Nickname: Empire State
State bird: Bluebird
State flower: Rose
Time: Eastern (GMT – 5)
The State: New York State can be divided into 11 holiday regions – New York City, Long Island, The Catskills, Capital-Saratoga, The Adirondacks, Finger Lakes, Thousand Islands-Seaway, Chautauqua-Allegheny, Central-Leatherstocking, Greater Niagara and Hudson Valley.
There is only one New York City. No other US metropolis even comes close to it in terms of population, diversity of culture, entertainment, business and commerce. Yet within a day’s drive, visitors can find fine beaches and seascapes; quiet, forested mountains; quaint, small towns; and plenty of historical sightseeing.
Long Island, a short train ride east of Manhattan, is the largest island adjoining the continental USA. A popular destination for native city dwellers, Long Island has recently been discovered by everyone else. It boasts some beautiful white sand beaches, as well as the celebrated seaside resort of Hamptons.
To the north of the city lie the Hudson River Valley and the resort area of The Catskills. Many visitors have compared the Hudson River with the Rhine – both feature busy boat traffic, dramatic cliffs, green hills and magnificent mansions. The Catskills, situated almost in New York City’s backyard, are among the State’s leading resort areas. A haven for outdoor enthusiasts, the region offers a range of activities including fishing and skiing, as well as some fascinating historical buildings.
New York State’s capital, Albany, lies in the Capital-Saratoga region, north of the Hudson Valley. Its fine museums are among the oldest in the country. Saratoga Springs has been a leading spa and horse-racing centre since the late 1800s and is the ‘summer home away from home’ for the New York City Opera and Ballet and Philadelphia Orchestra.
The Finger Lakes region in Central New York is dotted with resorts, campsites, water recreation areas, fine lakes and woodland scenery. Gouged into the land by the action of prehistoric glaciers, 11 slender lakes extend from north to south like the fingers of a hand. The area used to be famous for the quality of its glass, and today is known as the State’s prime wine-producing region.
The Greater Niagara region is home to the State’s second-largest city, Buffalo, a major industrial centre with a strong sense of history. It is a good base from which to plan an excursion to the most celebrated natural attraction in New York State, the 56m (184ft) Niagara Falls, which can be visited on foot, by boat or by helicopter. The Niagara River flows north from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, plunging down to form the celebrated falls in the process.
The lakes and rivers of the Chautauqua-Allegheny region offer a range of outdoor recreational activities. Visitors can also tour Amish communities, Native American reservations and wineries; the region is the largest grape-growing area outside California. The Adirondacks region is where James Fenimore Cooper set the action of his legendary novel, The Last of the Mohicans. Adirondack Park is the largest State park in the USA at 2.4 million hectares (6 million acres). The region is known for its woodland cabins, luxurious lakeside resort hotels and the prospect of canoeing, salmon fishing and big-game hunting.
The adjacent Thousand Islands-Seaway region offers a host of summer activities, including cruises among the many picturesque islands. More than 320km (200 miles) of spectacular coastline can be seen from the famous Seaway Trail byway, a scenic route stretching 700km (454 miles) past Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River.
The Central-Leatherstocking region was once the USA’s western frontier, but is known today for its Native American memorials and sporting museums, including the National Baseball Hall of Fame at Cooperstown.