Explore History Outdoors in Central New York

©Mitch Wojnarowicz Photographer

You can learn a lot about a community when you discover and engross yourself in its history. We have compiled a list of must-visit historical sites than you can explore outdoors.

Starting off in Oneida County, we have Fort Stanwix, Oriskany Battlefield, Fort Bull, the Underground Railroad – Trail to Freedom and the Verona Beach Lighthouse. Each of these locations holds a different piece of history. Discover the roots of the American Revolution at Fort Stanwix National Monument where the fort “never surrendered” or check out our the Oriskany Battlefield which was the turning point of the Revolution.  

Photo Credits: Fort Stanwix National Monument

After learning about the Battle of Oriskany, expand on it by taking your travels to the home of Nicholas Herkimer (General Herkimer) who assembled the team of militiamen and 60 allied Oneida warriors who marched to defend Fort Stanwix … We refer to this location as the Herkimer Home State Historic Site. This site also overlooks the Mohawk Valley path which, in fact, overlooks the Mohawk River. A cool fact about the Mohawk River is that it has the Mohawk Valley Path. What is even more interesting is the fact that the majority of this path runs through Central New York counties – Herkimer, Oneida, Otsego, Montgomery and Schoharie.

If you want to keep the Revolutionary War education moving, add Fort Plain Museum & Historical Park to your list. The museum currently exhibits the 17th – 19th-century history and topics such as the Mohawk and Oneida Indians, German Palatines of the Mohawk, the Victorian Era in the valley and the Erie Canal.

©Mitch Wojnarowicz Photographer

Utica is also the home to part of the Underground Railroad – Trail to Freedom. In 1835, at the Bleecker Street Presbyterian Church in Utica, 600 abolitionists were assembled. By the end of 1835, there were 17 anti-slavery societies throughout the county. You can learn for yourself the history behind Oneidans being heroes and leading slaves to freedom.

“Low bridge, everybody down, yeah we’re coming to a town, and you’ll always know your neighbor, and you’ll always know your pal, if ya ever navigated on the Erie Canal,” … states the famous “Fifteen Miles on the Erie Canal” song by Pete Seeger. Learn all about the Erie Canal at the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum. View the water highway and soak in the history of New York State as a whole. Check out the dry docks, recreation center and even kayak the historic canal. Visitors can also bike along the waterway on the Empire State Trail.  

Part of this famous canal, you can find three unique lighthouses, one being the Verona Beach Lighthouse that lies on the shoreline of Verona Beach. This beautiful light tower once led the way for canal travelers.

As you continue to explore the Erie Canal, you can add the National Historic Landmark Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site to your sight-seeing list. This is a popular location for visitors to kayak through or, you can stick to exploring on foot.

Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site

If you are a brew connoisseur, check out the Hop Heritage Trail in Wampsville, New York. This trail marks hop kilns and other hop sites through time. The Central New York Region takes much pride in the hop culture and history we hold. Three of CNY counties Madison, Oneida and Otsego were the highest producers of hops in the country at one point.

Blenheim Covered Bridge is a picturesque 165-year old National Historic Landmark located in Schoharie County. This wooden bridge spans 232’ across Schoharie Creek and was originally destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene but rebuilt in 2017. The public is free to walk across the bridge, take pictures and just explore the scenic grounds.

Photo Credits: Raphael Schoni

To honor the brave women who fought for women’s right to vote, Broome and Tioga Counties created the Women’s Suffrage Trail, which leads visitors around Binghamton and surrounding areas where visitors can view popular locations that were considered major turning points during the movement.

Old Stone Fort Museum holds history that is compiled from three centuries. There are seven exhibits that span across the 25 acres of land set in charming Schoharie Valley open to visitors and history-seekers alike.

Hyde Hall is a hidden treasure that can be found in the beautiful Glimmerglass State Park in Cooperstown. Learn about the construction, decline and resurrection of this massive 50-room home which was once occupied by James Fenimore Cooper. Hear tour guides talk about the five generations that once lived on the estate from 1819 to 1943. 

Fort Klock in the Mohawk Valley holds history from the French and Indian War and the American War for Independence. It is said the Klock family homestead most likely hosted famous historic figures who traveled through the area during and after the revolution.

©Mitch Wojnarowicz Photographer