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Plan an Affordable Friends Getaway in New York State

by Ohio Digital News

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Credit: @ddm_foto and @visitsyracuse on Instagram


Whether you’re planning a long holiday break, bestie birthday weekend, or just want to spend quality time with friends, the Empire State is the place for your next BFF getaway. From surfing on Long Island to laughing at the National Comedy Center to rock climbing in the Hudson Valley, these budget-friendly plans are sure to make it out of the group chat. Check out these 11 unforgettable and affordable friends getaways in New York State. 


Saratoga Springs (Capital-Saratoga)


Three women in fancy clothing stand at the fence as two horse and jockeys walk pastCredit: @discoversaratogany and @alexandriaeigo on Instagram


Saddle up for your Saratoga getaway and settle into the Bluebird Spa City Motor Lodge, located on the city’s most happening street, Broadway. Rooms are outfitted with modern and dynamic interiors and rates for double queen rooms start around $133/night. Just steps outside the lodge is Saratoga’s lively downtown, popping with stylish boutiques and shops, museums, and award-winning bars and restaurants. Plan an exciting day at one of the world’s top 10 oldest organized sporting venues, the Saratoga Race Course, ($7-$10/person) during race season (July 11-September 2). Music loving friends can lounge out on the lawn at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) and enjoy an evening of live music (lawn tickets start around $35). During the warmer months, learn something new and take the friend group for a stand up paddle boarding yoga class with Kayak Shak ($35/person with board rental, $25/person without board), or hit the water on your own time and rent a kayak or paddle board for $25 for three hours out on Fish Creek. Plan an outdoor adventure and hike around Saratoga Spa State Park or in the winter go snowshoeing ($10/vehicle, collected May-October). After working up an appetite, head to Saratoga staples like Sweet Mimi’s Cafe & Bakery for brunch, Whitman Brewing Co for casual bites and brews, or Hattie’s for unbeatable Southern home cooking and Food Network award-winning fried chicken. 


Jamestown (Chautauqua-Allegheny)


Images of Lucille Ball on two screens on the exterior of the National Comedy Center in JamestownCredit: National Comedy Center


Let the good times roll in Jamestown and check into the Holiday Inn Express & Suites. Rates for rooms with two queen beds start around $108/night and it’s conveniently located near the area’s best attractions. Laugh alongside your besties at the National Comedy Center ($35.50/person) which features more than 50 immersive and interactive exhibits. Compete against your friends in a Laugh Battle, put on a performance at Comedy Karaoke, create your own sense of humor profile, and more. For even more funny times, stop by the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Museum ($23/person) and celebrate the legacy of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz as the first couple of comedy. With dual admission, you can visit both museums for $43.50/person. Spend some time out on the water on a scenic historical tour aboard the Chautauqua Belle ($35/person). If an outdoor adventure is calling your name, explore the nature trails and exhibits at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute ($12/person) or wander through the towering formations of Panama Rocks Scenic Park ($10/person, open May-October). Plus, groups of 2-6 can book an hour ax-throwing session for $50. End the day with a bite to eat at Labyrinth Press Company featuring a menu filled with vegetarian and vegan fare. Labyrinth is also home to Brazil Lounge, a fun craft beer and wine bar. Pearl City Hops is another great option, offering a casual atmosphere to enjoy local brews and delicious food. 


Binghamton (Central New York)


