6 Notable Things About (Upstate) New York

New York– having come north far too soon in order to visit family in the Chicago area, we now found ourselves on a continued northward trajectory. This proved to be rather difficult, given that it was off-season everywhere we went. We spent a few fun and chilly weeks in Upstate New York from Buffalo to the “Finger Lakes” region and into the Schaghticoke area. Throughout our time, here are a few things that stood out about Upstate New York along the way:

Star your home

This is apparently a decorating must throughout New York. On occasion, we had seen a star here or there during our travels across the country, but it felt as if almost every other home we crossed in New York displayed a large 5-point star on their garage, barn, or centered on the front of their house.

Don’t even think about Spring camping

In Upstate New York, Spring camping must not be a thing. Or at least, not this year, as we had an unseasonably a long winter. I went through lists of dozens upon dozens of campgrounds trying to find anyplace to stay. If a campground appeared on GoogleMaps, I called it. We were in Upstate New York from April 14th to April 28th, and this was clearly too early to be there, as 99% of the campgrounds were not open for the season, and even the “year round” ones didn’t seem to be taking campers. We managed to find a couple campgrounds that were opening-up, or took pity on us, and planned our New York route around these available camping locations.

Wine country

Wine country all to ourselves! Because it was still early in the season, there weren’t many weekend wine tourists out and about and we ended up feeling like we had the run of the Finger Lakes wine region. Unlike California wine tasting in the Napa & Sonoma valleys, which have gotten far too congested and expensive (IMHO), wine tasting in the Finger Lakes region was relaxed and affordable with most tastings at or around $5 for 5 -7 pours (tasting fees typically waived with bottle purchase).

T-Mobile a no-go

Both Cay and I have T-Mobile on our cell phones, which rendered them useless throughout Upstate New York. Throughout our time in NY, if we weren’t by a reliable source of Wi-Fi, then our cell phones became oversized pocket clocks. FYI- Verizon had much better coverage.


Who needs an alarm clock, seriously! Woodpeckers were all over Upstate New York and campgrounds were no exception. If the sun was-up, so were they, and so were we. Several of our stays came with a resident woodpecker, and despite their moniker, we often found them hammering away on metal objects, like the electrical box- right. next. to. our. camper.

Toll roads

So, so, many, toll roads! Toll roads to get through the state, toll roads to get onto and off of islands we were camped on (Grand Island near Niagara Falls), toll roads when leaving one county and entering another, toll roads everywhere!! Want to walk from the U.S. to Canada via the Rainbow Bridge by Niagara Falls? No toll upon entering Canada, but there was a $1 USD toll in order to leave Canada and re-enter New York. No joke!

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