The city of Oneonta, located in the southern part of Otsego County, is one of our favorite “big cities” in the Upstater area. It’s every inch the college town, bigger than New Paltz (another favorite) and yet, small enough to retain its charm. Oneonta has pretty much everything you’d want: A walkable downtown area jammed-packed with shops, restaurants, bars, and some beautiful Catskill Mountain scenery and a multitude of state parks just beyond the city limits.
The Susquehanna River flows through the southern portion of the city and parallel to I-88, acting as sort of a dividing line between Oneonta’s urban and its more suburban areas. And while Oneonta might be less accessible than other southern parts of upstate New York that we frequently talk about on Upstater, we think its remoteness makes Oneonta an oft-overlooked gem. There’s definitely an art scene, given its proximity to SUNY Oneonta, a big state school, and Hartwick College, a small liberal arts college and home to the Yager Museum of Art and Culture. You can check out information and links to all the art and culture you can handle on this page. Still not enough? Oneonta is also the home to the Upper Catskill Community Council of the Arts, which provides all kinds of information on what’s happening art and culture-wise in area.
Oneonta is also home to some great music venues and theaters. The Oneonta Theater consists of two stages and features the big-name acts that come through town, plus a few theatrical productions. There are lots of other smaller venues in town, one of our favorites being the Black Oak Tavern, which showcases bands from all over the state. The city holds a summer music festival in Neahwa Park, too. Another place worth checking out is the West Kortright Centre (GMAP), located just south of Oneonta in the town of Meredith (Delaware County). Not only is West Kortright a great music, arts, and theater venue, it’s housed in an amazing old church, for which Upstater has a bit of an affinity, in case you haven’t noticed.
If nature and wildlife are more your bag, there’s plenty of that, as well, including the Gilbert Lakes State Park, the Susquehanna River Trail, the Joseph L. Popp Butterfly Conservatory, and the Robert V. Riddell State Park, just to name a few. There are also tons of libraries and museums, and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown is not far away.
Oneonta’s real estate market is hopping. There are tons of great properties for sale, pretty much anything you’d want, from village Victorians to rural places sitting on a good-sized portion of land to lakefront vacation houses. Prices are very affordable, and you can get a whole lotta bang for your buck. There aren’t many expensive luxury properties on the market right now, but if you can spend around $250,000, you’ll be in good shape. Located approximately 3.5 hours from NYC, which is a bit more of a drive than we’re used to, so if you go, plan to spend some time up there. Oneonta is worth it.
Oh, and rumor has it that Paul Reubens, AKA Pee-Wee Herman, grew up in Oneonta. We’re not sure if that had an impact on his career, but we love Pee-Wee so much, we thought we’d mention it.