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Explore Things To Do and Places To See This Summer In New York State

In the words of rock legend Alice Cooper, “school’s out for summer!” Sunny rays and lazy days are upon us. After a long school year of studying for tests and enduring those harsh, snowy winters, it’s time to get out there and enjoy all the amazing places and events New York has to offer.

Our 64 SUNY schools span across New York’s diverse regions from Niagara Falls, the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks, the Catskills, Hudson Valley, Capital Region, Long Island, and New York City too. In each of New York’s regional economic development councils, you’re never too far from some fun summer events in the sun.

As we’ve done in the past, here are some more great suggestions of places to visit, things to see, and events to attend throughout New York this summer. And while you’re having fun at some of these places, you might be close enough to visit a nearby SUNY campus too!

Capital Region | Central New York | Finger Lakes | Long Island | Mid-Hudson | Mohawk Valley | New York City | North Country | Southern Tier | Western NY

Capital Region

Saint Joseph's Church in downtown Albany's Ten Broeck Triangle

  • Downtown Albany Historic DistrictThe downtown area of New York’s capital, Albany, is a 19-block, 66 acre area founded by European settlers in the 17th century. This section of the city is home to the New York State Capitol, Albany City Hall, the Legislative Building, Corning Tower, The Egg, St. Peters Church and other historic buildings. In addition, there are some cool restaurants in the area including the Albany Pump Station, a water supply pump turned brewery located along the Hudson River. While you’re in the area, make sure to stop by the SUNY System Administration Building!
  • Travers Stakes: The town of Saratoga Springs is well known for its horse race track, and this year the 147th Travers Stakes will be held in late August. Dating back to 1864, the race draws in a huge crowd each year to attend the event. In addition, Saratoga Springs has a wealth of fun activities from checking out the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, to the naturally carbonated mineral “springs” which gave the town its name.
  • Lake George: This became a popular vacation destination as early as the late 19th century due to its mid-way location between New York City and Montreal. Today, Lake George offers fun events from boating, fishing, tubing, and just splashing by the lake. Many people spend the summer at Lake George in a summer home or cabin. Also located in the area is Six Flags Great Escape with a mix of roller coasters, water rides, and other family fun attractions.

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Central New York

Beekman 1802 storefront

  • Beekman 1802In 2007, two New York City friends decided to pack up and buy the historic Beekman 1802 in Sharon Springs, New York. After hitting hard times during the 2008 recession, Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge turned their luck around by producing soaps, cheeses, and partnering with local farmers to market their goods and host seasonal festivals. The farm’s dedication caught the attention of news networks, eventually resulting in a reality television show The Fabulous Beekman Boys, and the duos appearance on the 2012 season of The Amazing Race, going on to win the grand prize. With delicious food, wine, and other homemade recipes, the historic Beekman 1802 Farm is a sight to see.
  • The Great New York State FairAs one of the crucial backbones of New York State, SUNY is a proud sponsor of the annual New York State Fair located in Syracuse. This years festival will be held at the twilight of the summer season, from August 25 to September 6. Celebrating New York’s diverse culture with food, music, entertainment, rides, exhibits, animals, agriculture, and more, the festival draws in crowds by the thousands. Don’t forget, SUNY will be there too to help talk about the benefits of our campuses for New York State!

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Finger Lakes

Strong Museum of Play exterior

  • Strong National Museum of Play: A fun spot to hit is located in Rochester, and it’s the one-of-a-kind children’s museum: Strong National Museum of Play. The museum, founded in 1969, has an expansive collection of children’s toys throughout the past half century, including pinball machines, dolls, board games, comic books, video games, and more. The museum also includes aquariums, gardens, arcades, small children’s rides, and educational activities. While it may be called a museum, the Strong Museum of Play is more like a toy play haven for kids and kids at heart.
  • Finger Lakes Boat Cruises: The Finger Lakes region is home to 11 lakes that serve as great business and tourism destinations for millions of people. From state parks filled with hiking and outdoor adventure to wine country, there are many things to do surrounded by nature’s beauty in this area. One of those is to just get on a boat and enjoy the water and mountains around you. Four of the larger Finger Lakes offer boat cruises from general sightseeing cruises to wine cruises or even full course dinner cruises. Along with sightseeing and relaxing, those who enjoy fishing can get on to a fishing charter and test their luck on catching a trophy lake trout too.

