Long Island and upstate New York – generally accepted as anywhere north of the NYC metro area – shouldn’t be missed. Long Island has cozy beach towns, while upstate is a dream destination for those who cherish the great outdoors. The Hudson River valley acts as an escape route from the city, leading eager sojourners north. From Albany, the 524-mile Erie Canal cuts due west to Lake Erie, passing spectacular Niagara Falls, Buffalo and Rochester. In the east you’ll find the St Lawrence River and its thousands of islands, as well as the magnificent Adirondack and Catskills mountains. Head to the middle of the state and you’ll be ensconced in the serene Finger Lakes.
Epicenter of the arts. Dining and shopping capital. Trendsetter. New York City wears many crowns, and spreads an irresistible feast for all.
The Met, MoMA and the Guggenheim are just the beginning of a dizzying list of art-world icons. You’ll find museums devoted to everything from fin de siècle Vienna to immigrant life in the Lower East Side, and sprawling galleries filled with Japanese sculpture, postmodern American painting, Himalayan textiles and New York City lore. For a glimpse of current and future greats, delve into the cutting-edge galleries of Chelsea and the Lower East Side, with their myriad exhibition spaces and festive opening-night parties (usually Thursday night if you want to join in).
With its compact size and streets packed with eye candy of all sorts – architectural treasures, Old World cafes, atmospheric booksellers – NYC is a wanderer’s delight. Crossing continents is as easy as walking a few avenues in this jumbled city of 200-plus nationalities. You can lose yourself in the crowds of Chinatown amid bright Buddhist temples and steaming noodle shops, then stroll up to Nolita for enticing boutiques and coffee-tasting. Every neighborhood offers a dramatically different version of the city, from the 100-year-old Jewish delis of the Upper West Side to the meandering cobblestone lanes of Greenwich Village. And the best way to experience it is to walk its streets.
When the sun sinks slowly beyond the Hudson and luminous skyscrapers light up the night, New York transforms into one grand stage. Well-known actors take to the legendary theaters of Broadway and world-class soloists, dancers and musicians perform at venues large and small across town. Whether high culture or low, New York embraces it all: in-your-face rock shows at Williamsburg dives, lavish opera productions at the Lincoln Center, and everything in between. This is a city of experimental theater, improv comedy, indie cinema, ballet, poetry, burlesque, jazz and so much more. If you can dream it up, it’s probably happening.
There’s never been a better time to dine in New York. It’s a hotbed of seasonal and locally sourced cuisine – with restaurants growing vegetables on roof gardens or upstate farms, sourcing meats and seafood from nearby sustainable outfits, and embracing artisanal everything, from coffee roasting and whiskey distilling to chocolate- and cheese-making. Bars have also taken creativity to new heights, with pre-Prohibition-era cocktails served alongside delectable small plates – indeed, gastropubs are some of the most creative places to eat these days. Of course, you can also hit a gourmet food truck or dine at one of the 20,000-plus sit-down restaurants.
Forget Times Square and the Statue of Liberty – if you want to see the real New York, you need to head to Brooklyn. These days, the name is shorthand for ‘artsy cool’ the world over, but there’s far more here than hipster stereotypes. This sprawling borough (more than three times the size of Manhattan) is actually home to some of NYC’s most interesting, historic and culturally diverse neighborhoods, with singularly fantastic dining, drinking, shopping and entertainment options – not to mention some of the best river views in the five boroughs.