NEW YORK CITY — From the exhilarating adventure to moving experiences of a lifetime, New York has great outdoors and landmarks that ease a tired, torn spirit.
Hardworking immigrants find solace just sitting in Times Square, while marveling at the kaleidoscope of lights after a late night shift. Heading upstate on weekends and holidays to enjoy beautiful scenery and fun-filled family activities is a popular option.
More than the famous outlets shopping, apple picking and winery tours that New York is known for, there are vast state parks a few hours drive away, or by metro train ride.
The largest state park, Adirondrack Park, has six million acres; larger than Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Yosemite combined.
Whiteface Mountain has Olympic facilities for professional and beginner cub camp skiers. It has the largest vertical drop east of the Rockies, measuring 3,430 feet.
Hunter Mountain in the Catskills has the longest and highest zipline in North America. While there, relive the great American classic story of Rip Van Winkle.
A “robbery” is staged by actors while passengers enjoy an elegant meal on a scenic train ride at the Delaware & Ulster Railroad, cruising 24 miles between Arkville and Roxbury. Luckily for passengers, lawmen will arrive in the nick of time to stop the desperadoes.
Not too far from the city, the Finger Lakes region boasts the magnificent Grand Canyon of the East, a sight to behold in winter or fall.
Graciously lined by the Genesee River in a meander of curves, coils and loops, as it traverses two counties, Letchworth State Park covers 14,350 acres of lush forests, dramatic waterfalls and canyons.
The vast winter-white glaciers resting against limestones are sharp contrasts to the red and gold autumn leaves that cover the canyons just a season ago.
In spring, summer and fall, hot air balloons operated by licensed professionals will take you to a breathtaking ride as the colorful balloon swoops through gorges and cliffs and over the woods, passing some 20 fiercely cascading waterfalls.
Whitewater rafting, canoeing, kayaking and snow tubing in winter time, are few of the activities to try. With permit, deer and spring turkey hunting are also allowed.
Cabins of various types are available for rent, for as low as $700 a week, whether for campers roughing it, or honeymooners who opt for well-appointed hilltop houses.
For the more discerning, the Glen Iris Inn inside the park offers fine dining. Letchworth State Park is a must in an adventurer’s agenda. Free guided tours are available all year round. Children will be delighted to drive by alpaca farms and longhaired horses.
Not too far from Livingston County, the Genesee Country Village and Museum provides a perfect place to try cross-country skiing for the first time.
Both parents and children can give it a try to walk through snow and icy paths while familiarizing themselves with the control of their ski. The bumps and slopes are manageable for starters whose dream to ski makes it a reality.
On the other side of the village, the tour guide will take you back in time to step into an 18th-century rebuilt home and look at authentic collection pieces saved in their museum.
Feel the magic of Yuletide in the country. This seasonal program at Genesee Country Village is different than a usual daytime visit to the museum. The tastefully decorated historic village appears to be a live canvas where tour guides will lead guests through the snow-covered streets in the year 1849 when New York declared Christmas and New Year’s Day as state holidays. Enjoy music, dancing and tree lighting as you visit village homes and businesses to see how the joyful residents back then react to the news of Christmas as a holiday.
Doing a road trip makes sense to tie up together places of interest in order to maximize the travel time instead of going into a single location. On the way back to the city, about an hour and a half drive, the famous Corning
Museum of Glass will give both adults and children an unforgettable experience inside the world of glass, even challenging the artist residing in each one of us. Scores of glass sculptures, amazingly detailed designs of dress, jewelry and wall centerpieces prove the infinite possibilities one can do with glass.
At Corning, the mystery of glass production is unveiled through demonstration and workshops. The most thrilling part is when you actually don gloves, create a sculpture or fashion your own jewelry design with the help of an artist. Pick a design for a pendant, a quaint Valentine heart for that special someone, a voluptuous flower with a coiled stem, or a crystal ball to gaze at, all at minimal cost of materials and the session. After some pulling and molding of hot glass, Corning will freeze the finished product ready for your pick up or for shipping next day, a wonderful memoir to cap a dream family trip.
Heading back to the city, you can’t resist planning the next trip upstate. There are so many places to visit in the Finger Lakes region alone. Rochester and Syracuse, a perfect back to back road trip that can cover historic places of opulence, American pride and surprise fun activities all day long. Until the next journey, visitors and residents of New York and the tri-state areas have so much to look forward to. On-line NYS Responsible Travel Guide is available at www.iloveny.com/ecotourism Unearth the New York that you never knew!