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New York: Introduction

Visitors to New York State who venture both downstate and upstate have an array of options unequaled elsewhere in the country. Besides the urban allure, culture, and shopping of Manhattan, much of New York State is still, in many ways, waiting to be discovered on a grand scale. The state is endowed with outstanding beauty and diversity of scenery from one end to the other. Although New Yorkers have long vacationed in the Catskill and Adirondack mountains, and at Long Island beaches, most have seen too little of the state between its tourist bookends, New York City and Niagara Falls. The historic Hudson Valley, a majestic river lined with elegant estates, is finally positioning itself as a destination, not just a day trip from the city. The great wilderness of the Adirondack and Catskill mountains is magnificent for outdoors and sporting vacations, but those spots are also home to the easygoing charms of small towns. The pristine glacial-lake beauty and outstanding wineries of the Finger Lakes make it one of the state's most spectacular, yet lesser-known destinations. And Long Island is home to splendid sandy Atlantic Ocean beaches, but also the gulf of New York economic extremes, ranging from blue-collar immigrant enclaves to palatial summer homes in the Hamptons.

Planning a trip to a state as large and diverse as New York involves a lot of decision making, so in this section we've tried to give some direction. We've chosen what we feel is the very best the state has to offer -- the places and experiences you won't want to miss. Although sites and activities listed here are written up in more detail elsewhere in this guide, this section should give you an overview of New York State's highlights and get you started planning your trip.

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