15 Best Things to Do in Oneida, NY
Oneida is a relatively small city in Madison County, New York.
Though it's only 22 square miles, Oneida's quaint history is a rich source of points of interest.
The city was named after the Native American tribe, which held a large territory around the lake to its north, also called Oneida.
Oneida was incorporated as a village in the town of Lennox in 1848.
It eventually split from Lennox and became an independent town in 1896.
It was chartered as a city in 1901, featuring a compact design that served as the foundation of Oneida becoming a pedestrian-friendly community.
The deeper imprint of the city comes through from its namesake Oneida silverware company that the local Utopian community founded.
Still, there’s more to Oneida besides the famous, high-quality tableware this manufacturer delivers globally.
Learn more about what the city offers through the following list of the best things to do in Oneida, New York.
Tour the Oneida Community Mansion
The Oneida Community Mansion House is a National Historic Landmark that stands out on the corridor of Kenwood Avenue.
The mansion, which flaunts ornate Victorian architecture, served as the home of Oneida’s 19th-century utopian community.
It was built in several phases from 1861 to 1914, eventually coming out with a floor area of 93,000 feet.
The mansion features a museum and offers guided tours of the house and its preserved rooms circa the Oneida commune.
The permanent and changing exhibits of the museum depict life during the 19th century and early 20th century.
Events are regularly held in the mansion and its 35-acre well-landscaped grounds.
These events include live musical performances and summer yoga classes.
In addition, guests can stay at the Inn at the Mansion, offering contemporary bed and breakfast amenities.
Visit the Madison County Historical Society
The Madison County Historical Society allows visitors to explore the county’s heritage at its museum on Main Street.
A Gothic Revival Villa built in 1849 houses the museum and the society’s headquarters.
You’ll not only learn about Madison County’s heritage during a tour of this 5,706- square-foot house but also discover what life was like during the Victorian period.
The famed architect Alexander Jackson Davis designed the vintage house with two parlors, a library/trophy room, a vault, and changing exhibit room.
The house also has a dining room, a kitchen, a butler’s pantry, a children’s room, a grandmother’s room, and a housekeeper’s room, all allowing some insights into Madison’s history.
For an even deeper look, visitors can check out the Mary King Research Library in the museum.
In the library, you can access historical records of Madison County, including photos and microfilms.
Explore Mount Hope Reservoir
Mount Hope Reservoir, which was developed between 1883 and 1906, is a historic property of the city of Oneida that has been converted into a park.
Its area covers 64 acres suited for outdoor recreational activities, such as hiking, mountain biking, cross-country skiing, and camping.
You will cover about one mile if you explore the loop around the lower reservoir.
Taking the trail on the upper reservoir traverses uniquely different woodlands on both flanks of the path.
Fishing is allowed in the waters of the reservoir, which served as the source of Oneida’s drinking water.
Valued in fire protection, Mount Hope Reservoir also catered to the needs of local industries.
Tackle the Oneida Rail Trail
The Oneida Rail Trail (ORT) stretches over 11 miles, offering locals and visitors a carless, multi-use path for commuting and recreation.
You can access the trail’s first mile between Lenox Avenue and Hubbard Place on the west side of Oneida.
Opened in 2014, the ORT preserved and repurposed as a cultural corridor the rail beds of three former rail lines: the New York Central, West Shore Division, and New York Ontario and Western.
These former train routes cut through the heart of Oneida’s downtown.
The repurposed ORT has thus further enhanced Oneida’s reputation as a pedestrian-friendly city.
The ORT corridor also connects Oneida to the City of Sherrill in the southeast and the Village of Wampsville in the west.
This thereby opens convenient access to more points of interest for visitors of Oneida.
Chase Birdies at Oneida Community Golf Course
This 18-hole golf link is one of the vintage properties associated with the utopian Oneida Community.
The Oneida Community Golf Course was established in 1900, spreading north of Chapel Street off south of Sunset Lake.
The Oneida Community Mansion House is just east of this golf course, touted as one of the oldest in the U.S.
Regulation play in this layout is par 71, with the course stretching over 6,418 yards from the longest tees.
The course rating is 70.4, while the slope rating is 123 for its layout featuring hilly terrain, small greens, and small bunkers.
The clubhouse of this course offers casual dining at its Lakeview restaurant and tavern bar.
Its deck overlooks the ninth green, and the porch surrounding the clubhouse offers scenic views of Sunset Lake.
This laid-back countryside setting makes the Oneida Community Golf Course worth a visit for golfers and non-golfers alike.
Raise a Toast at the Madison County Hop Fest
Visit Oneida in time for the annual Madison County Hop Fest, traditionally held around mid-September.
Beer and its important bittering agent, hop, are the centerpiece of this festival.
Throngs of beer lovers gather in this afternoon celebration that the Madison County Historical Society hosts at its Cottage Lawn on Main Street.
Besides festive beer samplings, the celebration features exhibits on the heritage of the hop industry in Madison.
Other festival attractions include food trucks, vendors of hop-related products, raffles, and live band music.
Browse Items at Oneida Cottage Lawn Farmers Market
The Main Street of Oneida offers a weekly attraction in the Cottage Lawn Farmers Market practically the whole year.
From June to August in summer, this outdoor event promoting sales of local produce is held every Tuesday afternoon.
In the fall, the Cottage Lawn Farmers Market takes place every first Tuesday of September and October.
The farmers market goes indoors in winter from November to December, also every first Tuesday of those months.
