One thing many may not know about New York is that it is a state of extreme contrasts. It also holds an important role in the history and growth of the United States having once been the capital of the nation as well as an entry point for millions of immigrants hoping to conquer their dreams in the "land of opportunity". Typically characterized and most often confused with its most recognised city, New York City - an energetic cosmopolitan area labelled the "city that never sleeps", the State of New York is, in reality, a haven of picturesque natural landscapes and rural preserves more than a place of hustle and bustle as stereotypical claims would lead us to believe.
This northeastern US state is divided into ten regions with 62 individual counties and is as diverse as diverse can get in regards to its history, culture, climate, scenery, people or attractions. You'll find that the majority of New York's territory, with the exception of downstate New York and the Metropolitan Area, possesses small towns, mountain peaks, lakes, rivers and forests whereby each one of its features help lure in millions of tourists a year. New York's most rural areas lie within North Country New York and contain huge natural preserves where an array of resorts and leisure activities like skiing, hiking and fishing await you, your friends and family. Adirondack Park is the largest natural area to be found here and just so you understand the magnitude of this extraordinary location it is bigger than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Glacier Park and Olympic National Park all put together meaning there is a lot to discover! Catskill Park in Upstate New York is much smaller in size, however no less beautiful. Finger Lakes, to the west of the same region, is another popular resort and bioregion where you'll find brilliant vineyards and viniculture making it a great spot for the more mature traveller. Towards Western New York is where you'll encounter the thousands-of-years-old Niagara Falls which separates the state from Ontario, Canada, and which is always a sight for anyone's sore eyes.
Despite New York's natural beauty, no place can match the iconic manmade attractions of the state quite like downtown New York City - the financial hub of the world and most populous city in the United States. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of dazzling things to set your eyes upon in this eclectic part of New York. It's here where you can meet Lady Liberty herself in addition to some of the tallest skyscrapers in both the US and across the globe, for example, the Empire State Building or One World Trade Center which pays homage to the souls lost during the 2001 September 11 attacks. You can take a stroll through Rockefeller Center or the hectic but mesmerizing Times Square lined with illuminated billboards or even enjoy a picnic in surprisingly peaceful Central Park in the heart of Manhattan. Your options here are limitless!
If you thought you couldn't take your bikini or swimming shorts to New York you are most certainly wrong as New York has, in fact, many wide sandy beaches for you to choose from too. Some of the best beaches are East Hampton's Main Beach, Fort Tilden State Park, Brighton Beach, the Rockaway peninsula in Long Island and Orchard Beach in the Bronx. You can find fantastic varieties of beaches from private tranquil ones to beaches which offer live music, entertainment for kids, old-school eateries as well as the chance to have a good old barbecue.
One place that is little heard of is New York's capital, Albany, located on the banks of the famous Hudson River. This beautiful city, much like many other cities, is generally overshadowed by the small but very intense New York City. It is a gateway to New York's mountain resorts and is rich in outstanding architecture, museums, gardens and nature reserves. It offers a high standard of living and a relaxed environment to live or getaway to which many actually prefer when compared New York's heavily urban areas.
One thing you'll definitely see during your time in New York is its mix of people. Along with White Americans, expect to find a racial fusion of Hispanic and Latino Americans, African Americans, Italians, Irish, Jews, Asians, Middle-Eastern and Native Americans among other smaller minorities. This hotpot of races has created a multiracial New York where different languages, cultures, foods, traditions and beliefs have blended together over time.
The best time to visit New York really depends on your destination and the type of holiday you're seeking but generally spring and autumn time are the preferred seasons as climatic conditions are less extreme; not too hot nor is it too cold. One of the best things about where New York is situated is that you can easily travel to surrounding states which are popular destinations themselves such as Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and even Ontario and Québec in neighbouring Canada!