Looking for an in-depth New York State travel guide?
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There really is no place like New York, a state that truly has something for everyone. And while it may be home to the Greatest City in the World, there’s so much more to the Empire State than just New York City. From gorgeous lakes to breathtaking mountain ranges to some of the best beaches on the East Coast, you’ll find plenty to do in New York State.
Not sure where to start with all the attractions NY has to offer? Don’t worry – we’ve got you covered.
If you’re craving nature, the Finger Lakes Region in Central New York may be best known for its beautiful lakes (obviously) but it’s also a top spot for hiking and exploring, as well. Head to Watkins Glen near Seneca Lake to explore gorgeous waterfalls, streams, and more in this top outdoor destination. You’ll also want to try some of the region’s local wines, considered to be some of the best in the country.
Speaking of lakes, there are plenty of others to visit throughout New York State.
Lake Placid, one-time host of the Olympics, is a top winter destination thanks to its world-class ski resorts. Plus, it’s home to incredible Adirondacks hiking trails like Mount Marcy and Mount van Hoevenberg.
Lake George is another Adirondack favorite with tons of attractions like theme parks, steamboats, and natural caves for the whole family to explore.
For a real adventure, head up to the Canadian border to check out the Thousand Islands, a group of more than 1,800 islands on the St. Lawrence River with tons of outdoor activities to enjoy.
You’ll also find tons of opportunities for hiking in New York. Letchworth State Park, the “Grand Canyon of the East” is a favorite of both New Yorkers and travelers alike for its gorgeous waterfalls, high bridges, and incredible views.
New York City may be the center of the universe — and we’ve got plenty of tips on how to make the most of your NYC trip, too — but there’s so much more to explore in this incredible state.
Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to New York in North America.
Note: This ultimate New York State guide contains affiliate links to trusted partners!
- New York State Map
- Adirondacks Travel Guide
- Catskills Travel Guide
- Hudson Valley Travel Guide
- Long Island Travel Guide
- New York City Travel Guide
- New York State Road Trips
- Best New York State Tours
- Renting A Car In New York State
- Public Transportation In New York State
- Hotels In New York State
- New York State Travel Insurance
- New York State Travel Guide FAQ
- Q: Where should I go on vacation in Upstate New York?
- Q: What are some do's and don'ts in New York?
- Q: What should I do on my first trip to New York?
- Q: What are some fun things to do in Upstate New York?
- Q: How much spending money do you need for a week in New York?
- Q: Is New York State safe to travel?
- Q: How long can a tourist stay in New York?
- Q: Do I need a travel visa for New York?
- Q: Where is New York?
- Q: Are credit cards accepted in New York?
- Q: Can you drink the tap water in New York State?
- Q: What is the local currency in New York State?
- What would you add to this New York State travel guide?
- Upstate New York Guides
New York State Map
Use this New York State tourism map to begin planning your trip to this incredible destination!
Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.
Visiting the Adirondacks in Upstate New York? These guides can help you plan an unforgettable itinerary:
Visiting New York’s Catskills Region? Some fun things not to miss include:
If you’re planning a trip to New York’s Hudson Valley, don’t miss:
Visiting Long Island? These guides can help you plan the perfect trip!
Looking for a travel guide to New York City? Check out:
New York City Travel Tips
Upstate New York Guides
New York State Road Trips
Planning a New York State road trip? These guides can help:
Best New York State Tours
Explore local culture with a New York State tour guide through these unique excursions:
- Hudson Valley Fall Foliage Wine and Local Cheese Tour (Beacon, New York)
- Chelsea Market & High Line Food Tour (Manhattan, New York)
- Niagara Falls American-Side Tour with Maid of the Mist Boat Ride (Niagara Falls, New York)
- New York In One Day Sightseeing Tour (New York City)
- Times Square Drinks & History Tour (Manhattan, New York)
- Hudson River Sightseeing Cruise (Albany, New York)
Renting A Car In New York State
Need a rental car for your New York State trip?
Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.
Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!
Public Transportation In New York State
Getting around New York State by train, bus, or ferry?
Omio is a must! You can use this tool for all of your public transportation needs when traveling around the United States.
The site is straightforward and user-friendly — and you can pre-book your tickets in advance at a discount.
They even offer flight and car deals!
Hotels In New York State
Prefer self-contained stays?
You can also use this map to search for local stays and experiences!
It’s set to NYC, but you can easily change the location to your specific destination:
New York State Travel Insurance
It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on a New York State tour. When visiting New York — or anywhere else in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.
In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).
Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.
With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your New York State travel itinerary.
New York State Travel Guide FAQ
Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in New York State.
Q: Where should I go on vacation in Upstate New York?
Upstate New York is full of tons of great vacation destinations for all types of travelers.
If you’re looking for an easy getaway from New York City filled with lush landscapes, cute small towns, and delicious food, head up to the Hudson Valley. Art lovers can stroll around Beacon, a small town home to contemporary art haven Dia:Beacon and several art galleries featuring the work of up-and-coming creators.
