Why you need to go: Geology nerds are split on whether New York’s Adirondack Mountains are part of the Appalachian chain, but I like this town and you will too -- assuming you respect authentic mountain folk who know how to fix shit and hunt their own meat. Originally a vital crossroads where classic Routes 8 and 9 intersect, it lost its relevance when the Adirondack Northway began blowing past the outskirts of town in 1967. Unlike other Adirondack towns like Lake George and Lake Placid, which rely mainly on tourism, its independent locals have pleasing old-English meets hillbilly accents and will gladly share their firewood.
The one must-do thing: Hang out at the Bullhouse Restaurant, a renovated soda-fountain general store and ice cream parlor once called TJ Fish & Son. The inspiring space now has a fireplace, a long oak and rusted-patina bar, floor-to-ceiling windows, an upscale menu crafted by the owner and chef, and crisp hand-crafted brews and whiskeys. Add: Plants and plush pillows. Not what you’d expect in the middle of nowhere.
Why you need to go: The far northwest corner of the state is surrounded by 80,000 acres of the Sumter National Forest, the National Wild & Scenic Chattooga River, three freshwater lakes, dozens of waterfalls, and four state parks. And when you're done exploring, satisfy your appetite for something other than outdoor adventure at The “Steak House” Cafeteria (est. 1941); whatever you do, though, DO NOT order steak. At least if you want to stay in favor with the locals. Thirty years ago, their sensational fried chicken bumped it off the menu.
The one must-do thing: Hit The Esso Club in nearby Clemson. Frequented by students, professors, and locals alike, it’s continually heralded as America’s best sports bar by none other than CBS’s Brent Musberger (also ESPN Magazine).