33 Best Things to do in Utica, NY (2024)

Table of Contents
33 Best Things to do in Utica 1. Visit the Best Art Museum in Central New York 2. Tour a 19th Century Victorian Mansion 3. Learn About Local History at the Oneida County History Center 4. Attend a Live Performance at the Stanley Theatre 5. Drink a Pint of Utica Club at Saranac Brewery 6. Have a Cold One at Historic Bagg’s Square Brewing Company 7. Hang Out with Locals at Friendly Woodland Farm Brewery 8. Eat a Steaming Bowl of Pho 9. Order Jamaican Dishes to Die For 10. Indulge in Fresh Oysters and Seafood 11. Sample Famous Local Cuisine 12. See Utica’s Historic Beaux Arts Train Station 13. Check Out the Downtown Sunburst Mural 14. Stay at a Historic Downtown Hotel 15. Wake up at Friendly Bed-and-Breakfast 16. Hit the Trails at Roscoe Conkling Park 17. Visit a Local Cafe for Coffee or Hot Chocolate 18. Bike or Walk Along the Erie Canal 19. Find Your Favorite Pizza 20. View Local Art in Unique Settings 21. Take a Ride on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad 22. Visit the Utica Zoo 23. See Stunning Architecture at the Utica Public Library Seasonal Things to do in Utica 24. Pick Your Own Fresh Berries at a Local Farm 25. Eat Fried Dough from a Pizza Fritte Drive-Thru 26. Participate in a Legendary Road Race Things to do Near Utica, NY 27. Shop Local at Park Row in Clinton 28. Walk on Wooded Trails at Root Glen 29. Do a Tasting at Brimfield Farm Winery 30. Sample Wine at Prospect Falls Winery Day and Weekend Trips from Utica 31. Old Forge 32. Inlet 33. Cooperstown Hotels in Utica, NY FAQs about Utica How to Get to Utica How to Get Around Utica Final Thoughts on the Best Things to do in Utica
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If you’re looking for things to do in Utica, NY, I guarantee you’ll end up with a wide selection of activities to choose from. Exploring the food, history, and fine arts could take up many enjoyable days.

There are also some incredible local breweries, a zoo, and a famous annual road race that attracts runners and spectators from around the world.

Utica is an interesting city with a long and storied past but isn’t always featured in the best light. There was that unflattering clip on The Simpson’s where the family sang a “New York, New York” parody portraying upstate New York as a region full of failing businesses and abandoned buildings. Utica specifically was highlighted as having a population that’s decreasing by the moment.

And while there is some truth in comedy (at 65,000, the number of residents is almost half of what it was in 1970), Utica is on a definite upswing.

The city is a haven for small businesses with residents who are fiercely proud of supporting them.

Immigrants have been settling here starting with the earliest waves of Irish and Germans, to later waves of Italians and Poles, to present day Vietnamese, Bosnians, Kenyans and so many more, making it a richly diverse city.

Since the Erie Canal reached Utica in 1819, the city has been a popular waystation whether traveling by car, bus, or train, and that remains true today. Centrally located 95 miles northwest of Albany, it’s a popular stopover for tourists heading to the Finger Lakes and the Adirondacks.

Whether you’re stopping over or planning to stay for a while, there are plenty of things to do in Utica. And if you’re coming from New York City, the cost of restaurants and museums, and the overall cost of living here is still relatively low.

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Certainly, the city has seen its share of economic decline, sharing the same fate as other Rust Belt cities when manufacturing dropped off in the middle part of the 20th century. But the city is bouncing back. Many existing small businesses are creating an economic boom and new business are popping up all the time.

Table of Contents

33 Best Things to do in Utica

There’s a lot going on here so if your visit to Central New York includes Utica, give the city a chance. If you ask around, you’ll probably discover the most accurate word to describe the city at this moment in time is “renaissance.”

Read on for our recommendations on the best things to do in Utica, NY.

1. Visit the Best Art Museum in Central New York

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While I live in New York City where some of the world’s finest museum’s are located, I return to museums in Utica, NY again and again, especially Munson.

I’ll always remember Munson as the first museum I ever visited. It was for an assignment in my Art History class at Utica College. I remember my professor as being almost mad with passion every time he lit up the overhead projector and talked about works of art.