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Long Island

Belmont Park horse racing starting gate

  • Belmont Park Race Track: In the heart of Nassau County lies the famous Belmont Park Race Track, one of New York’s three major tracks in the New York Racing Association. This June, the annual Belmont Stakes Racing Festival will draw in millions of attendees to the tracks. The 2015 Belmont Stakes made history with racing horse American Pharoah winning the first Triple Crown title since 1978. No doubt this year will hold more surprises!
  • Sagamore HillAmerica remembers our 26th president Theodore Roosevelt not just as a politician, but an explorer, environmentalist, author, solider, and reformer. When Roosevelt wasn’t out busting up monopolies, regulating railroads, and maintaining foreign policy, he was relaxing with his family at his home in Oyster Bay at Sagamore Hill. The beautiful property overlooks the Long Island Sound, and has several hiking trails around the area. Now considered a historical landmark, Sagamore Hill is the perfect destination to walk around, enjoy nature, and appreciate the history of Theodore Roosevelt’s life work.
  • Jones Beach State ParkLest we forget Long Island’s beaches! Jones Beach State Park is home to 6.5 miles of beach along the Atlantic Ocean, attracting millions of visitors each summer season. From swimming in the ocean, fishing, strolling the boardwalk, or attending a concert at the Nikon Theater, Jones Beach is the ultimate Long Island hot spot.

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Storm King Art Center lawn sculpture

  • Hudson Valley Wine Country: The Hudson Valley is one of the nation’s oldest wine making and grape growing regions, with French settlers planting vines in New Paltz as early as 1677. Boasting over 40 wineries, distilleries, and cider mills in the area, visitors can explore wine trails and attend a ton of events hosted during the summer and fall seasons. This summer in Warwick, the Bounty of the Hudson festival will be hosted at Applewood Winery, a two day wine and food festival from local wineries and restaurants, along with live musical entertainment.
  • Storm King Art CenterLocated in the Hudson Valley near Storm King Mountain, the Storm King Art Center contains the largest outdoor collection of art sculptures in the United States. Founded in 1960, the 500-acre landscape of farms, fields, and hills is home to over 100 sculptures by critically acclaimed artists. This is a definite must-see for art geeks!
  • Sojourner Truth Freedom Trail: The town of Esopus in the Mid-Hudson region is home to forest preserves, nature sanctuaries, and a lighthouse, but most notably for its history. Sojourner Truth was an American abolitionist and women’s right activist born into slavery in Ulster County. In 1826, Truth escaped slavery with her daughter along an 11 mile escape route to freedom. The Sojourner Truth Freedom Trail follows the route of her escape, along with the site of her birth, the Kingston Courthouse, and the Sojourner Truth Park in New Paltz. SUNY New Paltz’s library is named after Sojourner Truth in honor of her importance to the Mid-Hudson region’s history.

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Mohawk Valley

the 2015 performance of Cato in Utica at the Glimmerglass festival.

  • Glimmerglass FestivalCooperstown isn’t just known for the Baseball Hall of Fame! Each summer, Cooperstown is also home to the nationally recognized Glimmerglass Festival. Glimmerglass is the second largest opera festival in the United States, hosting some of the world’s most impressive and renowned opera singers appearing throughout the summer. The 2016 season will feature works from “La Boheme,” “Sweeney Todd,” “The Thieving Magpie,” and “The Crucible.”
  • Old Forge: Right near the Adirondack Mountains lies the town of Old Forge for New Yorkers to enjoy some fresh mountain air. The McCauley Mountain Scenic Chairlift takes visitors on a trip up the mountain as they observe wildlife nearby. Old Forge is also home to Calypso Cove with go-karting, mini golf, batting cages, and an arcade. Visitors can also camp, fish, and take a boat out on the lake to enjoy the summer weather in Upstate New York.

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New York City

Ellis Island

  • Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island: One of the best things in New York City during the summer months is being able to take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Both landmarks have important historical significance to New York’s culture. The Statue of Liberty, donated by the French in 1886, was the first thing immigrants saw as they arrived at Ellis Island to become United States citizens. The ferry takes you from Liberty Island to Ellis Island, and is a great way to explore and learn about New York’s culture.
  • Museum of the Moving ImageLocated in Queens, the Museum of the Moving Image specializes on the works of photography and film dating back to the late 19th century. The museum has a collection of over 130,000 artifacts from every stage of film production, promotion, and exhibition of motion pictures and television. The museum screens over 400 films from classic to contemporary, and currently hosts exhibitions including Jim Henson’s Fantastic World featuring fifteen iconic puppets from The Muppets, and Spacewar! Video Games Blast Off, looking at the history of video games from the last 50 years.
  • Broadway: It’s like Frank Sinatra said, “I want to be a part of it, New York, New York!” New York City is the premiere creative hub for theater performances. Just in time for Tony Awards season in early June, go catch some of the nominated plays including this year’s hit Hamilton. SUNY Purchase’s Dean of the School of Arts, Ravi Rajan, is on the Tony Award nominating committee this year, crowning Hamilton with over 16 nominations!

