There is only one New York City, of course. No other American
metropolis even comes close to it in terms of population, diversity of
culture, entertainment, business and commerce.
Yet within a day's drive, you can find fine beaches and seascapes;
quiet, forested mountains; quaint, small towns; and plenty of historical
sightseeing. Visitors will soon realize
that New York is a great, majestic
State as well as a magical city.
Broadly speaking, New York State can be divided into 11 vacation
regions -- New York City, Long Island, The
Catskill Mountains (known as `The Catskills'), the
Capital-Saratoga area, The Adirondacks, The Finger
Lakes, Thousand Islands, Chautauqua-Allegheny,
Central Leatherstocking, The Niagara Frontier and The
Long Island, just off the New York City border, stretches for
190km (118 miles) into the Atlantic and is the largest island adjoining
the continental USA. A popular destination for native city dwellers, Long
Island has recently been discovered by everyone else and it is not hard to
see why. It boasts some of the world's most beautiful white sand beaches,
such as the Fire Island National Seashore, a short train and ferry
ride from Manhattan. It also offers the celebrated Hamptons and
Montauk seaside resort and fishing villages. Whale-watching,
deep-sea fishing, hiking and cycling are just some of the possible leisure
options in this region. There are also wineries and `pick-your-own'
produce stands, as well as the mansions made famous in the books of
F. Scott Fitzgerald.
To the north of the city lie the Hudson River Valley and the
resort area of The Catskills. Many visitors have compared the
Hudson River with the Rhine -- both lay claim to busy boat traffic,
dramatic cliffs, green hills and magnificent mansions. The trip upriver
can be made by coach or train, aboard a sightseeing boat, or by car.
Leaving Manhattan, visitors can follow the Henry Hudson Parkway on the
eastern side to Yonkers. At the Hudson River Museum,
paintings by the famous Hudson River School of artists are on
At Tarrytown, the restored home of the writer Washington Irving
can be visited and nearby is Lyndhurst, the estate and mansion
formerly owned by the 19th-century tycoon, Jay Gould. Tours of the
recently opened Rockefeller Estate, Kykuit, are also available.
Crossing the river to Newburgh and
traveling southwest, the journey
continues to Washingtonville and the Brotherhood Winery, the
country's oldest winery with the largest wine cellars. At West
Point, visitors can observe the precision and concentration of the
impressive military parades by cadets at the
United States Military Academy.
Crossing the river to Poughkeepsie and stopping at Hyde
Park, the Roosevelt-Vanderbilt National Historic Sites preserve
two outstanding Hudson River mansions as well as the graves of President F.
D. Roosevelt and his wife Eleanor. The Vanderbilt Mansion is a
striking 54-room Italian Renaissance structure, furnished elegantly in
marble and mahogany, overlooking the river.
Visitors should certainly consider taking a meal at one of the five
restaurants operated by the Culinary Institute of America,
one of the world's great cooking schools.
At Rhinebeck, the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome houses an
extensive museum of antique warplanes, including several World War One
The Catskill Mountains, situated almost in New York City's
backyard, are among the State's leading resort areas. Hundreds of small
resorts offer dude ranch vacations, fishing cabins beside trout streams or
mountain house retreats. The resort of Phoenicia is particularly
noted for its fine trout fishing on Esopus Creek.
Perhaps the loveliest and least-spoiled highway in the area is Highway
28, the `Onteora Trail'. This skirts the big Ashokan Reservoir and runs to
the artists' colony of Woodstock which is a haven of art and craft
galleries and shops. Chamber music recitals and dramatic performances also
It is hard to believe, but this area also promises skiing for six
months of the year, just two hours from the metropolis. The ski resort of
Belleayre operates a summer chairlift to picnic areas over 1000m
(3285ft) high. At Hunter, there is a 1.5km (1 mile) chairlift
journey to a summit lodge operating in the summer months. Finally, the
Catskills area is noted for the variety of its game farms, the most
celebrated of which is the Catskill Game Farm, which features 2000
birds and animals, as well as an amusement area.
In the Capital-Saratoga region, the Governor Nelson A Empire
State Plaza is a striking 10-building complex that includes the
44-storey Corning Tower, the venerable State Capitol and the city's
performing arts theatre, nicknamed `The Egg', for its unusual shape.
The Empire State Plaza, of which the capitol is a part, features
the New York State Museum, which portrays the
urbanization of New
York City, with lifelike dioramas among the exhibits on Native Americans,
gems and birds.
The Albany Institute of History and Art is the oldest museum in
the State; its collections relate the history of Albany and the Upper
Hudson Valley. StPeter's Church, notable for its stained glass and
floor mosaics, is well worth visiting.
