When you think of New York, I bet most of you first think of New York City. However, there is so much more to New York than one crowded, diverse, and bustling city, especially for someone who loves outdoor adventures. I’m going to walk you through an ideal Life List for outdoor activities and destinations around the state of New York. You may be familiar with some of these very famous landmarks while others are lesser known places but definitely still worth a visit.
Famous New York Destinations Worth a Visit
- The Adirondacks – Did you know that the Adirondack region makes up about 20% of New York State? It is the largest natural protected area in the contiguous United States and spreads over 6 million acres. Any type of outdoor activity that you crave can be found here; kayaking, canoeing, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, skiing. If you live nearby, make it your goal to become a “46er” by climbing the 46 high peaks of the region. If you’re just visiting for a short while, select a few of the best peaks to climb including Mount Marcy, the highest point in New York.
Whiteface Mountain (5th highest mountain in NY) || source: James Hubley on flickr
- Lake Placid. Although technically part of the Adirondack region, Lake Placid is a bucket list destination on its own. Lake Placid hosted both the 1932 and the 1980 winter Olympics and may be the host again in 2026. For $95, you can experience what it’s like to ride the bobsledding track for about 1/2 a mile on the track! Besides the Olympics, Lake Placid is the site and title of a 1999 horror movie.
Lake Placid || source: Matt Champlin on flickr
- Niagara Falls. Did you forget this was in New York?! Technically it’s on the border of the United States and Canada but is only about 15 miles away from Buffalo (NY). These waterfalls are one of the top tourist attractions in the country. Referred to as “Cave of the Winds”, you can even ride an elevator down to river level down to a series of decks and platforms and stand in the falling water at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.
- Catskill Mountains. Much closer to NYC (easier for city dwellers to visit) is a smaller mountain region called the Catskills. Similar to being a ’46er’ of the Adirondacks, you can become a ’35er’ of the Catskills by climbing the 35 high peaks of this region. Come visit the Catskills for your typical outdoor adventures, or participate in “agritourism”, that is getting to experience farm life by choosing from different farm stays! You can also do some higher adrenaline adventures here including white water rafting and ziplining.
> Destination Backcountry Adventures does many guided outings from NYC to the Catskills
Want a list of all waterfalls in your New York county? Read my review here! Find a swimming hole in New York