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New York State is a state in the northeast of the USA and was one of the original 13 Colonies. When most people talk about New York State they just say Upstate New York. Although people forget that Upstate New York is home to amazing national and state parks that are quite stunning. There is also good skiing and some neat towns upstate that get overshadowed by the Big Apple on the coast. The largest city is New York City.
New York covers 141,300 km2 and ranks as the 27th largest state by size. The Great Appalachian Valley dominates eastern New York, while Lake Champlain is the chief northern feature of the valley, which also includes the Hudson River flowing southward to the Atlantic Ocean. The rugged Adirondack Mountains, with vast tracts of wilderness, lie west of the valley. Most of the southern part of the state is on the Allegheny Plateau, which rises from the southeast to the Catskill Mountains. The highest elevation in New York is Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks. New York's borders touch two Great Lakes (Erie and Ontario); the provinces of Ontario and Quebec in Canada; Lake Champlain; three New England states (Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut); the Atlantic Ocean, and two Mid-Atlantic States, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. In addition, Rhode Island shares a water border with New York.
In contrast with New York City's urban atmosphere, the vast majority of the state is dominated by farms, forests, rivers, mountains, and lakes. New York's Adirondack Park is the largest state park in the United States. The Hudson River begins at Lake Tear of the Clouds and flows south through the eastern part of the state without draining Lakes George or Champlain. Upstate and downstate are often used informally to distinguish New York City or its greater metropolitan area from the rest of New York State. The placement of a boundary between the two is a matter of great contention. Unofficial and loosely defined regions of Upstate New York include the Southern Tier, which often includes the counties along the border with Pennsylvania, and the North Country, which can mean anything from the strip along the Canadian border to everything north of the Mohawk River.
New York, New York, the city so great they named it twice, goes by many other names as well such as The Big Apple and The City That Never Sleeps. Probably most interesting to the traveller is the unofficial declaration of being the "world's capital."
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The Adirondacks refers to the park and mountains located in this area. The Adirondack Park is both the largest and the first government-protected park in the contiguous United States. It covers a vast expanse - bigger than New Hampshire - of rugged, thickly wooded, mountainous terrain in northeast New York State. The Adirondacks are a popular destination for all lovers of outdoor activities, from hiking and skiing to ice and rock climbing.
The Niagara Falls are one of the most impressive waterfalls in the world. And although the Canadian side has been developed into a big tourist attraction, the falls haven't lost any of their appeal.
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One the most famous statues in the world is the statue of liberty. It's not only an icon for New York but also for the entire country. The statue was a gift of the French people to celibrate the centennial of the Independence of the United States. The statue was constructed in France, and after completion shipped to the USA, where it was stored for 11 months, to await the completion of the pedestal, the 46-metre-high statue could finally be unveiled in November 1886.
Liberty Island was closed after the attacks of 9-11, and only reopened in 2004. The crown can be visited again since July 2009, but only by a few people a day. Two smaller statues predates the statue that is placed in New York. One stands in Paris in the Jardin de Luxembourg, and a second stands in front of the city hall in Maceió, in Brazil. After the success of these statues, it was decided to go huge. Nowadays there are several copies of the statue of liberty to be found all over the world.
In general, New York has a humid continental climate, though New York City has a humid subtropical climate. Weather in New York is heavily influenced by two continental air masses: a warm, humid one from the southwest and a cold, dry one from the northwest. The winters are long and cold in the Plateau Divisions of the state. In the majority of winter seasons, a temperature of -25 °C or lower can be expected in the northern highlands (Northern Plateau) and -15 °C or colder in the southwestern and east-central highlands (Southern Plateau). The summer climate is cool in the Adirondacks, Catskills and higher elevations of the Southern Plateau. The New York City/Long Island area and lower portions of the Hudson Valley have rather warm summers by comparison, with some periods of high, uncomfortable humidity. The remainder of New York State enjoys pleasantly warm summers, marred by only occasional, brief intervals of sultry conditions. Summer daytime temperatures usually range from 25 °C to 30 °C, over much of the state and between 15 °C and 20 °C at night. Precipitation is quite evenly distributed throughout the year, with sometimes very heavy snowfall in winter. During summer, heavy showers can occur, especially after periods of hot weather.
The two main airports in NY city are also the most important ones for the state:
Most trains to and from New York State originate and terminate in New York City. Services will arrive at Pennsylvania Station, located at 7th Avenue and 34th Street. There are easy connections from Pennsylvania station to the subway network of the city. From Pennsylvania Station, Amtrak runs a number of services, including the Acela trainconnecting Washington, D.C. to Boston. Other trains include:
Some train service (mostly from northern suburbs and Connecticut) will arrive at Grand Central Terminal.
