New York State is made up of 12 distinct regions, each boasting its own history, culture and promise. Read on for a snapshot of each Region, and find us on social media to learn more about all that this great State has to offer.
Host of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic winter games, the Adirondack Mountains in the state’s northeast corner still attract the most daring athletes for year-round training using Olympic facilities. Fake it till you make it by scaling Mt. Marcy, the state’s tallest mountain. If apres-ski is more your speed, kick back in an eponymous Adirondack chair or hop in a canoe to savor a McIntosh apple, views of the 46 High Peaks, 2,300 lakes and ponds and the wildlife within the largest national park in the contiguous U.S.
New York’s political capital, nestled between the Hudson Valley and the Adirondacks, this region broke industrial ground at the turn of the 20th century with the establishment in Schenectady of General Electric. Continually innovative, today’s left-brain developments emerge from the faculty and students at schools like Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Skidmore College, and Empire State College. Conversely, to feed your right-brain’s appetite, don your hat and place your bet at Saratoga Springs’s 150 year old racetrack, or take in live theatre and dance at Experimental Media & Performing Arts Center and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center.
Set against the backdrop of the Catskill Mountains and bordering the Hudson River to the east, the “Borscht Belt” area’s resorts entertained generations of families, launched many a comedian’s career, and inspired Dirty Dancing. In 1969, the area made way for the culture-shifting Woodstock music festival in Bethel. The grandeur and artistry remains today, plus a healthy dose of outdoor recreation: ski the Catskills, hike, bike and ride in the Mohonk Preserve and climb the “Gunks” of the Shawangunk Ridge.
Central New York
This region’s reputation might consist of what it used to be -- Leatherstocking Country, the nation’s hops capital, a major port along the Erie Canal -- but old traditions are being made new, and then some. Beekman Boys fans can visit their mercantile of farm-made goods in Sharon Springs. Cooperstown’s Ommegang Brewery has revived NYS’s hops-producing past, and the Glimmerglass Festival showcases opera’s avant-garde. Rich with schools, this region boasts Hamilton College, Colgate University, Syracuse University and many SUNY campuses. Be sure to catch the Great New York State Fair held each September in Syracuse.
Tucked away in the state’s southwest corner is the coalescence of a smattering of seeming contradictions. The depths of Lake Erie contrast with the heights of the mountains in Allegany State Park, the largest state park in NYS. The traditions of Old Order Amish communities persist, while each summer the Chautauqua Institution -- whose mission is “self-improvement through lifelong learning” -- promotes constant change through lectures presenting the latest research. Farther afield, visitors flock to Lily Dale, a hamlet of registered Mediums, to commune with the “other side.” If you love Lucy (and who doesn’t?), stop in Jamestown, where the actress was raised, for the annual Lucille Ball Festival of Comedy; don’t forget to bring your costume.
Along the banks of the 11 finger-shaped lakes, more than 100 wineries string together towns as fertile as the agriculturally rich, “gorges” landscape. Cornell, one of NYS’s two Ivy League universities, sits at the Southern base of Cayuga Lake. The influence stemming from this region is staggering: Hammondsport is the “Cradle of Aviation;” in Palmyra, Joseph Smith reportedly discovered the golden plates that led him to establish The Church of Latter Day Saints; the first women’s rights convention was held in Seneca Falls; and Kodak, Xerox and Bausch & Lomb were all founded in Rochester.
It’s hard to beat the Hudson Valley in any season, to which the estates of the Roosevelt and Vanderbilt families can attest. Hugging both banks of the Hudson River, the region’s trees shimmer in Fall, the idyll of a northeastern autumn, and the natural beauty was a major inspiration to artists from the Hudson River School of painters to the present. Food culture reigns supreme thanks to the abundant supply of farm-fresh restaurant ingredients and the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, the United States Military Academy in West Point and the Storm King Art Center in New Windsor sustain the intellectual character of this region.
The 118 miles of land stretching from the New York Harbor to the Atlantic Ocean contain both the Hamptons -- aka, NYC’s sixth borough -- and NYC’s residential suburban communities. Known as one of the state’s major wine producers, life here is good. Sail and yacht in the Long Island Sound on the North Shore, or surf the major waves of Ditch Plains, located off “The End” of the island. From small treasures like Shelter Island, rife with wildlife and accessible only by ferry, to architecturally avant-garde houses, to grand estates like Teddy Roosevelt’s Sagamore Hill home in Oyster Bay, every personality will find something to embrace.
New York City
Milton Glaser’s iconic “I <3 NY” encapsulates the soul of New York City. A region where all walks of life intersect, the five boroughs of NYC are complex, diverse, creative and experimental — a place loved by so many and for a million different reasons. The City sets global trends in fashion and the arts and leads the way in business and technology. Top schools like Columbia, NYU and the New School breed the world’s next generation of top talent. Obvious points aside, the City’s magic is best found in the details: tucked-away restaurants, quiet streets and serendipitous moments.
At one time this was perhaps the most progressive area in the country. Elmira College was the first college in the world to grant women a baccalaureate degree equal to that received by men. Mark Twain penned Huckleberry Finn, Tom Sawyer and most of his most-famous stories in a small cottage study on a hill overlooking the city Elmira. Today, the area has taken one of its best industries and modernized it: The Corning Museum of Glass showcases the former Crystal City’s transition from decorative glasswork into the field of fiber-optic cable production. Recreational opportunities focus on flight, from gliders in Elmira to hot air balloon rides at Binghamton’s Spiedie Fest.
Inspiring the name of the popular salad dressing, the Thousand Islands/Seaway region is peppered with more than 1,000 land masses of all shapes and sizes, dividing the US and Canada via the St. Lawrence River. The area bursts into life in the summertime, when divers explore buried shipwrecks, fishermen hunt for salmon and trout, visitors tour waterfront castles, and Yale’s Skull and Bones alumni reunite at their Deer Island retreat.
Western New York
Few regions can boast multiple Frank Lloyd Wright homes, the “Grand Canyon of the East,” a system of parks designed by Frederick Law Olmstead, Niagara Falls and views of Toronto across Lake Erie (not to mention the invention of Buffalo wings), yet Western New York possesses each of these, and more. The Arts & Crafts movement was founded, and survives, on the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora, and extends to the Buffalo State College campus where the Burchfield Penney Art Center’s collection includes student artwork, across the street from the renowned Albright-Knox Art Gallery. That creative energy, plus a blue-collar work-ethic, motivates Buffalonians and their neighbors to reinvent themselves on the pride of their past.