As most SUNY campuses shift to a lower gear for the summer, New York’s tourism is in full-gear. Because there is so much to do in New York, travelers from all over the globe flock to the Empire State’s diverse and rich resources–from The Niagara Falls to Lake Placid to New York City. Whether some of our hundreds of thousands of students are huddled away studying for summer sessions or working an internship this summer, everybody needs a refreshing break! We (interns Samantha, Will, Mallory, and Maxwell) have put together 30 New York State attractions worth visiting and exploring this summer.
The New World Trade Center: Memorial & Museum: Although the New World Trade Center is still in the process of being rebuilt, visitors are still encouraged to explore the area, specifically the Memorial and Memorial Museum, which was created to remember and honor those who died in the attacks of February 26, 1993 and September 11, 2001. There are two pools with man-made waterfalls set where the Twin Towers used to stand.
Central Park: Central Park is visited by 38 million people each year. If you have never been to Central Park before, you’re probably thinking “what’s the big deal? It’s just grass and trees.” The park is 843 acres split into 5 quadrants, each with different activities, sights to see, and places to relax. For more information on visiting the park or taking a tour, visit the official website of New York City’s Central Park.
Grand Central Terminal: Grand Central Terminal is one of New York City’s greatest landmarks. It first opened 12:01 AM on Sunday, February 2nd, 1913. Being that it turned 100 years old this past February, centennial events are planned all throughout 2013. What else is there to Grand Central besides being a train station? With 68 stores, 35 eateries, and events year round, you won’t run out of things to do on your visit (so plan two)!
Beaches: Sun, sand, and relaxation are key components of Long Island beaches. Each beach offers activities such as horseback riding, scuba diving, kayaking, surfing, and lighthouse visits. The most infamous hot spots of Long Island are Jones Beach and the Hamptons, but there are dozens of beaches to choose from.
The Gold Coast: The Gold Coast on the North Shore from Nassau County to Suffolk County is an area with great history. Some of the wealthiest families in the country once called the Gold Coast home, which inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald in the writing of his notorious book, “The Great Gatsby.” Former estates have been converted into art galleries and museums for the public to tour. Popular homes to tour include those of President Theodore Roosevelt and Walt Whitman.
Camping: The beaches of Long Island are not only great for sailing and tanning, but for a camping getaway. There are beachfront campsites as well as wooded areas available in both Nassau and Suffolk counties. Some campgrounds included are Battle Row, Cupsogue Beach County Park, and Watch Hill at Fire Island.
Empire State Plaza: The Nelson A. Rockefeller Empire State Plaza is centrally located in the heart of downtown Albany. Consisting of unique architecture like the Egg and the Corning Tower Observation Deck as well as historical hotspots like the New York State Capitol, the Executive Mansion and the New York State Museum, the Plaza offers a quintessential Albany experience for visitors, locals and state employees alike.
Saratoga Race Course: An attraction almost synonymous with the name Saratoga, the Race Course is a summer attraction steeped in Capital Region history. The oldest racetrack in the United States, Saratoga is the home of esteemed thoroughbred races like the Travers Stakes, the Whitney Handicap and the Alabama Stakes. Whether or not you’re a gambler, there’s plenty of enjoyment to be found in the rich and exciting tradition of horse racing. Oh, and don’t forget your hat!
Grafton Lakes State Park: Boasting a popular public beach, several fishing ponds, boating and 25 miles of trails for hiking and biking, Grafton Lakes State Park has something for everyone to enjoy. Located on a forested mountain ridge and spanning 2,357 acres, this park is a perfect example of all there is to love about the Capital Region!
Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt: The 32nd President of the United States famously once said, “All that is within me cries out to go back to my home on the Hudson River.” You, too, can visit Springwood, FDR’s Hudson Valley estate in Hyde Park, NY and see the place he called home. The site of several of the President’s iconic fireside chats, Springwood is preserved almost exactly as it was at the time of his death in 1945. Walk the hallowed grounds where the President and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt are buried, and visit the first US Presidential Library as you stroll the 211 acres of park land framed by stunning Hudson River and Catskill Mountain views.
