There’s no question that New York’s premier travel destination is its eponymous city, NYC, the capital of capitalism, where the grueling war over what is hip is fought block by densely packed block over years, where mayors and businessmen have the chutzpah to try soaring straight to the presidency, where under-the-table operations coexist alongside world-famous gourmet restaurants. Plenty of people live out their lives within New York’s admittedly broad city limits – and never leave. It just goes to show that this city is its own universe, one in which days, months, years, or even a lifetime could be spent. High-end travelers will find their needs satisfied largely in Manhattan, where the wealthiest of the wealthy congregate in an area from roughly the Upper East Side down to the Staten Island Ferry. This is also where New York’s most famous tourist attractions are packed in: Times Square, the Empire State Building, hundreds of famous and historic restaurants and bars, and storied neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and the Lower East Side. Break out of Manhattan, however, or even cross 110th Street to Upper Manhattan, and the city’s expansive world starts to open up. Immigrant communities new and old recreate some of the ambience of their home countries in places like Jackson Heights and Brighton Beach, jostling alongside longtime centers of African-American and Latino culture and the newer hipster enclaves taking root from Williamsburg and Crown Heights to Harlem and Long Island City. In the same way, the history that haunts these crowded streets competes with the ever-surging progression of the new.
As exciting and all-consuming as New York City can be, it’s certainly not for everyone. Luckily, the Empire State, by a longshot the largest state in the Northeast, offers so much more. New York has an escape for everyone. Its second most famous tourist attraction after New York City is probably Niagara Falls, that old honeymooners’ destination shared with Canada. The immediately recognizable Falls are visited by millions of people from all over the world annually. It’s lesser known purpose is to power towns and cities on both sides of the border with its astounding force. Tough, proud, inventive Buffalo is just a short drive away, and worth a stay for its Art Deco architecture, surprisingly active art scene, and fun brewpubs and restaurants. Travel a little further east and find Rochester, Syracuse, and Ithaca surrounding the Finger Lakes Region, a wonderful outdoor recreation and winegrowing area. Beyond that, the choice is yours: the rugged remoteness that lies north in the Adirondack Mountains, or the gradually intensifying urban adventure ending in America’s largest city.
New York has a long list of lively, historically significant cities in the upstate region: Buffalo, Rochester, Albany, Syracuse, Schenectady, Saratoga Springs, Binghamton, and Poughkeepsie, to name a few. It’s unique, rugged natural surroundings may deserve even more attention, from the tranquil mountain resorts of the Catskills to the sandy beaches of Long Island, the ageless magnificence of Niagara Falls to the hunting lodges of the sprawling, Alps-like Adirondacks, the bucolic Hudson Valley region to the posh, secluded Thousand Islands on the Canadian border.
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