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7 Incredible Hidden Gems To Visit In New York State In 2024

When someone says they’re traveling to New York, most of us imagine the skyline of Manhattan or Niagara Falls. Don’t get me wrong, those places are beautiful, but there is much more to see. And that’s why we’re here.

Whether you’re heading to the Big Apple or upstate New York, we have compiled a list of the state’s 7 best-kept secrets that will take your trip to a whole different level. Check them out.

The Wild Center

Set in Tupper Lake in the Adirondacks, the Wild Center is a perfect place for families and outdoor lovers to get close to nature. The most popular attraction is an elevated trail called the Wild Walk. Through various platforms, swinging bridges, and a spider’s web, you will get to the tree top, from where you can enjoy some fascinating views.

As the center’s main role is to educate, it offers plenty of educational programs, workshops, guided tours, and interactive exhibits – curious kids will love it. There is also a café where you can hang out and refuel.

Bannerman Castle – Pollepel Island

You don’t have to go all the way to Europe to see some enchanting castles. Not many people know about it, but there is one within commuting distance from New York City and is ideal for a great day trip. 

It’s located on Pollepel Island in the middle of the Hudson River and is linked to the Big Apple with Metro-North’s Hudson Line and a short boat shuttle.

The boat ride is already an amazing experience, as you get a chance to take stunning views of both sides of the river. Then, you can start roaming amidst the ruins on your own or take a guided tour – they are known to be really good. The terrain on the castle is rather rocky, so make sure to wear solid shoes.

Pier 57 Rooftop Park

When in New York, hanging out on one of its rooftops is simply a must. Not only are they more budget-friendly than climbing the skyscrapers, but they are often less busy and much more fun. 

One of those rooftops is Pier 57 – a public space that offers a blend of greenery, cultural attractions, and stunning views of the skyline and the Little Island.

On the ground floor, you can pick up a bite from the food market (gluten-free and vegan options available) and savor it with unparalleled vistas. What’s more, it’s dog-friendly and the entrance is free – definitely a plus in NYC.

Sam’s Point Preserve & the Ellenville Ice Caves

Credit: earlybirdonthetrail.com

New York State is also home to some fantastic national forests and state parks. Sam’s Point Preserve is the southernmost part of Minnewaska State Park. It covers around 5,000 acres and contains plenty of viewpoints and natural wonders, with the ice caves being the most prominent ones.

These unique natural formations fill up with ice and snow every winter, that persist well into the summer months. Therefore, Ellenville Fault Ice Caves are an ideal place to cool off and enjoy a bit of hiking even when it’s hot.

You can descend to the caves on your own, but as some parts are rather challenging, we recommend you take a tour. Plus it’s a great opportunity to learn something new.

The Boldt Castle

If a romantic getaway is what you’re looking for, head to the Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands Region. It was built by a hotel magnate George C. Boldt as a testament to his wife Louise. Today, you can admire its stunning architecture or glimpse into the castle’s history. It’s also a sought-after wedding venue.

But it’s not just the castle that makes this place so delightful. Around the island, you will find well-maintained gardens, walking paths, as well as picturesque views of the St. Lawrence River.

Storm King Art Center

It’s no secret that the best world galleries and art centers can be found in NYC. But we know one which is nestled in the Hudson Valley.

Storm King Art Center is a 500-acre outdoor museum featuring large-scale sculptures and installations. In fact, it boasts the largest collection of contemporary outdoor sculptures in the U.S., including the work of renowned artists like Alexander Calder, Richard Serra, and Maya Lin.

You can explore the art pieces via well-maintained paths and trails. Once your legs get tired, you can rent a bike, which will allow you to cover more land. Then, you can chill and enjoy a cup of coffee and a bite at the site’s café.

The accessibility isn’t bad either – you can get there within about an hour and a half from NYC.

Lake Minnewaska

Tucked away in the rocky Shawangunk Mountains of Minnewaska State Park Preserve, Lake Minnewaska is a true hidden jewel. To get there, you have to take a 30-minute hike. But on top, a whole new world opens up

Savor the tranquil atmosphere and views of the surrounding cliffs, forests, and valleys. You can also engage in a range of activities, such as swimming, kayaking, mountain biking, boating, and even scuba diving. Lake Minnewaska is simply the best possible destination for people of all ages and interests.

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