A giraffe licks a hand at Animal Adventure ParkCredit: @slevels07ec on Instagram


Bring your besties to Bing for your next getaway! Check into the Holiday Inn: Binghamton Downtown, where rates start around $132/night and you’re immersed in all the downtown action. Get your pack, flock, or herd together to visit Animal Adventure Park where you can hand feed domestic and exotic animals like giraffes, sloths, capybaras, and penguins (admission is $19.99/person, animal feedings are $5). For an extra special experience, snag tickets for Drafts and Giraffes ($50/ticket, $25/designated driver ticket) on June 22. Your ticket includes tastings at more than 40 craft beer, seltzer, and cider vendors throughout the park, time to hang out and feed the giraffes, and live music. Foodie friends should follow the Upstate Eats Trail, taking you through the area’s iconic restaurants including the region-famous Spiedie & Rib Pit. Did you know Binghamton is the carousel capital of the world? From Memorial Day to Labor Day, you can ride all six of the antique merry-go-rounds for free throughout the city. Plan an outdoor adventure anytime of the year at Otsiningo Park (free) or Chenango Valley State Park ($7/vehicle). Grab lunch or dinner at Lost Dog Cafe with vegan and vegetarian options and a lounge to enjoy a cocktail. Travel back in time to 205 Dry, an authentic 1920s speakeasy, where you can catch live music and performances alongside a variety of cocktails and mocktails. The city also hosts exciting festivals throughout the year like Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally ($20/ticket), LUMA Projection Arts Festival (free), July Fest and Jazz Festival (free), and Blues on the Bridge (free).


New Paltz (Hudson Valley)


A photo of the front of shop at Water Street Market in New Paltz


New adventures await in New Paltz! Stay at the Hampton Inn New Paltz, located just a short walk from the village with rates starting around $115/night. Head into town and explore Main Street or the Water Street Market (pictured) packed with locally-owned shops, restaurants, coffee shops, and boutiques. Stroll back in time 300 years to the district that once belonged to families of Protestant French Huguenots along Historic Huguenot Street. Go for a hike at the Mohonk Preserve, where the visitor center grounds and trails are free and open to the public, and all other trailheads can be accessed with a $15 day pass. Traverse the local trails on foot, bike, or snowshoe on the River to Ridge Trail (free) with amazing views of the Shawangunk Ridge or the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, part of the Empire State Trail. Home to the Shawangunk Mountains (known as the Gunks), New Paltz is also one of the country’s premier climbing areas. Take the friend group on a beginner climbing adventure at BC’s Climbing Gym (day pass: $18, shoe rentals: $5). Refuel after a day full of fun with a bite from the outdoor patio at Lola’s Cafe or Main Street Bistro, both featuring an array of vegan and vegetarian options. Gather ‘round one of the firepits Huckleberry and end the night with a tasty cocktail, mocktail, or local brew. 


Montauk (Long Island)


Credit: @salty_visionz on Instagram


Savor seaside serenity without spending a fortune in Montauk. Settle into the Driftwood Resort where rates start around at $139/night and you’re just steps away from the beach. Another great option is setting up camp beachside at Hither Hills State Park (available April-November; $35/night NYS residents, $70/night out of state). In the summer, this state park is the perfect place to lay out and relax in the sun and in the cooler months an oceanside stroll or hike offers amazing views ($10/vehicle, collected May-September). Explore Long Island’s easternmost point at Montauk Point State Park ($8/vehicle) and in the summer you can tour the oldest lighthouse in the state, the Montauk Lighthouse for $15/person (summer only). Pedal through town with a bike rental from Sunset Surf Shack for $29/day, year-round or try out one of the shack’s free land surf lessons offered throughout the summer. Montauk is known for having some awesome waves, so afterward put your skills to the test and rent a board for $40. Group paddle board lessons are also available for $100. After you’ve worked up an appetite stop by Gosman’s, where you can enjoy your seafood specialties indoors or outdoors (seasonally). Sample brews alongside light bites at Montauk Brewing Co or head 35 minutes inland and get a taste of North Fork Wine Country at Duck Walk Vineyards (flights are $16/four wines). 


