New York State is known for its magnificent scenery. From charming towns to spectacular mountains and waterways, simply driving down one of New York’s most beautiful byways can be a vacation in itself.
So if you find yourself needing a little respite from the city and craving some of the most stunning sights offered in the state, we’ve got just the list for you: New York’s most scenic routes and drives. Rev up those engines and don’t forget your camera because you’ll want to take in everything you’ll pass.
Here are the most scenic drives around New York.
1. High Peaks Scenic Byway
Drive along 30 miles of road that winds past the highest peaks of the Adirondacks. It connects Adirondack Northway (I- 87) Exit 30 to Lake Placid and the Olympic Byway. About 4 million people pass through this byway annually. Along the route, travelers can find tons of “recreational access points” for activities such as skiing, canoeing, biking and beyond.
2. Palisades Parkway
The iconic, scenic 42-mile parkway was first completed in 1958. It travels from the George Washington Bridge to the Bear Mountain Bridge. Along the way, passengers can take in breathtaking sites of the water. Insider tip: be sure to pull over at Rockefeller Lookout in Englewood Cliffs. With an elevation of 400 feet, you’ll be able to see miles and miles out in front of you.
3. City Island
Though this isn’t necessarily one road or passageway, we had to include this seaside neighborhood in The Bronx. A hidden gem to many, it’s best to visit during the warmer months. Unfamiliar with area? Be sure to take a look at our City Island guide for all of the best spots you must visit. We promise, the drive through the neighborhood will be stunning!
4. Central Adirondack Trail
The Central Adirondack Trail connects Glens Falls and Rome. Spanning 140 miles, take in the beautiful nature of the Adirondacks, weaving through waterways and towering trees. Though this article is about scenic drives, travelers can choose to take this route by canoe if they’re looking to ditch their wheels.
5. FDR Drive
A classic. Of course, we couldn’t make a scenic drive list without putting FDR drive on it! We prefer it best at night when the city glimmers above and the East River creates a sparkling reflection.
6. Seven Lakes Drive at Harriman State Park
Passing through Harriman State Park, car passengers will be privy to picture perfect sights. This drive is wonderful during all seasons, but we prefer it best at fall! Who doesn’t love a good drive through the breathtaking foliage?
7. North Fork Trail
Arguably the prettiest drive in Suffolk County, the North Fork Trail takes passersby from Southold to Orient Point. Drive by quaint towns, famous wineries, and views of the ocean and beach. In total, the route is 36 miles long.
8. Shawangunk Mountains
Coast through the Shawangunk Mountains on this mesmerizing byway that encompasses both mountainscapes and farmland. Pass historic sites and settlements where you can even find unique shopping, dining and lodging accommodations along the way.
9. Mohawk Towpath Byway, National Scenic Byway
Follow the historic route beside the Eerie Canal and be sure to make stops at Cohoes Falls and the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.
10. Olympic Trail
170 miles of trail connects Sackets Harbor and Keeseville. An abundance of aesthetic villages (including one of NY’s most beautiful towns, Lake Placid, best known for hosting the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980) and nature shots are sure to be seen on this drive.
11. Seneca Lake Byway
Prepare to pass a plethora of adventures along this route including: wineries, distilleries, farm stands, restaurants, and parks. The 19-mile byway is sure to immerse you in the riches of Seneca Lake.
12. Great Lakes Seaway Trail
Travel this notorious trail via car for one of the most gorgeous sunset lit adventures you can imagine. Beyond photo-worthy drives at sunset and golden hour, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail offers incredible access to beaches, lighthouse expeditions and great dining options.