• Upstate New York is packed with cozy mountain towns that offer breathtaking scenery, outdoor recreation, and eclectic eateries.
  • Penn Yan is a lovely town split into two sections, with shops, cafes, vineyards, and regional eateries to explore.
  • Tupper Lake is an ideal vacation spot for water and forest enthusiasts, with clear waters, hiking routes, and outdoor-focused amenities.

Upstate New York is full of cozy mountain towns whose spectacular scenery; epic outdoor recreation; and a plethora of hip, eclectic eateries, attractions, and accommodations make for the perfect getaway. The following spots are some of New York’s top tiny towns: from lakeside retreats with dramatic mountain backdrops; to quaint villages and hamlets bursting with stellar scenery and homey hospitality, these upstate gems are the best ways to experience NY’s most charming small-town getaways.

UPDATE: 2023/09/14 20:50 EST BY MARIA BOU INK

14 Perfect Small Mountain Towns You Can Find In Upstate New York

Upstate New York is packed with beautiful small mountain towns. Therefore, this list was updated to include more magical communities to be explored during the next vacation.

Related: These Small U.S. Towns Offer The Best Vacation During September

14 Penn Yan

Penn Yan, New York
Photo by Andre Carrotflower, Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
Penn Yan, New York First Baptist Church

Penn Yan is one of the most lovely little mountain towns in New York and is located directly on Keuka Lake. The city of Penn Yan is split in two. There are a number of shops, cafés, and restaurants in the downtown area of Penn Yan that have an authentic old-town feel. Wonderful vineyards and regional eateries can be found throughout the Penn Yan district, which is the second section of the town.

  • Things To Do: Walk along the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, The Keuka Lake Outlet Trail, and other trails around the gorgeous scenery that surrounds the town, including Seneca Mills Falls
  • Stay The Night: Hampton Inn Penn Yan, Best Western Inn Vineyard Inn & Suites
  • Wine & Dine: Penn Yann Diner, The Wagner Restaurant

13 Geneva

The city of Geneva at the northern end of Seneca Lake, New York
PQK / Shutterstock
The city of Geneva at the northern end of Seneca Lake, New York

Geneva, New York, is a small beautiful community located close to Seneca Lake in a rather flat area of the country. One of Upstate New York's mountain towns, it's growing in popularity every year. In addition to the difference in environment, moving from a large metropolis will result in a significant shift in lifestyle. Geneva also houses the esteemed Hobart and William Smith Colleges. As a result, the downtown area is home to co-working spaces, coffee shops, restaurants, and even a welcome center. Geneva has a pleasant, almost European vibe to it, which visitors will likely appreciate.

  • Things To Do: Attend a play at the Smith Opera House, visit Seneca Lake State Park
  • Stay The Night: The Vinifera Inn, Days Inn by Wyndham Geneva/Finger Lakes
  • Wine & Dine: The Rusty Pig, The Deluxe Grill, F.L.X Table

12 Tupper Lake

A Colorful Autumn Morning On Tupper Lake
Breathtaking View of A Colorful Autumn Morning On Tupper Lake, Adirondack Mountains, New York

Tupper Lake, located in the Adirondack Park, isn't a typical small mountain town in Upstate New York. Tupper Lake is the ideal vacation spot for both water and forest enthusiasts because of its clear waters, lovely hiking routes, and limitless outdoor-focused amenities like the Wild Center and Adirondack Public Observatory. Even while visitors could easily spend weeks exploring the town's fine dining establishments and swimming about in the different lakes, most people just have the weekend.

  • Things To Do: Visit The Wild Center and Raquette River Brewing
  • Stay The Night: Shaheen’s Adirondack Inn, Tupper Lake Motel
  • Wine & Dine: Main Street Restaurant, Pine Grove Restaurant

Related: Permanent Vacation: These Are The Best Small Towns You Can Retire To In The U.S.

11 Old Forge

Old Forge in the Adirondack, New York
Old Forge in the Adirondack, New York 

Old Forge serves as the Adirondack Base Camp for tourists who travel great distances in search of tranquility and adventure. In the ancient Town of Webb, which also contains Eagle Bay, Big Moose, and Stillwater, it is the biggest hamlet. The mountain town visitors may travel throughout the Adirondack Park and the Central Adirondack region from here. It's called An Adirondack Feeling because of the cool mountain air, the campfire that's crackling, and the lake in the Adirondacks that reflects the moon.

