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Yaddo Gardens is a beautiful outdoor spot in Saratoga Springs

New York has just about everything you could want. From the activity and arts of the City to the farms and stunning scenery of Upstate, there is so much to see and do. We called Manhattan home for five years, though, so we might be a little biased.

Quick facts

Population: 19.45 million, approximately 2/3 of which lives in the New York City metro area
Size: 54,555 square miles
Capital: Albany
Major cities: New York City, Buffalo, Rochester, Yonkers, Syracuse

Brief history

Algonquian and Iroquoian-speaking Native American tribes had lived in New York for centuries before Henry Hudson arrived at its shores in 1609 on behalf of the Dutch East India Company. Based on Hudson’s reports, Dutch settlers soon followed and established New Amsterdam and the colony of New Netherland. Through the late 1670s, the colony changed hands several times, ultimately ending up as an English territory.

During the American Revolution, New York was the site of a tremendous number of battles. The first major conflict of the war happened here at the Battle of Long Island, and, later, the Battle of Saratoga was one of the most significant of the war. For a time following the war in the 1780s, New York City served as the nation’s capital and was the site of the inauguration of President George Washington.

New York was home to a high population of enslaved people, and the institution of slavery did not end here until 1827. At the same time, there was a strong abolitionist movement that provided stops on the Underground Railroad, particularly Upstate. Notable figures of the Underground Railroad such as Harriet Tubman (who settled in Auburn) had close ties with leaders of the women’s suffrage movement such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who were also New Yorkers.

Much of New York’s reputation as a melting pot can be traced to Ellis Island. From 1892 to 1954, more than 12 million immigrants passed through the island on their way to a new life in in the state and beyond. From Little Italy to Chinatown, the people who landed here have contributed to the magic of this place.

Planning a trip to New York

The state’s regions are often separated into Upstate and downstate, in which “downstate” is the greater metropolitan area of New York City and “Upstate” is the entire rest of the state.

Some of the world’s most visited attractions are located here, including Times Square, Central Park, Grand Central Terminal, and Niagara Falls, which spans the border with Canada. If any of these places is on your list, planning ahead is definitely recommended.

Outside of bustling, urban New York City, the geography of New York State is diverse, which means there is a large variety of outdoor activities to do. There are forests for hiking, mountains for skiing, and rivers and lakes for more recreation. From the Catskills to the Adirondack Mountains to the shores of Long Island, New York offers nearly everything. If the great outdoors isn’t really your scene, there’s always the culinary mecca of the Hudson Valley or the wineries of the Finger Lakes and Erie.

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