I don’t remember exactly what the assignment was. What I do remember is that this was the first time it dawned on me that art was important enough to dedicate entire buildings to. Looking back, this is incredibly naive but I had truly only seen art in books up until then and never gave it much thought beyond that. It was one of those mind-shifting moments I’ll never forget.

I’ve gone back to Munson-Williams many times since that first visit. I usually go when I hear of an interesting exhibit that’s in town temporarily, but a highlight for me on a recent visit was the permanent collection of works by Thomas Cole and other Hudson River School artists. I learned so much about these 19th century painters who favored landscapes and who had been influenced by Romanticism.

The fine arts museum features work primarily from artists from the United States with paintings, sculptures, textiles, and objects from the 18th century to modern day. If you’re a movie lover, be sure to keep an eye on the Munson Film Series.

  • Address: 310 Genesee St., Utica, NY
  • Admission: FREE. Fees may apply to enter special exhibitions.

2. Tour a 19th Century Victorian Mansion

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When you visit Munson, be sure to leave time to tour Fountain Elms, the 19th century Italianate mansion that belonged to generations of the families who founded Munson-Williams. The Victorian mansion is now a historic house museum that holds paintings, furniture, and artifacts that belonged to the families.

Commissioned by Helen Munson Williams and James Watson Williams, Fountain Elms was built between 1850 and 1852. The couple raised three daughters in the home, including Rachel, who married Frederick Proctor in 1894. They continued to collect works of art and furniture of the finest quality. They also made several changes to the interior of the mansion, with the purpose of updating it.

Fountain Elms visitors can view the family’s collections of American and European paintings, Asian ceramics, silver, and much more.

The mansion is accessible via a tunnel inside the museum.

  • Address: 310 Genesee St., Utica, NY
  • Admission: FREE (Fountain Elms is part of Munson-Williams)

3. Learn About Local History at the Oneida County History Center

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On Genesee Street, a classical building with the four massive columns of a portico leading to front door is unmissable. To further identify it as the Oneida County History Center, a cannon sits under a pavilion, offset just a little to the left.

Inside is a vast open space with a 5,000 square-foot gallery displaying letters, photographs, paintings, and artifacts that tell the stories of Oneida County’s past. The items make up a kind of cluttered hodge-podge of exhibits, which I don’t mean in a bad way. There’s just a lot to look at.

Rotating exhibits have featured the history of Oneida County as related to its Indigenous people, its role in the Underground Railroad, and woman’s suffrage, as well as how the Erie Canal transformed the region into a major industrial hub.

Oneida County History Center was founded in 1876 and is now located in a stately building that used to be a Christian Scientist Church. There’s a stage and seating area for events that include guest lectures and book signings.

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There’s also a balcony that serves as an overflow seating area. I recommend going up there to get a good view. If you do, be sure to ask an employee about an elderly woman dressed in black who supposedly haunts the balcony.

There’s also a bookstore that sells books about fiction, nonfiction, and local history written by local authors.Including this activity on your list of things to do in Utica will provide you with an interesting context to view the city from.

4. Attend a Live Performance at the Stanley Theatre

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If a live performance by the Broadway Theatre League is what brought you to Utica, you’ll have the pleasure of viewing it inside the Stanley Theatre, which was originally built as a grand movie palace in 1928.

The 90-year old building was inspired by Mexican, Habsberg, and Baroque design and has an ornate staircase that calls the Titanic to mind. In addition to hosting Broadway shows like “The Color Purple,” “Once on This Island,” and “Waitress,” the Stanley Theatre hosts year-round events such as concerts, antique shows, and food festivals. The venue is among the best Utica, NY attractions, and absolutely worth a visit.

If you’re not attending an event, I recommend scheduling a guided tour of this elegant theater. Tours are available by appointment. Call at least two weeks ahead of time to schedule: 315-624-2943.

  • Address: 261 Genesee St., Utica, NY
  • Cost: Performance prices vary.

5. Drink a Pint of Utica Club at Saranac Brewery

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Note: The three Utica breweries listed here are part of the Heart of NY Craft Beverage Trail, which is made up of nine local breweries and wineries. Visiting all nine businesses (and showing proof via an official punch card) will earn you a T-shirt for your accomplishment.

If your itinerary of things to do in Utica includes learning about the history of beer, there’s one Utica brewery you must visit. Originally called F.X. Matt Brewing Co., Saranac Brewing Co. was founded in 1888 and is one of the oldest breweries in the United States.

