Natural landscapes, antique stores, challenging hikes and some of the best bakeries you’ll ever find – from one end of the state to another, New York is crammed with outdoor adventure, art, great food and friendly people, despite what you’ve heard.
Check out any of these 10 New York locations next time you're planning a visit, and you won’t be disappointed.
Head to Hudson for artsy small-town charm
In Columbia County, about 45 minutes from the state capital of Albany, the quaint city of Hudson is filled with vintage storefronts and old-town charm. The strip along Warren Street is known for its line of boutique shops housed in historic buildings, each with a unique twist, such as Spotty Dog Books and Ales, a not-so-average bookstore with a full bar inside.
Peppered throughout the neighborhood are antique shops and a variety of cafes and coffee shops, like Supernatural Coffee + Bakery, home to the best lavender honey latte on the strip.
Outside of town, Hudson is full of some of the best hiking hidden gems in the Hudson Valley, including High Falls Conservation Area, a moderate 1.5-mile trail hike with some incline and rocky terrain, plus a stunning waterfall.
For accommodations, the Maker is an 11-room luxury boutique hotel with themed rooms designed to reflect Hudson area's creative population (think: artists and writers), decorated with antique pieces and bits of history throughout each space.
Bartlett House is known for flakey sweet pastries like twice-baked pistachio croissants, while the Amelia Hotel, about two blocks from Warren Street, is another fantastic option, with a heated outdoor pool, huge soaking tubs, a beautiful lounge and complimentary beverages and baked goods.
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Browse the sophisticated offerings in Beacon
Whether browsing boutique stores, artisanal cheese shops or one of many galleries and museums, Beacon is a city for those with a sophisticated palette. Located about 70 miles north of New York City, Beacon is easily reached by car or train – a 90-minute drive or a two-hour ride on the Metro-North Railroad.
Splurge for the penthouse, like the bougie boss you are, at the Roundhouse, and relax in a round soaking tub overlooking Beacon Falls. The hotel restaurant is an excellent dinner option, thanks to seasonal dishes such as winter salad, braised short ribs, and nose-to-tail Berkshire pork ramen and drinks like spiced, mulled blackberry sangria, with French brandy, allspice dram, red wine, blackberry puree and apple cider.
For breakfast, a trip to Peaceful Provisions is an absolute must for some of the most delicious, not to mention aesthetically pleasing, donuts. Visit in late fall or early winter to get some serious holiday shopping done.
Get creative in the Catskills
The mountainous Catskills region is one of the most picturesque places to visit in New York, hands down. The entire area, from Woodstock to Hunter and beyond, is full of adventurous things to do, from challenging hikes with amazing vistas to horseback riding through the Northern Catskills to the longest zipline in North America, found at New York Zipline Adventures.
Dig into a cheesy bowl of French onion soup or munch on local fromage before browsing for antiques at Last Chance Antiques & Cheese Café, a mainstay in the village of Tannersville since 1971. Don’t forget to try some of their old-school candies.
With some truly special accommodations throughout the area, ranging from eclectic to group-friendly, there are plenty of properties to match your needs. If you’re traveling with a group of friends or family members, Glasco Woodstock is absolutely perfect. It sleeps 16 and has plenty of room in the house and on the grounds, plus its own jacuzzi.
Scribner's Catskill Lodge is the pick for a romantic overnight. There’s an incredible restaurant onsite called Prospect, serving an excellent ricotta toast drizzled with spicy honey. From Scribner’s, you’re right down the street from Hunter Mountain Brewery, where there's a selection of craft beer and an amazing lime-mint hard seltzer.
The Roxbury has quickly become one of the more popular hotels in the Catskills, thanks to incredibly ornate and over-the-top themed rooms that make for stunning Instagram captures. Guests have been known to dress up in costume to match the decor in one of the property's tower cottages, which feature motifs like Dracula's Fangs and the Faerie Forest.