Bestsellers in the farmers market include maple products, artisan baked goods, pastries, jams and jellies, lamb, poultry, eggs, soaps, and wool and yarn products.
The Oneida Public Library near the Cottage Lawn opens its doors first Tuesday of each month in summer for kids’ storytelling.
Take the Kids to the Madison County Craft Festival
The Madison County Craft Festival is an annual family-friendly event held at the Cottage Lawn of the Madison Historical Society on Main Street.
The festival is typically held during the weekend in early September, with activities for kids among its features.
An activity tent for kids during this festival ensures that children will have fun with their parents.
Adults, on the other hand, will enjoy picking from the arts and crafts on display for sale, such as décor made of glass, fabric, and metal.
Other items available during the Madison County Craft Festival include paintings, sculptures, jewelry, and ceramics, as well as soap and skin care products.
Sample Wines at Villa Verona Vineyard
The Villa Verona Vineyard, established in 2014 on the corridor of New York 365, boasts a 1,600-square-foot tasting room and winery.
Here, visitors can pick their sampling from the vineyard’s 15 wines ranging from dry to sweet.
The vineyard also features a 1,600-square-foot table-to-farm bistro, plus a 1,000-square-foot tented patio.
Visitors of Villa Verona Vineyard not only can enjoy wine tasting but also see the processes of wine-making and grape growing.
Indulge in Pizza at Pepi's Pizza
Opened in 1960 on Genesee Street, Pepi's Pizza has built up loyal patronage because of its uncompromising dedication to quality.
Its pizzas’ dough, made from scratch daily, is aged for two to three days for maximum texture and flavor.
Pepi's Pizza also only uses 100% mozzarella cheese and sauce from fresh tomatoes cooked per pizza.
This family-owned and managed pizzeria is likewise home to Gelato Joe’s, which banners its Italian ice cream.
You can order hard or soft ice cream here, available in small, medium, and large servings.
Explore the Duross Conservancy
The Duross Conservancy, accessible from East Sands Street, is an urban green oasis within Oneida’s city limits.
Its lush woodlands span over 18 acres, wedged on the western side of Oneida Creek.
Visitors can explore Duross Conservancy via its nature trails in one-half-mile to full-mile loops within its perimeter.
The Conservancy also offers access to Oneida Creek, thus providing fishing opportunities.
This creek, which flows northward to Oneida Lake, is a habitat for various fish species, including bass, crappie, catfish, carp, perch, pike, and bluegill.
Other Things to Do Nearby
Try Your Luck at Turning Stone Resort Casino
The Turning Stone Resort Casino is a large resort complex on Patrick Road in Verona, 4.5 miles east of Oneida.
The Oneida Indian Nation of New York owns it.
It was named Turning Stone, pivotal to Oneida’s economic independence and cultural rebirth.
The flagship gaming operations of the resort include the typical slot machines, poker tables, bingo, and sports betting.
In addition, Turning Stone Resort Casino runs The Inn, where visitors can enjoy a luxurious but affordable stay overnight.
The resort also boasts superb dining facilities, a spa, and an 18-hole, PGA-level golf course.
Pick a Ride at Sylvan Beach Amusement Park
Sylvan Beach Amusement Park is a historic recreational facility with roots dating back to the 1870s.
This amusement center is located on the eastern shore of Oneida Lake at the resort community of Sylvan Beach, about 10 miles north of Oneida.
Visitors of the park can choose from 21 rides, including a thrilling bout with its 45-foot-high roller coaster with a top speed of 35 miles per hour.
Besides this facility called The Galaxi Coaster, you can enjoy classic rides such as Bumper Boats, Tilt-A-Whirl, Bumper Cars, The Scrambler, and Rock-O-Plane.
You can also try Sylvan Beach Amusement Park's mini-golf and arcades for a complete dose of family entertainment.
Go Camping at Verona Beach State Park
Verona Beach State Park is located on Lakeshore Road South in the hamlet of Verona Beach, some 8.5 miles north of Oneida.
The park spans over 1,735 acres on the eastern shore of Oneida Lake.
It offers picnic areas and a campground next to the beach, giving visitors scenic views of the lake.
Besides swimming, park visitors can enjoy boating and fishing in Oneida Lake, which spreads over nearly 80 square miles.
Visitors of the park can likewise hike on its 10-mile nature trail, suitable for snow-mobile riding and cross-country skiing in winter.
In addition, Verona Beach State Park's eastern portion is open for seasonal hunting of deer, waterfowl, and small game.
Play Disc Golf at Oxbow Falls Park
Visiting disc golf players will have an awesome experience testing the 18-hole course at Oxbow Falls Park.
This park offers a fantastic natural setting with its 125-acre spread off Oxbow Road in the village of Canastota, about 7 miles southwest of Oneida.
Playing here gives disc golfers the opportunity to traverse the park’s lush woodlands and streams.
Besides the course disc golf layout, the rugged terrain of the park is accessible via ribbons of hiking trails.
At the park’s vantage points, you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the Oneida Lake Plain extending to Lake Ontario.
The park also boasts a 100-foot falls, likely an offshoot of the geologic formation of an escarpment millions of years ago.
Other points of interest in Oxbow Falls Park include a ballfield with a pavilion and another in the woods accessible to disc golfers.
A visit to New York State gets more exciting if the itinerary includes destinations in Oneida.
There are plenty of things to do in Oneida, given its rich history and proximity to the other attractions in Madison County.
Moreover, this city is walkable, enabling visitors to easily shift from one attraction to another.
Try these best things to do in Oneida, New York, to maximize your trip!