If you’re still looking for breathtaking things to do in Utica, NY, this list will inspire you!
One of the famous cities in the Mohawk Valley, Utica is a hidden gem in upstate New York. With its impressive history, fascinating museums, and fantastic wildlife, a trip to Utica, NY, will keep you going for years to come.
If you’ve never made your way to Utica for fun, you may wonder where to start your itinerary on this journey.
There is so much to do in Utica, NY. You may not know where to start.
If you’re unsure what activities to participate in on your trip, then don’t worry because we’ve compiled the 27 best things to do in Utica, NY, so you don’t have to stress over what to do in Utica.
So let’s dive into the small but charming town of Utica, NY, and experience the best!
Fun Things to Do in Utica
1. Head to Our Local Library in Utica
Although it may come as a surprise, one of the best things to do in Utica, NY, is to visit the public library.
Located on Genesee Street, this library was built back in 1904 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Utica Public Library is the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon, with an extensive catalog and an inviting children’s reading room.
This is a great activity in Utica, NY.
2. Grab a Good Chunk of Pizza
If you’re a pizza fan, then be sure to make your way to O’scugnizzo when visiting Utica. These guys sure know some dough as the oldest pizzeria in Upstate New York.
Pizza is always a win – so it had to be on this list of things to do in Utica, NY.
With traditional toppings and a generous serving of mozzarella with each slice, you’ll find yourself munching on these gorgeous pies long after you’ve finished.
Make Pizza is a must in Utica, NY.
3. Visit the Utica Zoo
The Utica Zoo is next on my list of things to do in Utica, NY – and it’s been open for over 100 years, and in that time, they’ve really perfected the zoo experience.
Here you can meet red pandas, watch a wolf show and catch some hyenas, lions, and zebras.
This is a perfect choice of things for animal lovers in Utica, NY.
While we can’t list them all (there are over 100 species!), there are so many creatures on display, and kids will simply love the interactivity of the zoo.
Considered one of the best things to do for families in Utica, NY, you’re sure to have a great time here!
Things to Do in Utica at Night
1. The Stanley Theater in Utica, NY
Next on our list of things to do in Utica… it’s the Stanley Theater. Designed by Charles Lamb, this famous theater often hosts Broadway shows and other major events.
Hosting some of the best things to do in Utica, New York, for music and theater lovers, it’s worth a visit year-round for its excellent entertainment offerings.
If you visit, be sure to check out the famous Meyda Tiffany chandelier – truly a sight to see, you’d be a fool to miss it as it’s definitely one of the best things to do in Utica, NY.
2. Grab a Cocktail and Some Seafood
Next on our list of things to do in Utica, NY, at night is eat! If you like good drinks and even better food, head down to the Ocean Blue Restaurant and Oyster Bar.
Claiming to go through 1500 to 2000 oysters a week, these guys sure know how to prepare an oyster.
Overlooking Main Street and serving great cocktails to go with your meal, this high-end restaurant is one of the best things to do in Utica for those who want to live an exuberant life.
3. Experience Fine Dining at Willows of Utica
Willows of Utica is next on our intriguing list of things to do in Utica.
If you’re a bit of a foodie and like to try new restaurants when you’re away in a new place, visiting a local gourmet restaurant is always a great idea.
Willows of Utica serves delicious food and is a great place to enjoy a beautiful meal with friends!
Things to Do in Utica for Couples
1. Cycle along the Barge Canal
Next on our list of things to do in Utica, NY, is a bike ride along the Barge Canal.
If you love cycling and love an active afternoon on 2 wheels, then this Utica, NY, activity is for you! You will also enjoy wonderful views along the way!
2. Union Station
Speaking of Union Station, you’d be sad to miss this station while visiting the Public Market.
It’s next on everyone’s list of things to do in Utica, NY, with your other half! It is a great example of period architecture, and Union Station is on the National Register of Railroad Landmarks.
With its stunning columns and high vaulted ceilings, you almost feel transported to another world when you take in the full scale of the place.
As this station is still working, you can also pass through it as a passenger. So, on your way to Utica, set aside a few minutes to take some great photos.
3. Munson-Williams-Procter Arts Institute
If you’re an art fan, then be sure to visit Utica’s Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute.
One of the best art museums around, it amasses a collection of over 15,000 pieces. With works by Dalí, Picasso, and more, it’s the perfect place for inspiration.