Explore the gorges in Ithaca
When it comes to describing this Finger Lakes gem, the slightly corny (but accurate!) slogan “Ithaca is gorges” couldn't be more on point. There’s a wide variety of hiking trails here, from easy to challenging, and countless waterfalls at sites like Taughannock Falls State Park, Ithaca Falls, Buttermilk Falls State Park and Robert H. Treman State Park, where there's a swimming hole next to the waterfall in the summer months.
Treetops – a six-story treehouse behind the Cayuga Nature Center – actually exists, and you (yes, adults too) can play inside and explore. There's also a farmer's market full of international cuisine in addition to the fresh produce.
Grab a bite to eat at College Town Bagel, and head to Cornell University's campus to visit the A.D. White Library – a stunning sight with well over 90,000 books, ceiling-high bookshelves and intricately designed metal walkaways.
If you’re looking for a cozy, modern, centrally located hotel, Hotel Ithaca is affordable and within walking distance of some great things to do. Across the street, there’s a sensational restaurant called Coltivare with amazing short ribs and color-changing cocktails. For something a little more rustic, check out Firelight Glamping. It’s right near Buttermilk Falls, with comfortable full-size beds (and in some cases electricity and heat) in safari-style tents in the woods.
Eat well in the Hamptons
If you’re a foodie, then the Hamptons needs to be on your list – thanks to countless farm stands, gourmet markets and seafood shops with fresh, high-quality goods, you'll always be well-fed on this affluent section of Long Island.
Each area of the Hamptons has something unique to offer, from Montauk and its state park and lighthouse to Bridgehampton and its famous shops – like Bridgehampton Candy Kitchen, renowned for its ripe-banana ice cream – and incredible restaurants, like Elaia Estiatorio, known for its fresh fish and homemade spreads.
Montauk is low-key and easygoing, at the tip of the Hamptons, so you can really see all of the south fork while traveling to and from. In town, make sure to visit Duryea's in the summer, and try your best to time it for sunset. The views are incredible, the staff gives its guests fresh, clean blankets for snuggling up as the night progresses and cools down. If you're hungry, try incredible lobster Cobb salad, loaded with lobster meat.
To stay, check out the Montauk Beach House. The rooms are beautifully decorated with giant mirrors, soaking tubs and comfy beds, while the common area has a bar and two huge pools, all walking distance from the beach.
Play like an Olympian in Lake Placid
Lake Placid, located in the lovely Adirondacks, is an absolute blast, especially in the winter. Host site of the 1980 Olympics, the village still holds onto those ties in some really unique ways – for example, you can ride in a bobsled, spouting out lines from the movie Cool Runnings as you race down the icy track at top speeds. A mountain coaster that goes along a former bobsled trail has also been added, and it's currently the longest of its kind in North America.
Visitors can ride the Cloudsplitter Gondola to the top of an active ski jump and watch some future Olympian hopefuls practice at terrifying heights. Check out the tobogganing shoot before heading over to Mirror Lake for ice skating.
Right across the street is the Dancing Bear, a lovely breakfast spot located in High Peaks Resort. Mirror Lake Inn has amazing rooms and a gorgeous indoor pool with a grotto and a hot tub big enough to fit multiple groups of people, so you can enjoy it without being on top of each other. In addition to all of the wonderful current hotels, keep an eye out for the Grand Adirondack Hotel set to open this winter.
Go tailgating in Buffalo
Now there might be a little bias here: Buffalo (located in the western part of the state) is my hometown, and to say I love it is an understatement. The “city of good neighbors” went through a serious glow-up phase over the last 10 years, and it's filled with incredible architecture, such as the Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House and the art deco Buffalo Central Terminal.
Go zip-lining over the city at Buffalo Riverworks, or enjoy margaritas at Casa Azul or Breezy Burrito Bar in Elmwood Village, which is filled with local boutique shops and one of the best farmers markets – the Elmwood-Bidwell Farmers' Market – in the area.
