Alternative New York State holidays


I am not one for constantly showing off my holiday snaps to friends, but I must confess to posting my smug smile on every social media outlet the day I caught a 20 pound salmon in New York. The response was huge, all along the lines of "Wow! New York? Fish? WTH?" Yes, I replied, this is New York, keen to share that it not only has billions of best kept secrets but is, in fact, one big secret.

There are so many highs beyond Manhattan in New York, especially if being a green and responsible tourist is how you like to play when you are away. For example, you can hop on a train from Grand Central station to Beacon on the Hudson River, hike Mount Beacon in the morning and kayak along the shore in the afternoon. All within just over an hour's train ride from Manhattan. From here you can take in the view across to The Catskills on the west side of the Hudson where 600,000 acres of rolling peaks are just begging to be climbed on, skied down and cycled over. This is where New York City dwellers go to get their weekend highs, but for more serious trips, it's the Adirondacks Mountains that people crave. There are 46 peaks here - a region larger than Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, the Grand Canyon and the Great Smokies National Parks combined. A veritable orgy of outdoorsiness, in fact.

There was only one hashtag to sum up the Thousand Islands region of New York on Twitter: #whoknew? Who knew, for example, there was an archipelago to equal Stockholm's here? Who knew there are actually 1,800 islands, but some are Canadian? Who knew, in fact, that New York bordered with Canada? My Twitter research shows that I was definitely not the only one who didn't. I was just about the only international tourist kayaking around these island idylls, however, which vary from state owned wildlife reserves to privately owned hunting grounds. And as the swimming is divine, it seemed only right to nickname it Thousand Islands Undressing.

New York kayaking
My kayaking guides in the Thousand Island Seaway upheld my theory that all kayakers are cool. They love water, respect the environment, and have a sense of humour and an affable, 'share the love of kayaking' way about them. There is plenty more of that in The Finger Lakes region too, where 13 waterscapes stretch across the map of New York. You can also kayak the Genesee River white water style at the region's Letchworth State Park, or more calmly further downstream in Belfast (bizarrely) where I rented a kayak from a community organisation which uses the power of paddling to inspire local young people into understanding and loving their rivers.

New York State's traditional industrial belts which, for years, attracted workers, now attract wanderlusters. The Erie Canalway, for example, offers 590km of cycle and walking tracks, thus preserving local heritage while allowing travellers to explore New York in a sustainable, environmentally-friendly way. And the Great Lakes of Erie and Ontario, vital shipping routes for exports in the past, are now New York State's natural playgrounds, with sailing, kayaking, dipping and diving all to be had here. And as for fishing…don't start me, or I'll get my photos out again.

Another part of the Big Green Apple's secret is that the number one industry in New York is agriculture. The farm to fork ethos is, therefore, engrained in restaurants, there are roads full of farm stalls running on "honor" systems and there are over 50 farmers' markets in New York City alone. So, the chances are that if you take a bite from New York's Big Apple, it really will be from New York. New York State that is - because after travelling all around it, I can honestly say that the core is where you will taste the true flavours of New York, not just the pip at the tip.

Find out more in our New York State travel guide.
Written by Catherine Mack
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