Its historical claim to fame goes even deeper than that: the very first beer served when Prohibition ended in 1933 was a Utica Club, right here on these premises.

Order a Utica Club draft or other rotating beer on tap at the 1888 Tavern, hang out at The Saranac Biergarten, an outdoor, dog-friendly space for beer-lovers, or attend the weekly summer street party known as Saranac Thursdays. Live music and local beers make it one of the most popular summer events in the city. (Note: the Biergarten is open seasonally).

  • Address: 830 Varick St., Utica

6. Have a Cold One at Historic Bagg’s Square Brewing Company

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The pleasure of Utica breweries lies in their differences, with each one offering a unique experience. At this one, German and American style beer is served in a chic wood and exposed brick space inside a renovated 19th century factory in historic Bagg’s Square in downtown Utica.

Now on the National Register of Historic Places, the building is easily identified by the Doyle Hardware sign still visible on an exterior wall, a relic of the hardware business it once housed. The brewery’s downtown location is especially convenient if you’re traveling to or from Union Station, just across the street.

Also interesting is that Bagg’s Square Brewing Company is owned by a woman, noteworthy in an industry that remains male dominated. Owner Jennifer Earl was inspired by a 2014 trip to Dussledorf, Germany and wanted to recreate the culture and community she encountered there at a local brewery.

Customers at Bagg’s Square Brewing Company will notice the German influence in the beer, of course, but also on the food menu, which includes irresistible items like schnitzel sliders, fried cheese curds with hot pepper jelly, cheese spaetzle, and much more. Weekly food specials include Taco Tuesday and Saturday Brunch.

7. Hang Out with Locals at Friendly Woodland Farm Brewery

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Sample a variety of fresh lagers, IPAs, Pale Ales, and other traditional craft beers made on the premises at the first farm brewery in Oneida County. In warm weather, customers are welcome to hang out in the large outdoor seating areas. Or take your beverage inside the tasting room and soak up the friendly neighborhood vibe. And if beer’s not your thing, try a specialty co*cktail like the Adult Maple Float, Vodka Orange Dream, or Apple Pie Mule.

Woodland Farm Brewery serves a full menu of appetizers, salads, flatbread pizzas, wraps, and more. They also host a popular annual Cask Ale Festival, featuring cask ales from breweries across New York State. Of the breweries in Utica, NY, I especially love Woodland Farm in the summer with their extensive outdoor seating.

8. Eat a Steaming Bowl of Pho

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While there are tons of options for lunch in Utica, I absolutely love the fragrantphoat Pho Mekong House of Noodles. The service is always fast and friendly and every dish we’ve tried has been delicious. For a traditional Vietnamese coffee (and a jolt of caffeine and sugar), I highly recommend theCafé Sua Da, an iced coffee sweetened with thick condensed milk.

  • Address: 601 John Street, Utica, NY
  • Call for business hours: 315-797-7171

9. Order Jamaican Dishes to Die For

At Simmer Jamaican Restaurant, you can feast on tender, tangy jerk chicken, curry shrimp, whole snapper, and much more. Add plantains and Jamaican beef patties on the side, and a Ting grapefruit soda as a beverage, and you’ll be in ultimate foodie heaven.

  • Address: 606 South Street, Utica, NY
  • Call for business hours: 315-507-4015

10. Indulge in Fresh Oysters and Seafood

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For dinner or Sunday Brunch, reserve a table at Ocean Blue Restaurant & Oyster Bar for fresh oysters, lobster bisque, or the fresh catch of the day at this downtown restaurant. The décor is trendy and stylish and customers can grab a seat at the bar, in the dining room, or on the huge roof deck (open seasonally). Non-seafood items are plentiful and there’s a nice big menu for kids. Brunch is served on Sundays. Reservations are accepted.

11. Sample Famous Local Cuisine

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You’ll rave about the locally famous dishes after trying specialties like Chicken riggies, Utica Greens, tomato pie, andpusties. Who knew the upstate food scene was so vibrant?! Read more about famous local dishes, including the best places to find them.

12. See Utica’s Historic Beaux Arts Train Station

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If you arrived in Utica by Amtrak train, you’ve seen Union Station. If not, it’s worth taking a couple minutes to appreciate the architecture at this historic train station in downtown Utica.

Opened in 1914, Union Station is on the National Register of Historic Places. The arched windows, the massive columns finished with Botticino marble, and the barrel-vaulted ceiling that soars up to 35 feet high are an impressive example of Beaux Arts architecture. Long benches made of heavy wood provide seating for train passengers.