Of course, it holds an important position on our list of things to do in Utica, NY!
If you have a soft spot for the work of Thomas Cole, be sure to visit his set of four paintings called “The Way of Life.”
As insightful and meaningful as it sounds, it is a must-see exhibition for locals and tourists alike. You will love this art center in Utica, NY.
Things to Do in Utica for Kids
1. Utica Children’s Museum
Again, an incredible spot on our list of things to do in Utica, NY, is the Utica Children’s Museum.
Featuring four floors of exhibits and activities, this museum is designed to encourage children’s natural curiosity with hands-on activities that will engage every child.
With everything from train sets to art studios for animals, the Utica Children’s Museum is sure to enchant the little ones.
3. Take Your Kids Shopping in Sangertown Square
If you feel like doing a little shopping while in Utica, then the large Sangertown Square Mall is worth visiting.
Sure, it’s not the most unique idea on this list of things to do in Utica… but shopping is always fun, especially on payday!
3. Grab a Pastry For Three
Next on the list of things to do in Utica with your kids – it’s more food!
If you like good grub, then be sure to check out this famous patisserie on Bleecker Street. Florentine Confectionery, run by the same family for half a century, is famous for its pasticiotti.
Basically, the mini cakes, which come in over a dozen flavors, are a must-try for any Utica, NY, visitor looking to please their taste buds.
Indoor Activities to Do in Utica
1. Bagg’s Square in Utica, NY
If you’re looking for the best architecture in Utica, NY, then look no further than Bagg’s Square.
Bagg’s Square, a neighborhood that developed alongside Utica’s textile industry during the 19th century, is a reflection of a bygone era.
Considered by locals to be “New York’s most historic neighborhood,” it’s one of the best things to do in Utica, New York, for those looking for a taste of the past.
Whether you want to visit one of the many museums or grab a bite to eat, you’ll find something to interest you here. This is definitely one of the best things to do indoors in Utica, NY!
2. Hilton Hotel Utica NY
Next on our things to do in Utica, NY, is the Hilton Hotel Utica.
If you’re looking for more architectural delights, then be sure to check into the Hotel Utica. The amazing architecture of the area, which dates back to 1912, is a prime example.
With a stunning lobby and impressive service, this is a must-visit for those who want to experience the lushest side of the city.
If you’re lucky enough to have Judy Garland and President Roosevelt visit that day, you’re sure to be in good company.
3. Visit One of Utica’s Churches
You may be sick of our tendency to harp on architecture, but another must-do in Utica, NY, is to visit the Church of St. Joseph and St. Patrick Church.
The churches in Utica are really unique. These churches offer regular Masses in stunning buildings and are worth the short detour from the city.
Romantic Activities to Do in Utica
1. Check Out the Utica Marina
The Utica Marina is essentially a historic building located on the Erie Canal. Although it is now used as a multi-use facility, it is still part of the Utica development that should be on your list of things to do in Utica, NY.
You’ll even find cute cafes and restaurants to sit in so you can watch people with a coffee in hand!
If you have a free evening, why not visit the lower level of the Aqua-Vino restaurant?
With terrace seating and a delicious menu that screams decadence, it’s worth booking a seat for good food and even more views.
2. The Williams-Proctor Arts Institute
The Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute is a beautiful regional fine arts center in Utica, originally founded in 1919.
The institute is housed in a magnificent International Style building designed by architect Philip Johnson for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2010.
Operates three program divisions, including the public Art Museum, housed next door in the Institute’s Fountain Elms building, which features extensive collections of European and American art, including seminal modernist works by Picasso. , Dali and Mondrian.
Performing arts presentations are held annually in the institute’s 271-seat theater, which is open to the public.
The institute also runs an art school that offers a variety of courses for art students working across media.
3. Boehlert Transportation Center at Union Station
The Boehlert Transportation Center at Union Station is a historic Italianate-style train station that has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975.
The magnificent station, which is named in honor of United States Representative Sherwood Boehlert, was built in 1914 and 1914 by New York architects Stem and Fellheimer as a replica of an 1860s building.
Today it is served by trains from Amtrak and the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, which operates historic rail tours between Utica and Holland Patent, Old Forge, and Remsen.
