New York is one of the cultural hubs here in the United States. Within one state lies a whole myriad of cultures, cities, places to go and people to see, however, a lot of the amazing things that New York has to offer are often overlooked once you drive past Westchester. Yes, New York City is an amazing and beautiful metropolitan that actually holds up to all the hype it gets, however, upstate New York is like NYC’s middle-child sibling, and it’s time we stop neglecting her!
For one, it doesn’t take hours upon hours in the car to get to an area in upstate where the mountains engulf every horizon view and the fresh air fills the lungs of forest wildlife. New Paltz, for example, is just an hour or so away from Manhattan, and is perfect for any low key day trips you might be planning. New Paltz is extremely popular amongst Long Islanders and it’s not just for their reputation as a college town. Main Street in New Paltz is filled with old-school 70’s vibes as the roads are lined with record shops, clothing stores of all kinds, a multitude of eateries inclusive for any dietary restriction, and countless hiking trails to give you those mountain views you crave. If you want to hike in the mountains you’ll have to drive an extra 20 minutes outside of the town, but besides that, everything you could possibly want to do is within walking distance of one another.
Tupper Lake, located in the Adirondack Mountains is another amazing hiking area for all outdoorsy types. Tupper Lake is known for its “Wild Walk” that runs through the Adirondacks. The park/hiking trail itself has a bunch of surprises along the way, including a four foot story tree-house that even has its own human-sized bird nest where you can take a much needed rest.
The Adirondack Mountains in general is one of the best upstate New York hot spots because there’s so much to do! The Mountains themselves have a ton of beaches for the summer months, including Little Wolf Beach, the largest beach on the Adirondack campus; which happens to be over 80 acres large. All the beaches are equipped with trained lifeguards (during the summer months) who constantly are monitoring the many water activities to do such as rope swinging, trampolining in the water (you read that right), and diving off the docks.
If you’re looking for a less active means of getting around upstate, look no further than a boat tour that explores New York’s Thousand Islands. The tour itself takes place in the St. Lawrence River, and as you travel through from New York up towards Canada, professional tour guides will enlighten you about the 1,800 islands that you’ll encounter on your 50 mile long journey. The trip takes you through some of the most magnificent and historical locations in New York, such as Boldt Castle and the Alexandria Bay.
Looking for something a little more family-friendly as well? The Enchanted Forest in Old Forge is New York’s largest water park and has over 55 rides and attractions. Beyond just amusement park attractions, The Enchanted Forest also offers paddle-board tours and chairlift scenic rides so you can look forward to a truly unique way of taking in the sights.
Lake George is another extremely popular family-friendly hot spot for upstate lovers. Just north of Albany, Lake George is another upstate destination that won’t take you a half a day to get to. The surrounding land is recognized as a state park, which means it includes a ton of recreational activities such as the Million Dollar Beach, which is named as one of the best beaches in New York; and it’s not even on a coast! It was able to snatch the title due to its cleanliness, multiple public facilities/activities, and poster-worthy views of the Adirondacks and surrounding state.
No matter where you go in New York, consider trying somewhere beyond just the city. NYC is truly magnificent, but it will always be there and because of its constant motion and “never sleeps” attitude, it won’t change too much if you decide to take a day-trip up to the mountains to remind yourself of the diversity and beauty that is New York.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.