Visiting the United States? There are 50 states in all. New York is one of the top U.S. destinations for visitors, and whether you seek urban excitement, pristine wilderness or the quirky charms of small-town life, you’ll find it here.

New York City, a world capital of fashion, art, finance and food, has a lot going on. If you’re interested in cutting-edge design, haute cuisine, artistic innovation or creativity in any sphere, this is the place to be.

If you prefer a calmer pace, go camping and canoeing in New York’s Adirondacks and Catskills regions. Also, plan a trip to Niagara Falls, a spectacular setting you’ll never forget.

Elsewhere, you can tour historic houses and investigate New York’s more offbeat amenities, like the Lucy-Desi Center for Comedy in Jamestown, New York, hometown of comedienne Lucille Ball. The center has re-creations of the sets used in Ball’s famous TV series of the 1950s, I Love Lucy, and an extensive collection of I Love Lucy memorabilia. You can even get your picture taken with a Lucy lookalike.

Read more about New York and check out the other 49 states. If you need a visa to visit, here’s how to get one.

Map of United States highlighting New York (State Dept./ J. McCann)

Bite the Big Apple

The attractions of New York City are almost too numerous to cite comprehensively, but if you want to experience this super-metropolis, several things should be on your to-do list. See the bright lights of Times Square, and stop by the National September 11 Memorial, a moving tribute to American resilience. Enjoy a hit play on Broadway, or take in stunning city views from observation decks atop such iconic skyscrapers as the Empire State Building.

Times Square, with its flashing lights and oversized billboards, embodies the pulsating energy of New York City. (Thinkstock)

Some of the world’s best museums are found in New York, with offerings that cater to all ages and tastes. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has vast collections ranging from Egyptian and Greek antiquities to mind-bending pop art, while the Guggenheim Museum — an architectural gem designed by Frank Lloyd Wright — specializes in impressionist, post-impressionist, and early modern and contemporary art. Also, check out the Museum of Modern Art (called MoMA for short), and the Frick Collection, devoted to the works of European old masters. And don’t forget the American Museum of Natural History, where you can learn about dinosaurs, mammals and much more.

Stroll through Central Park, enjoy great shopping along Fifth and Madison avenues, and sample the fare at celebrated restaurants featuring ethnic cuisine of every kind.

Venturing beyond Manhattan? New York City’s other four boroughs are worth your time. Explore the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, a verdant oasis in the city, and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens, which is home to some 300 species of birds. Visit the acclaimed Bronx Zoo, or hop on the Staten Island Ferry (which is free) and head for South Beach, where you can dine on seafood, lounge on the sand and play in the surf.

Sweet treat

If you’ve never tried New York-style cheesecake before, you’re in for something special! Available at most New York restaurants and bakeries, this decadent dessert comes in a variety of flavors, from classic vanilla bean to red velvet, key lime, chocolate truffle, strawberry swirl, and beyond.

New York-style cheesecake, served with blackberries on top. (sabotrax/Creative Commons)

Scenic glories

Want to escape the urban jungle? Head for the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York, within Adirondack Park. You’ll find endless lakes and rivers, and plentiful campsites, hotels and lodges.

The Catskill Mountains (commonly called the Catskills) are a great vacation spot too. Located in southeastern New York, the Catskills are popular with campers, hikers, bicyclers and skiers. This area is a haven for artists, musicians and writers, so you’ll find a range of summer concerts, arts centers and other cultural amenities.

Then there’s Niagara Falls, which is actually the collective name for three waterfalls straddling the U.S.-Canada border, running from New York to Ontario. Located on the Niagara River, the combined falls are known for their beauty and have a vertical drop of more than 50 meters.

Niagara Falls, lit up at night with colored lights. (Marcin Klapczynski/Creative Commons)

Historic houses

Hyde Park, overlooking the Hudson River, gives you a glimpse of the private worlds of two prominent American families: the Vanderbilts and the Roosevelts.

Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site boasts formal gardens and natural woodlands and is a prime example of the opulent dwellings built by wealthy U.S. industrialists during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Springwood, the estate of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, is also the site of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Just three kilometers away is Val-Kill Cottage, the retreat of Eleanor Roosevelt, Franklin’s wife. Visit both places to learn more about the 32nd president of the United States and the first lady who became a tireless champion of civil rights and social justice.

The Springwood estate, in Hyde Park, New York, was the birthplace and home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (Crunch/Creative Commons)