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Colorful, Charming, Quirky: 40 drive-to gems in New York State
AAA Car & Travel Magazine
June 1, 2011

by Car & Travel
Original Publish Date - June 2011

Travel information:;
We asked colleagues; we traveled; we came up with the 40 coolest spots in the Empire State. We ignored internationally known “sights,” instead choosing those standing tall because of beauty, tranquility, excitement, even, idiosyncrasy. Of course you disagree with the list, so what would you add? Write to the editor, or e-mail us at

1. Wave Hill, The Bronx—gorgeous series of gardens overlooking the Hudson River (

2. Kate’s Lazy Meadow Motel, Mt. Tremper—Kate Pierson of rock band The B-52s owns this cool Catskills motel (

3. Shake Shack (Madison Square Park, Manhattan; Saratoga)—Still among the best burgers on Planet Earth, and now the hype has sizzled down, not a 45-minute wait (

4. Fort Montgomery, Peekskill—Revolutionary War battle site with Hudson River and Bear Mountain Bridge views (

5. Binghamton’s carousels—“Carousel Capital of the World”; those visiting all six, receive a special button (

6. Green and Round lakes, Fayetteville—near Syracuse, two pristine lakes, and a new beach

7. Elephant Hotel, Somers—Westchester County circus museum and a statue of an elephant on a pole (

8. Hoffman Clock Museum, Newark—east of Rochester, one of the state’s coolest museums

9. Steepletop, Austerlitz—newly opened home and gardens of poet Edna St. Vincent Millay

10. Cross Island Chapel, Oneida—world’s smallest church, off Sconondoa Rd. in the middle of
a pond

11. Howard Johnson’s, Lake Placid—one of three remaining HoJo restaurants; another is in Lake George (

12. Roxbury Motel, Roxbury—Catskills comfort and a wild ride of color (

13. Crosby Street Hotel, New York City—right now, the coolest NYC roost (

14. Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden, North Salem—limited hours, but worth it (

15. Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum, North Tonawanda—often missed in the rush to Niagara Falls (

16. Old House, Cutchogue—from 1649, the state’s oldest house (

17. Glimmerglass State Park, Cooperstown—beautiful lake with beach featured in James Fenimore Cooper’s Leatherstocking Tales novels (

18. Lake George Steamboat Co.—putter around the lake and stay overnight in Bolton Landing’s Candlelight Cottages (;

19. Shaker Meadows B&B, Mt. Lebanon—simplicity, rustic charm, a waterfall and Shaker history (

20. 96-98 8th St. (St. Mark’s Place), Manhattan—cover of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti and in The Rolling Stones’ Waiting on a Friend video

21. Jell-O Museum, Le Roy—southwest of Rochester, a museum about gelatin (

22. Locust Grove, Poughkeepsie—dash, dash, dash to the Samuel Morse Historic Site (

23. Doodletown, Bear Mountain—fantastic spring birding, wonderful woodland, a stream and a ghost town (

24. Cooperstown & Charlotte Valley Railroad, Milford—vintage railcars, a museum and the Susquehanna River Valley (

25. Killmeyer’s Old Bavaria Inn, Staten Island—superb, authentic German bar with history (

26. Singer Castle, Dark Island—in the 1,000 Islands, a 100-year-old castle on an island (

27. Letchworth State Park, Castile—Grand Canyon of the East (

28. Opus 40 & the Quarryman’s Museum, Saugerties—landscape sculpture to enflame the senses (

29. Lucy-Desi Center & Festival, Jamestown—near Erie, Pa., Lucille Ball’s hometown has her museum; 2011 is the centenary of her birth (

30. Tuthilltown Spirits, Gardiner—Hudson Valley tasting room for the first Bourbon whiskey
produced in New York since Prohibition (

31. Ganondagan, Victor—New York’s Seneca Native Americans and the Iroquois Confederacy (

32. Red Devon Market Bar & Restaurant, Bangall—perfect example of a farm-to-table restaurant

33. Taughannock Falls State Park, Trumansburg—33 feet taller than Niagara Falls (

34. Wild Center, Tupper Lake—New York wildlife explained in a wild Adirondacks corner (

35. Hollywood Drive-In Theatre, Averill Park—one of the few remaining drive-in theaters in the state (

36. Philipsburg Manor, Sleepy Hollow—idyllically set, 300-year-old farmhouse telling a story of farming, slavery and colonialism (

37. Island camping on Lake George—camp on one of 44 islands (

38. RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary, Catskill—kayak into this marsh for quiet viewing of wildlife (

39. Old Westbury Gardens, Old Westbury—one of the world’s finest gardens (

40. Annual Idiotarod Race, Brooklyn—every January in Brooklyn, it’s like the husky-dog race but with decorated shopping carts (

Click here to view the cover story with photos on the AAA Car and Travel Magazine Website.