Hudson is also a favorite of Upstate New York travelers for its historic architecture, riverside views, and performing arts festivals like the annual Hudson Jazz Festival.
Other must-sees in the Hudson Valley include the outdoor sculpture gallery at Storm King Art Center in New Windsor, NY and the historic Mohonk Mountain House in New Paltz, NY.
Wherever you end up staying, be sure to make some time for outdoor exploration, as the hiking trails in the Hudson Valley — like the Bull Hill Full Loop, Anthony’s Nose, Bear Mountain, and Breakneck Ridge — can’t be beat!
The Finger Lakes Region, located in Western New York, is also a great destination for an Upstate New York vacation. Each lake has its own charm and features different opportunities for travelers.
Stop by Ithaca, located on Cayuga Lake, for a stroll around Cornell University’s campus or a hike up to the famed gorges.
Visit in the winter to hit the slopes at Bristol Mountain on Canandaigua Lake. Learn about the region’s famous wines with a tour of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Or just rent a cabin on the water to enjoy boating, kayaking, swimming, and more in a truly gorgeous setting.
High on the bucket list of many travelers is Niagara Falls, the most powerful waterfall in North America. Located right on the border of New York and Canada, over 3,000 tons of water flow over the falls every second, creating a truly remarkable sight.
There are tons of ways to see the falls from the American side, including the famous “Maid of the Mist” boat tour, the Cave of the Winds, and several amazing Upstate New York hiking trails around Niagra Falls State Park.
Just a short half-hour ride from the falls is Buffalo, a bustling lakeside city with tons of cool museums, art and architecture worth visiting. And you can’t visit Buffalo without visiting the famous Anchor Bar, home of the original Buffalo wings!
Q: What are some do’s and don’ts in New York?
Before you visit New York, there’s a few Do’s and Don’ts you should consider.
- Know that New York state is huge. If you’re planning on visiting multiple destinations within the state, know that you’re going to have to drive a few hours to get from Point A to Point B. The drive from New York City to the Hamptons alone can take three hours on a good traffic day. Be sure to factor drive times into your travel plans and maybe consider taking a plane or train to your destination if possible.
- Take public transportation if you can. Obviously, New York City’s public transportation system is world-famous and the best way to get around the city on the cheap. But know that it’s absolutely possible to visit destinations outside the city without renting a car. Top getaway spots like Hudson, Beacon, New Paltz, and more are easily accesible by the Metro-North train line. You can even head up to Lake Placid via the Adirondack Trailways bus from New York City for a mountain getaway. With a little research, you can plan the perfect car-free trip!
- Get out of Manhattan and enjoy some of the more unique things to do in NYC. Yes, there’s no place like Manhattan anywhere else in the world. But if you limit your New York trip to one borough, you’re only getting a taste of what that part of the city has to offer. Venture out into Queens for the most diverse selection of cuisines you’ll find pretty much anywhere — not to mention there are great views of the Manhattan skyline from Queens. Check out the trendy shops and bars in Brooklyn, like these cool Cobble Hill restaurants. Take a ride on the Staten Island Ferry – one of the top Staten Island attractions. Enjoy authentic Italian eats in The Bronx. You’ll never know what you missed if you don’t explore the whole city!
- Eat a lot! Great food is one of the many reasons New York is so popular. You can explore everything from the best bottomless brunch in NYC to unique New York City restaurants to Instagrammable NYC restaurants and beyond!
- Shop local when buying souvenirs from NYC! Markets like Artists & Fleas, Chelsea Market, and the Brooklyn Flea are great starting points for this.
- Forget your good walking shoes. Comfy shoes are a must for any kind of travel, but you’ll definitely need them if you’re planning on exploring New York City. You’ll be doing a lot of walking and blisters are the biggest vacation buzzkill. Good sock coverage and supportive shoes are a must, so leave the stillettos to the Sex and the City crew.
- Disregard the weather forecast. Yes, the weather can be unpredictable throughout New York State, but two things are constants: cold winters and hot, humid summers. Temperatures are significantly cooler upstate, particularly around the Great Lakes. Whenever you choose to visit New York, come prepared for the weather. Pack a good coat for the winter and lighter clothes for the summer. And a pocket umbrella is your best friend all year round.
- Take photos of people without their consent. One of the great things about New York City — and New York State, for that matter — is its cultural diversity. It’s said that over 800 languages are spoken in New York City alone and you’ll find many tight-knit cultural communities throughout the state. That said, it’s very disrespectful to take photos of people without their consent, regardless of their background. Would you want someone snapping photos of you while you’re just going about your business?
Q: What should I do on my first trip to New York?
While there’s no way to pack every must-see attraction into one trip to New York, there are a few things you should definitely prioritize on your first trip. At some point in your trip, you’ll want to take in views of the iconic New York City skyline. There are several ways to do this, from boat tours around Manhattan to fancy observation decks, but if you’re short on cash, we’ve compiled a list of top spots to take in NYC skyline views for free.
