7 Great Reasons to Get Out of New York City

Published 22 June 2016

Hazel Plush

There's more to New York state than the Big Apple: it's got incredible natural beauty, characterful towns and award-winning wineries right on its doorstep...

Sleepy Hollow NY - Hudson River Lighthouse (Image: Flickr/Daniel Mennerich)

Get Cultural in the Catskills

With its snow-capped peaks, virgin forest, and rivers that run wild and deep, the Catskills is a prime hiking spot. Lace up for invigorating day walks, multi-day treks, or simply a splash in a trickling stream – there are trails to suit every ability. Fancy something less active? Gorge on seasonal produce in a farm-to-table restaurant – The Heron in Narrowsburg and The Arnold House on Shandelee Mountain are two local favourites. The area also has deep musical roots: the small town of Woodstock is famed for its riotous 1969 festival, which sparked a love of culture that continues today. Belleayre Music Festival champions opera, jazz, rock and folk performers in its summer programme, while Bethel Woods hosts local art exhibitions and concerts all year round.

Dine at the Arnold House (Image: Michael Mundy and Ronald Cadiz)

Leaf-Peeping Every Autumn

You don't have to travel far from NYC to glimpse the region's famous fall colours: the suburbs turn to countryside just a few miles outside the city, and the highway is flanked by rusty-topped trees from September to November. The higher the elevation, the sooner the leaves turn – and the New York Foliage Report highlights the best spots every week. Hunter Mountain is busy with skiers every winter, but in autumn its ski lifts are put to good use: strap in for a bird's eye view of crimson, scarlet and russet treetops. Too sedentary for your liking? Test your nerve on the canopy zipline – it's the highest and longest in the USA. 

New York state in the autumn (Image: Flickr/John Cudworth)

Beautiful Beaches on Long Island

In-the-know New Yorkers flock to Long Island for beachy weekends and sailing trips. With white sands, award-winning seafood restaurants, and miles of boardwalks and beach trails, it couldn't feel further from hot and humid New York City. Visit in the winter for bracing walks and bargain prices in the seafront's boutique hotels. 

Long Island, New York (Image: Flickr/jeffreyaki)

Falls and Food in Niagara

Niagara Falls might not look far from NYC on a map, but it's actually a whopping 400 miles from the city, right on the Canadian border. It's a great end-point for a New York road trip – the falls are just as splashy and spectacular as everyone says, and a ride on the Hornblower (which takes you right up to the falls) is touristy but fun. Base yourself in nearby Buffalo (it's much better value) and take advantage of the region's hearty appetite for great grub: famous Buffalo chicken wings (of course), 'beef on weck' (beef and horseradish on a salt and caraway-crusted roll) and sponge candy (chocolate-coated honeycomb). Utterly unhealthy, but totally delicious. 

Niagara Falls in the summer (Image: Flickr/Artur Staszewski)

Kayak through Sleepy Hollow

It's famed for its headless horseman, ghouls and goblins, but Sleepy Hollow is more than a ghost-hunting hotspot – it's a rather lovely base for a paddle on the Hudson River. Departing from the infamous town, you'll kayak past Kidd's Rock (where pirates used to hide their stash) and Tarrytown Lighthouse, spotting birds and wetland wildlife along the way. On clear days, the Manhattan skyline and Hook Mountain peek over the horizon. Want to see a spookier side of Sleepy Hollow? Brave a moonlight kayak trip instead... 

Kingsland Point Lighthouse (Image: Flickr/Matthew and Heather)

Rock Climbing in the Adirondacks

The Adirondack Mountains (or 'Dacks', as they're known to locals), are a stone's throw from the Canada border (roughly 200 miles from NYC), in a whopping natural park. If you're craving the great outdoors after a busy NYC sightseeing trip, this is the place for you: a six-million-acre reserve, with 600 lakes and lagoons, countless campsites, and hiking and biking trails galore. Rock climbers can't get enough of the park's vertiginous walls: in summer, you'll spy everyone from sweaty-palmed beginners to seasoned pros hauling themselves up the mountains to gawp at the view from the top. Only venture up with a guide: Ian Osteyee of Adirondack Mountain Guides is one of the best. 

Algonquin Peak, the Adirondacks (Image: Flickr/Adam Riquier)

Snowmobiling in Allegany State Park

Don't overlook wintertime New York: under a dusting of snow, everything looks rather magical, especially the sprawling state parks. In summer, the trails of Allegany are busy with walkers, cyclists and horseriders – but in winter you can cosy up in a log cabin and explore the forests and lakes by snowmobile, and cross the wild backcountry on skis. A picture-perfect winter wonderland, just a day's drive from the Big Apple. 

Winter in Allegany State Park (Image: Flickr/Mark K.)

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