Many bus companies offer services to neighbouring states.
Many cruise ships call at New York's ports from far and wide. The last of the major ocean liners, Cunard's Queen Mary 2, continues to uphold the century-old traditions of the Titanic era with scheduled liner service from Southampton UK to New York City.
Several trains travel from New York City across the state. These include:
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
New York has a number of National Scenic Byways which offer a great way to explore the state crossing beautiful landscapes. Mostly, there are lots of national parks, state parks or monuments along the way and it's generally a better alternative than the faster but boring Interstate Highways.
Every year thousands of travelers (both in-state and out) take to the New York State Canal System to spend hours, days, or even weeks cruising the placid waters and visiting a variety of villages and cities along the way. The crown jewel of the canal system is the famous Erie Canal, in operation for nearly two centuries. The Erie runs from Buffalo all the way to the Hudson River at Albany, but there are several smaller canals that connect the Erie to other waterways: the Cayuga-Seneca Canal to the Finger Lakes, the Oswego Canal to Lake Ontario, and the Champlain Canal to Lake Champlain. This extensive network means you can, in theory, see the six biggest cities in the state all without leaving your boat.
New York's diversity is on full display when considering its cuisines. New York City, of course, as the point of arrival for so many immigrants, is home to some of the most authentic and most diverse ethnic cuisines in the country. Even upstate, though, in cities not known for their diversity, you can find plenty of variety.
American cuisine is ubiquitous, of course, except perhaps in areas of New York City like Chinatown and Little Italy. Italian food (much of it Americanized, admittedly) is also found throughout the state. Asian cuisines—mostly Chinese and Japanese, but with some Thai and Indian restaurants in the larger cities—are also common. Greek food is readily available, primarily at family restaurants that also serve plenty of American food and a smattering of Italian. Polish specialties can be found in Buffalo, and the North Country has some French-Canadian influence in its cuisine.
Notably, each of the upstate cities seems to have its own unique home-grown dishes. Buffalo is famous for its chicken wings, of course, but also features "beef on weck". Rochester is home to "white hots" and the late-night favorite "garbage plates". Syracuse has salt potatoes, the Utica-Rome area has its "chicken riggies", "spiedies" originated in Binghamton, and Plattsburgh residents favor "Michigan" hot dogs. While perhaps not as famous as Philadelphia's cheese steaks, most of these local favorites are worth trying, if only to get a taste of the local "flavor".
From the Finger Lakes region all the way up to the North Country, Amish and Mennonite communities contribute fresh vegetables, fruits, and baked goods that are often found at road-side farm stands or at farmers markets. And New York City is well-known for New York-style pizza, pastrami, bagels, pretzels, cheesecake, danishes and black & whites, among other local specialties.
Many visitors don't realize that New York still has a very large agriculture industry. The state is one of the top American producers of apples, grapes, milk, sweet corn, and maple syrup. To highlight New York-grown food and drink, the state has begun opening Taste NY stores in several service areas along the Thruway. There are also stores at JFK and LaGuardia airports and Grand Central Terminal in New York City and farmers' markets throughout the state, including a large one thrice weekly at Union Square in Manhattan.
New York is the second-biggest wine-producing state in the country, though a distant second to California. The Finger Lakes are the largest wine country in the state, and there is also a substantial wine industry in Peconic, which consists of the forks of Long Island and adjacent countryside on the eastern end of Suffolk County. The oldest wine-growing area is the Hudson Valley, which still has some wineries.
There are also quite a few brewers in the state, including Ommegang, a brewery in Cooperstown that produces an excellent Belgian-style ale, and Brooklyn Brewery, which produces a solid lager.
Whiskey is also produced in New York. Baiting Hollow on Long Island produces an excellent whiskey and Hudson's, in the Hudson Valley, produces excellent though pricey whiskey and rye.
As a major apple-growing state, New York also produces both unfermented and hard ciders, but probably the best place to get those is either fresh at an apple orchard or at a bar that concentrates on hard cider.
Compared to some of its neighboring states, New York has fairly loose liquor laws. The drinking age is 21, the same as every other state. Minors may not sell alcohol in liquor stores nor loiter in them, even when accompanied by an adult. Beer and other beverages with a low alcohol content can be found in supermarkets, drugstores and convenience stores, along with (since 2010) some wines, while hard liquor and most wine can be sold only in liquor stores. Liquor stores, by law, are not allowed to sell beer. They are also not allowed to take returns, so all sales are final.
There are dozens of hotel and motel chains, ranging from budget to top end. Allthough they are not the most charming accommodations, they usually have a very decent midrange service with good rooms and are generally good value. At least you know what to expect and in some cases they are either the only or the best option in the area. Some of them include:
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