New York has been a top travel destination for decades, but there are way more things to do in the state than just visit New York City! This year, skip the tourist traps and go off the beaten track. From the vibrant hub of Manhattan to the often-overlooked boroughs of New York City, the Big Apple is full of hip bars, intriguing art, and unique cultures. Farther upstate and west towards Canada lie tranquil lakes, expansive hiking trails, and breathtaking waterfalls. The natural beauty of New York is a well-kept secret that's worth taking the time to explore.
Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, you'll find the quaint village of Lake Placid. The town hosted two Winter Olympics, but its breathtaking natural beauty makes it the perfect place to visit in any season. Although the area is small and tranquil, the town itself is full of contemporary art galleries, luxurious spas, high-end shops, and tasty restaurant options. If you want to spend your time in nature, Lake Placid is home to miles of trails to hike, bike, or run along. When you need a rest, set up camp along one of the nearby lakes or head into the mountains for a more secluded spot.
This 1.45 mile-long park goes in a line straight through the Lower West Side of Manhattan and Chelsea. The elevated park follows an old railroad and is a stunning combination of architecture, ecology, design, and art. Intriguing installations are dotted throughout the park, just waiting to be discovered. The installations were created by internationally renowned artists, and they explore themes ranging from politics, to climate change, to social justice issues. Besides the thought-provoking art, you'll also find super cool interactive furniture. The seesaw and keyboard benches are perfectly instagrammable rest spots. Follow the trail the entire way to get great views of the Hudson River and a unique tour of the city. As an added bonus, the park comes to an end in a trendy Manhattan neighborhood full of cute cafés, restaurants, and bars.
For a charming, laid-back alternative to New York City, head to Poughkeepsie. This lesser-explored town is located right on the banks of the Hudson River. Despite its small size, Poughkeepsie is a vibrant town, partly due to the large population of college students. Spend a few days and check out the museums, art centers, and cute independent shops. You can even catch a performance at the local opera house! For a truly unique experience, take a cruise along the Hudson River to see the town from an entirely different point of view.
The Finger Lakes are where New Yorkers go to spend quality time in the great outdoors. The area is named after its several long, thin lakes, and it's the perfect place to kayak, swim, hike, and see some of the best natural attractions the East Coast has to offer. While you're in the area, a trip to Taughannock Falls State Park is a must. The park is home to some seriously impressive waterfalls, and its namesake is a vast 215-foot plunge waterfall that will take your breath away. For a break from nature, the nearby town of Ithaca is a vibrant spot home to independent shops, artist co-ops, and quirky bookstores. The area is also known for its many vineyards, so get ready to taste some exquisite wine and nibbles while you're out there.
Okay, we all know you can find hops anywhere, but New York State is a mecca of craft beer and microbreweries. From light and hoppy to dark and mysterious, your taste buds won't know what hit them. Starting in New York City, do some taproom hopping at Coney Island Brewing and Brooklyn-based Other Half Brewing. The chilled-out ‘70s vibe of Grimm Artisanal Ales makes for another great stop. Their taproom is the perfect place to take a break from the busy city to sample, listen to records, and make some new friends. Outside of the city, a trip to the Clemson Bros Brewery is a must. Not only is the town of New Paltz super cute and picturesque, but it's also close to the Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary and a bunch of scenic trails.
Thousand Islands Park is every Instagrammer's dream. Located all the way upstate on the border of New York and Canada, the park is made up of thousands of small islands. Take a cruise and visit all the heritage sites. One stop you don't want to miss is Boldt Castle. You'll swear you're in Europe when you gaze up at the truly magnificent and strangely out-of-place castle. The St. Lawrence River is the perfect backdrop for the 16th century-inspired building.
Of course, no list of New York State must-sees is complete without the world-famous Niagara Falls. Although it might seem too touristy to be interesting, the raw power of the Niagara Falls in person will leave you speechless. The area is also the site of miles of beautiful hiking trails, local museums, and tasty dining options. Keep exploring in nearby Buffalo, a quaint town full of great museums, art deco architecture, and a laid back vibe. You can also sample a plate of buffalo wings in the very town that invented them!
When you're in New York, you need to make a trip to the state capital. And no, it's not New York City! A cute little city called Albany has this honor, and it's the perfect place to spend a long weekend. History buffs will love exploring the stunning Empire State Plaza and the Albany Institute of History and Art. The small museum packs a punch, offering up everything from Victorian-era jewelry made from human hair to ancient Egyptian artifacts. When the weather's good, take advantage of the bike trails that meander through beautiful Washington Park. Work up an appetite, then stop in one of locally owned cafés for a coffee and some of the best vegan food in the state.
No town in New York says luxury like Saratoga Springs. This picturesque town is full of lush trees, well-maintained gardens, opulent Victorian houses, and over a dozen mineral-rich springs. Put your itinerary on hold and take a soothing day to relax in the mineral springs, get massages, and eat delicious food from the local farmers market. Saratoga Springs is the perfect place to relax after busy NYC, and you'll leave feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. If you need a little bit more excitement during your trip, the areas is packed with horse farms where you can take riding lessons or trot through the countryside.
If you're looking for the perfect beachside town, there's no need to go all the way to California. Montauk is a cute village in East Hampton surrounded by stunning beaches. The peaceful town is close enough to New York City to make it the perfect day trip, so you can escape the city and spend some quality time swimming, surfing, or lounging with a good book. Montauk isn't always a sleepy town. In the summertime, it transforms into a bustling community full of music festivals, art shows, farmers' markets, and live performances. Plan your trip ahead so you can join the festivities and catch some great music and art from local, national, and international artists.