Somewhere in the collective imagination’s eye, the skyscrapers touch the heavens. The streets bustle with life and manic energy, steam rising from the Gotham-like back alleys and up to the gleaming windowed towers of Wall Street is when New York comes to mind. But there is so much more to the Empire State than simply a good slice on a busy city sidewalk or the fluorescent-lit chalk and grass and dirt of Yankee Stadium.
Firstly, New York is a large state, and most of what the state has to offer is miles and miles away from the concrete jungle of the five boroughs. Secondly, the state’s wealth of natural and historical landmarks are beautiful and embody every bit as much of the New Yorker spirit as Tony Bennett’s bowtie.
So, after taking in the lights of Times Square and having a box of cracker jacks at Citi Field, head north and east to some of these must-visit New York sites:
Saratoga National Historic Park: Saratoga was the site of one of the most significant early battles of the American Revolution. In 1777 American forces met the formidable British army on the battlefield near present-day Stillwater, NY, and prevailed over the King’s army, marking the first time a major British army had been forced to surrender. This was of the utmost importance to the morale of a young, struggling, insurgent Continental Army. Still, this victory also gained the nascent nation recognition as a rising, independent power from the rest of the world and signaled a new era in world relations. Visitors to this hallowed ground inside the Saratoga National Park can stand in a place where the world changed!
Martin Van Buren National Historic Site: Just up the road from Saratoga, travelers and history buffs can get a peek into a distinct slice of American obscura. Near Kinderhook, NY, the eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren, was born. Wily and a little unpredictable, often referred to as “the Red Fox of Kinderhook,” Van Buren was highly influential in his time though he is largely forgotten today. A principal founder of the Democratic party and a huge advocate for creating the National Treasury, Van Buren’s legacy is palpable to visitors to this national historic site. Stop in and walk the grounds of his beloved New York home.
Statue Of Liberty National Monument: Few images are as synonymous with freedom and the American Spirit as the Statue Of Liberty. She stands in New York Harbor as a beacon of hope to the “tired” and the “weary” of those searching for a new life and a brighter future. A gift of friendship from the people of France to a young country, Lady Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886, and later designated a national monument in 1924. Visitors can take the ferry over to Liberty Islands to learn more about her history and production or simply take in the wonder of the great lady who enlightens the world.
Fire Island National Seashore: Not too far from the shores of Lady Liberty’s Island lies a different breed of the National Park: Fire Island. Often referred to as a “coastal kaleidoscope” for its diversity of natural life, this barrier island near Patchogue, NY, is the perfect getaway from the big city. With its rolling waves, expansive sandy dunes, ancient forests and landmarks, and local wildlife, Fire Island has been a refuge for city dwellers and those seeking spiritual recentering and healing. Open year-round (and yes, accessible by car), visitors can learn a little more about the history of Long Island, visit the many local shops, or simply relax and breathe on Fire Island’s stunning beaches. There truly is something for everyone!