If you’re there in the fall, definitely try to grab tickets to a Buffalo Bills NFL game. The tailgate is an experience like no other, with a fanbase known for taking tailgating a little too far…in the best way. I’m not sure who started the whole breaking-tables tradition, but it’s become so popular that when the self-described Bills Mafia has kids, they do a baby-friendly version – and when there was a wildcard game in Houston, folding tables were completely sold out at Walmart stores in town.
Formerly a rundown waterfront, Canalside now has ice bikes to rent in the winter and a bike ferry that goes to the outer harbor, where you can see the Buffalo Main Lighthouse.
The food here is unbelievable: Try Toutant for gourmet southern, Remington Tavern and Seafood Exchange for fresh seafood, wings at Bar-Bill and Wingnutz, pizza at Jay's Artisan Pizzeria and La Nova. For hotels, be sure to check out the Curtiss, which has an incredible pool and rooftop bar.
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Chill out in Canandaigua
The fourth-largest of the Finger Lakes, Canandaigua is picturesque and peaceful. The lakefront city of Canandaigua is filled with charm and entertainment, with a main strip full of pastel Queen Anne homes, stone churches and storefronts showcasing vintage weathered signage.
I highly recommend staying at the Lake House on Canandaigua – it’s the perfect way to enjoy beautiful views of the lake while remaining within walking distance of the colorful boathouses at the Canandaigua City Pier. In summer, check out Roseland Wake Park to learn a new water sport … minus the boat.
Rio Tomatlan has the most delicious tacos and guacamole, as well as amazing cocktails like the Cachonda, with tequila, triple sec, house-made hibiscus syrup and freshly squeezed lime juice. (Ask for it spicy.) Be sure to stop by Cheshire Farms Creamery to grab a box of cinnamon buns to go. (Keep them in the trunk of your car so you don’t eat them all on the way home.)
In addition to the buns, the creamery is known for its ice cream, featuring natural flavors like fresh concord grapes, harvested straight from the land here in the fall.
Get spooky in Sleepy Hollow
Sleepy Hollow, about an hour from New York City, is the perfect place to visit, especially in the fall. The town has a spooky tie to Washington Irving's "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and truly embraces the lore, so much so that it was formerly known as North Tarrytown before its name officially changed in the late 1990s.
Explore the Old Dutch Church, visit the Headless Horseman Bridge and grab a photo with the Headless Horseman statue before seeing what else the area has to offer, such as the Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse, once a half-mile offshore and now walkable from the path.
I highly recommend staying at the Tarrytown House Estate on The Hudson in the King's Mansion. Its rooms are amazing, covered in art, with a terrace leading out to views of the Hudson – and on a clear night, the lights of New York City. Grab dinner right at the hotel from its Korean restaurant, Goosefeather, owned by celebrity chef Dale Talde.
Enjoy the four seasons at Lake George
Located in the vast Adirondacks region, Lake George is such a special place, especially in the fall, when the region is overflowing with brightly colored red, orange and yellow foliage. Enjoy the kitschy souvenir shops that dot the main strip through downtown, or grab a scoop (or two) at the aptly named Scoop’s Ice Cream Parlor.
You can’t go wrong at any of the town’s restaurants. Cate's Italian Garden has classics like fried calamari and lasagna, the Algonquin Restaurant has a killer lobster roll, and the Log Jam has generous portions of pub-style comfort food, steak and lamb chops.
The Sagamore Hotel is the place to stay, no competition. The hotel is just stunning, with gorgeous views, especially if you splurge for a suite with a terrace. You can spend all night on that balcony, overlooking views of Lake George that seriously feel like Hawaii, not New York.
It's worth every penny. The amenities aren't bad either, including two outdoor pools, an indoor pool, a hot tub and access to Lake George, where you can float on inner tubes or go for a swim.
Drive a little off the beaten path to find Adirondack ATV Tours, where you can head out with a group on an ATV tour, racing through mud, dirt and hills and catching air over jumps – after a safety briefing, of course.
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