Geocaching, Zombie Hunting, and Simulated Space Flight in New York State

Spring is the season of renewal and rebirth – and that’s as true in New York State as anywhere else, with new activities, attractions, lodgings and restaurants as well as interesting renovations and restorations across the state.  Among the new activities across New York are geocaching, zombie hunting, and simulated space flight.  There’s also a recently opened Bocuse Restauarant at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park.  Continue reading for more ways to enjoy spring travel season across the Empire State.

Blast Off Darien Lake

Blast Off © 2013 - Darien Lake Amusement Park

New Things to Do and Places to Go

Finger Lakes

Turkey Trot Acres, a turkey hunting lodge in Candor, has been invaded by zombies.  Starting June 22, the lodge will be offering a series of special “Zombie Land” hunt weekends to fend off the marauding “Horde of Zombies” that have overrun these woods.  Teams of hunters, armed with paintball markers, will find these creatures clustered throughout the woods.  Fortunately, zombies never shoot back.

Turkey Trot Acres, Candor, NY

Photo courtesy of Turkey Trot Acres, Candor, NY

 

The Early Owego Antique Center, a multi-vendor marketplace of quality antiques in downtown Owego, recently opened in the historic former J.J. Newberry’s building.  Sellers here include Blaze Coins, featuring vintage coins and paper money, and Snowden’s Timeservice, which buys, sells, cleans and repairs watches and clocks.

Geocaching, the GPS outdoor treasure hunt, as well as commemorative coins have been introduced to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway, which parallels the shores of the lake as it stretches from Seneca Falls to Ithaca.  There’s also a new website to help visitor appreciate the region’s vineyards, rich role in women’s history and recreational opportunities.

Greater Niagara

Niagara Falls Culinary Institute now offers specialty cooking classes in the Mise en Place tourism kitchen.  Wednesday and Saturday classes feature seasonal recipes and Friday night is couples night.

The new Colored Musicians Club Museum in Buffalo highlights the history of the oldest continuously run African American musicians club in the United States, which dates back to 1935.  Its interactive exhibits share the stories of how jazz legends like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald all performed at the Colored Musicians Club and the legacy they left behind.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Filling Station at the Pierce-Arrow/Buffalo Transportation Museum has completed an ambitious expansion to accommodate its new signature exhibit: a recreation of a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Filling Station dating from the 1920s.  Originally planned for a site just blocks from the Pierce Arrow Museum, the station was designed but never built until this exhibit.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Filling Station

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Filling Station, Photo courtesy of Pierce-Arrow/Buffalo Transportation Museum

 

Hudson Valley

Eight miles of continuous trails are now open at the Dutchess Rail Trail Park, from Rt. 82 in Hopewell Junction to Old Manchester Rd. in LaGrange.  By the end of 2013, the trail is expected to connect with Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park.  When complete, a 12-mile linear park will stretch from Morgan Lake on the Poughkeepsie border through the towns of LaGrange and Wappinger, ending in East Fishkill, with a trailhead in Hopewell Junction.  Parking is available at Morgan Lake in the City of Poughkeepsie, Diddell Road in Wappinger and the Hopewell Depot in East Fishkill.

A 20-story glass elevator and new riverfront park are in the works for the pedestrian bridge at the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park in Poughkeepsie.  The bridge is believed to be the longest elevated pedestrian bridge in the world.  The elevator will carry passengers from a new riverfront park at the base of the bridge to the deck of the bridge.  Both are expected to be completed by this fall.

LEGOLAND Discovery Center Westchester will open on March 27 in Yonkers.  This highly anticipated family attraction will have interactive play areas, rides, a 4D cinema, café and models of area landmarks.

Kingdom Quest Ride LEGOLAND Discovery Center

Kingdom Quest Ride LEGOLAND Discovery Center © 2013 The LEGO Group. All rights reserved.

 

Edgwick Farm in Cornwall is introducing guided tours of its farm, micro-dairy and creamery through April 29th.  Visitors can view the cheese-making room and milking parlor and have hands-on time with goats as well as sample products such as cheese and goat milk.  The cost is $5 per person for children and adults.  Tours, limited to ten people, are available by reservation only.  For reservations, phone 845-401-2301 or e-mail edgwickfarm@gmail.com.

