For many people across the globe, New York -- or perhaps more specifically, New York City -- is the United States. Much of what is identifiably American, from commerce to art and popular culture, has a New York imprint. As home to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, New York paved the way for the U.S. model of immigration and integration. Baseball was invented upstate in Cooperstown, and the New York Yankees are among the most fabled sports teams ever to take the field. New York's distinctive language has thoroughly infiltrated American and international culture, from the working-class New Yawk accents of Brooklyn and Queens and the urban street slang appropriated from the worlds of jazz and hip hop to Latino-inflected English (by virtue of large Puerto Rican and Dominican populations) and Yiddish words that have filtered down from New York City's Jewish community.

Even though New York may represent the U.S. in the eyes of many, New York is two wildly disparate things: the city -- New York, New York -- and the rest of the state. New York is perhaps the most international city in history, and though Manhattan is an island just 14 miles long, it, and the other four boroughs, cast a giant shadow across the state. New York is nearly 30 times as large as (and seven hours by car from) the next biggest city, Buffalo.

New York State has lived up to the sobriquet George Washington himself reportedly gave it: the Empire State. Although crucial early events took place in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, the nation was effectively built in New York. Henry Hudson navigated the first great American river (later named for him), strategically important during the American Revolutionary War. The engineering of the Erie Canal enabled the opening of the West. And Ellis Island received generations of immigrants who formed a national labor force and gave the young country strength through diversity. While New York is no longer the most populous state in the country, having surrendered that title to California, it has hardly relinquished its place of honor among states.

A beacon for visitors and immigrants for two centuries, New York City remains one of the most ethnically diverse and dynamic cities on the planet. A global capital of big business, banking, and the arts, it has set new standards for urban culture and living (and in many cases, prices). New York City has given the world Madison Avenue advertising, Broadway theater, SoHo contemporary art, and Wall Street finance. Yet the disparity between the hyper-urban environment of the city and the vast majority of New York State, overwhelmingly rural and agricultural, could not be greater.

Apart from Manhattan's megawatt tourist attractions, much of New York State is still waiting to be discovered. Although New Yorkers have long vacationed in the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains, for too long too few other visitors have seen what lies between its two tourist bookends, New York City and Niagara Falls. The historic Hudson Valley is finally positioning itself as a destination, not just a day trip from the city. The great wilderness of the Adirondacks and Catskills, and the pristine glacial-lake beauty of the Finger Lakes, are magnificent for outdoors and sporting vacations, and home to easygoing small towns. And Long Island is home to splendid sandy Atlantic Ocean beaches, excellent wineries, and the gulf of economic extremes, ranging from blue-collar immigrant enclaves to elite summer homes in the Hamptons.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.