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North Country

People rafting in Ausable Chasm in the Adirondacks.

  • Ausable Chasm: Affectionately referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks,” Ausable Chasm is home to a ton of outdoor adventures. From hiking the Adirondacks, rock climbing, rafting or tubing down the Ausable River, and mountain biking, Ausable Chasm has everything for lovers of the outdoors.
  • Adirondack Scenic Railroad: Chugging along through Utica, Thendara, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placis, the Adirondack Scenic Railroad rides passengers through some of New York’s most beautiful regions. Traveling on the railroad is a fun adventure, while reminding people of the importance trains hold as an economic driver of our state and the nation.
  • Saranac Lake: Nestled right around the Adirondack Mountains, Saranac Lake is the perfect vacation getaway. With a thriving music and arts community, beautiful lake nearby for kayaking and canoeing, trails for hiking and bird watching, and a golf course, there’s never a dull moment in this thriving summer community.

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Southern Tier

Rockwell Museum in Corning, NY.

  • Robot City GamesLocated in Binghamton, Robot City Games is the largest arcade in New York State with over 90 games and pinball machines. Founded in 1974, Robot City has arcade machines ranging from Donkey Kong to Pac-Man, spanning decades worth of video games.
  • The Rockwell MuseumHoused in Corning’s Old City Hall, The Rockwell Museum has a wide collection of pieces including Native American art with bronze sculptures and landscape paintings that capture the true history of New York. Along the years, pieces from famous American artists including Andy Warhol, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Charles Russell, and others have also been added to the museum’s expansive artistic collections.
  • Mark Twain Summer Home and MuseumMark Twain, the historical author of books including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, spent his summers at his home in Elmira for over 25 years. Right along the Chemung River Valley, Twain wrote parts of his literary classics while vacationing at his summer house. Now a museum, Mark Twain’s Summer House is open to the public to explore the life and history of the acclaimed author.
  • Recreation Park CarouselThis public park on Binghamton’s West Side is home to the the Herschell carousel, added in 1925. The historic wooden carousel which has 60 horses, is said to have inspired Rod Serling’s classic Twilight Zone episode “Walking Distance.” The carousel is a must see for any Twilight Zone fans.

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Western New York

Niagara Falls view from Buffalo

  • Niagara FallsLocated in Western New York is the one and only Niagara Falls, a national landmark and one of the world’s most iconic natural wonders. Millions of people travel each year to check out the falls, but rarely do they know of the other things the Niagara area has available to visitors. This summer, Niagara Falls is having a bunch of events including the Niagara Falls Music and Art Festival, free fishing weekend, French and Indian War Reenactment, and the annual Olcott Fireworks display. Also in the region are some fun spots including the Aquarium of Niagara, local wineries, and the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino.
  • Buffalo Botanical GardensBuffalo is the second largest city in New York, with a bustling metropolitan area in its city. One of the hot spots to check out this summer is the beautiful Buffalo Botanical Gardens. Visiting Buffalo in the summer is the best time to see the garden’s plants in full bloom. From rose gardens to bonsai trees, Buffalo’s Botanical Gardens is a summertime must see.
  • Darien LakeIn Genesee county is New York’s theme park Darien LakeThe park is home to several roller coasters, water rides, and in-park attractions, including a “dive-in” theater to float around and watch some movies. In addition to roller coaster thrills, Darien Lake doubles as campground with over 1200 campsites for RV’s, tents, and cabins. And the best part: pets are welcomed! Darien Lake gives New Yorkers the best of both worlds, roller coaster thrills coupled with relaxing camping vibes.

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Julia Day

Written by Julia Day

Julia is a student assistant in the SUNY Office of New Media. She is an undergraduate student at the University at Albany pursuing a double major in Communications and Business Administration with a concentration in marketing.

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