When we talk about New York, we always think about the big city teeming with skyscrapers, entertainment, and fashion.
However, that’s not all there is to the state, as it is also home to various small cities that offer a different kind of experience.
One of these places is Olean, situated in Cattaraugus County, New York, and its capital city, Olean City.
Olean is the largest city in the county and serves as its financial, transportation, and business center.
If you’re thinking about going on vacation with your friends or family, choose Olean for its numerous offerings that appeal to the senses.
The sites and attractions that wait for you here cover nature, historic places, a church complex, a beer brewing company, and a ski resort!
If you love the outdoors, Olean also has state parks that boast scenic views and outdoor activities for the entire family.
And now, with Rock City Park, you’ll experience amazing scenery with tons of hiking trails and a lot of magnificent views over the Enchanted Mountains.
Don’t leave everything to your imagination!
Plan your trip to Olean and experience this small city's vibe!
When planning your trip, consider the 15 best things to do in Olean, NY, below.
Admire the Splendid Architecture of the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels
When you come here and ask the locals for recommendations on what to see in their place, they will surely tell you to go to the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels.
This is not surprising since the basilica is one of the most beautiful landmarks in the city.
Situated right in the heart of Olean, you won’t miss it with its twin spires, which are popular features in Gothic Revival churches.
When it was first established in 1852, it was only made of a wooden shanty structure.
Then in 1913, they designed the current Gothic Revival Church, which was completed in 1917.
During its centennial year in 1952, they refurbished the church and added new interior designs, including altars, a pulpit, railing, and new artworks.
Today, it’s a beautiful architectural wonder attracting thousands of visitors each year.
Learn about the Story of Innovation and Commitment at the Cutco/Ka-Bar Visitors Center
Located on E State St., Cutco/Ka-Bar Visitors Center is the perfect place to learn about the products, people, and history of Cutko/Ka-Bar, specifically about who created the products, their ingenious solutions, and their contributions to improving the lives of the locals.
Go around and discover how industrial designer Thomas Lamb designed the Wedge-Lock Handle, as well as the story about Cutco Cutlery and how they marketed these products to the customers.
You’ll also find interesting information on the rich heritage of Ka-Bar Knives through its extensive displays of pockets, military knives, and antique kitchen cutlery.
Experience the Outdoors with a Visit to the Rock City Park
On NY-16, Olean welcomes you to the Rock City Park, known as the Eight Wonder of the World.
You’ll be amazed to see the spectacular display of enormous rock formations.
Exposing the world’s largest quartz conglomerate, also called puddingstone or ocean spar, it attracts thousands of visitors each year who want to behold this amazing sight.
With an altitude of 2,300 feet above sea level, you will enjoy magnificent views of stunning natural creations and rock formations.
It’s interesting to note that the place was once a ‘fortress’ for the Indians, featuring gigantic rocks with descending crevice staircases that lead to trails with monolithic rocks.
After a day of exploration, cap your experience with a shopping spree at the Souvenir and Rock Shop.
For comfort, remember to wear rubber shoes and casual clothes.
Purchase gems, rocks, and refreshments to complete your day.
Share a Pint of Beer (or More) at Four Mile Brewing
Four Mile Brewing has brought back beer and brewing to Olean.
More than a century ago, on the spot where Four Mile Brewing stands, Olean Brewing Co. brewed beer for the city for 15 years.
The brewery was considered among the most advanced plants of its kind but unfortunately had to close during Prohibition.
Today, Four Mile Brewing is a 15-barrel brewhouse with miles of hoses, storage tanks, and giant stainless steel fermenters.
Its four beers, as the name suggests, are always on tap.
What’s more exciting is that it now has canned its beer, which is already available in supermarkets.
Aside from beers, they also serve food to match your brew.
Try their daily menu or go for their brunch.
Make sure to also come here on Thursdays for Taco Thursday.
You know what happens on Taco Thursday!
Beat Your Friends in Bowling at Good Times of Olean
In between sightseeing in Olean, why not break the monotony with a bowling game or two at the Good Times of Olean?
Located on E State St, this bowling alley opened in 2013, providing fun and entertainment for families and visitors of all ages.
The 16-lane bowling alley is not all there is to the Good Times of Olean, as it also features an 18-hole miniature golf course, batting cages for baseball, and beach volleyball courts.
With these fun activities, you will surely go hungry, so it has also placed three restaurants for your gastronomic adventure.
In fact, this place has one of the area’s largest selections of food and drinks.
Have More Fun at the Olean Recreation Center
Still located on E State St, you can continue having fun at the Olean Recreation Center.
With top-notch activities, you can surely find something that will keep you busy all day long!
It’s the place for outdoorsy and sports-minded people, with facilities that include three volleyball courts, a roller hockey area, a soccer floor, a swimming pool, and two basketball courts.
Experience the Local Entertainment of Olean Firsthand at Talty’s Irish Pub Open Mic
Aside from shopping, experiencing the local entertainment is a surefire way to make your stay in Olean a blast.
Located on Union St., Talty’s Irish Pub is one of the places that tourists and locals frequent because of both its food and entertainment.
