Stretching from the Atlantic shoreline to the Great Lakes, New York State presents 54,000 square miles of magnificent outdoor wilderness. So, once you’ve had your fill of the Big Apple, grab your hiking boots and come explore the natural beauty of the ‘Empire State’.
The oldest state park in the USA plays host to one of the country’s iconic visitor destinations, mighty Niagara Falls. Three waterfalls make up Niagara: Horseshoe Falls, Bridal Veil Falls and American Falls. Situated on the US border with Canada, an astonishing 600,000 gallons of water plunge over the falls every second, hurtling 188 feet into the Lower Niagara River. In 1846 the original Maid of the Mist began ferrying tourists to gawp at the cascading wall of water. Movie stars, international heads of state and royal families all visited the falls in the iconic vessel, and today two zero-emission electric boats continue the legacy.
A thriving holiday destination since the 1800s, historic Saratoga is a mainstay of racing fans, and spa aficionados seeking a spot of pampering. The attractive Victorian downtown houses an array of galleries and art studios, bars, restaurants and boutiques. Enjoy a thermal soak at Roosevelt Baths and Spa or the Crystal Spa. Visitors flock to the town’s naturally occurring mineral springs for their purported healing properties. Discover eclectic museums including the New York State Military Museum, National Museum of Dance and the Saratoga Automobile Museum. Explore 300 years of horse racing history at Saratoga’s National Museum of Racing, and check out the town’s famous racecourse, the oldest in the U.S. On a sunny day, take a picnic to 2,500 acre Saratoga Spa State Park, home to swimming pools, two golf courses and abundant hiking trails.
Located in the centre of the wild and rocky Adirondacks, Lake Placid offers superb hiking and year-round activities. The Olympic Sports Complex is a must for thrill seekers. Ride on a high-speed bobsled, and simulate a ski-jump experience on the Sky Flyer Zip line. Ski, hike and bike on Whiteface Mountain, one of the region’s highest summits, and ascend its summit aboard the Cloudsplitter gondola. Take a memorable scenic drive along the Veteran’s Memorial Highway for staggering views across the Adirondacks. For more leisurely pursuits, fly-fish on the Ausable River, relax by the gleaming shores of Mirror Lake, and explore the glass walkway that snakes above tumbling waterfalls at High Falls Gorge.
This densely populated peninsula in New York State’s south eastern corner has long provided sanctuary for frazzled New Yorkers. Drool over exclusive real estate and frolic on pristine white sands at Coopers Beach in the Hamptons. Hit the surf, and lunch on Atlantic-fresh lobster in Montauk. Sample the wares at over 70 vineyards, craft distilleries and breweries in North Fork’s wine country. Take the ferry to stunningly unspoilt Fire Island, a car-free zone. Rent a cycle and explore 32 miles of quiet byways and protected beaches.
Letchworth State Park
Situated in the state’s northwest, Letchworth State Park is known as the ‘grand canyon of the east’ thanks to its dramatic and incredibly scenic landscape. The 17 mile expanse comprises over 14,000 acres of plunging gorges, dense forests and picturesque waterfalls fed by the Genesee River. Explore 66 miles of hiking, biking and horse riding trails. If you’re visiting during summer, enjoy kayaking, white water rafting and swimming, or take to the skies in a hot air balloon ride. During winter, visitors take to snowmobiles and cross country skis to navigate the rugged terrain.
This sprawling wilderness in the state’s southeast is a mecca for outdoor and activity lovers. You’ll find hiking routes to suit all levels, from easy trails to challenging climbs, along with cycling, fly fishing, and white water rafting. Mighty Hunter Mountain hosts a key ski resort, and the largest zip line course in the USA. Head to Kartrite Resort for the biggest indoor waterpark in New York State.
Explore the region’s charming towns such as Windham, Woodstock and Bethel. Enjoy craft beer, cider and wines at artisan breweries and wineries, and get your culture fix at the abundant theatres, galleries and museums. Art lovers should visit the Thomas Cole Natural Historic Site in Catskill. Cole was a 19th century British painter and founder of the Hudson River School of Art, whose works celebrate the natural beauty of the surrounding environment.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com