Natural Wonders

10 Small Towns In New York State That Are Near Scenic Natural Wonders

Summary

  • Discover hidden gems and stunning natural wonders in New York State’s small towns, like Haines Falls and Castile.
  • Experience the beauty of the Thousand Islands region in Alexandria Bay through water activities and immersive events.
  • Escape into nature in towns like Dover Plains, Wolcott, and Watkins Glen, which offer access to unique natural attractions and scenic trails.

From beautiful gorges with magical waterfalls to peaking mountains adorned with lush forests, New York State is home to stunning natural wonders and landmarks to behold. Attractions like Niagara Falls, Adirondack Mountains, Finger Lakes, and Watkins Glen State Park are often on every traveler’s bucket list. Offering access to these scenic natural wonders in New York State are beautiful small towns that are worth exploring as well.

Travelers visiting New York State will find quaint towns lined with historic buildings and full of charming artificial attractions to supplement the state’s diverse and stunning natural beauty. Whether planning a road trip through nature or looking to spend a weekend away from the bustle of the cities, here are 10 small towns in New York State that are near scenic natural wonders​​​​​​.

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10
Haines Falls

This town is only 0.7 miles from Kaaterskill Falls


Campers at North-South Lake Campground in Haines Falls, New York
Shutterstock

Campers at North-South Lake Campground in Haines Falls, New York

The Great Northern Catskills of Green County are home to many hidden gems, and Haines Falls is just one of them. Standing amidst stunning landscapes, this hamlet in the town of Hunter offers an escape to the scenic Kaaterskill Falls. At 260 feet, Kaaterskill Falls is one of the highest cascading waterfalls in New York State.

Travelers can reach the cascade by hiking Laurel House Trail. Although steep, the hike is totally worth it. Other things to do in the area include taking a scenic Skyride on the Kaatskill flyer (the only six-person chairlift in New York State), discovering Fawns Leap, hiking to the peak of Hunter Mountain, and ziplining Hunter Mountain (the longest and highest zipline canopy in North America).

9
Castile

This town offers entrance to Letchworth State Park’s most hiked area


Letchworth State Park, Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY, USA
Hybrid Storytellers on Unsplash

Letchworth State Park, Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY, USA

Often called the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park is an impressive natural wonder in the Finger Lakes region and one of the most beautiful nature spots in Upstate New York. While it spans parts of several towns and has multiple entrances, the Castile entrance offers the closest access to explore the Lower Falls area, one of the great hiking destinations in the park. With so many scenic trails, outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy hiking and biking.

8
Alexandria Bay

This charming town sits right in the heart of the famous Thousand Islands


Boldt Castle Alexandria Bay New York
Shutterstock 

Boldt Castle Alexandria Bay New York

Affectionately referred to as “A-Bay,” Alexandria Bay is a scenic town in the heart of the picturesque Thousand Islands Region on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. It charms visitors and locals with its natural beauty and an array of exciting activities. Because the main attraction here is the underrated yet magical Thousand Islands archipelago, entertainment is centered around water activities, including swimming, fishing, and boating. There are also plenty of immersive events throughout the year, like Fish Day in the Bay, Fourth of July Fireworks at Boldt Castle, the Annual Powerboat Poker Run, and Blues in the Bay Festival.

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7
Dover Plains

Hike 0.3 miles from Dover Plains to the namesake natural wonder that resembles a Gothic church window

An underground cave, named Stone Church, in Dover Plains, New York State

If there is one underrated yet beautiful tourist destination worth a visit, it should be Dover Plains. Despite remaining low-key, it offers access to one of the state’s unique natural wonders — the natural rock “church.” Off Route 22, visitors can walk through a meadow past maples to reach the Dover Stone Church. Right at the heart of the preserve, travelers will find this cavern whose entrance resembles a steeple, giving the attraction its name. There is a 30-foot waterfall cascading into a pool of water that flows through and out the cavern entrance and continues as the Stone Church Brook. Visitors don’t want to miss Crown Maple at Madava Farms.