  • Things To Do: Explore Bold Mountain, see Adirondack Scenic Railroad
  • Stay The Night: Water’s Wedge Inn, Adirondack Lodge, Old Forge
  • Wine & Dine: The Mill, Billy’s Restaurant

10 Mount Tremper

Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, Catskills, New York
Zen Mountain Monastery in Mount Tremper, Catskills, New York

Located within the (slightly) larger town of Shandaken, this cozy hamlet of Mount Tremper is the epitome of Catskill cool—but don’t expect a bustling metropolis. The best reason to visit this small mountain beauty is undoubtedly its stunning surroundings—including its namesake Mount Tremper, and plenty of nearby outdoor recreation.

  • Things To Do: Mount Tremper (hiking, fire tower); World’s Largest Kaleidoscope; Catskills Visitor Center; Brunel Sculpture Garden
  • Stay The Night: Foxfire Mountain House; The Graham & Co. (Phoenicia)
  • Wine & Dine: Phoenicia Diner; The Pines; Woodstock Brewing

9 Livingston Manor

Livingston Manor Central School, New York
Livingston Manor Central School, New York

In recent years, this cozy Catskills spot has undergone a renaissance of sorts with the addition of a number of chic stays and eclectic local businesses—making it the perfect place to set up camp for an adventure in one of the best mountain towns in New York. Be sure to check out the hip downtown shops and eateries before heading out to one of the area’s super cool accommodations.

  • Things To Do: Long Weekend, nest, and Upstream Wine & Spirits (shopping); Willowemoc State Forest (hiking, birding, fishing); Sonoma Falls
  • Stay The Night: The DeBruce, The Arnold House, Beaverkill Valley Inn
  • Wine & Dine: Main Street Farm; The Kaatskeller; The Smoke Joint; Upward Brewing

RELATED: These Are The Most Beautiful Lakes You Can Visit In New York State

8 Saranac Lake

Autumn Colors at Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, New York
Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, New York

Like many of New York’s best mountain towns, the scenic Saranac Lake is also famed for its lovely waterways—making it a bastion for year-round outdoor adventure and breathtaking, tranquil landscapes. A bustling downtown area complete with eclectic shops, eateries, and stays round out the Saranac Lake experience—and creates a one-of-a-kind upstate getaway.

  • Things To Do: Saranac Lake Walking Tour; Adirondack Carousel; Dewey Mountain Recreation Center; Saranac Laboratory Museum
  • Stay The Night: Saranac Waterfront Lodge; The Point
  • Wine & Dine: Red Fox Restaurant; Left Bank Cafe; Boathouse Saranac Lake Pub

7 Lake George

An aerial view of Lake George
An aerial view of Lake George in Upstate New York

A top upstate New York vacation destination for over 200 years, the Adirondack village of Lake George is often referred to as “the birthplace of the American vacation.” With its towering mountains, crystal clear namesake lake, and a year-round catalog of endless outdoor adventures, it’s easy to see why visitors are still flocking to this pristine and picturesque gem.

  • Things To Do: Adirondack Park; Lake George (summer and winter); Prospect Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway; Coopers Cave Overlook
  • Stay The Night: Fort William Henry Hotel; Georgian Lakeside Retreat
  • Wine & Dine: Saluti; Adirondack Pub & Brewery; Biscotti Brothers Cafe

6 Catskill

Aerial View Of Fall Foliage In The Catskills, New York, USA
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
Aerial View Of Fall Foliage In The Catskills, New York, USA

The Great Northern Catskills has a number of charming small towns—however, none are as appropriately named as the village of Catskill. Situated on the banks of the Hudson River, Catskill is an outdoorsy paradise whose natural beauty has inspired artists for generations, giving the tiny town an artsy charm all its own.

