanent High Line-inspired Wild Walk exhibit is open for reservations and is the only elevated treetop trail in the state. Journey up from the forest floor to tower high in the air with a (literal) bird’s eye view from their special human-size nest, and take in the spectacular panorama from atop a four-story white pine (the tallest trees in the Adirondacks) while on the lookout to spot bald eagles.
Amazing Airbnb nearby: Eagles Lair Lodge

Gary Glaser/Shutterstock
Gary Glaser/Shutterstock
Gary Glaser/Shutterstock

Letchworth State Park

Castile
Try your hardest not to over-Instagram when you visit Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” It harbors three spectacular waterfalls, where you’re guaranteed to see rainbows. Whether you hike along the 66 miles of trails, take an air balloon ride, or kayak down the roaring Genesee River, this is one for the New York sightseeing bucket list.
Amazing Airbnb nearby: Nunda Ranch

Graycliff
Graycliff
Graycliff

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Graycliff

Derby
Head to Derby, a tiny Lake Erie-based hamlet, for a private behind-the-scenes Gardens and Grounds tour or Master Architectural tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Graycliff. Built from 1926-1931, the newly restored property sits at the edge of the lake, where the 70-foot limestone cliffs served as inspiration for Wright’s work. For those seeking some alone time, self-guided tours to roam and adventure on your own are also available.
Amazing Airbnb nearby: The Luxurious Lakeside Retreat

Flickr/Miguel Vieira
Flickr/Miguel Vieira
Flickr/Miguel Vieira

The Devil’s Path

Catskills
You’ll sweat in places you didn’t know you could sweat while hiking Devil’s Path, but it’ll be worth it for the thrilling views from various summits like Twin Mountain, Indian Head, and Plateau Mountain. With over 14,000 feet of elevation change, this 25-mile trail is considered by many to be the toughest hike in the East.
Amazing Airbnb nearby: The Echo Hill Escape

Courtesy of The Corning Museum of Glass
Courtesy of The Corning Museum of Glass
Courtesy of The Corning Museum of Glass

The Corning Museum of Glass

Corning
The glass collections at this offbeat museum are intriguing, but it’s the striking 100,000-square-foot Contemporary Art + Design Wing that has out-of-towners (and non-glass gurus) planning a trip to the Finger Lakes for more than just wine and waterfalls. Live glassblowing demos are available daily, and current exhibitions include a showing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Corelle, in addition to the museum’s ongoing Innovation Center and the Jerome and Lucille Strauss Study Gallery with objects spanning 3,500 years.
Amazing Airbnb nearby: The Hand-Built Hilltop Cabin

Courtesy of Mike from Rochester Subway
Courtesy of Mike from Rochester Subway
Courtesy of Mike from Rochester Subway

The Secret Sidewalk

Rochester
A mile west of Ontario Beach Park, in the little hamlet of Charlotte, is the most idyllic street you’ve ever seen. Though it’s technically Rochester, it feels like you’ve landed in¬†Monet’s¬†Garden at Sainte-Adresse¬†in northwestern France. The Secret Sidewalk is a public walkway, but the residents who live in those big lakefront homes from the early 20th century would prefer their slice of paradise remain off the tourist checklist, so keep your cool, don’t take selfies, and just enjoy your Abbott’s Frozen Custard with the rest of the locals.
Amazing Airbnb nearby: The Lakeside Escape

Matt Champlin/Moment/Getty Images
Matt Champlin/Moment/Getty Images
Matt Champlin/Moment/Getty Images

Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen
While the Gorge Trail, which reopens for the season in late-May, may be the most popular attraction (think 200-foot cliffs, 19 waterfalls, and jaw-dropping Rainbow Falls Bridge), you can’t beat the beauty and solitude of the woodsy rim trails. The 2.6-mile out-and-back South Rim Trail has views overlooking the canyon, waterfalls, sculptures, and a stone arched bridge. Post-hike, grab a pint of Lake Life IPA and pulled pork nachos from Grist Iron Brewery.
Amazing Airbnb nearby: The A-Frame Oasis

Griffis Sculpture Park
Griffis Sculpture Park
Griffis Sculpture Park

Griffis Sculpture Park

East Otto
In the 1960s, artist Larry¬†Griffis¬†got the idea to create what would become the first¬†sculpture¬†park¬†in the United States while watching his children romp through the¬†ruins of an emperor’s villa in Italy. Today, visitors can bike 10 miles of trails, cruising around woods, fields, and ponds-not to mention over 250¬†sculptures¬†arranged by themes like animals, nudes, and castles. Rent a¬†bike from Tom’s Pro Bike in Buffalo ($50/day with saddle bag, flat pedals, cycling computer).
Amazing Airbnb nearby: The Ellicottville ChaletSign up here for our daily NYC email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun New York has to offer.

Lauren Matison is a freelance travel writer who hopes you have a beautiful day.