The station’s beautiful architectural features are on display in its interior. It is home to several restaurants and a full-service barbershop, one of the few barbershops still operating in an American station today.
Cheap Things to Do in Utica
1. Zoo Magnifico
The Utica Zoo is an American Zoological Association-accredited zoological park at Roscoe Conkling Park in Utica, home to more than 200 different groups of native and exotic species.
The zoo was originally established in 1914 and covers 80 hectares, 40 of which are home to developed animal exhibits.
Families can explore a wide variety of animal exhibits organized by continent and habitat that are home to endangered species such as Chinese alligators, Mexican gray wolves, white-handed gibbons, and African lions.
Exhibits include an African alley, a primate hall, a raptor exhibit, and a petting zoo with domestic animals from around the United States and the world.
Traveling educational exhibits featuring animals representing 35 species can often be seen at events around the area.
2. The Stanley Center for the Arts
The Stanley Center for The Arts is a theater organization that oversees the historic Stanley Theatre, which opened to the public in 1928 as a silent film palace in downtown Utica.
The magnificent baroque movie palace was associated with Warner Brothers Pictures throughout the 20th century before being abandoned in the mid-1970s when a number of the city’s historic theaters were demolished as part of the city’s Urban Renewal project.
After being acquired by the Central New York Community Arts Council in 1974, it was transformed into a performing arts center that is used by local groups such as the Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, the Utica Symphony, and the Mohawk Valley Ballet.
Throughout its history, the center has hosted performing arts legends such as B.B. King, Aretha Franklin, and Diana Ross.
3. F.X. Matt Brewing Company, Utica, New York
F.X. Matt Brewing Company is a charming family-owned brewery in Utica that is the fourth oldest family-owned brewery in the United States, originally founded in 1888.
The award-winning brewery is best known for its famous line of Saranac beers, which includes flagship selections such as its Adirondack German Amber Lager, Black Forest Bavarian Schwarzbier, Black and Tan Stout-Amber Lager, and Legacy India Pale Ale.
Its beer test series, known as the “Beer of the Week” series, has also produced hundreds of experimental and one-off beer varieties.
Visitors can stop in the company’s 1888 pub for pints of 13 beers on tap, including unreleased exclusive pilot beers. Tours of the brewery with examples of brewing operations are offered throughout the week.
4. Oneida County Historical Society, Utica, New York
The Oneida County Historical Society is the official initiative of the Utica and Oneida County Historical Society, originally founded in 1876 to preserve the history, culture, and heritage of the Upper Mohawk River and Central New York region.
The Center operates a magnificent 5,000-square-foot public museum gallery space in downtown Utica that features a collection of more than 250,000 documents, books, images, and cultural artifacts associated with the people and events of the city.
Rotating exhibits focus on topics such as community cultural groups, pioneer history, military history, and industry and economics.
The center also operates a research library accessible to students and historians and offers weekly programs featuring visiting artists, authors, and historians.
7. St. Church of Joseph and Saint Patrick
The Church of St. Joseph and St. Patrick is a historic Roman Catholic church complex located in downtown Utica, consisting of four buildings built in the 1870s, including the main church building, which was built in 1871 in the German Romanesque architectural style and is listed protected.
On the National Register of Historic Places. It is older than any diocese in New York State except the Diocese of New York City, having been organized as early as 1826.
Visitors can view the church’s beautiful architecture on self-guided tours throughout the week and explore its other buildings, including its parish school of St. Joseph from 1885, the parish residence of St. Josef from 1906, and the parish convent building from 1891.
Free Things to Do in Utica
1. National Distance Running Hall of Fame
The National Distance Running Hall of Fame honors the history of distance running in the United States and the legacy of the sport’s greatest figures.
The hall was originally established in 1998 in Utica due to the city’s connection to the prestigious Boilermaker Road Race, one of the largest 15-kilometer road races in the United States, which attracts thousands of runners each year.
Each year, the Hall of Fame inducts some of the sport’s greatest runners, coaches, donors, and other public figures as part of an annual ceremony at the city’s Stanley Theatre.
International athletes such as Grete Waitz and Priscilla Welch are displayed alongside regional and national runners in public exhibition displays in the hall, which showcase photographs, videos, and artifacts relating to the sport’s history.
2. The Utica Players, Utica, NY
The Players of Utica is New York State’s oldest community theater, having opened to the public in 1913 in downtown Utica.
