Letchworth State Park in Castile, NY
In search of a weekend getaway or day trip where you can relax in nature? No need to go very far! From the far reaches of Long Island to the Thousand Islands, and everything in between, New York has more than 200 state parks and DEC campgrounds and day use areas that offer the full range of R&R: from camping and hiking to boating and fishing, swimming and sunbathing, even golf. We’ve chosen a gem in each region of the state (keeping in mind that there are so many great options, not to mention countless local parks too!), to help jump start your next excursion.
ADIRONDACKS: Ausable Point Campground and Day Use Area
Address: 3346 Lake Shore Road, Peru, NY 12972
R&R potential: Beautiful water-side campsites on a scenic point on Lake Champlain, with million dollar views of Vermont’s Green Mountains across the lake. Take advantage of sandy beaches (day use area beach has lifeguards and bath house), as well as great canoeing and kayaking.
Bonus: Don’t have a boat? Get out on the lake via a ferry ride that departs from Port Kent, just 6 miles south of Ausable Point, and takes you and your car to Vermont for a fun day trip.
Pair it: Nothing says “R&R” like the iconic Adirondack chair. Check out this Adirondack-made necklace with a Adirondack chair charm and New York State-mined garnet.
CAPITAL REGION: Saratoga Spa State Park
Photo: Saratoga Spa State Park
Address: 19 Roosevelt Drive, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
R&R potential: With its classical architecture and status as a National Historic Landmark, Saratoga Spa is a treasure trove of cultural and recreational resources. Take in a swim at one of two pools, or play a round of golf on one of the two beautiful courses. Stroll through the grounds, go for a run on one of the trails, or find your favorite picnic spot!
Pair it: Can’t make it to the spa? Bring the spa to you with this relaxing aromatherapy set.
CATSKILLS: Woodland Valley Campground & Day Use Area
Address: 1319 Woodland Valley Road, Phoenicia, NY 12464
R&R potential: The campground doubles as the launch point for Slide Mountain, the tallest peak in the Catskills, which is ringed by Panther, Cornell and Wittenberg Mountains, making it the perfect place to hit the trails.
Bonus: Whether you need to carbo-load before or replenish your system after a hike, the iconic Phoenicia Diner has you covered.
Pair it: Look stylish on the trails (and keep the bears away) with this unique leather hiker’s bell.
CENTRAL NEW YORK: Chittenango Falls State Park
Address: 2300 Rathbun Road, Cazenovia, NY 13035
R&R potential: Take a nature bath in the visual beauty of this 167-foot waterfall. Watch the water cascading over 400-million-year-old bedrock, with viewing opportunities at the top and bottom of the falls via the trail that winds its way to a footbridge over the creek below. Plenty of shaded picnic spots throughout the park.
Bonus: Located about 10 miles east of Syracuse, if you have the time, take a swing through the village of Chittenango. Its Wizard of Oz-themed “yellow brick road” main street is a special nod to the legacy of author L. Frank Baum, who was born there.
FINGER LAKES: Robert H. Treman State Park
Address: 105 Enfield Falls Road, Ithaca, NY 14850
R&R potential: Ithaca is “gorges”, and this park is a crown jewel: Explore the rugged Enfield Glen gorge as the scenic highlight, scattered with 12 waterfalls, including the 115-foot Lucifer Falls.
Bonus: Take in a few pours along the nearby Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, the oldest official wine trail in the country.
Pair it: Bring the heady smell of the vineyard home with you, with a Rochester-made muscadine-scented soy candle, hand-poured into the bases of repurposed wine bottles.
HUDSON VALLEY: Walkway Over the Hudson
Photo: Shinya Suzuki
Address: 61 Parker Avenue, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
R&R potential: What better way to take in the splendor of the Hudson River than standing over it? Built in 2009, this elevated walkway over the Hudson clocks in at 1.28 miles, making it the longest pedestrian bridge in the world. This should be on every New Yorker’s bucket list!
Pair it: After a day of sweating in the sun, refresh with The Hudson Standard’s peach lavender shrub mixed with seltzer: the original energy drink!
LONG ISLAND: Robert Moses State Park
Address: 600 Robert Moses State Parkway, Babylon, NY 11702
R&R potential: Take in the surf and sand. Robert Moses has five miles of ocean beach from which visitors can swim, surf, or surf-fish. The park also has picnic areas, an 18-hole pitch & putt golf course, and a day use boat basin.
Bonus: Field 5 of the park is the public's gateway to Fire Island. With a short stroll to the Fire Island Lighthouse, you can also explore nearby towns of Kismet and Saltaire by foot from the eastern parking lot.
Pair it: If this is one of your family’s treasured spots (if not, it soon may be!), commemorate it with this print by Bold Version Design.
NEW YORK CITY: Riverbank State Park
Address: 679 Riverside Drive, New York, NY 10031
R&R potential: Inspired by urban rooftop designs in Japan, this 28-acre multi-level park offers views of the Hudson, Palisades, and George Washington Bridge, boat-docking facilities, tennis and basketball courts, as well as playgrounds, a carousel and picnic areas.
Bonus: With an Olympic-size pool, covered roller/ice skating rink, 800-seat theater, athletic complex, and 150-seat restaurant, what more could you need?
Pair it: Grab this NYC Museums Coloring Book by Color Our Town for an afternoon of blissful downtime outdoors.
THOUSAND ISLANDS SEAWAY: Wellesley Island State Park
Address: 44927 Cross Island Road, Fineview, NY 13640
R&R potential: How about an island getaway at the largest camping facility in the Thousand Islands, with a range of options available, from rustic tent sites to cosy cabin rentals that come fully stocked with all the basics? While there is road access to the island, it’s a boater’s paradise, with a marina and three boat launches and plenty of fishing.
Bonus: Boat rentals are available at the park. For an excursion, travel to the Rock Island Lighthouse, accessible by boat only.
Pair it: Wear your fond boating memories with a piece from Crusoe Jewelry’s nautical-inspired collection.
WESTERN NEW YORK: Letchworth State Park
Address: 1 Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427
R&R potential: Billed as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth was voted best park in a 2015 USA Today readers’ poll. With 66 miles of hiking trails and spectacular waterfalls, it’s easy to see why. Additional recreation offerings include guided walks, lecture series, kayaking, a pool for swimming, and hot air ballooning.
Bonus: Try your hand at whitewater rafting on the Genesee River, which flows through the park.
Pair it: Speaking of Genesee, after a day of outdoor fun, you may want to crack a cold local beer. Bring along this handy hand-forged bottle opener to be prepared.