Niagara Falls

Nothing compares to the rush you’ll feel standing near the three cascades that make up this natural wonder on both sides of the U.S. and Canadian border. The malls, amusement parks, hotels, tacky souvenir shops, and flashy wax museums that surround the falls today attest to the region’s maturation into a major tourist attraction. But despite the hordes of visitors jostling unceremoniously for the best photograph, the astounding beauty of the falls remains undiminished.

Times Square and Broadway

Times Square is the most frenetic part of New York City: a dizzying mix of flashing lights, honking horns, and shoulder-to-shoulder crowds that many New Yorkers studiously avoid. But if you like sensory overload, then the chaotic mix of huge billboards displaying underwear ads, flashing digital displays, on-location television broadcasts, and outré street performers will give you your fix. The Great White Way, otherwise known as Broadway, slashes through Times Square, and is where theater-lovers head to see the razzle-dazzle of the stage.

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

If you’re a baseball fan, a pilgrimage to Central New York’s Cooperstown should be on top on your list. Besides seeing the actual ball Babe Ruth hit for his 500th home run to Shoeless Joe Jackson’s shoes, you’ll find out everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the national pastime’s great legends. Plaques bearing pictures and biographies, multimedia displays, and exhibits geared toward children endlessly fascinate. Come during mid- to late-July for the annual induction ceremony.

Catskill Park

Intrepid souls have long flocked to the Catskills. Dreamers, visionaries, artists, writers, poets, and musicians find a corner to call their own in the many hamlets surrounding this park. With 700,000 acres that include ponds, lakes, mountains, campgrounds, and hiking trails, the park still has plenty of room for hikers and other outdoors enthusiasts, not to mention bears, rattlesnakes, and other creatures.

Hudson River Valley’s Historic Estates

The Hudson River valley teems with American historical sites, in and around the many towns that make up this scenic region. Crowning a hill overlooking the Hudson River, the Rockefeller’s Kykuit mansion houses a mean collection of art and antiques. Take your time walking through the Italian gardens and absorb the opulence and grandeur of the Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site farther north in Hyde Park. While in town, pay homage to the country’s 32nd president with a tour of FDR’s Hyde Park Hudson River estate, which includes a birthplace and burial site, a museum, and a presidential library.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The largest art museum in North America, the Met in Manhattan pulls in art lovers of all stripes. Treasures from all over the world and every era of human creativity comprise its expansive collection. It’s easy to get dizzy circling all the Dutch master canvases, bronze Rodins, and ancient Greek artifacts. If you need a breather, retire to the rooftop café overlooking Central Park.

Watkins Glen State Park

Glen Creek drops about 500 feet in a span of 2 mi at this stunning park in the Finger Lakes region. At this park near Seneca Lake you can count 19 waterfalls—and you won’t be alone, as its easy access, charming stone walkways, and stunning views draw big crowds in the summer. A 1½-mi gorge trail runs parallel to the creek, and 300-foot cliffs border the water.

Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza

Among the important buildings on this ¼-mi concourse in Albany are the Performing Arts Center, the New York State Museum, the State Library, and its crowning feature, the 19th-century New York State Capitol, where a 45-minute tour guides you through the legislative chambers and the impressive Great Western Staircase. The plaza’s sculptures and modern artworks constitute a don’t-miss attraction in their own right.

Lake Placid

Nestled in the Adirondacks, Lake Placid and its environs have drawn visitors for winter and summer fun since the early 20th century. Such was its appeal, the Olympic Committee chose it for the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. And true to its history, skiing, ice-skating, other winter activities abound. Come summer to canoe its pristine waters, hike the surrounding trails, or browse the shops on Main Street in the village.