Upstate New York is an area brimming with sightseeing opportunities. Just waiting to be discovered, the state provides a swathe of family-friendly activities, from leisurely days out to cultural tours. With all this on offer, visitors will find themselves spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing an entertaining day out in upstate New York.

'The Famous Tree', United States, New York City, New York, Rockefeller Center
New York Family ActivitiesWanderingtheWorld ( / Christmas Photos / CC BY-NC

Travelling to New York

Flying to New York from the UK takes around 8 hours depending on which airport you fly from. There are daily flights from most of the major airports in Britain. Taking a family to NY can be quite expensive, but to keep the cost down you can find cheap flights to New York at

Amusement Parks

Amusement parks are popular with people whatever their age and New York does not disappoint. The range includes everything from the historic Seabreeze Amusement Park in Rochester, home of the world’s fourth-oldest rollercoaster, to the fun of the Great Escape Theme Park in Lake George, the Zoom Flume Water Park in East Durham and Splish Splash Water Park in Riverhead. Martin’s Fantasy Island on Grand Island is another popular family choice. Those feeling festive could even visit Santa’s Workshop in North Pole, a Christmas-themed park open in the winter, summer and autumn.


Finding a museum that is also entertaining enough to keep children intrigued can be a challenge, but upstate New York offers a wide range to cater to younger family members. Aspiring scientists can test their minds at The Science Discovery Center of Oneonta, while culture is the focus of The Iroquois Indian Museum in Howes Cave. The ultimate child-pleaser can be found in The National Museum of Play in Rochester, dedicated solely to the concept of playtime! Other top family-friendly museums include the New York State Museum in Albany, the Victorian Doll Museum and Bear Mountain Trailside Museum and Wildlife Center.

Historic Sites

As one of America’s oldest states, with settlers arriving as early as the 16th century, New York has a rich history and many sites that are well worth visiting. Not only this, it is a great way to teach the kids a little bit of history in a hands-on environment. The Alice T Miner Colonial Revival Museum in Chazy, Rosendale’s Adsit Log Cabin (thought to be one of the oldest in the US) and the Champlain Memorial Lighthouse in Crown Point are all top attractions to see. Visitors should also take the chance to stop off at the Shaker Heritage Society in Albany and Fort Niagara in Youngstown, a French fortification built in 1726.

Nature Activities

With a number of national parks, scenic locations and, of course, the world-famous Niagara Falls, upstate New York is a prime choice for nature activities. Explore natural caves and caverns, such as the Howe Caverns in Howes Cave, the Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park in Potterville and Panama Rocks Scenic Park. For those who prefer the open air, why not investigate the gorges, waterfalls or nature trails that dot the state? Whether it is exploring the Catskills or seeing the wonders of the Ausable Chasm, adventure is guaranteed.

Water Activities

Water lovers will also find themselves spoilt for choice, with activities across the state. Though for the most part inland, New York’s many sand-lined lakes and ponds, from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, offer ample opportunity to enjoy a day at the beach. Young or old, people can take part in boating, fishing, diving and even, for the thrill seekers, white-water rafting. Whether it is water sports or simply relaxing on the shores, New York has a water-based activity for every family member to enjoy.

New York may be a small state, but it is one that has something to suit everyone. From educational tours around upstate New York’s many historical sites to staying active with outdoor pursuits, a family trip to New York promises to be anything but dull.