  • Address: 321 Main Street, Utica, NY

13. Check Out the Downtown Sunburst Mural

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On the corner of Genesee and Lafayette Streets in Downtown Utica, you’ll see a sight that can’t help but make you smile. It’s the city’s Sunburst Mural, a cheerful work of art that overlooks the Liberty Bell replica at Liberty Bell Park.

The mural has been a mainstay of downtown Utica for decades but catch it while you can. As part of an ongoing revitalization initiative, the city’s mayor has put out a call for proposals to eitherreplace or recreate the Sunburst Mural.

  • Location: Liberty Bell Part at the corner of Genesee and Lafayette Streets

14. Stay at a Historic Downtown Hotel

Disclosure: Please note the sections below contain affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission if you make a purchase. Be assured that I only recommend products and companies I use and trust.

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Just across the street from the Sunburst Mural is DoubleTree by Hilton Utica, formerly the Hotel Utica.

There are plenty of chain hotels in downtown Utica but if you’re looking for a slice of the old city, Doubletree by Hilton is a standout. Originally built in 1912, it was considered the most elegant hotel in the region.

In its heyday,Hotel Uticahostedcelebrities and dignitaries such as Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Amelia Earhart, Rita Hayworth, and Judy Garland.The hotel eventually fell under the ownership of Doubletree by Hilton, who fully renovated it while still maintaining the 1912 opulence of sturdy marble columns and extravagant chandeliers in the lobby and mezzanine.

Even if you don’t stay at Doubletree by Hilton, I recommend popping in to get a glimpse of the grandeur. Iconic by Chesterfield, a mainstay Italian-American restaurant, is the hotel’s on-site restaurant.

15. Wake up at Friendly Bed-and-Breakfast

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We absolutely loved our stay at Rosemont Inn Bed & Breakfast. We booked the Chantilly room, lured by the king-sized bed, white marble fireplace, and bay window sitting area with views down Genesee Street.

Our room was quiet and comfortable. Breakfast included fantastic coffee, as well as waffles, bacon, and scrambled eggs all homemade by our lovely innkeeper Rita Sleys.

Rita is a well of information about the city of Utica, and passionate about supporting local farms and businesses. She runs the Rosemont Inn Bed & Breakfast along with her daughter, Grace, who is also a licensed massage therapist.

16. Hit the Trails at Roscoe Conkling Park

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Within its borders, Roscoe Conkling Park contains several opportunities for recreation. Valley View Golf Course is located here, as is the entrance to the Utica Zoo.

When the weather is nice, we like to walk on the extensive trail system that winds its way through the park, behind the zoo, and up to the Eagle, the locally famous bronze monument set on the park’s highest hill. From the Eagle, you can get sweeping views of the Mohawk Valley.

On snowy days in the winter, we like to follow those same trails with the help of snowshoes. In my opinion, there’s nothing better to do on a snowy day in Utica!

To access the trails, park at Valley View Golf Course and head into the park toward the trails. See this map of Roscoe Conkling Park for guidance.

  • Location: Valley View Golf Course/Memorial Parkway

17. Visit a Local Cafe for Coffee or Hot Chocolate

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The coffee scene in Utica has evolved immensely in recent years, thanks to at least two outstanding local coffee shops.

Utica Coffee Roasting Companyroasts their beans on-site, a fact that’ll be obvious once you breathe in the rich aroma of roasting beans that permeates the block. In addition to selling fresh beans, they serve a wide variety of coffee and espresso drinks, as well as pastries and breakfast items, coffee-themed gift baskets, and merchandise from local businesses. 92 Genesee St., Utica

Character Coffeeis another fun downtown café, serving coffee and espresso drinks including Turkish coffee. You can also order a rich and delicious cup of hot cocoa.171 Genesee St., Utica

18. Bike or Walk Along the Erie Canal

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In Utica, you’re deep in the heart of Erie Canal country. The famous manmade waterway runs 363 miles across New York, connecting the Hudson River in the east to Lake Erie in the west.

The canal made the movement of goods and people between the Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean possible, and cities along the canal, like Utica, grew exponentially.

Erie Canal builders broke ground in Rome in 1817 and reached Utica two years later. And while it no longer operates as an active trade route, the scenic Erie Canalway Trail, part of the greater Empire State Trail, is ideal for bikers, runners, and walkers.

