The Adirondack Mountains (www.visitadirondacks.com) may not compare in drama and height with mountains in the western US, but they more than make up for it in area: the range covers 9375 sq miles, from the center of New York just north of the state capital Albany, up to the Canadian border. And with 46 peaks over 4000ft high, the Adirondacks provide some of the most wild-feeling terrain in the east. Like the Catskills to the south, much of the Adirondacks' dense forest and lake lands are protected by the state constitution, and it's a fabulous location to see the color show of autumn leaves. Hiking, canoeing and backcountry camping are the most popular activities, and there's good fishing, along with powerboating on the bigger lakes.
These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout The Adirondacks.
Saratoga Springs' boom as a destination for leisure and healing was in large part thanks to the eponymous springs from which early European settlers believed restorative mineral water bubbled forth. At Saratoga Spa State Park you can get a glimpse of what 19th and 20th century health tourism looked like. Many of the original Hellenic-style buildings and breezeways still stand and you can even take a soak in a mineral bath at the Roosevelt Baths and Spa.
While the plaza's ensemble of architecture surrounding a central pool is hugely impressive, it's the splendid collection of modern American art liberally sprinkled outside, inside and underground the complex that is the true highlight here. The collection includes sculptures and massive paintings by Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Alexander Calder and many other star artists.
There are exhibits on everything from New York's original Native Amerian residents, the state's history of activism, its architectural and engineering marvels and more in this top-class museum. A large chunk is dedicated to the history and development of New York City. The section on 9/11, including a damaged fire truck and debris from the site, is very moving. Don't miss a ride on the gorgeous antique carousel on the 4th floor.
Completed in 1899, this grand building is the heart of the state government. The interior features detailed stone carving, carpentry, and tile and mosaic work, with highlights being the Great Western Staircase, the Governor's Reception Room and the HH Richardson–designed Senate Chamber. Saturday tours require online reservations.
Guides dressed as 18th-century British soldiers muster visitors along, with stops for battle reenactments that include firing period muskets and cannons, at this replica of the 1755 wooden fort. Check online for details of the evening ghost tours.
In a major victory in the American Revolution, the Green Mountain Boys took this fort from the British in 1775. With costumed guides, reenactments, a museum, gardens, a maze and hiking trails, it's easy to spend a full day here.
'Great camps,' big compounds of log cabins built for wealthy families, were a popular way of vacationing in the Adirondacks around the turn of the 20th century. Many have been turned into kids' summer camps, but this one, a former Vanderbilt vacation estate on the west side of the Adirondacks, is open for tours.
Although horse racing and healing spas get much of the attention in Saratoga Springs, the town is also known for its rich history with the performing arts. The National Museum of Dance is the only museum in the country dedicated solely to the art of dance, with exhibits ranging from photography and videos to costumes and other artifacts.
This is the location of the 1980 'Miracle on Ice,' when the upstart US hockey team trumped the unstoppable Soviets. In winter you can skate on the outside oval rink and year-round take a one-hour tour of the stadium. There are usually free figure-skating shows on Friday, with an additional ticketed show Saturday at 7:30pm in July and August (adult/child $11/9).