The Fire Island National Seashore includes the beach communities of Cherry Grove and The Pines. | DARREN MCGEE/ EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT
It’s hard to believe, with snow a not so distant memory, but it’s only a matter of weeks until the unofficial start of summer. A great way to get there quicker — in your mind, at least — is to have a summer getaway booked and just awaiting your arrival. This is particularly important for destinations that sell out soon after summer gets underway.
New York State offers one-of-a-kind, world-class vacation opportunities for every interest –– from sun and sand to natural outdoor beauty, culinary delights, arts and culture, special events, and so much more.
For many, summer is synonymous with the beach, and some of the world’s best are found on Long Island. You can’t go wrong with Jones Beach, Robert Moses, Hither Hills, or Montauk Point, especially when paired with a tour of scenic wineries or the historic Gold Coast mansions that inspired “The Great Gatsby.” The Fire Island beach communities of Cherry Grove and The Pines are particular favorites for LGBTQ visitors. Families also make their way to Splish Splash Water Park, which the Travel Channel rated one of the nation’s best.
New York State offers unique getaway opportunities for every LGBTQ traveler
In New York State, beaches mean more than just the ocean, with beautiful fresh water beaches throughout the state. The Thousand Islands alone feature Sandy Island, Selkirk Shores, Southwick Beach, and Westcott Beach State Parks. The region has other water adventures, from cruises to historic island castles, to rides aboard antique wooden boats, to some of the clearest shipwreck scuba diving in the nation.
Boldt Castle in the 1000 Islands region in the St. Lawrence River along the Canadian border. | DARREN MCGEE/ EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT
Outdoor beauty in New York isn’t limited to the waterfront. The high peaks of the Adirondacks beckon hikers of all skill levels, while some prefer pampering at one of the posh resorts of Lake Placid or Lake George, along with visits to the Adirondack Museum or to the Wild Center nature museum.
The Catskills offer a natural getaway close to the city, along with charming towns for shopping, cultural activities like the Thomas Cole National Historic Site, and outdoor adventures like North America’s highest and longest zipline. Fun resorts include the boutique Woodbury Hotel with rooms inspired by movies and TV shows, and retro cabins at Kate’s Lazy Meadow, created by Kate Pierson of the B-52s.
Niagara Falls belongs on every bucket list, and you can experience them up close whether on board the Maid of the Mist or walking the Cave of the Winds’ Hurricane Deck at Niagara Falls State Park. Tour masterworks of Frank Lloyd Wright in nearby Buffalo, where they are celebrating the architect’s 150th birthday in 2017.
New York State is a foodie’s heaven. Central New York is gaining a reputation as the nation’s Craft Brew Central, with tours, tastings, festivals, and concerts at breweries from Cooperstown to Utica. The Finger Lakes are known for their beautiful lakeside wineries, some with farm-to-table cafes or romantic overnight accommodations. And you can do more than taste — with classes, demonstrations, workshops, and more at places like the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua and, in the Hudson Valley, at Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture and the granddaddy of them all, the Culinary Institute of America.
The Hudson Valley also offers the opportunity to see art in unique settings. Dia: Beacon has contemporary art in a converted cereal factory, while sculpture parks like Storm King Arts Center and The Fields at OMI allow you to enjoy works of art and the summer weather in pastoral natural settings.
The Millbrook Winery in Dutchess County, up the Hudson River from the city. | DARREN MCGEE/ EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT
On the other side of the state, the lakeside Victorian village that is the Chautauqua Institution comes to life every summer, bringing art lovers from across the world for musical and dance performances, lectures, and more. Nearby, in Lucy’s hometown of Jamestown, is the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz National Center of Comedy, celebrating Desi’s 100th birthday.
In the Capital Region, visitors take a break from watching the thoroughbreds at stately Saratoga Race Course to take in performances under the stars at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, summer home to the New York Ballet and site of concerts from classical to rock.
As if all this wasn’t enough, 2017 is a year of special New York milestones. Seneca Falls, the birthplace of the women’s rights movement, is the epicenter for the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, with Convention Days activities that include glass-making aboard a barge by an all-female team from the Corning Museum of Glass. New York’s Erie Canal turns 200 years old, and in addition to canal cruises and even the opportunity to rent and pilot your own canal barge for an overnight excursion, there are events like Water Music, with the Albany Symphony Orchestra playing from a barge at waterfront venues.
The thrill of the mist at Niagara Falls. | DARREN MCGEE/ EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT
Literally hundreds of historic sites across the state will host events in connection with Path Through History Weekend, June 17-18.
Get the idea? It’s all here, and only here in New York State. Are you ready for the summer?
Ross D. Levi is vice president, Marketing Initiatives, Empire State Development/ NYS Division of Tourism, and coordinator of I LOVE NEW YORK LGBT. More information on planning a New York State LGBT vacation is available at iloveny.com/lgbt.
A lighthouse on Fire Island. | DARREN MCGEE/ EMPIRE STATE DEVELOPMENT