Thousand Islands-Seaway

The historic Rock Island Lighthouse opens for public touring this Spring.  Visitors to this 100-plus year old lighthouse can explore the tower and keeper’s residence, as well a museum and gift shop.  Clayton Island Tours offers exclusive tours to the island; docking is available for private boats.

New Places to Stay

The Adirondacks

A new Hampton Inn and Suites is slated to open in Lake Placid this June.  The hotel will have 97 guest rooms, including 34 studio suites, an indoor pool and spa, and an exterior patio with a fire pit facing Mirror Lake.

Central New York

The Binghamton Riverwalk Hotel & Conference Center will reopen as a new DoubleTree by Hilton Binghamton on June 1.  The 207-room hotel will include a 5,000 square-foot Riverwalk Athletic Club, River Bistro Restaurant and will be able to handle meetings of up to 1,100 people.

Confluence Park, Binghamton, NY

Confluence Park, Binghamton, NY © Greater Binghamton Convention and Visitors Bureau

 

Finger Lakes

A new seven-story hotel is scheduled to open in downtown Syracuse this May/June 2013.  The 180-room, 160,000-square-foot building will house a combined Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn and is located at 300 W. Fayette Street, across the street from Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub and Restaurant.

The Holiday Inn Express – Canandaigua recently opened.  The 75-room hotel features an indoor heated pool and fitness center and is just minutes away from Canandaigua Lake, the New York Wine & Culinary Center and other local attractions.

Finishing touches are being applied to a four story, 126 room Hampton Inn & Suites in the Rochester suburb of Henrietta, just off Jefferson road.  When it opens this spring, the hotel will feature complimentary hot breakfast each morning, an indoor pool and extensive fitness center, refrigerators and microwaves in all guest rooms, complimentary shuttle service, and over 1,000 square feet of meeting space.

Hudson Valley

Cambria Suites, a new 130-room hotel in White Plains, is scheduled to open in summer 2013.  The Hotel will sit atop two floors of retail space featuring an indoor pool and valet parking.

New Places to Eat and Drink

Hudson Valley

The new Bocuse Restaurant opened in February at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.  Named for the celebrated 86-year-old Lyonnais chef Paul Bocuse, the restaurant features a contemporary, French-accented, globally influenced menu that showcases seasonal, pristine ingredients.  The former Escoffier Restaurant space was renovated with interior design by Adam Tihany, designer of Daniel, Jean Georges and Per Se.

Bikes, burgers and brews are the theme at the new OCC Cafe in Newburgh.  The restaurant, featuring Hudson Valley’s Best Burger and other casual foods, serves 50 beers, 30 taps and specialty cocktails.  It operates in the same location as the Orange County Choppers Showroom, which sells custom motorcycles.  Diners enjoy free Wi-Fi and a giant hi-def screen, ideal for watching sporting events.

OCC Cafe, Newburgh, NY

OCC Cafe, Newburgh, NY

 

Finger Lakes

The Parkview Hotel has added Stefon’s Marketplace, an upscale, 24 hour self-serve outlet located in the lobby selling snacks, sandwiches, or beverages along with popular sundry items.  This is the second Stefon’s Marketplace in the area; the first is at the Hotel Skyler near the Syracuse University Campus.  The Parkview Hotel has also rolled out a new breakfast inclusive program.

The Genesee Grande Hotel has added the Coffee Bar, which is located in the main lobby.  Open seven days a week, the Coffee Bar offers fresh ground organic coffee, freshly made baked goods and a selection of specialty coffees, breakfast sandwiches and to-go items.

Expansions and Improvements

The Adirondacks

Great Escape Six Flags in Lake George will be unveiling a new Screamin’ Eagles Ride, an interactive flying ride in open-air vehicles and high speed rotations that dip, dive and plunge at speeds up to 40 mph.

Six Flags Great Escape Screamin' Eagles

Six Flags Great Escape Screamin' Eagles, © 2012 Six Flags. All rights reserved.

 

A new Warren County Information Center is now open inside the Adirondack Outlet Mall on Route 9 in Lake George.  Thirteen photo and brochure displays, one for each community, line the perimeter of the information center.  The center is staffed seven days a week during peak traffic hours.