The Rome to Utica segment is 16 miles long. Most of the trail is off-road, though there are three half-mile segments that necessitate riding on public roads.

Pick up the Utica to Rome trail at either end. In Utica, the trail begins at the trailhead parking off North Genesee Street and travels 16 miles west to Rome, where it ends at Fort Stanwix.

19. Find Your Favorite Pizza

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I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve recommended local cuisine as something visitors to Utica can’t miss, and now we have to talk about pizza, another food Utica has mastered.

Locals will let you know their favorite but when we’re in town, we love to mix it up by sampling slices or pies at different pizzerias. And while pizza anywhere can be hit or miss, most Utica pizzerias come through in a big way.

So check it out for yourself, from the gooey cheese slices at Tony’s, to Rosario’s crunchy crust, to the upside down pizza at O’Scugnizzo, you really can’t go wrong!

  • Tony’s Pizzeria: 23 Burrstone Rd., Utica, NY
  • Rosario’s Pizzeria: 1803 Welsh Bush Rd., Utica, NY
  • O’Scugnizzo: 614 Bleecker St., Utica, NY

20. View Local Art in Unique Settings

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While Munson-Williams is the largest museum in Utica, it’s not the only place to see impressive art.

For an extremely unique experience, check out Sculpture Space, an art residency program whose towering, site-specific sculptures often end up at the sprawling Griffiss International Sculpture Garden in Rome. Visitors are welcome at Sculpture Space during special events.

  • Sculpture Space: 12 Gates St., Utica, NY
  • Griffiss International Sculpture Garden: Griffiss Business & Technology Park, 584 Phoenix Road, Rome, NY

21. Take a Ride on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad

Don’t miss the family-friendly attractions in Utica!

The Adirondack Scenic Railroad offers seasonal scenic train rides between Utica and points in the Adirondacks. Kid-friendly offerings include fall foliage rides, the Family Halloween Train, the Pumpkin Train, and the Christmas-time Polar Express.

Some, like the Beer & Wine Train, are strictly for adults. Note that the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is hugely popular and tickets for most scenic train rides sell out quickly. In Utica, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad departs from Union Station.

  • Address: 321 Main Street, Utica, NY
  • Cost: prices vary

22. Visit the Utica Zoo

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The Utica Zoo is a favorite local destination and has been around for more than a century. Visit to see more than 200 animals including lions, zebras, spider monkeys, camels, bald eagles, a red panda, and much more.

The zoo hosts tons of fun-fill events, from the Spooktacular Harvest Festival in October to the Bright Nights holiday celebration in December to the summer Brewfest, which features more than 100 beers on tap, live music, and local food. In the winter, visitors can rent snowshoes and use them on the zoo’s property.

  • Address: 1 Utica Zoo Way, Utica, NY
  • Admission: Adult (13-61): $9. Senior (62+), Military, College w/ ID: $8. Child (2-12): $6. Children 1 and under: FREE

23. See Stunning Architecture at the Utica Public Library

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Utica’s first free library was established in 1838, though it changed locations more than once. The building that houses the Utica Public Library today was built in 1903 in the Neoclassical style of architecture. The five-story, rectangular building is a beautiful example of Neoclassical design and of course, it’s full of books, giving you at least two excellent reasons to visit!

Seasonal Things to do in Utica

24. Pick Your Own Fresh Berries at a Local Farm

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While Utica is the largest city in Oneida County, it’s still located in Central New York, a land of agricultural riches. That means that within minutes of Utica, you can be wandering up and down the rows of a U-Pick Berry Farm, picking your fill of fresh strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries.

Popular U-Pick farms near Utica include Candella’s Farm in Marcy, North Star Orchards in Westmoreland, and Heywood’s Blueberries in Remsen. Summer is berry picking season.

25. Eat Fried Dough from a Pizza Fritte Drive-Thru

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Saint Louis Gonzaga Church on Rutgers Street hosts occasional food-related fund-raising events. The best one, in my opinion, in the Pizza Fritte Drive-Thru. Simply drive into the parking lot with cash in hand, tell the fine folks volunteering how many hot delicious pieces of fried dough (also known as pizza fritte) you’d like, and whether you prefer a sprinkle of cinnamon or sugar. Where else can you enjoy such a privilege? (I’d really like to know!). The fried dough costs $2 per piece and it’s cash only.

