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Museums

New York City anchors the state with its plethora of world-class museums, but outside the city lies an interesting and eclectic mix of institutions worth a stop on your travels throughout the state.

Corning Museum of Glass, Corning. Uncover the history of glassmaking while perusing the museum's enormous collection. You can watch a glassblowing demo and even make your own glass souvenir. Walk-in workshops are offered daily.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. You'll never tire of the nearly 3 million works spanning the ages and the globe on display at the Met. And if that isn't enough enticement, head to the rooftop terrace for a stunning panoramic view of Central Park.

Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, Utica. Come for the Hudson River School paintings, the highlight of this institute, which triples as an art school and a performing arts center. Throughout its eclectic spaces you'll also find a rich sampling of Victorian-era furnishings, Asian prints, and 19th- and 20th-century European paintings.

Museum of Modern Art, New York City. Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi's spacious, soaring-ceilinged galleries suffused with natural light elicit praise, plus there are such masterpieces as Monet's Water Lilies and van Gogh's Starry Night.

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown. Baseball, baseball, and more baseball. Everything you could ever know about the game's great legends are on display here.

Strong Museum, Rochester. Kids love the interactive exhibits, antique-doll collection, and other attractions at the country's second-largest children's museum.

Parks and Nature

Whether you want to sun on the beach or hike and bike in the woods, outdoors enthusiasts will find plenty of spaces to do it.

Jones Beach State Park, Wantagh. Crowds flock to this 6½-mi stretch of white sand, one of Long Island's most popular beaches, to soak up some sun and cool off in the Atlantic. Big-name musicians play throughout the summer at its amphitheater.

Kaaterskill Falls, Haines Falls. You might recognize the 260-foot cascade from paintings, because Kaaterskill Falls was a popular subject for Hudson River School artists. A hike of just under a mile brings you to the base of the two-tiered falls.

Minnewaska State Park Preserve, New Paltz. Bike the historic carriageways or hike past gushing streams and waterfalls at this crown jewel of a park in the Shawangunks. Or just take a walk around the lake, find an open spot with a view, and stop for a picnic.

Niagara Falls. Nothing, and we're serious about this, compares with the rush of experiencing the three cascades that make up this natural wonder. Whether via a boat tour or from one of the spectacular vantage points, hearing the thunder and observing the sheer volume of three waterfalls here is a one-of-a-kind experience.

Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen. Glen Creek drops about 500 feet in a span of 2 mi at this stunning park with 19 waterfalls. A 1½-mi gorge trail runs parallel to the creek, and 300-foot-high cliffs border the water.

Family Fun

New York State is crammed with attractions appealing to all sorts of families. Parks, beaches, museums, and historical sites top the list, but there are plenty of unique sites with magic all their own.

American Museum of Natural History, New York City. The hands-down favorite for both visiting and local kids, this museum's many exhibits could entertain most children for a week. The dinosaurs are worth the trip, as is the live Butterfly Conservatory that runs from October to May each year. There are also an IMAX theater, ancient culture displays, and wildlife dioramas with taxidermied creatures that hit the right mix of fascinating and creepy.

Lake George. Family spots don't get much more fun-filled than Lake George. Outdoor activities abound, from Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom Fun Park and Water Slide World, both filled with wave pools and slides, to Lake George Beach for swimming and volleyball. Indoor activities keep rainy days magical with the House of Frankenstein Wax Museum and the Fort William Henry Museum. Myriad shops, restaurants, and assorted amusements enhance the experience.

Saratoga Springs. Families find much to do at this resort town near Albany. The Children's Museum and Saratoga Spa State Park—with its seasonal skating rink, walking trails, and swimming pool—top the list. Families can indulge their equestrian interests at the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame, where you can tour the training track.

Food

The Culinary Institute of America, based in the Hudson Valley, is the country's premier culinary college. Between the CIA graduates and New York City's many talented chefs (some of whom are one in the same) the state brims with a palate-pleasing cornucopia of flavors. The following are just the first course.

Craft, New York City. Crafting your ideal meal here is like picking and choosing from a gourmand's well-stocked kitchen—one overseen by the gifted Tom Colicchio, who is also chef at the renowned Gramercy Tavern.

DePuy Canal House, High Falls. Chef-owner John Novi, called "the father of new American cooking" by Time in 1984, is still turning out innovative seasonal fare in his cozy, antiques-filled 1797 stone tavern.

Dallas Hot Weiners, Kingston. Grab a spot at the counter of this narrow hot-dog haven and order one with everything—a dog with onions, mustard, and its famous sauce. Don't worry—the sauce doesn't bite.

Escoffier Restaurant, Hyde Park. Classic French dishes with an international twist mark the repertoire of this elegant restaurant at the famed Culinary Institute of America.

The Frisky Oyster, Greenport. Contemporary cuisine and a stylish atmosphere make vacationing city dwellers feel at home in this dynamic North Fork restaurant and bar.

La Parmigiana, Southampton. With its warm atmosphere and generous plates of everyone's favorite Italian dishes, this casual spot is a hit.

Mirko's, Water Mill. With Mediterranean, Continental, contemporary, and American dishes on the menu, there's something for everyone at this sophisticated foodie haven of freshness.

Nobu, New York City. Reserve at least a month in advance to get into this Japanese restaurant—arguably New York's most famous. A wall of river-worn pebbles, a hand-painted beech floor, and sculptural birch trees set the stage for Nobu Matsuhisa's dramatic food.

Quarter Moon Café, Delhi. You might not expect to find innovative cuisine and cool decor in an intimate eatery in a small northern Catskills village, but here it is. The kitchen serves creative fusions of international flavors in eclectic surroundings.

Xaviars at Piermont, Piermont. Xaviars is a special-occasion kind of place, with extraordinary contemporary dishes and a smash-up (and quite reasonably priced) prix-fixe menu. The service is as impeccable as the food.

Wawbeek on Upper Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake. A meal at the restaurant is in order whether or not you stay at this lodge, built in 1880 as a great camp. The seasonal North Country cuisine highlights local ingredients, and walls of windows frame views of Upper Saranac Lake.

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