Roxbury (Catskills)


Photo courtesy of The Roxbury


Mystical and magical fun awaits at the Roxbury Motel with all kinds of extravagantly-themed rooms from the Wizard of Oz to Dracula. Rates for a contemporary room with two full beds starts around $189/night and can connect to a studio room (one bed) starting at $129/night. Among other amenities included in your stay, you’ll unlock access to the Roxbury’s private hiking trails and 50-foot waterfall, offering a one-of-a-kind adventure. In the winter, race your friends down Plattekill Mountain during a two-hour snowtubing session ($34). Take a walk or rent a bike and explore the Catskill Scenic Trail (free) or chase waterfalls at Mine Kill Falls (free). Discover hidden treasures on an antiquing adventure through the area at Antiques at Rick’s Barn, Lyon Mountain Antiques, Charming But Cheap & Possibly Antique, and more. About a 35-minute drive outside of Roxbury will land you in Phoenicia where you can pedal through Catskill countryside with Catskill Rail Explorers. A group of four can split the cost and ride for as little as $120. Afterward, chow down at the famed Phoenicia Diner or sample craft brews at Woodstock Brewing


Niagara Falls (Greater Niagara)


Red steps leading up to Niagara Falls at Cave of the WindsCredit: @kryptonist on Instagram


Plan a trip your friends will never forget to Niagara Falls! Check into the Wyndham Garden at Niagara Falls where rates start around $96/night, plus you’re just steps away from one of the most breathtaking views in the world. If camping is your thing, you can pitch a tent or bring an RV to Niagara Falls Campground & Lodging for around $60-$85/night from April 1 – September 2. First on your list should be a visit to Niagara Falls State Park, where parking costs $5-$10 and then it’s free to walk the grounds. Travel down to the Cave of Winds (pictured, $14/person) or take a ride on the Maid of the Mist ($28.25/person) for a truly unforgettable experience. Make aquatic acquaintances with penguins, seahorses, and seals at the Aquarium of Niagara (admission is $19.95/person). Take a stroll through Artpark and admire the beauty of large-scale sculptures in nature for free. In the summer, the venue also hosts big name concerts where lawn tickets start around $25. Sip your way through the region along the Niagara Wine Trail at A Gust of Sun Winery, Bella Rose Vineyard & Winery, and Black Willow Winery, all offering tastings for under $10. For a one-of-a-kind dining experience overlooking the falls, head to Top of the Falls Restaurant or make a reservation at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute’s student-run restaurant, Savor (open January-May).


Alexandria Bay (Thousand Islands-Seaway) 


Uncle Sam Boat Tours sails along the St. Lawrence River past an island covered in fall foliageCredit: @unclesamboattours on Instagram


Escape to the heart of the Thousand Islands for your next friends getaway. Check into the Riveredge Resort where a standard double room sleeps up to five people for around $115/night and features stunning views of the St. Lawrence River. Impress your friends with a boat ride and visit to a historic Rhineland-style castle. Uncle Sam Boat Tours offers rides out to Boldt Castle for $13/person and admission to the castle and yacht house is $16/person. Take in the beautiful vista from above as you cross the bridge to Wellesley Island State Park ($7/vehicle, collected May-October). In the summer, relax on the sandy beach or in the winter, snowshoe through the park’s trails. Back on the mainland, take a stroll through the village, filled with restaurants and locally-owned shops like Nav’s Popcorn and Good Dog Charlies. Craving a craft beverage? You’re in the right place! Pay a visit to Dark Island Spirits Distillery or the Thousand Islands Winery for superb sips. Wrap up a great day with even more amazing views and a delicious meal at Top of the Bay Tex Mex Bar and Bistro.            


Manhattan (NYC)


People stroll along the elevated platform through the cityscape on the High LineCredit: @darkokontin on Instagram


