Go beyond the bright lights of the Big Apple and you’ll be amazed at what you will find.
Catherine Marshall savours New York State.
Ah, New York City. For those who’ve not yet visited, it’s a place of mythical proportions. Bright lights, streets painted yellow with the incessant flow of those iconic taxi cabs, a veritable magnet thick with human filings: the people who’ve come here from Puerto Rico and Mexico, from Nigeria and Sudan, from Pakistan and India and everywhere in-between.
But, as exhilarating as New York City is, it’s not the centre of the universe; indeed, it’s not even the centre of New York State: it sits at the very bottom of this vast geographical region of which it is part, and to which it has loaned its name.
The state spreads out, northwards and westwards and eastwards, divvying up into 10 regions and 62 counties, each its own unique amalgam of people and sites and historical happenings. In Ithaca, you’ll find the Ivy League Cornell University, with its magnificent sandstone buildings and rolling lawns. In Syracuse, you’ll recognise the famous orange colours of the local basketball team. When autumn arrives in the Hudson Valley, you’ll find roadsides lined with bright orange pumpkins, ready for carving before Halloween. In the tiny village of Aurora, you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a bygone era, though the inns here – all housed in historic homes – will surprise you with their luxurious, up-to-date aesthetic.
Though New York City demands a visit from anyone who believes themselves to be an inquisitive, worldly traveller, it’s worthwhile remembering that this city’s supporting structure, which spans outward and has so many strong links with the city and the people who bring it to life, is worth a visit too.
Take the train from Penn Station to Westchester County, a place whose rolling green farmscape couldn’t be more antithetical to the city from which you’ve just arrived. Spend the weekend eating handmade chocolates and sipping coffee among the locals in upmarket Rhinebeck. Take a five-day self-drive from New York City to the Niagara Falls at Buffalo, exploring along the way the landscapes upon which many well-known New Yorkers have been raised. Travel to the Finger Lakes region where some of the country’s best Rieslings and Pinot Noirs are grown. And in Hyde Park, visit the Roosevelt’s historic home, which epitomised the gilded age.
Do all this, and you’ll better appreciate New York City – with its Broadway shows and Wall Street captains and its enduring capacity for creativity – and the further flung towns that helped to shape it. TTW
Catherine Marshall was a guest of I Love New York. Photos © Catherine Marshall.