I LOVE New York! It seems like a simple slogan, with the heart icon almost too obviously built for marketing. Despite several detours to other locations, my unexpected life has been centered around this amazing place. Or, more accurately, these amazing places. New York State is surrounded by Canada to the north, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut to the east, and Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Atlantic Ocean to the south.
There is not one specific aspect of being a New York State resident that defines you. One could say the same about many states, but New York is exceptional in its uniqueness. On television, “New Yorkers” are often portrayed as only those from New York City, with thick accents, an exterior gruffness, and a no-holds barred attitude. Having lived and traveled throughout the state, I am here to give you a more varied perspective.
The Regions Of New York State
There are millions of New Yorkers who would claim that there are three regions of the State: New York City, Long Island, and “Upstate.” Those people would be wrong—or should I just say misguided? As a current Long Island resident who also spent nine years living in New York City, I have encountered these misguided folks on a regular basis. With eight million people living in New York City and almost eight million people on Long Island, they have reason to hold that belief. But, it is simply not the case.
Although there are variations, these are generally considered the regions of New York State, from south to north:
- Long Island (Nassau and Suffolk Counties)
- New York City Metro
- The Hudson Valley (Westchester County, Poughkeepsie, Middletown, New Paltz, Hudson…)
- The Southern Tier (Binghamton, Elmira, Corning, The Catskills…)
- Capital Region (Albany, Clifton Park, Saratoga Springs…)
- Central New York (Syracuse, Rome, Utica…)
- The Finger Lakes (Rochester, Ithaca, The Finger Lakes…)
- Western New York (Buffalo, Fredonia, Niagara Falls…)
- The Adirondacks (Lake Placid, Tupper Lake, Lake George…)
- The North Country (Potsdam, Plattsburgh, Massena…)
The map below is close, but I look at the North Country and the Adirondacks separately, because the topography is so different:
What’s The Big Deal?
Why, you may ask, does it matter? They say that all politics is local. I am here to argue that all of New York State is local. The state is as diverse topographically and visually as the people that inhabit it. There are ocean beaches, arguably the most well-known city on Earth, farmlands, beautiful lakes, mountains worthy of the Winter Olympics (twice!), and wonderful waterfalls. Within a day, one can spend time at a beach on the Atlantic Ocean, go for a hike, and still catch a Broadway show. Or you can wander around waterfalls, taste wine in the Finger Lakes, and eat at a five-star restaurant. You can even spend a day skiing in the Adirondacks and make it back in time for a basketball game in Syracuse.
Food And Drink
Everyone knows that Manhattan is filled with some of the world’s best restaurants. But did you know there is great food throughout the State. In addition to the great restaurants, farmers markets dot the other regions listed above. You can also get some of the freshest meat and poultry anywhere in the Central New York region and the Southern Tier. And don’t forget the seafood from Long Island, caught fresh daily and ready to be devoured. If you prefer game, the hunting in the Catskill Mountains and the Adirondack Mountains is as good as anywhere.
New Yorkers’ diversity is emulated in the food. Nowhere is that more clear than in the Borough of Queens in New York City. Take a stroll and you can eat cuisine from every part of the world. Italian, Greek, Chinese, Vietnamese, Bengali, Moroccan, Colombian, Egyptian, and more combine for a foodie’s dreamland.
Let’s not forget the beverages. Wines from the east end of Long Island and the Finger Lakes are becoming more and more respected. The Hudson Valley has burgeoning spirit distilleries and wineries. Craft beer is brewed throughout the state, including in Central and Western New York, as well as New York City. And, if you are not an alcohol drinker, try some fresh apple cider from one of New York’s six hundred orchards.
In my opinion, New York is not a melting pot, but rather a mosaic. Its diversity is not only ethnic, but also socio-economic. Often the super-wealthy and the poor live within blocks of one another. While the politics are almost always left-leaning during National elections, there is a strong Republican presence, especially outside of New York City.
The people in New York State range from Wall Street bankers to Central New York’s farmers to world-class skiers in Lake Placid, and everything in between. We have it all! Although it is ranked as either the fourth or fifth most diverse state in the country, it would be hard to convince me those metrics are correct. I would argue that it is the most diverse. But, stats are stats, so I will just do what many people do and doubt them.
Regardless, New York State has everything you could ever want!
Some Photos Help Tell The Story
Appreciate Your Home
If I have convinced you to look beyond Manhattan when thinking of New York, I have done my job. That being said, I have lived in a lot of wonderful places and could write great reviews of all of them. It is truly a matter of perspective and expectations.
People sometimes spend time on social media and experience feelings of inadequacy or even envy. Step back from that for a moment. With all of the talk of ‘wanderlust,’ ‘Instagrammable spots,’ and ‘bucket lists,’ don’t forget to take some time to enjoy where you live. Look around, go for a drive, try a new restaurant, or just search the Internet for local history. You might just feel more fortunate about where you are.
Author’s Note: In addition to the last fifteen years in NYC and Long Island, I was born in Syracuse, went to undergraduate school in the North Country, lived in the Hudson Valley for six years, and worked at summer music camps in Saratoga Springs and at Colgate University.