  • Things To Do: Thomas Cole House; Hudson River Skywalk; RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary; Dutchman’s Landing
  • Stay The Night: Piale Catskill; The Kaaterskill
  • Wine & Dine: Rip Van Winkle Brewing Company; New York Restaurant; J&J Smokehouse BBQ

5 Saugerties

Aerial view of Saugerties town, New York, USA

Just a short drive away from the famed hippie haven of Woodstock, Saugerties is a scenic treasure located between the Hudson River and the Catskills. Full of laidback small mountain town vibes and packed with plenty of outdoorsy and cultural attractions, Saugerties is the perfect balance of activity and idyllic charm.

  • Things To Do: Opus 40; Saugerties Lighthouse; Esopus Bend Nature Preserve (hiking, canoeing; kayaking, birding); Saugerties Farmers’ Market
  • Stay The Night: Diamond Mills Hotel; The Villa at Saugerties
  • Wine & Dine: The Red Onion; Ohana Café; The Dutch Ale House

RELATED: 10 Best Small Towns In New York's Hudson Valley

4 Hunter & Tannersville

Kaaterskill Falls
Photo by Gerald Berliner on Unsplash
Kaaterskill Falls in Tannersville, NY

Both outdoor enthusiasts and R&R seekers will find plenty to do in the picturesque Northern Catskills haven of Hunter. Including both the village of Hunter and Tannersville, this two-in-one New York mountain town nestled among the area’s highest peaks is picturesque, welcoming, and full of Catskills coziness.

  • Things To Do: Hunter Mountain Resort; Kaaterskill Falls; Mountain Top Arboretum; New York Zipline Adventures
  • Stay The Night: Scribner’s Catskill Lodge; Hotel Lilien
  • Wine & Dine: Hunter Mountain Brewery; Jägerberg Beer Hall & Alpine Tavern; Mama’s Boy Burgers

3 Windham

Windham, New York, is popular for scenic drives, bike trails, foliage and nature lovers
Windham, New York, is popular for scenic drives, bike trails, foliage and nature lovers

The historic haven of Windham is often referred to as “The Gem of the Catskills”—and with good reason. An idyllic combo of Main Street and mountain charm, Windham is home to stunning natural landscapes that are perfect for exploring—while also hosting a number of hip hotspots where guests can max and relax at the end of the day.

  • Things To Do: The Vineyard at Windham; Windham Mountain (biking, Skyride, skiing, golfing); Elm Ridge Wild Forest; Catskill Mountain Country Store
  • Stay The Night: Union + Post; Albergo Allegria B&B
  • Wine & Dine: Bistro Brie and Bordeaux; The Windham Local Public House; Mill Rock Restaurant

2 Lake Placid

Breathtaking Lake Placid in spring
James Mirakian on pexels
View of Lake Placid in New York State

Another upstate lake and Adirondack charmer, Lake Placid, is famous for hosting the Winter Olympics not once but twice—and once visitors scope the area’s dramatic scenery, it’s easy to see why. A year-round destination with everything from skating to swimming, Lake Placid is also home to a quaint downtown area with plenty of eateries, shops, and chances for mountain town R&R.

  • Things To Do: Lake Placid Olympic Museum; Mirror Lake; John Brown Farm State Historic Site; Lake Placid (hiking, kayaking, canoeing, swimming); Ice Skating at the Olympic Oval
  • Stay The Night: Mirror Lake Inn; Lake Placid Inn; Eastwind Lake Placid
  • Wine & Dine: The Pickled Pig; Salt of the Earth Bistro; Jimmys 21

RELATED: 10 Reasons To Visit Lake Placid In Winter

1 High Falls

A trail at Mohonk Preserve 
A trail at Mohonk Preserve 

Full of laidback small-town vibes and stunning natural beauty, the Hudson Valley Haven of High Falls also has its share of upstate mountain charm. While the nearby Shawagunk Mountains (aka The Gunks) provide plenty of natural beauty and outdoor adventures, the area is also home to plenty of unique eateries, eclectic shops, and historic buildings, too.

  • Things To Do: D&H Canal Museum/Canal Trail; Mohonk Preserve Trails; Woodstock Farm Sanctuary; Stone Ridge Orchard
  • Stay The Night: Minnewaska Lodge (Gardiner); Hasbrouck House (Stone Ridge)
  • Wine & Dine: The Spy Social Eatery & Bar; Hash; Ollie’s Pizza