There’s no place like the Big Apple for your next friends trip. The San Carlos Hotel will serve as your home base where rates for a room with two queen beds starts around $263/night. Catch an award-winning Broadway show for up to 50% off with last-minute tickets from TKTS. Follow along on a guided tour ($25/person) of Central Park or explore the city’s 843-acre backyard at your own pace for free. Visit world-renowned museums like The Met, MoMA, and American Museum of Natural History, all offering regular admission for $30/person or less and pay-what-you-wish admission options for local visitors and students. Make animal friends with more than 700 species at the Bronx Zoo (admission starts at $28/person). You can also visit for free with advanced admission on Wednesdays (opens Monday after at 5pm for the upcoming Wednesday). For the best free views in town, take a stroll on the High Line (pictured), the walking platform over the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, or cruise past the Statue of Liberty on the Staten Island Ferry. Be sure to leave time to admire some of the city’s beautiful landmarks like Grand Central Terminal, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and New York Public Library, all for free. Nothing beats a classic New York slice, so stop by Joe’s, Bleecker Street, Mama’s Too!, or Scarr’s for a fresh slice at a great price. Unlock the rooftop dining experience (complete with stellar views of the Empire State Building) with a reservation for 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar’s happy hour (Monday-Friday, 4pm-6pm), where prices for food and drinks range from $7-$12.  


Syracuse (Finger Lakes)


A girl in a yellow life vest kayaking in a clear bottom kayak at Green Lakes State ParkCredit: @ddm_foto and @visitsyracuse on Instagram


Start your Syracuse getaway right and check into the Hotel Skyler, where rates start around $150/night. In this lively city, there’s something for everyone. Experience the famous food scene on a self-guided food tour along the Upstate Eats Trail, where you’ll get to sample iconic foods like Syracuse salt potatoes, or the As Seen on TV Tour which showcases award-winning restaurants that have been featured on “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” and “Man vs. Food.” Encourage some friendly competition while ax-throwing at Far Shot Syracuse ($25/person per hour ax throwing session). If you’re celebrating a birthday you can get a free session for up to 6 people! Just 15 minutes outside of the city is a world of outdoor wonder at Green Lakes State Park ($10/vehicle, collected Memorial Day-Labor Day). Take a group hike around the vibrant lakes or in the warmer months, rent one of the crystal kayaks ($20/hour). Put your climbing skills to the test on the Canyon Climb Ropes Course ($18/person) at Wonderworks in Destiny USA featuring 81 different obstacles. Visit in late summer to experience the Great New York State Fair ($6/person) with midway rides, iconic fair food, big name headliners, and more. Be sure to check out some other popular Syracuse events like Taste of Syracuse (free, June 7-8), CNY Pride Festival (free, June 22), Lafayette Apple Festival ($6/person, October 12-13), among others. Grab a bite to eat at the original  Dinosaur Bar-B-Que with all kinds of favorites from prime brisket and St. Louis ribs to pulled pork and smoked wings, plus a lineup of specialty cocktails and craft beer. 


Lake Placid (Adirondacks)


The Cloudsplitter Gondola ride at Whiteface MountainCredit: @whiteface_mt on Instagram


Immerse yourself in charming village vibes and outdoor adventure aplenty in Lake Placid. Wildwood on the Lake makes for a great stay year-round with rates ranging from $158-$198/night in the summer and $118-$188/night during fall, winter, and spring. Relive Lake Placid’s Olympic history at the Olympic Center and Museum ($15/adult) and take a look at video highlights, equipment, uniforms, and memorabilia from the Games, and experience the famous competition venues, like the outdoor skating oval ($12/person, $10 for rentals). Soar over Whiteface Mountain in the eight-passenger Cloudsplitter Gondola ($25/person) as you take the 15-minute climb to the observation deck and picnic area at the top. If you prefer to travel by land, drive up the Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway (May-October, $20/vehicle) for an unforgettable view. At Mt. Van Hoevenberg, belay, boulder, or traverse the climbing wall at the indoor climbing center for $15/hour (includes equipment rentals), or take an Olympic legacy tour ($15). Plus, the grounds are completely free to roam. Still craving outdoor thrills? Head to High Falls Gorge and hike through four spectacular waterfalls at the base of Whiteface Mountain (summer: $16/person, winter: $18/person). Shop and stroll down main street with everything from unique souvenirs to outdoor outfitters to local restaurants. End the day with tasty brews and farm-to-table food from Big Slide Brewery or stop by on Sunday mornings for brunch



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