You can watch local talents while drinking beer and chatting with friends in between.
They feature local and international performers and offer scrumptious food and an affordable menu.
But for a more unique experience, why not take a jab at your comedic skills and join their open mic night?
Or, if you want to jam with the singers, you may also do so.
Feel the Comfortable Ambiance of Eddie’s State King Tavern
Once your step into Eddie’s State King Tavern, you’ll immediately feel its homey vibe and the familiar feeling of connection between the patrons and the owner.
This bar and pub is located on E State St. and owned by Krazy Eddie, who treats everyone like a family.
Nothing exhibits this better than one of its walls that’s been decorated with photos of patrons, ephemeral and old beer signs.
Sports is shown on the monitor, and everybody just laughs and joins in the fun of watching a sports show.
Eddie’s State King Tavern is the place where the fantastic company meets excellent music and a pint of ice-cold beer.
Take the Family on a Nature Getaway at the Lake Lane Fishing and Camping Getaway
Are you looking for a good spot to bring your family to where you can bond and have fun?
The answer is Lake Lane Fishing and Camping Getaway.
This picturesque park on Windfall Road always makes sure that its fishing ponds are fully stocked for an incredible fishing experience.
Bring your kids and the entire family, and they will thank you for letting them experience the place.
You can take advantage of the kayak rental, playground, ground-heated swimming pool with a slide, tent sites, cabin rental, and bait shop.
And if you want to enjoy picnicking, then, it also has charcoal on the ground grills all over the park.
It’s going to be an exciting day to bring the family out on a picnic at Lake Lane Fishing and Camping Getaway.
Find Interesting Information on Olean at the Olean Bartlett House
If there’s something you want to know about Olean, the Olean Bartlett House has the answer.
Aside from answering questions to queries about the history of the city, this place also does genealogy for individuals who are looking for their family and people involved in the city’s history.
Located on Laurens St, it works with the Olean School System, utilizing high school interns to conduct research on local history.
The fourth graders in the city have a course in local history, so at the end of the school year, they come to Olean Bartlett House on a field trip where the staff augments what they have already learned.
One of the must-sees is their Christmas display, which visitors of all ages will truly love.
Find Great Antique Items at the Olean Lumberyard Antique
At the former site of the Olean Lumber Co. on Barry Street are an antique shop and flea market that has been attracting customers who are looking for antique items and history.
When you come here, there is nothing that you can find that relates to a lumberyard.
The owner decided on the name to honor the building’s past and also give the customers an idea of where to find the place.
So, if you love old items and lots of history, then the Olean Lumberyard Antique can make you happy.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Test Your Taste for the Arts at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts
If you want to see what’s beyond Olean City, then travel for about 13 minutes to St. Bonaventure to see the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts.
Offering a wide range of resources, it’s the perfect place to bring the kids on a day of an exciting adventure that looks into the arts of this part of the country.
The Quick Center features study and storage spaces, rehearsal rooms, instrumental and vocal labs, instructional spaces for the performing and visual arts, the Rigas Family Theatre, and spacious art galleries.
Go around and explore its encyclopedic art collections, including modern and contemporary, European and American, and Asian collections.
Also, the center hosts the annual performing arts series that features live performances of international and classical music as well as theatre and dance.
Experience Science, Art, and Nature in One Place at the Pfeiffer Nature Center
Some 11 minutes from Olean is the place where science, art, and Nature come together—the Pfeiffer Nature Centre.
The place offers history and information, visitor information, and trails.
There are trails on the two properties of the nature center—The Lillibridge Property and the Eshelman Property.
If you choose Lillibridge, you will explore this 188-acre land and 6-mile trail, home to a national and state-registered historic cabin.
You shouldn’t miss one of the highlights—the 500-year-old Tupleo Tree.
As for the Eshelman Property, you will explore 488 acres and 4 miles of trails through wetlands and secondary growth forests.
The place is especially great for birders during the migratory season.
Whichever one you choose, the Pfeiffer Nature Center will surely give you a great time with the family.
Have the Ultimate Getaway at the Holiday Valley Ski Resort
No matter the season, the Holiday Valley Ski Resort always has something for you.
Just 30 minutes away from Olean, specifically located in Ellicottville, the resort will be your favorite 4-season escape.
During the summer, you can play in the golf course, practice range, Mountain Coaster, and Sky High Aerial Adventure Park.
In the winter, you can enjoy day and night skiing, snowboarding, tubing, nordic skiing, spa, and Mountain Coaster.
Take the family to the Holiday Valley Ski Resort and see how happy you can make them.
Cap Your Vacation with a Spa Session at Lydia Hawley’s
Going back to Olean, you can cap your excursion with a relaxing spa session at Lydia Hawley’s, located on Union St.
Loosen your tight muscles and relax as the massage therapist works on your body.
There’s no better way to end a vacation than to relax in a spa after spending days exploring a new place.
Olean may not be as busy as New York City, but it does offer you something that big cities can’t.
Think about nature, peace, quiet, and connectedness, and you’ll know Olean is the perfect place for this.
So, wait no more and visit Olean today.