You’ll also want to take a stroll through Central Park, the urban oasis featuring 843 acres of green space in the heart of Manhattan. Stop by the iconic Bethesda Terrace, rent a row boat to explore Central Park Lake, head out on a hike through the Ravine, or book a Manhattan skyline tour (a few of which take place right in this urban oasis!).
Central Park also features tons of live entertainment, from buskers on the Mall to big name concerts at SummerStage to free performances of the Bard’s best work at Shakespeare in the Park.
The city’s many museums are also must-visits for any first-time visitor to New York, and also make for great rainy day activities in NYC if you happen to have bad weather. Art fans will want to visit the iconic Metropolitan Museum of Art, home to works spanning 5,000 years of history, and the Museum of Modern Art, a hub for all things contemporary.
The American Museum of Natural History is always a favorite, featuring exhibits on everything from sea creatures (hello, blue whale!) to dinosaurs to ancient civilizations. And if you’re looking to explore NYC after midnight, they regularly host family-friendly sleepover events.
Other museums worth checking out on a first visit are the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Tenement Museum.
By the way, all of the above is also perfect if you’re wanting things to do in New York by yourself.
Want photos of your time in NYC? Our sister company, NYC Photo Journeys, offers the following private experiences:
Q: What are some fun things to do in Upstate New York?
Upstate New York’s main attraction is definitely the great outdoors. There are so many ways to enjoy the state’s natural wonders. The state is home to 180 state parks with everything from beaches to forests to waterfalls.
You can also enjoy even more time in nature by hiking and camping out at Giant Ledge in the Catskills, another top mountain destination in New York State.
Looking for an adventure out on the water? The Finger Lakes Region is the perfect spot for watersports like boating, waterskiing, kayaking, and more.
Visiting in the winter? You’ll find plenty of opportunities for winter sports like skiing and snowboarding upstate. Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks is probably the top rated ski resort in the state, with 110 ski trails, 14 lifts and some of the steepest drops around.
Whiteface Mountain is also a favorite and once hosted many of the skiing events for the 1980 Olympics in nearby Lake Placid.
Snowboarders will want to check out Hunter Mountain in the Catskills which features four terrain parks for adventurers of all skill levels. It’s one of the top attractions when exploring the Catskills in winter.
Not ready to go downhill? You’ll find tons of opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and more throughout the state in the wintertime.
Upstate New York is also a major arts hub with tons of galleries and museums to check out. Dia:Beacon is a popular destination among fans of contemporary art and Storm King Art Center is a great place to check out modern sculptures in the open air.
Heading up to the Finger Lakes? Stop into the Corning Museum of Glass where you can watch live glass-blowing demonstrations and see the largest collection of art glass in the world. While in Corning, head to the Rockwell Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate housing an extensive collection of Western and Native American Art.
Q: How much spending money do you need for a week in New York?
Your budget for a trip to New York very much depends on your itinerary as you’ll likely spend a lot more mone in New York City than you will elsewhere in the state.
The average traveler spends about $240 per day in New York City on accommodations, transportation, food, activities, and other travel expenses.
There are certainly ways to save money in the city — like stay in hostels, consider Couchsurfing, cook your own meals, and stick to public transportation — but you’ll definitely want to budget more for this part of your trip.
Upstate in destinations like Woodstock and the Adirondacks, you’ll spend closer to $130 per day on accommodations, transportation, food, and other travel expenses. Since public transportation isn’t quite as ubiquitous as in the city, you’ll want to factor the cost of a rental car into your budget.
Overall, though, things tend to be less expensive than they are in NYC.
Q: Is New York State safe to travel?
New York State, from the city to Upstate destinations, is very safe. Violent crime rates are very low in most major travel destinations. New York City itself is very safe for travelers, despite the bad rap it often gets in the media.
Wherever you go, though, it’s good to stay vigilant, particularly when it comes to petty crime like theft and pickpocketing. Knowing how to avoid pickpockets can be helpful.
Always keep an eye on your belongings, keep any valuables out of sight and protected, and don’t flaunt any obvious signs of wealth in public places.
Q: How long can a tourist stay in New York?
Most visitors from abroad who are allowed to enter the United States — the country New York State is located in — can stay for up to six months. Entry requirements and allowances vary depending on where you are from, so definitely check the US government website.
Q: Do I need a travel visa for New York?
Visa requirements vary depending on where you are from. You can visit the US government website to see if you need a visa and what type.
Q: Where is New York?
New York is a state located in the United States, which is located in North America. The state is located in the east coast and is bordered by Canada and Lake Ontario in the north; Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and the Atlantic Ocean in the south; Lake Erie in the west; and Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont in the east.
Q: Are credit cards accepted in New York?
Credit cards — particularly Visa and Mastercard — are widely accepted around New York State, though it is always wise to carry some cash for smaller establishments and in case of emergency.
Q: Can you drink the tap water in New York State?
While tap water is safe to drink in most places, it’s smart to check with the hotel in your specific destination to be safe.
Q: What is the local currency in New York State?
The local currency in New York is the US Dollar (USD).
What would you add to this New York State travel guide?
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