New York

Scavenge for Peeps Cookies and More Fun Treats in NYC This Easter

The best Easter desserts in NYC this spring include Easter Bunny Churros and Carrot Cake Macarons.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

As spring makes its way through New York City, not only do we get to enjoy beautiful weather, stunning cherry blossoms, and cool activities priced at $Free.99, but it’s also the perfect time for some limited-edition desserts.

With Easter fast approaching, bakeries are filling their shops with tons of chocolate eggs, carrot cake-flavoured everything and all types of flavours that offer both nostalgia and innovation within the city’s dessert landscape. After you’ve picked up a cake from the city’s best new bakeries, from Easter Bunny Churros to Carrot Cake Macarons, here are 8 Easter desserts to try in NYC right now.

Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery
Photo courtesy of Magnolia Bakery

Magnolia Bakery

Throughout April
Various locations
There’s great news for devotees of Magnolia Bakery’s Classic Banana Pudding: For Easter, the spot is mixing up the iconic dessert’s vanilla pudding with some carrot cake. The Carrot Cake Pudding is filled with freshly grated carrots, coconuts, pineapples, raisins, and walnuts. And if both bananas and carrots aren’t your thing, they’ll be offering their Classic Vanilla Cupcakes in pastel colours with a Cadbury chocolate egg hidden inside.

Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery
Photo courtesy of Funny Face Bakery

Funny Face Bakery

Through Easter Sunday
NoHo and Seaport
Known for their celebrity face and meme-worthy decorated cookies, fans of Funny Face Bakery know that a new fun design is always just around the corner. For Easter, they’ve created the adorable Hoppy Easter decorated cookie that resembles a classic box of marshmallow Peeps. Along with that, they also have the return of their fan-favourite Caramel Pretzel Chip cookie flavour, plus a set of three mini-decorated cookies perfect for gifting.

The Doughnut Project

Friday, April 7 through Easter Sunday
West Village
With the ever-changing flavours at The Doughnut Project, it’s super easy to miss out on trying out a new debut. But this Easter weekend, there will be two new flavours available. One is of course, a carrot cake doughnut topped with a cream cheese glaze, and the other is known as the Doughnut Nest-a French cruller “nest” with a cream-filled doughnut hole “egg” in the centre.

Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour
Photo by Cole Saladino, courtesy of The Fragile Flour

The Fragile Flour

Wednesday, April 5 through Easter Sunday
East Village
For stellar vegan desserts this holiday, head to The Fragile Flour, a plant-based bakery and dessert wine bar. They’re known for going all out for each holiday with a variety of new pastry options that you can pair perfectly with a glass of wine. This Easter, they’ll have a whole dessert menu that’s both delicious and gorgeous for posting on IG. The menu includes Stuffed Carrot Cake Cookies, a Lemon Cake (whole or by the slice), some festive cupcakes, and specialty macarons.

Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate
Photo courtesy of Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate

Through mid April
Midtown
For a luxurious take on Easter chocolates, browse the selections available at Kreuther Handcrafted Chocolate. You can even pick the Easter Signature Chef’s Selection for a special box curated by award-winning chefs. For something other than chocolate, choose between the Carrot Cake Macarons or the cake flavored Easter Marshmallow Trio, both of which are almost too cute to eat.

La Churreria

Throughout April
Nolita
This churro-centric spot is putting the cutest Easter spin on their crispy cinnamon churros by twisting them up into bunnies and bunny ears. At Churreria, choose from a Bunny Churro Lollipop topped with your choice of chocolate or dulce de leche and sprinkles, or the bunny ear churros in the Ube and Matcha ice cream sundae or the Ube Milkshake, both of which are made with ice cream from il laboratorio del gelato.

Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci
Photo by Briana Balducci

Lafayette

Throughout April
NoHo
You’ve surely seen this croissant tons of times while scrolling through IG or TikTok, whether it’s the Pain au Chocolat one or the latest of the month. Known as Supr√™mes, these filled croissants went viral and continue to live up to the hype each time a new flavour comes out. April’s flavour-sour cherry amaretto with a Luxardo custard and toasted almonds. While you’ll have to be super early and wait in line during one of their three drops of the day to get a taste, we promise you it’ll be worth it.

Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain
Photo courtesy of Levain

Levain

Seasonal
Various locations
We all know the iconic cookies from Levain-they’re gigantic, perfectly crispy and chewy, and well worth the long lines. For spring, the shop is launching a new flavour: Caramel Coconut Chocolate Chip. Filled with gooey caramel chips, fresh shredded coconut, and melty dark chocolate, it’s one you’ve got to try while it’s still around. To further celebrate the new season, all of Levain’s storefronts will be decked out in spring floral displays, serving as the perfect backdrop for pictures.

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Alaina Cintron is an Editorial Assistant at Thrillist. Her work can also be found in Westchester Magazine, Girls’ Life, and Spoon University. When she’s not at her desk typing away, you can find her exploring a local coffee shop or baking a new recipe.

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