One Of America's Most Historic Highways Is A New York Road Trip Full Of Great Lake Views

The global fame and endless attractions of New York City make it a bucket list destination for people all over the world. While this is definitely warranted, sometimes people forget there is more to this northeastern state than the Big Apple. Usually, anything other than New York City gets all lumped together and vaguely nicknamed "upstate New York." However, northern New York borders two of North America's beautiful Great Lakes and has charming towns, multiple state parks, and opportunities for a relaxing getaway.

Great Lakes Seaway Trail is a perfect way to see some of northern New York's beauty and even a bit of Canada's. This route is a registered National Scenic Byway and includes gorgeous lake views and historic towns. Start your road trip in Massena and Ogdensburg. These peaceful small towns are located close to the Saint Lawrence River, which makes up a section of the state's border with Canada. After enjoying the riverside drive, stop at Ogdensburg's historic Fort de la Presentation site. This is the site of a settlement founded by Frenchman François Picquet which dates back to 1749.

Dip into Canada at Thousand Islands National Park

At Collins Landing, head north toward Canada. Right around the border is the Thousand Islands. This is a lush archipelago with rugged shorelines and dense forests — perfect for outdoor adventurers. After crossing the Canadian border, take an elevator up the 1000 Islands Tower for incredible views of the river and the surrounding islands from 400 feet up.

Canada is also home to Thousand Islands National Park accessible via the Thousand Island Parkway just a few minutes from the 1000 Islands Tower. If you do not have your own boat, you can still enjoy the park's mainland or get to the islands with rentable kayaks and canoes, guided tours, or shuttles. Thousand Islands National Park is a must-visit if you love water adventures as it offers everything from kayaking to kitesurfing and even scuba diving. While you explore, look for deer, rabbits, turtles, mink, and songbirds. You can stay overnight in the park too. Some campsites are first come first serve, but others allow for advance online reservations.

Visit historic museums in Rochester

As your Great Lakes Seaway Trail road trip continues, head back stateside and to one of the most breathtaking state parks in New York. Follow the curve of Lake Ontario to Chimney Bluffs State Park. Unique, pointed land formations meet Lake Ontario to create one-of-a-kind sights. Some of these formations are up to 150 feet tall. Look for East Bay Road or Garner Road to park and walk to the lake on trails that meet both parking lots.

Rochester, New York is just under one hour from Chimney Bluffs State Park. This historic city is the hometown of suffragist Susan B. Anthony. Visit the Susan B. Anthony Museum & House to see where she held meetings with others fighting for women's right to vote and where Anthony was arrested after voting in 1872. Further east is the George Eastman Museum. As the founder of Kodak, Eastman was passionate about furthering photography and cinema. The museum's exhibitions give a history lesson on both mediums in Eastman's ornate early 1900s home. Other notable museums in Rochester include the Memorial Art Gallery, with centuries of influential art, and the Strong National Museum of Play showcasing memorable children's toys throughout history.

View Niagara Falls from the United States or from Canada

Perhaps the most famous destination in upstate New York is Niagara Falls. It is actually comprised of three waterfalls: Horseshoe Waterfall in Canada and two smaller ones called American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls on the United States side of the border. Your Niagara Falls experience will be different depending on which side you visit. The Canadian side has more touristy developments like restaurants, a zipline, a wax museum, and a casino while the U.S. has more preserved nature, including more forested land and hiking trails. However, it is definitely possible to get perfect views of this natural wonder from both sides.

Finish your Great Lakes Seaway Trail road trip in Erie, Pennsylvania. As the name suggests, this town is on the shores of Lake Erie. One of the best ways to enjoy Lake Erie in this town is to visit Presque Isle State Park. This park begins with the Tom Ridge Environmental Center featuring exhibits about the wildlife and ecosystems of the region. As you continue along the peninsula, you can check out the historic Presque Isle Lighthouse and relax on sandy beaches.