1. There’s History Everywhere You Look
Sure, NYC prides itself on setting the latest trends, but the Empire State also goes way back. Grab a pint at Fraunces Tavern in FiDi, where George Washington partied before he was president. Stand in awe of masterpieces at some of the world’s best art museums (The Met! MoMA! The Guggenheim!). Walk in the footsteps of suffragettes in Seneca Falls. Spend the day exploring FDR’s Hyde Park home and library. Visit the birthplace of Jell-O (what would the ’50s have been without it?). Or take a road trip to any of our more than 250 National Historic Landmarks — the most of any US state — whether that means kayaking the Erie Canal, making a stop on the Underground Railroad, or looking out from the ramparts of Fort Ticonderoga (pictured above).
Photo courtesy of Hunter Mountain
2. We Know How to Party
Summer may be festival season, but we keep on raging through the fall. Don your lederhosen or dirndl to celebrate Oktoberfest at Bear Mountain (pictured above), Hunter Mountain, or locations throughout NYC. Hit the pavement with 50,000 others at Albany’s LarkFEST (Sept 22), the state’s largest street fair. Get up early to watch balloons rise into the air at the annual Adirondack Balloon Festival (Sept 20-23). Or eat your way through the imported foods and sausage-and-pepper subs at Arthur Avenue’s famed Ferragosto (Sept 9).
3. Apple Picking, Obvi
4. We Go Big on Diversity
From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island (pictured above). Today, the state is still home to 4.4 million foreign-born individuals, representing more than 150 nations, speaking as many as 800 languages, and bringing with them unique culture, festivals, and excellent food.
5. Despite Our Sometimes-Heinous Traffic, We Do Scenic Drives Like Nowhere Else.
Follow the spectrum of changing leaves through the mountains along the 88-mile Shawangunk Scenic Byway. Skirt the New York-Pennsylvania border, winding along the Delaware River, on Route 97 (pictured above). Choose a favorite waterfront spot from Seven Lakes Drive through Bear Mountain and Harriman State Parks. Or follow any of the Catskills’ scenic byways, looking for the perfect covered bridges to grace your Instagram.
Photo courtesy of SATO
6. Buffalo Is Actually Kind of Cool
It has suffered from a bad rap for a while, but a short flight (or a long drive) lands you in a city that is emerging as a destination. Check into the hip and historic Hotel at the Lafayette, then browse works by Gauguin, Van Gogh, Renoir, and more at the Albright-Knox Gallery, or tour a couple of the city’s seven Frank Lloyd Wright structures (Martin House is our fave). After, take a guided tour of the Buffalo River and its towering silos, with Elevator Alley Kayak. For dinner, grab the requisite wings at their origin, Anchor Bar, but don’t overlook some of the city’s newer culinary highlights, like Prohibition-style cocktails at Buffalo Proper or the surprisingly refined Buffalo-chicken ramen at SATO (pictured above).
Photo courtesy of Discover Albany
7. So Is Albany
If your only experience with our state capital was a fifth-grade field trip, it’s time to give this Hudson Valley city another look. Yes, there’s grand architecture and tons of history, but this college town also boasts youthful energy, diverse dining, and a vibrant arts scene, from shows at The Egg (pictured above) to big-name performers — Elton John, Fleetwood Mac, Justin Timberlake, and Metallica, among others — at the Times Union Center.
Photo courtesy of Woodbury Commons Premium Outlets
8. You Can Score Fierce Fall Fashions for Less at Woodbury Common Premium Outlets.
Photo courtesy of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery
9. Things Get Spooky
’Tis the season for things to get creepy. Boroughs of the Dead leads Island of Lost Souls tours through the eerie, abandoned 19th-century hospitals and asylums of Roosevelt Island. Search for ghosts during an October haunting tour of Albany’s State Capitol building. Or get spooked closer to home on one of Sleepy Hollow Cemetery’s Murder and Mayhem Evening Lantern Tours (pictured above).
Photo by Kate Glicksberg
10. Because There’s No Other City, in the US or the World, Like New York.