Forget Chipotle and Days of Our Lives, my favorite thing about the U.S. is its sheer variety. I love Georgia for its cities frozen in time, Illinois for its glistening architecture, California for its deserts, Washington for its remote islands and Vermont for being the greenest place I have ever seen.

And New York? New York offers everything (well, maybe not the deserts). People easily forget that this state is huge – it goes far beyond New York City, and it’s much more interesting, too.

Last weekend, Ryan and I jumped in the car and headed three hours north to a place that couldn’t feel further from the bustling streets of NYC: Waterford. Ryan’s parents have just moved nearby, so we packed our bags and went for a weekend trip.

And it is glorious.

Upstate New York Upstate New York Upstate New York Upstate New York

They live between Saratoga Springs and Albany, and on Sunday we went for a walk along the Mohawk River (above). I loved it immediately. Everything is so quiet and still.

Next up was Waterford. We wandered through the mini farmer’s market along Waterford Harbor, which has a canal system, and walked across a bridge over the Mohawk River to Peebles Island State Park, where we met a very friendly deer.

Waterford NY Waterford NY Waterford NY Waterford NY Waterford NYWaterford NY Waterford NY Waterford NY Waterford NY Waterford NY Waterford NY

…and I generally marveled at the quietness of it all.

Waterford NY Waterford NY P1080238

We also got chatting to the local tourists’ center and I learned just how ravaged Waterford had been by Hurricane Irene in 2011 – an eye-opener because I thought the storm had passed without incident. While it did pass NYC, Waterford was entirely flooded.

There’s a sign along the harbor showing the water level after the storm.

Waterford NY Waterford NY Waterford NY

As someone who grew up in the countryside, I’ve always enjoyed hearing the hum of a city because it’s still so novel. But sometimes, it’s lovely to be reminded of what I knew before.

Apart from being generally glorious, the best thing about the area is how close to NYC it is. I love Manhattan, I love Brooklyn – so it’s great to know I can get the best of both worlds because this little green haven is just a morning’s drive away.

What are your suggestions for day or weekend trips out of the city?