  • Address:520 Rutger Street, Utica, NY
  • Dates:Typically takes place in the summer. See their Facebook page for updates.

26. Participate in a Legendary Road Race

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Every July, the Boilermaker road race draws thousands of runners and fans to the city.

I’ve experienced both roles, running the 15K race twice and cheering on runners several other times. Both are fantastically fun. Spectators go all out to cheer for the runners and residents along the route make a full-day party of it.

Runners cross the finish line at Saranac Brewing Co. and participants and spectators are treated to a celebratory festival with food, live music, and plenty of Saranac beer. Whether you run the Boilermaker or cheer from the sidelines, add this event to the top of your list of fun things to do in Utica, NY!

The Boilermaker has been a fixture in Utica since 1978, although as with most events, COVID-19 led to its cancellation in 2020. The race returned in July 2022 to its regular, in-person format.

  • Boilermaker 2023: Sunday, July 9
  • Registration: February 1-July 4 (or until maximum number of runners is met)
  • Race fees: Fees vary based on registration date and activity

Things to do Near Utica, NY

Utica is located in the region known as Central New York. That means it’s right in the center of the state and in close proximity to numerous attractions and destinations that will give you an even better overview of this upstate New York region. Read on if you’ve spent a weekend in Utica or longer, and are ready to strike out and explore the wider region.

27. Shop Local at Park Row in Clinton

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I mentioned that Utica loves its small businesses. That love extends throughout Oneida County and nowhere is it more apparent than in the charming village of Clinton, just nine miles southwest of Utica.

Park Row in Clinton is a small, pedestrian friendly block with an eclectic selection of boutiques and gift shops, perfect if you’re shopping for a gift or souvenir unique to Upstate New York. There are also several cafes and restaurants on and near Park Row.

  • Address: W. Park Row, Clinton, NY

28. Walk on Wooded Trails at Root Glen

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While Utica isn’t exactly known for its green spaces, you don’t have to go far to get a dose of nature. In fact, if you’ve been shopping in Clinton (and the weather is nice), I recommend taking a walk on the scenic trails at Root Glen, the beautiful arboretum at Hamilton College.

  • Address: 153 College Hill Road, Kirkland, NY
  • Admission: FREE

29. Do a Tasting at Brimfield Farm Winery

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Unwind afterwards with a glass of wine at Brimfield Farm Winery, located on a farm that’s been in the same family since 1918. The winery partners with one in the Finger Lakes to produce wines for every palette. Visitors can do wine tastings in a century-old, renovated, red barn, or sit on the outdoor patio and take in the panoramic Mohawk Valley views.

Wine slushies are available, as are cheese boards made with products from local farms.

30. Sample Wine at Prospect Falls Winery

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Sample wines like Cabernet, Prospect Peach, or Prospect Berry Blend in a chic, friendly tasting room that’s just steps away from views of the 35-foot cascade of Prospect Falls. The winery has been a staple of the community since opening in 2015 as the first licensed winery in Oneida County. Check the calendar for weekly live music and other events. An enclosed patio is open for seating and wine slushies are sold seasonally. Open year-round.

Day and Weekend Trips from Utica

Utica is considered the gateway to the Adirondacks and as long as you have a vehicle, you can head north and be in the mountains in under an hour. The Western Adirondack Region is also home to the Fulton Chain of Lakes, which consists of eight lakes for swimming, boating, fishing, and kayaking.

For a very different small town experience, heading south from Utica to the historical village of Cooperstown. Read on for more information.

31. Old Forge

Along Route 28 is the charming Adirondack village of Old Forge, loaded with restaurants, ice cream parlors, boutiques, and cafes. Enchanted Forest Water Safari is here for all your summertime water park fun, and in the fall, chairlifts run up to the top of McCauley Mountain for fall foliage views. For an awesome hike, check out Bald Mountain, a moderately challenging hike that ends with a fire tower and panoramic views of the surrounding lakes.

32. Inlet

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Continue driving another 12 miles east of Old Forge and to Inlet, a small town with a slightly more rustic vibe. The village a variety of restaurants and cafes, and plenty of shops to pick up Adirondack souvenirs. There’s also a swimming beach, and hiking trails are nearby. To learn more about the history of the region, visit the Inlet Historical Society.

