Every passing month highlights a new facet of New York State, drawing millions of visitors to its hills, islands, forest, lakes and festivals.
Some come for scenic hikes in the Adirondacks or the rolling hills of the Catskills, while others gather to listen to the roar of Niagara Falls or find calm escapes on the shores of the Finger Lakes. For some, it's all about the coastal beauty of the Thousand Islands; for others, it's the glamorous allure of the Hamptons and the beaches of Long Island.
Wherever you go in New York State, each season has its own delights. Summer is the sweet spot for outdoor enthusiasts, with endless forest trails and sandy shores, while the fall appeals to those looking for cozy experiences – the smell of fresh apple cider, wrapping up warm to peep at fall colors, and the sound of leaves crunching underfoot.
Winter is for days out on the ski slopes and fireside chats in log cabins, while spring brings its own gentle charm with blooming gardens and perfect temperatures for exploring historical sites. There's no wrong season for a New York State vacation – here's our guide to the best times to visit.
The great outdoors opens its arms wide in the summer months – unofficially running from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This is the peak season for travel and the most expensive time to visit New York State, though the balmy weather lends itself to cost-effective camping. Every June, the Department of Environmental Conservation hosts Outdoors Day activities during the month to encourage everyone to step outdoors.
June also brings the opportunity to show up and support the LGBTIQ+ community at Long Island Pride. Music fans should make a beeline for Syracuse and Rochester to soak up the tunes at the New York State Blues Festival and the Rochester International Jazz Festival.
No matter where you go in the state, temperatures are primed for outdoor adventures. In the Finger Lakes, daytime highs range from a pleasant 70ºF to a balmy 90ºF, and visitors flock to the region's 11 scenic lakes for swimming, sailing, kayaking, fishing and paddle boarding.
Along the eastern shore of Long Island – including in the posh townships of the Hamptons – the beaches fill up as daytime temperatures reach annual highs, with the warmest weather in July and August. If you've had your fill of sunbathing, why not take advantage of one of the many music festivals happening around the state, such as Oswego Harborfest or the Great South Bay Music Festival.
Those who prefer getting active will find hiking trails decked out in greenery across the state, especially in the mountainous regions of the Adirondacks, Catskills and the Hudson Valley.
Wherever you are, try to see a portion of the 750-mile Empire State Trail, which opened
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New York is one of 23 states where recreational marijuana is now legal. Travelers aged 21 and older may possess up to three ounces of cannabis (24 grams of concentrated cannabis) and consumption is permitted in most public spaces where smoking and vaping are allowed. Limitations still apply and you might feel more comfortable saving your dispensary haul for the end of the day – nodding off on the subway isn’t going to do you any favors. Get a bite of the Big Apple high life and revel in some post-hike hashish at these cannabis-friendly Airbnbs in New York State.
Airshare’s acquisition of Wheels Up’s private jet management business closed over the weekend. It sends 90 airplanes and 300 personnel to the Kansas City-based operator, which already had 56 managed and fractional aircraft in its fleet. After the sale, Wheels Up still has 215 airframes, including 75 King Air turboprops, 52 super midsize jets it can deploy for transcontinental flights, and 61 light jets. For both companies, Wheels Up the fourth-largest operator based on fractional and charter flight hours, and Airshare, ranked 11th, it marks a new chapter.
Visitors to Monterrey, Mexico will soon have more flight options from the United States. Viva Aerobus, an airline based in Monterrey, Mexico, will launch new routes to Austin, Denver, Miami, New York, San Francisco, and Orlando. The airline is adding the flights due to ‘growing demand’, and there will be a 23 percent increase in available seats for a total of 13 million seats to Monterrey in 2024, according to its announcement. The new flight routes include:
In earlier eras, notables such as Theodore Roosevelt, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, Thoreau, Emerson, Sinclair Lewis held court on the grounds of Troutbeck, a private estate since the 1700s in the eastern stretch of the Hudson Valley. These days, since reopening as a resort in 2017, the property is still a cultural gathering place on its 250 acre, Lower Berkshires spread but now the guests are mostly serenity seeking New Yorkers up from the city a two hour drive or train ride away. (Out of staters also fly into Stewart International Airport an hour away). And there are new additions and others in the works to attract them all.
If the thought of another year crawling to a close has left you feeling a little low, November is the perfect time to give yourself a travel-fueled lift, with an array of destinations primed for exploration during the penultimate month of the year.
When you're after a beach in New York State, the glitz and glamor of the Hamptons and the old-school appeal of Coney Island – both in the vicinity of New York City – tend to steal the spotlight. But there are plenty more sandy havens to be found across the Empire State.
After 18 years of living in New York State, I’ve learned quite a bit about the country’s fourth-most populous state. From where to go and what to do, to what to eat and how to get around, here are some tips from a local on how to make the most of your visit to the Empire State.
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