The combination of scenic beauty, a colorful history, and the attractions of New York City and other cities have made New York a very popular vacation state. Whether viewed from the Adirondacks' mile-high Mount Marcy or from New York City's famous Empire State Building, New York's panoramas are unusual and impressive. Perhaps the state's most famous spectacle is Niagara Falls, which draws millions of visitors each year.
Other striking features of the state are the towering Palisades of the Hudson River, the steep gorge of the Genesee River, and the chasm formed by the Ausable River. Visitors are also attracted to the series of caves in Howe Caverns, the mineral waters of Saratoga Springs, the sandy beaches on Long Island, the scenic Finger Lakes, and the Thousand Islands in the Saint Lawrence River. The state's resorts at these and other sites offer a wide variety of entertainment and recreation.
National and State Parks:
The National Park Service administers a variety of national historic sites and monuments in New York state, representing the region's rich history of people and events. The Statue of Liberty National Monument contains one of the country's most recognizable icons in addition to Ellis Island, the place more than 20 million immigrants first stepped on United States soil. Also in New York City are Federal Hall National Memorial, home of the first U.S. Congress; Castle Clinton National Monument, which was originally built as a fort but has served many purposes during the nation's history; General Grant National Memorial, with the tomb of and exhibits on the general and 18th president Ulysses S. Grant; and the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site , birthplace of the 26th president.
On Long Island at Oyster Bay is the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, where Theodore Roosevelt made his home. Many places of national significance are in the Hudson River Valley. The Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site preserves Val-Kill, the noted first lady's private retreat.
Also nearby in Hyde Park is the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, birthplace home of the 32nd president, as is Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site, a huge home built by the financial and industrial leader Frederick Vanderbilt. Saint Paul's Church National Historic Site in Mount Vernon interprets First Amendment Rights of religion, speech, press, and assembly. The retirement home of the eighth president is preserved at the Martin Van Buren National Historic Site in Kinderhook. In Rome in the central portion of the state is the Fort Stanwix National Monument, a reconstructed fort from the American Revolution (1775-1783). The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, where the presidential oath was administered, is in Buffalo.
Saratoga National Historical Park was the scene of a decisive Revolutionary War battle (see Saratoga, Battles of). The birth of the movement for women's rights at Seneca Falls, associated with the activities of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848, is commemorated in the Women's Rights National Historical Park. Fire Island was designated a national seashore in 1964 (See also Fire Island National Seashore). Gateway National Recreation Area was established in 1972 in New York Harbor, and two sections of the Delaware River have been declared a Wild and Scenic River (see Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River).
The state has developed nearly 200 parks and several forest preserves. The park system of New York enjoys many firsts, including the first state park (Niagara Reservation, 1885), first publicly-owned historic site (Washington's Headquarters, 1850), first nature trail (Harriman State Park, 1925), and the first statewide system of Urban Cultural Parks (1982). Within the boundaries of the Adirondack Park are 26 million acres of public and private lands, making it not only the nation's largest state park but larger than the combined areas of the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Glacier national parks. Saltwater bathing is enjoyed at several state parks, including Jones Beach, Sunken Meadow, and Heckscher state parks. Of historic interest are Fort Niagara State Park, Newtown Battlefield Reservation, and Battle Island State Park.
A state park devoted to the creative and performing arts opened in 1974 at Lewiston north of Niagara Falls. Palisades Interstate Park, operated by New York and New Jersey, lies along the scenic Hudson River. The newest park in the state includes 15,800 acres of Sterling Forest, a rugged woodland area forty miles northwest of New York City. The land, long sought after by conservationists, was purchased from private owners in 1998.
The state preserves numerous historical monuments. Two outstanding examples of colonial architecture are Philipse Manor in Yonkers and Schuyler Mansion in Albany. State-owned sites dating from the Revolution include Washington's Headquarters at Newburgh, the Continental Army's final encampment at New Windsor Cantonment, and the home of General Nicholas Herkimer on the Mohawk River. Other state historic sites are the Walt Whitman House, near Huntington Station; the cottage in Wilton where President Ulysses S. Grant died; and the John Jay House, in Katonah.
Other Places to Visit
At the United States Military Academy at West Point, visitors may view regimental and brigade parades from mid-April through May, and from mid-September to early November. The legend of Sleepy Hollow has been perpetuated in the area around Tarrytown, where the home of Washington Irving, an old Dutch Reformed church, and Sleepy Hollow Cemetery are located. Perhaps the country's most famous sports shrine, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, is in Cooperstown. Religious places of interest include a shrine in Auriesville that marks the scene of the martyrdom of America's first Roman Catholic saints; the Mormon historic sites, such as the Joseph Smith Home, near Palmyra; and the Russian Orthodox Monastery, in Jordanville.