Originally founded as an Amusement Club, the theater is one of the five oldest community theaters in America, presenting shows in nearby New Hartford until 1999.
After the fire, the company moved to Utica and opened a brand new theater complex at the corner of the city’s Mandeville and State Streets in 2003.
Today, it presents a variety of annual theater presentations, from Broadway musicals and dramas to concerts and children’s theater productions.
Past shows have included popular titles like Oklahoma!, South Pacific, and Death of a Salesman.
The Tailor and The Cook, Utica, New York.
The Tailor and The Cook is a fine New American restaurant in downtown Utica overseen by childhood best friends and business partner duo Tim Hardiman and Chris Talgo.
The restaurant is located in a historic building on the city’s Genesee Street that formerly housed the city’s UTK tailoring company.
It favors sustainable cooking practices and makes all dishes from fresh, locally sourced ingredients selected in season.
Unique dishes are served in a warm and inviting atmosphere, showcased in a weekly rotating a la carte or four-course prix fixe menu.
Menus rotate frequently, but seafood favorites like Newburg blue crab, lamb kofta with baba ghanoush and pistachios, beef tenderloin au Poivre with white truffle mash and cognac cream, and crispy sesame-braised pork shoulder bao often feature.
3. Nail Creek Pub and Brewery
Nail Creek Pub and Brewery strives to bring craft beers to the Mohawk Valley, housed in a historic three-family home in downtown Utica that dates back to the early 1900s.
Founded in 2008, the company presents an ever-changing draft list of local New York craft breweries, and regional breweries served on tap from the pub’s bar.
The aging cellar also offers a wide variety of specialty beers, including cask stouts and sours. The extensive liquor list includes an impressive selection of quality Scotch, whiskey, and rare premium wines.
Creative pub food served all day includes Mediterranean grilled cheese sandwiches, shrimp po’boys, and pimento cheeseburgers.
Cool Places to Visit in Utica
1. Motus, Utica, New York
Motus is a delightful modern American gastropub in downtown Utica, helmed by chef duo Vincent Petronio and JD Smith.
The restaurant showcases avant-garde dishes on seasonally changing menus created from the finest local ingredients.
Diners can choose from various inventive homemade specialties for lunch and dinner throughout the week, including favorites such as homemade semolina pasta with French shallots and homemade chili, chicken roulade with parsley butter and Marcona almonds, cod with homemade batter.
Sliced fries and paella a la marinara service for two filled with clams and mussels.
Shareable entrees include elegant selections like beet Napoleon and cheesesteak poutine.
2. Ventura’s, Utica, New York
Ventura’s was founded in 1943 by husband and wife duo Marie and Rufus Ventura and has been one of Utica’s most popular restaurants for over 75 years.
The restaurant has been a favorite among New York Yankees players and fans since it opened, hosting such legends as Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, and Whitey Ford throughout its downtown tenure.
Guests can enjoy a wide variety of classic pasta served throughout the week for lunch and dinner, including favorites such as homemade cannelloni, fettuccine alfredo, ziti al forno, and linguine con vongole.
Land and sea entrees range from classics like cotolette di pollo to seafood platters filled with shrimp, haddock, mussels, and frog legs.
3. 72 Tavern and Grill, Utica, New York
72 Tavern and Grill is an outstanding sports bar in downtown Utica’s Adirondack Bank that serves as a one-stop destination for the best pub food in town and the biggest sports week games.
Operated by ORB Food and Beverage Group, the restaurant is the first of its kind in the Mohawk Valley to feature a 160-inch high-definition LED video wall that broadcasts the NFL, NHL, NCAA, and other national sports weekly.
Events. Guests can enjoy delicious pub food served from the restaurant’s bar throughout the week, including favorites such as grass-fed avocado burgers, signature steak hoagies, bourbon-infused pork chops with peach and sweet onion, and Havarti and fontina grilled cheese sandwiches.
Shareable appetizers include Mahi Mahi tacos, buffalo chicken nachos, and plates of pub wings topped with a selection of creatively prepared chili sauces.
Utica is sure going to blow you away in seconds.
When you are here, ensure that you take in all the views necessary, enjoy the food, take part in the fun, fill your camera with pictures and live in the moment.
Have a fun-filled vacation!