Discover What’s New in New York State for Summer 2016

From mountain biking to the interactive and nostalgic Toy Halls of Fame, there’s plenty of new things to do stretching across New York State Summer 2016.  Take a look at the list compiled by I LOVE NEW YORK and get to planning your New York summer road trips.

I Love New York

Compiled from I LOVE NEW YORK’S press release

A sense of awakening and freshness fills the air as spring takes hold of the Empire State. It’s a great time to explore some of the exciting new things to do and see across New York.  Heading to New York City?  Book ahead to take advantage of savings opportunities, as the warmer months are one of the best times for visitors to experience free and low-cost outdoor activities and offerings in NYC.

NEW THINGS TO DO AND NEW PLACES TO GO

The Adirondacks:

Mountain bikers will find a number of new trails for all levels of expertise, thanks to volunteer organizations including Barkeater Trails Alliance (BETA), a project of the Adirondack Ski Touring Council. In Wilmington, one of BETA’s ongoing projects is the Flume Trail Network, located on the West Branch of the Ausable River, offering smooth single tracks and technical climbs. A half hour drive from Wilmington, the Ausable Chasm Mountain Bike Center offers 15 miles of mountain bike trails, including beginner cruising and intermediate loops with double-track and single track trails. The advanced loop features steeper hills and narrower paths through miles of unspoiled forest. For more expert riding, the Wickham Marsh State Trails are connected to Ausable’s trails, leading riders through the marsh, downhill to Lake Champlain.

Barkeater Trails Alliance

Copyright © 2016 Barkeater Trails Alliance – Barkeater Trails Alliance

The Catskills:

Windham Mountain Resort, host of the annual Union Cycliste Internationale Mountain Bike World Cup for four of the past five years, has opened a Lift-Serviced Mountain Bike Park with downhill trails catering to pro- and intermediate- level riders along with a skills park and a pump track. The bike park, developed in partnership with Gravity Logic, the creator of Bike Park at Whistler – Blackcomb in Canada, features two expert downhill trails, the UCI World Cup Downhill and Citizens Downhill, and two intermediate jump trails. Other recent improvements to the resort include a new entry and access road, the Alpine Spa at Windham Mountain Resort, the Windham Country Club public/private golf course, new condominiums and additional renovations at Winwood Inn and the Adventure Park.

The 19th-century painter Thomas Cole built an art studio in Catskill with gingerbread woodwork and Hudson River views. Although the original studio was torn down in the early 1970s, his nearby house, known as Cedar Grove, has been preserved as the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. This summer, contractors are finishing a reproduction of Cole’s studio on its original foundation, basing it on vintage photos, sketches and paintings. It is clad in buff clapboards and trimmed along the roofline in mahogany acorn pendants. Cole’s foundation stones have been recycled for its base. Its interior, with ceilings 19 feet high, will be used for exhibitions and programs focused on the artist and his influence on America’s cultural landscape.

A new travel experience in the Catskills, the Kaaterskill Clove Experience is a series of self-guided treks into the wilderness to explore the region’s historic sites, hiking trails and cultural attractions. Hikes include the Adventure Itinerary that winds along the Escarpment Trail, a hiking route that connects to the Long Path, which offers challenging terrain and some of the most breathtaking views in New York State.

Kaaterskill Falls, Catskill Mountains, NY

Central New York:

Schoharie County’s Beverage Trail is a new state-certified culinary trail dedicated to creating distilled, brewed and fermented beverages from locally grown ingredients. The trail makes it easy for visitors to enjoy samplings of beverages produced by local distilleries, wineries, meaderies and breweries, and to shop and dine at local businesses.

Finger Lakes:

A new $4 million high-tech Toy Halls of Fame opened at Rochester’s Strong National Museum of Play in fall of 2015. The new exhibit features enticing displays that guests can interact with in humorous ways. For example, visitors can step up to a 20-foot bubble tower to create virtual bubbles that can be moved and popped by motion-capture technology, orchestrate a music and light show with a Crayon Piano, use cranks, pulleys and cords to interact with a 20-foot-tall kinetic toy sculpture made of building blocks and a toy car race track, or pose in front of an oversized Etch a Sketch for a virtual portrait that can be shared with friends and family.

Strong National Museum of Play

Syracuse has a new performing arts space. The Lakeview Amphitheater on Onondaga Lake, designed by Westlake Reed Leskosky, who also designed Bethel Woods Perform Arts Center in Bethel, opened this year. The amphitheater offers both covered and lawn seating, affording lovely views of the water and downtown Syracuse, and an event space with a deck overlooking the lake for private events. Rather than concession stands, the park surrounding the theater is lined with concrete concession pads to accommodate food trucks and other vendors. The lakefront site also includes recreational biking and hiking trails. A 2016 concert schedule is available online:  www.ongovconcerts.com.

