New York is certainly famous for its big cities, New York City, Albany, Buffalo, etc, but there are also some smaller places in the state which are delightful to visit and which have their share of attractions and tourist interest. Here are a few of these gems.
1. Saratoga Springs – Although basically a college town ( Skidmore College occupies some of the downtown area), Saratoga is much more famous because of its transformation, in August, into the number one destination for horse-racing aficionados. The Saratoga Race Track is known the world over for its elegant ambience and the quality of its racing during its short summer season. The population soars during this time and day-trippers clog the sidewalks, restaurants and hotels. Despite the hordes who decend on this place during August, Saratoga has managed to preserve its small-town atmosphere. Downtown is adorable, dotted with interesting shops and vintage hotels. Nearby Congress Park contains several of the springs which gave the town its name and is bedecked with flowers and pleasant paths. The popularity of the race track has also given rise to many other activity venues, such as, museums, harness racing, and a casino. Convenient to get to, Saratoga is just a short distance from Interstate 87, north of Albany.
2. Lake Placid – This community is well-known, even outside New York, because it hosted the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. Skiing and other winter sports are still extremely popular here. However, the town has become an all-season vacation spot, featuring the lake itself, the surrounding Adriondack Mountains and other venues which have sprung up to entice tourists. Be sure to check out nearby Whiteface Mountain!
3. Corning – This town grew and prospered because of the manufacture of glass. It is still recognized as one of the world’s premier centers for this industry. The charming downtown looks like a picture from the late 1800’s. The Corning Museum of Glass is a wonderful museum which traces the history of glass-making and which displays numerous examples of this fine art.
4. Cooperstown – Long known for its association with the sport of baseball (Abner Doubleday, creator of the game, lived here), visitors are often surprised at how delightful the community itself is. The town was founded by the father of noted American novelist, James Fenimore Cooper, and tourists are reminded of his contributions to American Literature in a local museum. But the majority of visitors are in this area because of the Baseball Hall of Fame and its associated activities.
5. Chautauqua – This idyllic Victorian community is famous for the Chautauqua Insititution, once a center for education but now including the Arts and other subject matter. Solitude and contemplation are the hallmarks here in the summer when people from around the country arrive to attend seminars and other educational experiences.
6. The Hamptons – This domain of the rich and famous, at the eastern end of Long island, is also popular with the less-wealthy who want to spend some time in the vicinity of the upper crust. The villages of the area, for example, Southampton, Sag Harbor, etc., are well-kept and boast numerous shops to explore. Beach-lovers flock to Fire Island National Seashore in the summer.
7. Lake George – Another popular destination for families in the summer, Lake George, besides the obvious water activities, has a host of recreational opportunities for visitors in the town itself and in the surrounding communities. Fort Ticonderoga is nearby, as well as The Great Escape and Splashwater Kingdom, a large amusement park. A boat cruise on the Minnehaha, a paddle-wheel boat, is a must.
8. Hyde Park – The home of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt is the premier attraction here. Their estate, located on the Hudson River, is open to visitors year-round. Also in the area are several other fabulous estates and the Culinary Institute of America, with its four restaurants where students perform their apprenticeships.
9. Sleepy Hollow – The town of North Tarrytown officially changed its name in 1996 to commemorate Washington Irving’s famous story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Wander the town to see scenes from the tale.
10. Woodstock – This town is much quieter these days than it was in 1969 when it hosted the famous hippy festival that was a symbol of this time in American history. Always an artist colony, the area still recalls the era when life was much simpler and young revolted against the conventions of the time.