6
Wolcott

Just 13 minutes from the most dramatic landscape on the shores of Lake Ontario


Chimney Bluffs State Park, Wolcott, New York
Foto de Lokesh Paduchuri en Unsplash

Chimney Bluffs State Park, Wolcott, New York

Wolcott is a beautiful town overlooking Lake Ontario and one of the must-stops when traveling New York State’s Seaway Trail. The town is perhaps well-known for a range of things, including the Statue of “Venus Rising From the Sea” and Walcott Falls. But the area’s most dramatic attraction is Chimney Bluffs. Visitors can experience the massive earthen spires from above or along the lakeshore on nature trails. There are also opportunities for snowmobiling, fishing, and cross-country skiing here.

5
Watkins Glen

The gateway to Watkins Glen State Park, which is home to many scenic trails


Waterfall in Watkins Glen, New York
Imagen de asiegler en Pixabay

Waterfall in Watkins Glen, New York

Watkins Glen is a dream vacation spot for most travelers. It is located on the southern shore of the scenic Seneca Lake in the heart of the incredibly stunning Finger Lakes Region. At the town’s proximity is Watkins Glen State Park, a beautiful park known for its natural beauty, particularly the magnificent waterfalls and gorgeous gorges. The park is an outdoor enthusiasts’ paradise, with hiking trails for all skill levels. Interestingly, the park entrance is right on Main Street in the town, so travelers are never far from conveniences while being able to escape into nature.

4
Alabama

Less than 2 minutes from Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, New York’s largest wildlife refuge


Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, New York
By U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, New York

Centrally located between Buffalo and Rochester, Alabama, is a charming town in Genesee County. Although it has been overshadowed by larger cities nearby, it packs a lot for visitors looking to experience the wonders of nature. The town is home to many attractions, including the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge and the Swallow Hollow Nature Trail. Visiting the Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge, the largest wildlife refuge in the state, is a chance to see and learn about a variety of wildlife and natural environments. There are also endless skiing, snowshoeing, boating, and biking opportunities.

3
Lake Placid

An incredibly beautiful town within the picturesque Adirondack Mountains


Aerial view of Lake Placid Mountains with Autumn Fall Colors in Adirondacks, New York
Shutterstock

Aerial view of Lake Placid Mountains with Autumn Fall Colors in Adirondacks, New York

Adirondack Park is one of the most scenic and popular natural wonders in New York State. The region is home to many charming small towns that invite travelers to explore them. But Lake Placid stands out for good reasons. While many people visit the Adirondacks in the fall to hike the scenic trails, Lake Placid is a winter wonderland bound to charm visitors of all ages. It is no surprise it has become New York’s Winter Sports Capital. The region offers incredible hiking opportunities, world-class skiing, fly-fishing, and other outdoor adventures.

2
Lewiston

The birthplace of the Niagara Falls


Lewiston, New York as seen from a dock on the Niagara River
Photo from Shutterstock

Lewiston, New York as seen from a dock on the Niagara River

Lewiston is a quaint and charming village located just 10 minutes north of the cascading waters. While the town is well-known for its rich history, incredible restaurants, and unique retail shops, there is much more to it. Lewiston is not only the birthplace of the world-famous Niagara Falls but also home to the first major battle of the War of 1812 and was once the last stop on the Underground Trail. After a day exploring the falls, visitors can spend the evening at the Artpark, one of the best concert venues in the region.

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1
Keeseville

Only a 5-minute drive from the Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks


Ausable Chasm, in the Adirondacks, New York
Dreamstime

Ausable Chasm, in the Adirondacks, New York 

Just west of Lake Champlain, Keeseville is a small town along the banks of the Ausable River. It is famous for being near the Ausable Chasm, one of the oldest natural attractions in the US, often dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks.” The town is scenic, with historic buildings and scenic roads offering incredible views of the Chasm and the surrounding mountains. But many people come here to explore the Ausable Chasm. Visitors can experience the chasm’s beauty by hiking, rafting, rappelling, or on lantern tours.


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