West Point Museum: As the country’s oldest federal museum, a visit West Point Museum is truly a visit through American military history. Visitors can see artifacts including weapons, uniforms and memorabilia of American soldiers from the 17th century to the present. The weapons collection even includes pieces belonging to George Washington, Napoleon I and Dwight Eisenhower.
Storm King Art Center: Only an hour drive north of New York City, Storm King Art Center is one of the world’s leading sculpture parks. Set in the lower Hudson Valley’s fields, rolling hills and woodlands, and framed by the Schunnemunk Mountain and Storm King Mountain, the sculpture park is home to a prestigious collection of more than 100 art pieces. The art center was opened to the public in 1960 and remains a non-profit cultural gem nestled in the mountains to this day.
Adirondack Scenic Railroad: Once a major transportation system for travelling loggers, trappers and hunters in the 19th century, Utica’s Adirondack Scenic Railroad now runs for fun rather than function. Starting in Utica, the scenic trip makes stops in Old Forge, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid. Ride by forests, rivers and over bridges as the train passes through the Adirondack region or experience a themed ride like the Polar Express, a winter trip hosted by Mrs. Clause, or the Doo-Wop Train, a 50s themed ride complete with a stop at an authentic soda fountain. There’s plenty more to see both inside the train car and out the window on this historically significant and fun adventure!
Old Fort Johnson: With the Mohawk Valley playing such a significant role in many historical battles, it’s no wonder Old Fort Johnson along the north bank of the Mohawk River is preserved as it existed in 1749. Visitors can experience 18th century period houses and rooms, special exhibits and an extensive research library. A National Historical Landmark, Old Fort Johnson is named for the residency of British agent to the Iroquois, Sir William Johnson, who was involved in the French and Indian War and the capture of Fort Niagara.
Herkimer Diamond Mines: For those searching to unearth riches and fortune, there’s no better place in Mohawk Valley than the Herkimer Diamond Mines. Though you won’t find any actual diamonds, visitors can get down and dirty hammering away at the rock in pursuit of quartz crystals, nicknamed “Herkimer Diamonds” due to their unique natural diamond-like geometric shape. Gemstones found in the Herkimer Mine are close to five hundred million years old, making the souvenirs you’ll take home a true piece of Mohawk Valley history. To learn more about the origin and collection of the Herkimer Diamonds, stop by the Mine’s Museum to see a collection of gemstones from Herkimer and from around the world.
All Things Oz: Chittenango, New York is home to the mastermind behind “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”, L. Frank Baum. The “All Things Oz” museum showcases over 1,000 items ranging from Oz memorabilia to pieces honoring Baum’s life. There is a $3 entrance fee and guided tours are also offered.
National Baseball Hall of Fame: America’s favorite pastime is honored in Cooperstown, New York at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The museum has over 38,000 pieces within several exhibits and three floors. You will learn about the players, managers, and journalists who helped define baseball into the staple of American culture that it is. To plan your trip, visit Cooperstown’s official website for hotel and area information.
The New York State Fair! As New York’s economic driver, SUNY is a proud sponsor of the Great New York State Fair. This year’s Fair, themed “Share The Bounty and Pride of New York!”, will run for 12 days and nights, from August 22 through September 2, 2013. The Fair brings together the best food, music, rides, games, exhibits, animals, agriculture and so much more of all the things that make New York State special!
Vineyards: The Finger Lakes region is home to some of the best wineries and vineyards in the world. Composed largely of family owned and operated wine producers, the Finger Lakes region takes its wine very seriously. The regions popular Rieslings, when coupled with fresh, local, and organic food, are sure to have a delicious time. And if by chance you are near Cayuga Community College, drop by and ask some Wine Studies students there to give you a tour!
Rochester: While in the Finger Lakes region, stop by and see Rochester, the sometimes forgotten third-largest city in New York State. The Flower City, home to world renowned corporations such as Xerox and Eastman Kodak, hosts many festivals and musical acts during the summer such as the Xerox International Rochester Jazz festival, one of the largest jazz festivals in the country, and the Lilac Festival at Highland Park, which draws over 500,000 people annually! And to top it all off, one does not simply leave Rochester without having eaten a “garbage plate”. The plate traditionally includes home fries, macaroni salad, meat sauce, onions, mustard and choice of hot dog or hamburger. Do this before or after your wine tour and you are sure to see the gastronomical variety of the Finger Lakes region!