In My Unexpected Life, I share stories, thoughts, and simple ideas to entertain and possibly inspire others to become more connected with each other in conversation, food, travel, and more…no matter how big or small those experiences may be.
Great post thanks for the info. We are yet to visit New York the city and the state. Thinking a few days of exploring is in order.
GR | https://www.thegreat.uk
It is definitely worth exploring! Glad this was helpful and thank you for reading.
I really need to go back and visit again soon!!!
Wonderfully written Kevin!
Thank you so much!
Love this post! It has opened my eyes to New York – I didn’t know what’s in there beyond Manhattan. The diversity is impressive! Thanks for the post!
Thank you for reading and for the comment. It really is a wonderful place!
That’s a great lesson to be learned about appreciating where you live. It’s easy for me to get tired of living in one place for too long but then again it’s overall very nice here in California and it helps to remember that. Also I enjoyed the picture of you from the 1970s!
Ha! Funny how I found that photo randomly. I think it is classic. I hope you are doing well and I think there is a lot to appreciate in California!
I learned so much about New York from this post – especially the regions! I have visited mostly upstate and the Buffalo/Niagara area and also a too brief stint with family into the Big Apple in 2013 clearly missed so much!
I loved the selection of photos you chose to include and agree – I think they tell a story. I particularly loved the steamboat photo included. Your enthusiasm in this post is contagious, Kevin. 👍🏻👍🏻
Thank you so much for the kind words, Kara! I really love the state. There as a question in one of those games that asked: “Would you rather be forced to stay in your home state or be able to go anywhere in the world and never return to your home state?” I chose stay, because there is literally everything, plus we have four seasons. Now, of course, I would never make that choice voluntarily! 🙂
Really enjoyable read. That map is incredible too as I don’t think you fully appreciate how small NYC is in relation to the rest of the state. I’d definitely like to return to NYC but I’ll be sure to visit more of the state too 🙂
Very true about the geographical size of New York City. The state is about the size of England.
Haha, I think most states are bigger than here. It’s crazy.
LOL! That might be the case, but they don’t have as many people as England!
Very true! Haha
Great post, Kevin! You are spot on when you say that many people think of New York as New York City. While I have only been to Manhattan, I have always wanted to venture beyond the city to other areas but have never done it. Your post does a great job of highlighting the other parts of New York. I knew that there was more to New York than NYC, but your post really amplified that sense. The pictures are great. Wow.. your backyard on Long Island looks beautiful!
I’m a huge fan of playing tourist at home, but this post reminds be how much of New York I’ve yet to explore! I agree that the diversity in New York state really is incredible, and I love how quickly the landscape can change. I’m a city girl at heart, but driving through the state has rendered me speechless on more than one occasion. Fun pics too, Kevin!
Great to hear and thank you for reading this. I hope you get to see even more of New York!
I love New York too – thanks so much for writing this!
Thanks for reading! It is a great place with so much going on in and out of NYC.
Thanks for explaining the different areas of the state. It is very helpful for those of us who have not spent significant time in the state! I also enjoyed the reminder to recognize what you have locally. Great post!
Thanks! I enjoyed writing it for both of the reasons you mention.
What an interesting eye opener to the whole state. I’ve been to NYC in the past but never thought to venture further into the state until now. Thanks for the post!
I am glad you enjoyed it and I hope you are able to see the rest of the state at some point. It really is wonderful!
Bee there only once and definitely will return!
I love upstate NY especially the finger lakes region around Seneca. Best place for wine tasting.
Kevin, this is a wonderful post! New York is more diversified than just the city, and I’m happy to say I’ve visited Niagara Falls, Corning and the Finger Lakes, which were all stunning. I’m now in Queens getting my fill of Malay and Thai food! Before our next visit, I’ll consult with you again about things to see and do off the tourist path.
Very nice of you, Tiffany! Queens has SO many good food choices and food areas it is remarkable. That’s great that you experienced “Upstate” as well. Enjoy your time!
I am fond of NEW YORK. It’s a place that evokes a dreamy experience (the sights, sounds and smell) and a biblical one (the metro). In Manhattan, there seemed to be a kind of paranoia everywhere and people mistaken it as energy. In Ithaca and upstate, I love the scenes and the detachment from the frenzy of the big city. I could live there again…
So well put! There is definitely still energy in certain places of NYC, but it is takes time and awareness to differentiate it from people trying to seem more than they are. I generally try to give people the benefit of the doubt and listen as much as possible. Upstate is a different feel for sure.
A brilliant article! Interesting info about NY from an insider! Enjoyed reading!
Thank you so much for the kind words! I can’t wait to get back out and about in this great State!
The steamboat on lake George and the sunset on Lake Erie photos are not what you’d expect for NY state. I even forgot one of the Great Lakes is there, oops! Can’t wait for more NY State posts!
Definitely not what people think about when they imagine New York. There are actually two Great Lakes…Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. It is such a great state. Thanks for reading and commenting!
New York state has so much variety.
No doubt about that!
Thank you for this, I learned so much more about NY state than just NYC. I’d like to visit Finger Lakes one day and see the Adirondacks too. We usually visit NYC about once a year, but next time, I want to venture out further 🙂
Thank you for the kind comment. New York really is a wonderful place!
There are so many great ideas for when we eventually make it over to your side of the world.