There’s more to New York State than the skyscrapers and the gridlocked streets of NYC. In fact, the state has many natural wonders for those that want a break from the city buzz. Many residents of New York City don’t realize such attractions are on their doorstep. Below are just some of the best natural attractions that New York State has to offer.
If you thought you had to travel to another state to see mountains, then you were sorely mistaken. New York State is home to several mountain ranges. The most impressive is the Adirondack Mountains, which regularly features in lists of top mountain ranges in the US. Here you’ll find challenging peaks, stunning gorges and breathtaking lakes. It’s a great destination for mountain climbing, white water rafting, camping, skiing and mountain biking. Visit during the winter to enjoy snow sports and visit during the summer to enjoy the heat.
Located within the mighty St Lawrence River on the New York-Ontario border are the Thousand Islands. This archipelago is made up of 1,864 islands – some of which you can explore via a 1000 islands boat trip. Helicopter tours and kayaking tours are other ways to explore The Thousand Islands. Attractions to visit around these islands include 1000 Islands Tower, Boldt Castle and the Thousand Islands Bridge. Some of these destinations may involve passing into Canada, so bear this in mind if you haven’t got a passport.
Great Northern Catskills
The Great Northern Catskills are the closest mountain range to NYC and make for a convenient natural retreat. With its miles of lush forests, it’s one of the best places to enjoy vibrant fall foliage colors around this time of year. There’s a lot to see and do here – you can go horseback riding in Mohonk preserve, ski the slopes of Hunter Mountain, ogle at impressive waterfalls and even visit the historic location of the original Woodstock festival. There are campsites, hostels and hotels here that you can stay at and plan your adventures from.
Howes Cavern is the largest show cave in the Northeast US. It’s located in Schoharie County just west of Albany and is one of most popular natural attractions in New York State. A guided tour can take you through this cave, which includes a mile of walking and a short boat trip. During this tour you can learn about the geology and the history of this fascinating cave. It’s worth noting that there are a few other caves in New York State (although none are quite as impressive as Howes).
Ithaca Gorges And Waterfalls
‘Ithaca is gorges’ is the slogan of the small town of Ithaca south of Syracuse. The town is built around a number of gorges through which impressive waterfalls flow. Ithaca Falls is the most notable waterfall here, however there’s also the mighty Taughannock Falls. Cascadilla Gorge also features a very pretty waterfall with a bridge over it. There are hiking trails that can take you around these waterfalls. Ithaca also has various other natural attractions within its vicinity including beautiful lakes and dense forests.
Central Park is located right in the middle of Manhattan. If you’re staying in New York City and you need a quick retreat from the urban hustle bustle, Central Park is the perfect place to immerse yourself in nature. You’ll find a range of wildlife within Central Park including racoons, squirrels and even coyotes. The park has also been a popular film location for decades and you’re certain to see many familiar sights from movies including the Angel of the Waters fountain and Bow Bridge. The best times to visit are in Spring and Fall when it’s not too hot or cold.
No list of New York State natural attractions could be complete without mentioning Niagara Falls. This natural wonder comprises three waterfalls: Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Together, these waterfalls create a vast and stunning spectacle. Niagara Falls is located on the American-Canadian border and attracts millions of visitors from each country every year. If you visit in winter, parts of the water may even be frozen (although the waterfall itself never stops flowing). There are many different ways to explore Niagara Falls. A number of viewpoints are situated around the waterfalls that you can hike to and there are several surrounding buildings that offer great views. If you want to get closer to this mighty waterfall system, a boat tour is another option. You can also take helicopter tours over the waterfall.