Culture

Manhattan is falling down with magnificent museums and galleries, but with an eclectic heritage throughout this vast state the pickings of cultural patrimony are rich and widespread. From art to AmishAmerican Indian to Albany’s New York State Museum, the only problem is knowing where to start. Sometimes museums can be a bit dry and dated, but there were many that stopped me in my tracks when travelling around the State. Exhibitions and galleries curated with skill and passion for the heritage they are endeavouring to protect and pass on. So when you have recovered from the wonders at the Museum of Modern Art, The Guggenheim Museum, The Frick Collection and Whitney Museum of Modern Art, check out the beautiful upstate regions as well as a couple off the beaten track in New York City.

Even some of the traditional cultural channels are thinking outside Manhattan. For example, the contemporary art museum, Dia Art Foundation, known for its Chelsea gallery in Manhattan, opened a vast new space in Beacon, Hudson Valley in 2003. In a refurbished Nabisco biscuit factory, this allows work of grand scale to be exhibited, with the backdrop of Beacon Mountain providing the most sublime backdrop. The Hudson Valley has, of course, been central to visual art since the Hudson River School movement of mid-19th century painters planted their easels here. Follow the Hudson Valley Art Trail for all the finest representations of this movement, past and present.

Performing arts also travel north, with celebrated theatres like Sheas’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo a major touring venue for Broadway shows. A national historic site, you can also take tours of this baroque style beauty. Park Playhouse is a free summer festival of theatre in Albany’s Washington Park aimed at providing access to the arts for all the community throughout July and August.

Music has always been a part of regional New York too, with Woodstock a creation of the Catskills. Some of the cool, eclectic mix of music and multimedia emanating from around the State include City of Night Festival in the disused ‘silo city’ of Buffalo, the highly acclaimed Rochester Jazz Festival, the Glimmerglass Opera Festival in Cooperstown, Central New York and the North East Jazz and Wine Festival is a major pull at theSyracuse Arts Week every year, a city which already has a burgeoning arts scene.

Food and wine are central to New York culture, however, with festivals and culinary schools well represented in the state. Agriculture is still the leading industry in New York, and so it is all very well having painters reflect the fecund fields and luscious landscape in their art, but eating and drinking the fruits of their labours is what New Yorkers love to do best. Specialised food festivals include The Long Island’s Oyster Festival, the Central New York Maple FestivalSeneca Lake Wine and Food FestivalThe Cuba Garlic FestivalFinger Lakes Riesling Festival and The Taste of The Catskills Festival. Read our page on food and drink in New York Statefor more details.

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Unusual & Responsible New York State accommodation >

Choose from a selection of 13 New York State options from US $89.

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1 day Adirondacks hiking tours in New York State >

1 day hike across the wonders of the Adirondacks from US $150 per tour.

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Finger Lakes kayak tours and kayak rental, New York State >

Guided kayak/canoe tours in the Finger Lakes region, from US $175 per tour.

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Letchworth State Park rafting trips in New York State >

Guided River Trips at Letchworth State Park, from US $35 - US $50 per tour.

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Finger Lakes wine tasting tour, New York State >

Learn about and taste some of New York States finest wines, from US $5.

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Adirondacks basic mountaineering tour, New York State >

Introductory mountaineering adventure, from US $300 per tour (2 days).

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Saratoga Springs farmstead B&B; in New York State >

Restored farmhouse B&B in Saratoga Spring, from US $150 per room per night.

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New York to Niagara Falls tour in New York State - 3 days >

Niagara Falls & Upstate New York short break from £355 (3 days) ex flights.

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Adirondack back-country camp New York State >

Backcountry camping retreat in Adirondack state park, from US $200 per person.

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Catskills farmstay B&B;, New York State >

Upstate NY Farmstay Bed & Breakfast from US $169 - US $229 per night based on 4.

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Adirondacks snowshoeing tours, New York State >

Snowshoe through the most pristine areas of the wilderness from €240 per course.

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Whale, dolphin and seal watching in New York City >

Discover Whales, dolphins and Seals in New York City, from US $25 - US $45.

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Horse riding & carriage trail tours in Western New York >

Guided trail rides across the mountains of Western New York from US $25/tour.

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Architectural house museum in Buffalo, New York State >

Tour a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece and historic home, from US $15 admission.