New York: Bigger than you think!

Updated: Jun 2

Don’t forget about the rest of the state



A few years ago we took a family trip to New York. We didn’t just see the city; in fact, we started our trip by flying into Rochester, which is in the Finger Lakes (western) area of the state. We rented a car and spent several days sightseeing there, followed by a drive to the city to drop off the car and cram all of the big city touristy stuff into our final couple of days. It was a wonderful trip! I’m so glad we were able to spend time not only taking in the city experience, but also the beautiful sites and countryside of upstate New York.

New York has played a significant role in American history, and throughout the state you'll find historical landmarks, beautiful landscapes, and much more. So to encourage you to think bigger than the confines of New York City, here is a list of places outside of the city that are worth the visit, from north to south.




Adirondack Mountain Region

The Adirondacks spread out across six million acres. It is one of the world's greatest protected wilderness regions. Lake George, Lake Placid, Pok-O-Moonshine Mountain, Moss Cliffs, Keene Valley, Rogers Rock, and Wallface are all popular tourist spots.


Thousand Island Region

The Thousand Island region is perfect for all water lovers. There is so much to do, including swimming, cruising, jetskiing, floatplane rides, and more. The seafood restaurants in the area are also worth checking out!



Albany & Saratoga Springs (Capital Region)

Albany is the state capital. The churches and historic homes are beautiful here. Going on a river cruise is the most excellent way to see the capital and all of its stunning architecture. After Albany, head to Saratoga Springs to soak in healing spring water, catch a horse race, or see a live ballet performance.


Syracuse (Central Region)

Pretty architecture, college sports, and a great art scene make up the City of Syracuse. This smaller city has become a thriving tourist destination. Anyone who loves college sports, jazz and blues, or golf, should make their way to this artsy little city.



Finger Lakes Region

There are nearly 100 vineyards and wineries in the Finger Lakes region that spread across 11 lakes and 14 counties. There are a lot of quaint villages with bed and breakfasts to stay at, or you can choose to stay at a resort for a little more pampering.


Rochester, the third-largest city in the state, is called “the gateway to the Finger Lakes,” and is located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. You can fly into this location like my family did, if you’re interested in visiting this area. A suburb of Rochester is Palmyra, home to some religious historical events and some great sites to visit.


Ithaca is another college town full of flair. Check out the town's many hiking trails, art theaters, and of course, the delicious food. Make sure you also wander through many of the city parks to take in all of the natural beauty.



Buffalo & Niagara Falls (Niagara Region)

Not only is this where Niagara Falls is located, but it’s a place for some fun. Sports fans, families, and nearly everyone will find something to do, whether it's taking boat ride near the falls, going to a game, or wandering around the zoo. There are even some casinos in the area if you’re interested in gambling. We visited Niagara Falls on our family trip, and yes! It's as amazing as the pictures show.


Catskills Region

The Catskills bring forth a ton of opportunities for adventure. In the winter months, you can ski, snowboard, and go snowmobiling. In contrast, the warmer weather months allow travelers and natives to enjoy hiking, swimming, camping, fishing, golfing, and more. Many of the lodges even have spas, luxurious restaurants, and pools.



Wellness nugget: If you go to the Catskills, be sure to visit the Mohonk Mountain House! It’s perfect for family vacations, romantic escapes, and girlfriend getaways, with 85 miles of hiking trails, canoeing, horseback riding, yoga, fitness, and more, all in a Victorian castle resort.

Photo courtesy of Mohonk Mountain Resort


Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley region is known for throwing exciting county festivals and fairs. These festivities are fun for all ages. While there are many held periodically throughout each year, the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival is one you must check out.



The City

NYC, home to over 8 million people, has over 800 languages spoken here—the most linguistically diverse city in the world. The city is divided into five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, Staten Island, and the Bronx. Aside from having their own flag, each of the five boroughs has its own distinct culture that makes it unique from all the rest!


Thinking about taking a fun trip to see New York? Don’t forget about the rest of the state. Let me know if you’d like to experience some of this beautiful part of the country, and I’m happy to hook you up.


Part 2 of my New York articles will address the best things to do and see in the Big Apple.


Regional map is courtesy of exploringupstate.com