top of page

5 Scenic Capital District Drives to Beat Quarantine Boredom

By Theresa Houghton

If you’re bouncing off the walls waiting for local businesses, shops and attractions to reopen, don’t despair. You can get out and enjoy the warmer weather with a scenic drive through Upstate NY. Check out these five beautiful trails and byways located within a few hours of the Albany area.

1. Taconic-Mohawk Trail

Just a short distance away from Rensselaer County, the Taconic-Mohawk trail winds its way through the stunning vistas of the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. Pick up the trail at Williamstown, and drive on through to North Adams before tackling the iconic hairpin turn on your way to the top.

The summit of the trail brings you to 2,173 feet about sea level. It’s a great spot to enjoy the view and snap a few photos of the scenery! But that’s not the last of the natural beauty this trail has in store. After cresting the peak, you’ll enjoy the surroundings of the Savoy Mountain State Forest as you drive to Adams. Take in all the mountain views on the way to Williamstown, and end your trip back where you started in New York.

2. Adirondack Trail

If you’re in the mood for a quarantine road trip that takes you through the heart of some of the most beautiful wilderness in New York State, try the Adirondack Trail. This scenic drive starts on Route 30a in Fonda and heads straight through Adirondack Park. You’ll see glacial lakes and ponds on your drive, as well as several iconic historical landmarks.

Driving the entire trail takes you through Johnstown (home of the Johnstown battlefield), Gloversville, Blue Mountain Lake, Long Lake and Tupper Lake. It’s a long drive that will not only help you beat boredom but also reduce the pent-up stress that can come with being in relative isolation.

3. Route 20 Scenic Byway

The Route 20 Scenic Byway is a specially designated 108-mile stretch of New York’s Route 20. It begins in Duanesburg and winds through seven counties:

· Herkimer

· Madison

· Montgomery

· Oneida

· Onondaga

· Otsego

· Schenectady

· Schoharie

This drive treats you to the sight of rolling vistas—yes, real rolling vistas!—and small communities with unique shops and landmarks. You might not be able to stop in and buy anything just yet, but you can still enjoy the quaint settings on your way through.

When things open up again, be sure to head back and check out the local farms and markets on an agri-tourism trip!

4. Upper Delaware Scenic Byway

At the time of its designation, this road was known as “the most scenic highway in the east.” The Upper Delaware Scenic Byway might not pop up first if you Google “scenic drives near me,” but it makes for a nice trip if you don’t mind driving a couple of hours downstate to pick up Route 97.

Getting on the byway brings you along the Delaware River on the border of New York and New Jersey. On the way, you can check out the Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area and Elks-Brox Memorial Park. Call ahead to find out if the hiking trails are open – you might be able to get out of the car and have a walk around before continuing your trip.

5. Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway

On this drive, you can:

· Get a view of Frontenac Island in Cayuga Lake

· Watch the locks work on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal

· Enjoy a scenic view of the lake and woodlands

· Catch a glimpse of the local marshlands

· Immerse yourself in the history of the area

The 87-mile loop that makes up the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway is the farthest away of all the options on this list, so it might be better to save it until after New York has officially “un-paused” all the way. However, if you don’t mind spending an entire day on the road, it’s a beautiful drive.

When you’re on your quarantine road trip, remember to follow CDC guidelines and abide by the rules of rest stops and local businesses. Bring your own snacks and water to minimize stops, and pack some hand sanitizer in case you need to wash your hands but can’t get to a sink.

Most of all, enjoy yourself. Getting out of the house after a long period of isolation can feel weird and might come with some anxiety and fear, but road trips are still supposed to be fun. Pick a nice day for your drive. Make note of any memorable spots you’d like to revisit when everything is open again. And take lots of pictures to share with your friends who are at home


About the Author Theresa “Sam” Houghton is a writer, speaker and health coach from Troy, NY. She’s a regular contributor to, and her work has appeared in the Honest Weight Food Co-Op Coop Scoop, Natural Awakenings Magazine and the 2017 Daily Dozen calendar. She has been a featured guest on Focus on Albany, WMAC’s Food Friday and the Just Ask David podcast. When she's not writing or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, cook tasty plant-based food and knit socks. You can find out more about Sam at


bottom of page