The Catskills

The Sullivan, a boutique hotel nestled on 55 acres that opened in 2012, has added a pool, spa and exercise room, as well as flexible meeting space for conferences, weddings (including LGBT) and banquets.

Central New York

A $25 million construction project is also underway that will add a multi-venue entertainment facility to Turning Stone Resort Casino.  Exit 33 will house four distinct entertainment options including a country music dance hall, a rock and roll club, an ultra lounge and a piano bar.  The opening is slated to coincide with Turning Stone’s 20th anniversary in July 2013.  The resort offers world-class gaming, golf, entertainment, accommodations and spa facilities, and has earned AAA Four Diamond ratings for The Lodge, The Tower Hotel, and Wildflowers restaurant.

Finger Lakes

Destiny USA on the shore of Onondaga Lake in Syracuse, now the sixth largest shopping center in the nation, continues to add new shops and eateries.  Recent additions to the 2.4 million square foot shopping, dining and entertainment destination include Sears Outlet, Burlington Coat Factory, Carhartt, True Religion Brand Jeans, Dressbarn, Saks Fifth Avenue OFF 5th, Brooks Brothers Factory Store, Soma Intimates and Ruum.  Dining openings range from TCBY Yogurt and Kerwin’s Cakes to Cantina Laredo and P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.  The center also features a growing number of new entertainment options such as WonderWorks’ Adventure Canyon Climb (one of the largest indoor ropes course in the country), Pole Position Raceway and OptiGolf.  Click here for a review of our family’s day at Destiny USA.

WonderWorks Destiny USA, Syracuse, NY

WonderWorks Destiny USA, Syracuse, NY

 

Started in 2011, the Onondaga Creekwalk continues to grow.  The 2.6-mile Creekwalk is a recreational trail for bikes and pedestrians that will connect 15 miles of existing trails in Onondaga County.  All of the trails are part of a network of the 524-mile New York State Canal System from Albany to Buffalo.

Greater Niagara

Niagara Falls State Park will be whisking people down into the Cave of the Winds more quickly this year thanks to a new elevator.  The Park also has restored the landscapes at Three Sisters Islands and Luna Island.  The areas are expected to completed and open by Memorial Day.  Maid of the Mist will continue to operate and the Whirlpool Jet Boats are planning to open May 3.

Niagara Falls State Park, New York

Niagara Falls State Park, New York

 

Darien Lake Theme Park’s popular nightly Laser Blast show has been enhanced with cutting-edge water technology, pyrotechnics and special effects.  The 2013 “Ignite the Night” show will use a 60-foot water screen as a backdrop to an action-packed chronicle from the 1950s to today honoring Canadian and U.S. heroes.  Also, a new 185-foot Blast Off” thrill ride accelerates thrill-seekers to the top of a tower in a simulated NASA launch.  The Waterfront Boardwalk, celebrating the nostalgia of New York’s 1950s lakeside resorts, has added dining options and a “jumping water” attraction.  The new facilities and attractions will be ready for opening day, Saturday, May 11.

Accolades

Hudson Valley

The Hudson Valley was listed as one of the “Top 20 Places in the World to Visit in 2013” by National Geographic Traveler in the magazine’s December 2012/January 2013 issue.  The article cites scenic beauty, inspirational arts and culture, and abundant food, as well as its landscape’s inspiration for the Hudson River School artists that are celebrated along the Hudson River School Art Trail.

The Adirondacks

The Adirondacks were named among “The 46 Places to Go in 2013” in the January 11th edition of the New York Times.  The article states that this area of upstate New York wilderness is increasingly drawing a downstate crowd as the backwoods gets glam with luxury “glamping” sites like Camp Orenda.  It has also become more accessible with vintage train service running between Saratoga Springs and North Creek.

Adirondack Train Service

Adirondack Train Service

 

New York State features 11 beautiful vacation regions.  New York’s attractions span from landmarks such as Niagara Falls to the wine trails of Hudson Valley and treasures like the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  Whether it’s wide-ranging outdoor activities for the whole family like hiking, biking and boating, culinary wonders and farm-to-table fresh foods, or the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies, New York State offers big excitement and tons activities for all travelers.  For more information, visit ILoveNY.com/spring for all of the spring activities.

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About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.