New York is a state of contrasts. The bustling boroughs of New York City teem with activity and events 24/7, while upstate parks boast rugged beauty, nature, and solitude. Whether you are looking for New York vacation rentals in the heart of the city or amidst the peace of nature, there are plenty of accommodations to choose from. Read on for a list of 10 of the best summer spots to enjoy in New York.

1. New York City

Times square New York City.

New York City is basically a microcosm of the world. Vacation homes here give you easy access to countless varieties of ethnic restaurants. Whether your tastes buds crave fine French cuisine, Scandinavian fare, or a simple street-vendor hot dog, you are sure to find something to satisfy everyone’s appetite. Shopping opportunities abound, especially along the city’s famous Fashion District.

New York City is a haven of cultural venues. Venture up Broadway near Times Square to catch a performance of the Lion King, Wicked, or one of dozens of other musicals. Head over to the massive Metropolitan Museum of Art to view works of great European artists and other works. If you desire a quiet walk through the park before heading back to your vacation home, then try one of the many shaded trails in Central Park.

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2. Niagara Falls

Horseshoe waterfall Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls is one of the most famous landmarks in North America. Grab a vacation rental in the nearby town of Niagara Falls to gain easy, regular access to this natural wonder. To experience the over 165-foot waterfalls up close, take a ride on the Maid of the Mist boat right up to the base of the falls. Walkways at Prospect Point Park give you several great vantage points to view the falls and snap memorable pictures of friends and loved ones.

Adults can spend an evening of fun and games at the nearby Seneca Niagara Casino and Hotel. For a kid-friendly afternoon trip, try the Niagara Science Museum, which houses a collection of centuries-old scientific instruments.

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3. Buffalo

Polar bear coming out of the water.
Source: Flickr/Maureen

Summertime in Buffalo means warm water and sandy beaches. Located on Lake Erie, this upstate city is great for outdoor activity, from picnics on the beach at Woodlawn Beach State Park to swimming and lakeside strolls. The Buffalo Zoo and the botanical gardens are two family-friendly establishments that showcase plants and animals from around the world, including polar bears, bison, and exotic big cats.

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4. Syracuse

Mural of children on a boat.
Source: Flickr/David Wilson

Also located in upstate New York, Syracuse is a large city that showcases the region’s rich history. Stop by the Erie Canal Museum to view artifacts and murals related to this important commercial waterway, including a full-size replica line boat. For scenic cliff views and guided nature trails, visit Clark Reservation State Park.

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5. Rochester

Sunset over a body of water

If natural beauty, green spaces, and fine dining sound like your type of summer vacation, then choose a rental within the lovely city of Rochester. Civil Rights activist Susan B. Anthony lived here, and her home is merely one of the many historic homes in Rochester open for tours. Stroll past art from the Middle Ages to more recent times at the Memorial Art Gallery.

Rides and refreshments await the entire family at Seabreeze Amusement Park. This great summertime stop features roller coasters, inner tube slides, and rides specially designed for kids.

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6. Lake George

Ferry boat on a body of water.
Source: Flickr/Jim Duell

Far away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan is Lake George. The lake sits within the scenic embrace of the Adirondacks, and it is the perfect place to spend a day water skiing or relaxing on the shore. If you are looking for more action, head over to Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course for thrilling zip line adventures. Head back to your vacation home in the evening for an outside barbecue amidst the sounds and smells of nature.

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7. Ithaca

Small waterfall in a stream.

Ithaca is another great destination if outdoor activities rank high on your list. Choose a vacation rental on one of the Finger Lakes for gorgeous views of the water from your balcony. State parks in the area feature scenic waterfalls, hiking trails, and opportunity for swimming. Head into town with the kids and let them experience the hands-on exhibits at the Sciencecenter children’s museum.

The Ithaca area gives you and your friends access to several wineries and breweries, and downtown Ithaca features over 50 restaurants. Many food establishments offer cheese, meat, and produce from local farms, giving a literal spin to the phrase “local flavor.”

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8. Albany

Sculpture surrounded by water.

A highlight of New York’s capital city is the impressive capital building complex. The Executive Mansion and Ten Brock Mansion are just a couple of the many historic buildings that give the city it’s cultural flair. If looking for a quiet afternoon close to your vacation home, stop by the Institute of Art and History or attend a live performance at Palace Theater.

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9. Saratoga Springs

Horses racing on a track.

Whether your ideal summer vacation is relaxing or full of exciting activities, Saratoga Springs has something for everyone. The scene of one of the nation’s older horse tracks, the Saratoga Race Course offers fast-pace horse racing. Pay a visit to Saratoga Spa State Park to soak your afternoon away in the Roosevelt Baths and Spa. Plan a stop at the Brook Tavern or Harvey’s Restaurant and Bar for drinks and a bite to eat before heading back to your vacation home for a goodnight’s rest.

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10. Montauk

Sunrise over the ocean

Located at the far eastern end of Long Island, Montauk offers a scenic outdoor setting that is still a short ride away from Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan. Area beaches offer a great setting to relax with the family, while nearby golf courses and shopping centers provide welcome diversion for adults.

Stop by Montauk Point State Park for a chance to view seals and shorebirds. Also nearby is an 18th-century lighthouse and a charming cottage originally built for shepherds.

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