If you’re planning on taking a domestic vacation this fall, New York State should be one of the first destinations to consider.
The combination of cool temperatures, warm autumnal colors, and gorgeous scenery creates the perfect backdrop for the fall trip of a lifetime.
However, with 54,555 square miles (141,297 km²) to explore, putting together an itinerary is no easy feat.
Between so many cultural and natural landmarks, choosing what to see in a few days’ span might feel impossible – luckily, that’s not the case.
U.S. News recently released a report on the best places to visit in New York State. These are the attractions that made it to the top 5:
1. Niagara Falls
Often touted as the unofficial 8th wonder of the world, Niagara Falls is a sight every American should strive to experience at least once in their lifetime.
The 3,160 tons of water flowing over the edge every second create a breathtaking display of raw natural power and beauty.
The autumnal colors crowning the whole view will just add a sense of wonder to the experience, so if there’s ever the right time to go to Niagara Falls, it’s now.
Though the three falls that comprise the awe-inspiring scenery straddle the Canadian border, no passport is needed for any of the tours, hikes, and other outdoor activities that take place at the site.
Outdoor enthusiasts visiting New York State this fall will want to plan a hike on the majestic Adirondack Mountains.
The massif covers roughly 5,000 square miles (12,950 km²) and reaches an elevation of 5,344 feet (1,629 meters) above sea level.
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Mount Marcy, the highest point of the massif, is accessible to those with moderate hiking and fitness experience, though the climb does require a bit of effort and preparation.
If you’re looking forward to a more laid-back hike, don’t worry.
There are plenty of easier trails you can take that’ll still reward you with jaw-dropping views, especially this time of the year.
3. Thousand Islands
You’ll often find Thousand Islands being referred to as “the sightseer’s paradise”, and for good reason.
The group of over 1,800 isles speckling St. Lawrence River is a sight to behold, so it comes as no surprise that for years, the attraction was a playground for America’s most influential people.
Today, though, Thousand Islands is no longer an exclusive attraction that only few can access but rather the go-to destination for outdoor enthusiasts from all over the U.S. (and the world, for that matter).
Remember that enjoying the fantastic view is just one facet of the “Thousand Islands” experience. Visitors can also go fishing, cycling, paddling, golfing and diving.
Between that and the extraordinary culinary experiences offered by the nearby eateries, you’ll want to spend at least a couple of days on-site to get the most out of your visit.
4. New York City
It probably goes without saying that no visit to New York State is complete without a stop in New York City, which many consider to be the capital of the world.
While I can go on talking about some of the city’s most famous attractions (Central Park, Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, The Met), chances are you’ve already read about them a thousand times.
If you want to take in that authentic New York experience, you’ll want to focus on those off-the-beaten-path tours that even locals love.
5. The Finger Lakes
The fifth place on the list is occupied by The Finger Lakes, a group of 11 (you guessed it, finger-shaped) lakes that spread across a region that holds the same name.
Situated a four-and-a-half-hour drive from New York City, these lakes are quickly turning into one of the state’s most coveted attractions.
Thanks to the idyllic views, gorgeous surrounding landscape, and a quaint feel that’s hard to find anywhere else in New York, visitors are flocking to the area.
Those in search of an activity-filled trip will also find a lot to do here. Boating, fishing, swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding – The Finger Lakes offer everything an outdoorsy traveler would want and more.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com