History Tours: Are you a history buff? The Finger Lakes region has a rich and colorful history, from the Erie Canal and the boom towns of the early 1800’s, to the religious revivalism during the Second Great Awakening, the region has many stories to tell. Visitors or natives interested in women’s right to vote should consider visiting the National Susan B. Anthony House & Museum in Rochester, where Anthony spent the most politically active part of her life fighting for civil rights. Another important civil rights site, Seneca Falls, which hosted the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, which is held by many to be a beginning milestone in the women’s suffrage movement.
Watkins Glen: At the picturesque southernmost tip of Seneca Lake, The Watkins Glen International boasts a long history of auto races. Hosting grand prix, Formula One, Grand Prix, and NASCAR races, “The Glen”, as it is nicknamed, is a New York State historical icon. Nowadays “The Glen’s” best known event is now its annual NASCAR race, which will take place from August 8-11.
The Corning Museum of Glass: The museum, located in Corning, NY near the Pennsylvania border, is dedicated to glass art, history, and science. The museums displays show contemporary glass art, allow visitors to attend and participate in glass blowing workshops, and see works of ancient glass, the oldest of which is 3,500 years old. The museum, founded in 1951 by what is now Corning, Incorporated has grown steadily since its birth, and now has a collection of over 45,000 objects.
Spiedies! Have a taste for regional foods? If you are in the Binghamton area, you need to get a spiedie. The spiedie is a sub local to Greater Binghamton in the Southern Tier traditionally made by serving freshly prepared cubes of lamb, chicken, or beef on soft Italian bread, and occasionally drizzled with fresh marinade. The meat is marinated in a mix of oil, vinegar, and Italian spices, as the spiedie was invented by Italian immigrants to Binghamton in the 1920’s as a lamb dish. If you are in the region be sure to look for one, and while you are visiting SUNY at the New York State Fair, keep an eye out for a spiedie booth. Check out the annual Spiedie Fest and Balloon Launch in Binghamton August 2-4!
Adirondack Challenge: As a showcase of the second largest watershed in the world, the Adirondack Challenge highlights the region’s waterways in a competitive manner. The festival runs from June 12 to 21 and features great food, music, races, and more! The Adirondack Challenge also includes the Governor’s Invitational Whitewater Race, which features state and local elected officials among other invited guests.
Lake Placid: Did you know that Lake Placid is home to the only Olympic Games ever held in New York? The 1932 Winter Olympics and 1980 Winter Olympics, which is best known for the United States Men’s Hockey Team defeating the Soviet Union, transformed the small Adirondack village into a hotspot for sports year-round. Visitors can hike up the ski jump, ride down the bobsled run, mountain bike Whiteface Mountain, ride in the equestrian facility, ice skate in the Olympic ring, and much more!
The Adirondack Museum: Centered in the heart of the Adirondack Park, 22 modern exhibits showcase life in the Adirondack region for the past 300 years at the Museum. From exploration to massive logging to entertainment, the Park’s colorful history complements its fresh “getaway” atmosphere and interactive activities. You will be sure to walk away intrigued!
The Buffalo Zoo: Located in Buffalo, the zoo features hundreds of animals such as endangered Siberian tigers, Asian elephants, rock hyrax, and pigmy zebu. And if that’s not enough for your curiosity, how’s this: The Buffalo Zoo is an American Zoo and Aquarium Association zoo, which means that it helps continue selected wildlife species. The Zoo currently houses species under the program that range from clouded leopards to Puerto Rican crested toads.
The Burchfield Penney Art Center: The Art Center is located on SUNY Buffalo State College’s campus and includes incredible interactive media and many events throughout the year. In fact, the Art Center recently completed a transformation to install massive permanent video and audio on the exterior of the building as a collaborate project between the University at Buffalo and Buffalo State.
Niagara Falls: Did you know that Niagara Falls actually consists of three separate waterfalls? The falls account for the largest flow rate of any waterfall in the world–over 160 vertical feet. You can visit the falls on the United States side at Niagara Falls State Park and appreciate the tremendous power that they generate by turning on a light in Western New York!
Maxwell is the Coordinator of Digital Engagement for The State University of New York.