33. Cooperstown

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Drive less than an hour south of Utica to reach Cooperstown and dig into the history that’s embedded there. While the village is famous (and rightly so) for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, don’t miss out on the other incredible museums, including the Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum. There is also what seems like a limitless choice of good restaurants, shops, hotels, and sites of major historical significance.

Hotels in Utica, NY

Disclosure: Please note the sections below contain affiliate links, which means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission if you make a purchase. Be assured that I only recommend products and companies I use and trust.

When you visit Utica, you’ll need a friendly, convenient place to stay. Below are five highly rated hotels in Utica.

My top recommendation for the best place to stay in Utica is Rosemont Inn Bed & Breakfast. Check rates and availability.

It’s a charming, conveniently located inn with comfortable rooms and an absolutely fabulous homemade breakfast.

DoubleTree by Hilton-Comfortable, clean rooms in a historic building that’s been restored to its original grandeur. Convenient downtown location. This is my second top recommended hotel in Utica. 102 Lafayette St., Utica

Burrstone Inn-Located in New Hartford, a few minutes drive west of Utica. Amenities include complimentary continental breakfast, a seasonal outdoor pool, an exercise room, and an on-site bar and restaurant. 1777 Burrstone Rd., New Hartford, NY

Delta Hotels by Marriott-Great downtown location with a fitness center, indoor pool, and on-site bar and grill. 200 Genesee St., Utica, NY

Holiday Inn Express & Suites-Rooms come with microwave and mini-fridge. Suites with additional living space are available. Fitness center and free hot breakfast included. 23 Wells Ave., Utica, NY

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FAQs about Utica

What is Utica, NY famous for?

Utica, NY is famous for dishes like Utica Greens, Chicken riggies, and tomato pie. It’s also known for its diverse immigrant community.

Why is Utica called Sin City?

The nickname dates back to the 1950s, when some believed Utica to be the Upstate New York headquarters for organized crime. In addition, the city earned a reputation of being a town where police turned a blind eye to illicit businesses that involved gambling, brothels, and more. Utica became synonymous with corruption.Other nicknames Utica has been known for are Handshake City and the Gateway to the Adirondacks.

Is Utica, NY a nice place to live?

All of Central New York is generally considered to be a pleasant, relatively inexpensive, family-friendly place to live.

Residents love Utica for many reasons: a constantly evolving restaurant scene, a growing international community, and a location that makes for easy access to the Adirondacks, Toronto, Montreal, New York City, and Boston. There are options for outdoor enthusiasts to go skiing in the winter and hiking in the summer, and several lakes, including Oneida Lake, Lake Delta, and Green Lakes are a short drive away.

There are several colleges and universities in the area for those seeking a higher education. The cost of living in Utica remains relatively low, though one source cites a 1.5% increase in the areas of transportation, food, and housing. Crime is a concern. A source reported that In 2019, the rate of violent crime was higher than the national average, but recent statistics indicate violent crime is on a downward trend in 2023.

As for weather, Utica receives a lot of snow and freezing temperatures in the winter. Summers are typically warm and pleasant, with temperatures rarely going above 88 degrees Fahrenheit (31C). Utica is often overcast and has an average of 160 days of sunshine each year.

How to Get to Utica

Utica, NY is located in the Mohawk Valley region of Central New York. There are several options for traveling to Utica:

  • By car: Utica is conveniently located just off the New York Thruway at Exit 31.
  • By bus and train: Regional buses and Amtrak trains pull into Utica’s Union Station.
  • By air: Syracuse’s Hanco*ck International Airport, located 55 miles west, is the closest airport.

Approximate distance and driving times from major cities:

  • Syracuse: 55 miles (88 kilometers). 50 minutes.
  • Albany: 95 miles (153 kilometers). 90 minutes.
  • New York City: 245 miles (395 kilometers). 4 hours.
  • Toronto: 300 miles (482 kilometers). 5 hours.

How to Get Around Utica

As with many cities outside of major U.S. metropolitan areas, a car is the best way to get from place to place, although with some planning and a willingness to take public transit, arriving carless is possible.

Several destinations mentioned above are within only a half a mile from the train station but the area isn’t really set up for pedestrians. I’d recommend taking a taxi or car service from there to your hotel. City buses are also available.

Final Thoughts on the Best Things to do in Utica

Whether you spend a week, a day, or a weekend , you’re sure to find plenty of things to do in Utica for everyone. It’s a bit off the beaten path from major tourist destinations, making it Central New York’s hidden gem.

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