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The Erie Canal towns

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The fertile farming country stretching from Albany at the head of the Hudson to the growing tourist destination of Buffalo on Lake Erie, along the route of the Erie Canal, comprises the agricultural heartland of New York State. The eastern parts – also known as Central Leatherstocking, after the protective leggings worn by the area’s first settlers – are well off the conventional tourist trails, with the exception of the lovely village of Cooperstown. The industrial college town of Syracuse only merits a visit for the Erie Canal Museum (Mon–Sat 10am–5pm, Sun 10am–3pm; free; t 315/471-0593, w http://www.eriecanalmuseum.org), housed in an 1850s weighing station at 318 E Erie Blvd. Rochester, however, possesses some worthy attractions and a few exploratory detours en route to Buffalo/Niagara will pay dividends in the shape of quaint canal-side villages and deserted beaches up on Lake Ontario.