11 Towns in New York that have the Best Main Streets


New York is known for its busy streets and bustling downtowns, but not many speak about its best main streets and romantically welcoming small towns. The state’s geographical location allows for the best balance of nature-centric aesthetics. It offers the perfect seasonal climate, allowing visitors to enjoy family-friendly, exciting activities. 

The best main streets in New York rely mainly on the community taking care of the street’s aesthetic and the atmosphere it enjoys, adding their own personal touch of what the town means to them. The tight sense of community adds to the creativity of locals working collectively to bring out the best of their hometown.  Many of these recommended towns with the best main streets are considered escape towns amongst state locals, allowing them to take a break from big city energy and its draining, busy lifestyle.  


Downtown in Ithaca, New York

Main Street in Ithaca commonly refers to the active four-block street named the Commons area located between W Seneca St and W Green St, offering a wide range of shopping destinations and restaurants. Downtown Commons is a hub for different festivals, local events, and vendors, with all-year-round activity and summer being the ideal time to visit. Despite Commons being the city’s busiest and best destination, Ithaca offers a unique range of businesses and experiences in its surrounding downtown area. The most notable events are the Downtown Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival in the fall and Downtown Ithaca Chili Cook-Off in the winter.

Saratoga Springs

Shops and traffic in Saratoga Springs, New York

An artistic small town in Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs is known for being the go-to destination for outdoor activities and watersports. Saratoga Springs’ main street is Broadway Street, which crosses historic neighborhoods, featuring numerous restaurants and shopping destinations. Broadway is much more spacious than the typical small town main street and is embellished with Victorian architecture, from mansions to small shops. Aside from its downtown, some of the best places to visit in Saratoga Springs include its many waterfalls located 5 miles north outside of its city center. Some of the most famous falls in the area include Snook Kill Falls and the Saratoga Spa state park. 

Cold Spring

Sidewalk scene in Cold Springs, NY on a crisp fall day, via Joe Tabacca / Shutterstock.com

The main street of Cold Spring slopes down to the east bank of the Hudson River, offering endless antique shops and a range of coffee shops and diners. The main streets of Cold Spring are easily walkable and beautifully surrounded by greenery, trees, and storefront flower pots. Local efforts in preserving the 19th-century village are noticeable in everything from cute patios to colorful building colors. The town owes its name to the time George Washington drank from a local spring and declared it refreshingly cold.

Lake Placid

Aerial view of Lake Placid’s main street

A small town for nature lovers, Lake Placid, is a richly green small town with a freezing winter season. Its snowy winters are warmed-up by the warm welcomes of local shop owners on the main street. Find everything from fashion boutiques to delicious snacks when touring Lake Placid’s walkable downtown main street. The main street is known among locals as the business district and offers a range of antique stores and an aesthetically pleasing Christmas vibe. Lake Placid has had the privilege of hosting two Olympic Winter Games, first in 1932, and again in 1980. Visit the memorial attractions of these Olympic events at the Lake Placid Olympic Musem and the Olympic Center. 


Geneseo is a town in the Finger Lakes region of New York and home to State University of New York at Genesso, via JWCohen / Shutterstock.com

Geneseo is a historic village home to a tight welcoming community of business owners and residents that strive to make their town as tourist-friendly as possible. State University of New York of Geneseo is among the area’s most famous landmarks, and its historic Victorian architecture sets it apart from other small towns in New York. The main street of Geneseo is listed in the U.S National Register of Historic Places and extends approximately four blocks from the County Court House to the Village Park. Wadsworth Fountain is the cherry on top of the town’s beautiful antique downtown area, covered in colorful buildings and red brick wall shops. Geneseo is the place to be if you’re trying to experience a sense of small-town community and enjoy mind-calming peace. 


Street view of Woodstock, New York

The hippie town where it all went down; there is so much history and popular culture in this small colorful community. Woodstock is known to be a haven for artists and musicians, with one of its cultural centers being Beth Woods Center, voted one of the best music museums in the world. Today the town is home to many hippie and head shops selling everything from classical music to Tie-dye tees and memorabilia. Woodstock’s main street commemorates the trainwreck event in 2001 and the peaceful epic concert of 1969, with murals and gift shops decorated in the most abstract street art. Tinker Street is considered the town’s main street and offers house-front shopping boutiques shaded by trees and greenery that add a wholesome farm-town element. 


Street view at Skaneateles, a charming lakeside hideaway oozes small-town life

The main street of Skaneateles is a colorful strip of local businesses overseeing the waters of Skaneateles Lake, known as one of the County’s clearest lakes. Its spacious main street offers many locally-owned coffee shops, restaurants, and vintage-inspired retailers. This small town is the place to be for its balance of small-town and big-city vibes without being centered and built around its beach vibes only. Visit Skaneateles for peace of mind, calming waterfront views, and beautiful nature-centric sceneries. 


 Downtown Clayton, NY on an overcast, early spring morning, via debra millet / Shutterstock.com

Clayton in Jefferson County is one of the most beautiful waterfront towns on this list of the best New York Town main streets. Its main street is booming with business since Clayton is one of the largest towns along the waterway. It is less than a mile from Canada, separated by the Saint Lawrence River warts. Take glass bottom boat tours, catch a show at the Clayton Opera House, and don’t miss the Thursday farmers market whenever you are in town. 


Macmillan Hall built in 1930, at Wells College campus. This private liberal arts college has cross-enrollment with Cornell University and Ithaca College, via PQK / Shutterstock.com

The place to be for a quiet weekend vacation or a family getaway. Aurora is a picturesque town with beautiful historic buildings of Victorian architecture that sits along the shores of Cayuga. The main streets of Aurora aren’t like any of the other recommended places on this list, as their local shops are almost disguised as residential homes, giving the street a unique sense of community. Its location along one of the Finger Lakes allows for relaxing waterview sceneries and memorable boat tours, while its Victorian architecture and community markets emphasize its historical American culture. 


Main Street in Cooperstown, New York state, via Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Nicknamed America’s hometown, Cooperstown is covered in greenery and makes up the perfect big-city escape. It’s home to the National Baseball Hall-of-Fame & Musem and one of this list’s most homely main streets featuring rows of well-maintained red-brick buildings. Enjoy local family-owned restaurants and culturally rich museums such as the Heros Baseball Wax Museum, the Farmers’ Museum, and the Northeast Classic Car Museum. Cooperstown is the destination for those seeking to learn and experience American history while enjoying a weekend escape or road trip. 

Sleepy Hollow

A couple crosses at the intersection in downtown Sleepy Hollow in New York state

A nature-centric village that emphasizes the city’s beauty while balancing it with urban amenities and world-renowned historical landmarks. Everyone who knows the town has heard of The Headless Horseman, a novel and movie character for which Sleepy Hollow is famous. The town sits along the shores of the Hudson River in Mount Pleasant County, and its main street is Beekman Ave, which spans the entire town. The town’s downtown gives off a wholesome classy vibe, with small mom-and-pop restaurants and gorgeous red brick boutiques. Sleepy Hollow is a quiet go-to town to escape the busy lifestyle and embrace nature and simplicity. 

Finally, the main streets of New York town each have a unique vibe and work to differentiate themselves to attract more visitors. Some accentuate their bordering Canadian culture, while others are home to the best natural sceneries and American cultural museums. 

Whether in the state, or passing by on a road trip, take a few days to explore the historic cities, beautiful waterfronts, and main streets of New York state towns. 

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