Saratoga Springs was a leading spa and horse-racing centre in
the late 1800s. The National Museum of Racing is housed here. The
Saratoga Race Track season takes place in August, while harness-racing is
held at a nearby track from April to January. The New York City Opera
and Ballet, Philadelphia
Orchestra and other groups perform at
Saratoga Spa State Park in the summer and at Saratoga National
Historical Park, two important battles of the Revolutionary War (the
American War of Independence) are commemorated.
The region is noted for its mud baths and mineral springs, its sunrise
and sunset hot-air balloon flights as well as for Waterford Flight,
the highest rise of lift locks in the world.
Central New York offers one of the finest summer vacations in the east.
The Finger Lakes region is dotted with resorts, camp sites, water
recreation areas, fine lakes and woodland scenery.
Gouged into the land by the action of prehistoric glaciers, 11 slender
lakes extend from north to south like the fingers of a hand. From west to
east, they include: Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca,
Cayuga, Owasco and Skaneateles.
The outstanding scenery here invites visitors to select a waterside
location and there are a number of fine old lodges on the shores, as well
as modest resorts in many of the smaller lake towns.
Aside from its lush scenery, the area lays claim to fame as New York's
prime wine-producing region. Many wineries offer free guided tours and
tasting and the Greyton H Taylor Wine Museum details the history
of wine-making and explains the process. Historically, the region was also
noted for its expertise in another industry: glass-making. At the
Corning Glass Center, exhibits spanning 3500 years of glass-making
are on display and craftsmen can still be seen shaping the famous Steuben
Other notable attractions here are the National Motor Racing Museum
and Hall of Fame at Watkins Glen and the Montezuma National
Wildlife Refuge, a resting and feeding area for more than 235 species
of migratory birds.
At Rochester, host to the celebrated annual Lilac
Festival, visitors can call at the home of Eastman Kodak,
founded by George Eastman, the inventor in 1892 of roll film and the Kodak
camera. The Eastman house is today a national historic landmark and its
outstanding International Museum of Photography details the
development of the art from Daguerre's day to the satellite photos of the
Still in western New York, the State's second-largest city is
Buffalo in the Niagara Frontier region, worlds apart from
Rochester in terms of what is on offer. It is a major centre of industrial
activity and traffic, with a strong sense of history and architecture.
Delaware Park is home to a zoo, while the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is
considered to be the most important museum in the State outside New York
City. The gallery contains works by Gauguin, Modigliani,
Pollock, Van Gogh, Dégas and Cézanne, among others.
We should not forget that Buffalo is a major port city and a good base
from which to plan an excursion to the most celebrated natural attraction
in New York State: the Niagara Falls which can be visited on foot, by boat or
The Niagara flows north from Lake Erie to Lake
plunging over the celebrated 56m (184ft) falls in the process. Visitors
can board the Maid of Mist excursion boat at Prospect Point
for a cruise into the spray or explore the Cave of the Winds on
Goat Island in the middle of the river above the Falls, or even enjoy a
stomach-churning journey on the huge wooden roller coaster at Darien
Lake Theme Park.
Indeed, western New York seems to have been designed with the aquatic
visitor in mind. Following the course of the mighty St Lawrence
River, the scene of imperial clashes between the French and the
British in the 18th century, visitors can explore 730km (454 miles) of
scenic byways. Anthropological tastes are catered for in the
Chautauqua-Allegheny Region where visitors can take tours of Amish
communities and Native American reservations.
The Native American theme is continued in the Adirondack
region, where James Fenimore Cooper set the action of his
legendary novel The Last of the Mohicans. This region also boasts
the presence of the largest State park in America (6 million acres of
land), cabins in the woods, luxurious lakeside resort hotels and the
prospect of canoeing, salmon fishing and big-game hunting.
Camping trips on horseback and scuba-diving for
sunken ships in
Lake Champlain complete the picture of a vacation region which will
quench the most adventurous appetite.
The Central Leatherstocking Region is perhaps more urbane in its
range of pleasures and activities, although the outdoor theme is
maintained with the chance of a trip to see an underground lake and other
geological wonders at Howe Caverns. Chartered boat trips along the
Erie Canal are another possibility.
A distinctly metropolitan note is sounded, though, with the opportunity
to lose or gain a fortune on the 24-hour tables of the casino at
Turning Stone. There are also museums devoted to soccer and boxing
in the towns of Oneonta and Canastota, charming inns to
visit and an opera house with acoustics to satisfy the most sensitive ear.