The entire State of New York is a wonderland of insanely beautiful views, and there’s no better way to take its beauty in than by taking the scenic route.
If exploring New York beyond its cities and buildings is part of your plans, there’s no better way to tackle as much of it as possible than by hopping on your car, rolling the windows down, and driving aimlessly around the state!
From the alluring Catskill Mountains to all that seaside goodness in Long Island, here are some of the most scenic drives in New York State you’ve got to drive at least once!
The 5 Most Scenic Drives in New York State
1. Scenic Drives in New York State: Route 23 to the Catskill Mountains
Running all the way from Otsego County to the heart of the Catskill Mountains, Route 23 provides 100 wonderful miles dotted by small historic towns, gorgeous waterfalls, glitzy mansions, and crystal clear lakes backdropped by looming mountains.
The scenery on Route 23 is dazzling mile after mile, especially when you consider how varied the landscape can get. From the urbanscapes of the outskirts of Catskills to flat farmlands and into spectacular mountain passes, it’s pretty hard to get bored while driving this amazing New York route.
Moreover, you’ll find plenty of reasons to park your car and stretch your legs along the way, with many amazing trails amid the forests waiting to be hiked including the Kaaterskill Falls Trail, the Devil’s Path Trail, and more!
2. Scenic Drives in New York State: Cherry Valley Turnpike
Starting in Skaneateles and ending at the town of Cobleskill, the Cherry Valley Turnpike (or Highway 20) is a fabulous way to explore the southern side of the Mohawk Valley.
While driving this 100-mile road, you’ll stumble across some of the most picturesque views in entire New York State. In between the golden farmlands and rolling hills, you’ll find plenty of historic towns worth making a stop at, including Cooperstown, Hamilton, and Cazenovia, all of which will make you feel as though you’ve been transported back in time.
Late summer, don’t miss out on the beautiful NY sunflower fields that can adorn the countryside.
Make sure to plan a stop at Ommegang Brewery, where you can learn all about the beer production of the region as well as entice your tastebuds with a pint or two!
Another stop worth making is Sharon Springs, especially if you’re feeling keen to relax your muscles after driving. As its name suggests, this quaint town brims with tons of spas and springs to unwind in after a day spend exploring.
3. Scenic Drives in New York State: North Fork Trail
If you’re all about that countryside goodness, there’s no better way to experience the dreamiest side of Long Island than by driving down the North Fork Trail.
Running along Route 25 from the town of Southhold to Orient Point, this wonderful drive is a photographer’s dream.
Think enchanting hamlets, picture-perfect wineries, charming farms, and stunning seaside farm-to-table restaurants to get a pretty good picture of what this scenic New York drive is all about. To top it all off, you’ll also get uninterrupted ocean views along the way!
4. Scenic Drives in New York State: Seven Lakes Drive
As its name suggests, the stars of the Seven Lakes Drive are, well, seven idyllic lakes spread all over the road!
Thanks to its close proximity to New York City, this wonderful drive makes for an easy NYC day trip out in nature. While driving, you’ll get to experience some of the best Hudson Valley has to offer, including two gorgeous state parks (Harriman State Park and Bear Mountain State Park), looming mountain views, and wildlife encounters.
Moreover, Seven Lakes Drive provides a wonderful opportunity for hiking, with tons of trails available (over 22 miles of them) at Harriman State Park and even more to be found at Bear Mountain State Park. Other activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, boating, and swimming are also part of this drive’s menu!
Pro tip: This drive is amazing for fall foliage, so if you happen to be in New York during September or October, make sure this drive is at the top of your bucket list!
5. Scenic Drives in New York State: Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway
Gorgeous views and history? Yes, please!
Shawangunk Mountains Scenic Byway provides a wonderful opportunity to experience New York State’s incredible variety of landscapes, all while also getting the chance to step back in time at the many historical towns spread along the way.
Not only does this 88-mile drive provide access to over 30,000 acres of untouched nature preserves, but it also boasts a ton of historic settlements and attractions where you’ll get to feel as though you were transported to the New Amsterdam era.
Moreover, even though the drive may look as though it’s all about farmlands at the beginning, you’ll quickly run across the Shawangunk Mountains and a few valleys along the way. Rock climbing, hiking trails, and world-class winter sports are all favorite activities to try out during the drive depending on what time of the year you visit!
We hope this list of scenic New York drives inspired you to grab your car keys and hit the road!
Seriously, there’s no better way to explore the amazing natural wonders this state has to offer than by driving, and even though there are plenty more beautiful highways and byways all over the Empire State, these drives, in particular, are a wonderful way to experience the variety in landscape the state provides.
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