The Great New York State Fair will be held, August 25 – September 5, 2016, and is “Summer’s Best in Show.”  Highlights include free concert performances by Kesha, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Flo Rida, and Culture Club, as well as headliner shows main stage.  Of course you can also find food truck rodeos, fair food, agricultural events, and midway rides throughout the Fair’s run.

2012 New York State Fair butter sculpture

Hudson Valley:

Kirby Hill Farm in Pawling, a modern equestrian center situated on 247 acres of rolling Dutchess County countryside, opened this year. The 5-star equestrian facility provides horse enthusiasts with premium boarding, training and recreational options for nearly every discipline and skill level and offers boarders top level equestrian care that includes 85 stalls and more than 30 paddocks. The center offers two indoor riding arenas, three outdoor rings including dressage court, jumping arena and an all-purpose ring. There is also a competition level cross country course, hacking throughout Kirby Hill’s hundreds of acres, numerous turn outs and paddocks, and a hot-walker for horse conditioning. Riding arenas, engineered to provide horses with excellent footing, are cushioned yet firm and raked every morning to assure both horse and rider of uniform going. Instruction is open to children and adults of all ages, from beginner through advanced levels and is available in hunter/jumper, equitation, dressage, cross-country, trails and polo.

Kirby Hill Farm

Greater Niagara:

The New York Power Vista, just north of Niagara Falls, received an extreme multi-million dollar extreme makeover filled with lots of gee-whiz, over-the-top interactive exhibits and attractions including:

  • a 4D virtual roller coaster ride simulator as a raindrop plummets through the air, into the Niagara River and through the power plant to become a unit of energy.
  • An interactive control room exhibit that lets visitors operate a power plant.
  • An RFID card, so visitors can download their experiences at each exhibit and look back at their stay at the Power Vista from their PC, tablets or smart phones.
  • A touchscreen to create a gorge wall where visitors stack layers of geologic strata to create conditions that result in a waterfall – and ideal conditions for generating power.

The Niagara Project is the Hoover Dam of the East, and admission to the Power Vista and all it has to offer is entirely FREE.  It’s a short ride away on the FREE Discover Niagara Trolley route from the Falls to other popular tourist spots in the region.

Niagara Falls, New York, USA

Long Island:

The Long Island Rail Road makes it easy to explore Long Island from New York City without a car, thanks to a variety of escorted and independent packages. An ever-growing number of options include golf and tennis outings, escorted tours of Montauk and independent trips to the Resorts World Casino.

Long Island Rail Road

1000 Islands/Seaway:

Mountain Bikers will find miles of great terrain for all abilities at High Flats State Forest/Seven Springs Trails in Colton, one of four areas in the Adirondack Seaway Region maintained by the St. Lawrence County Mountain Bike Association. To learn more visit: www.northcountryguide.com/pages/cyclemountain-bike.

New York City:

Summertime visitors to NYC can enjoy NYC & Company’s signature dining and theater promotions. The first and largest dining program of its kind, NYC Restaurant Week returns July 25–August 19, with reservations opening on July 11, and provides discounted three-course prix-fixe lunches and dinners. In late summer and early fall, during NYC Broadway Week (September 5–18; tickets on sale August 18) and NYC Off-Broadway Week (September 26–October 9; tickets on sale September 12) visitors and New Yorkers can enjoy two-for-one tickets to a selection of the best shows in town.

Times Square, New York City

NEW PLACES TO STAY

The Catskills:

The five-room North Branch Inn in North Branch opened in November 2015. Set in an early 1900s home, its unusual features include a two-lane wood bowling alley and a small movie theater with seats from Radio City Music Hall. Its restaurant, the Bar Room, features dishes built on Catskills and New York State ingredients. Additional rooms are planned in neighboring buildings. The owners also run Arnold House, a 10-room property in the town of Livingston Manor, just 15 minutes away.

The Spruceton Inn in West Kill offers “bed and bar” and a hip take on classic mountain design. Set amid acres of meandering meadows, the inn provides hammocks, barbecues, lawn games and a bar serving beer, wine and whiskey. Rooms start at $75 a night.

Owned and operated by a French expat, Harvey House is a boutique four-suite inn in Catskill on the banks of Catskill Creek. The inn offers stylish, eclectic accommodations that feature original artwork by Catskills artists. Guests can also enjoy and purchase the original artwork around the inn. Room rates start at $75 per night.

The Hudson Valley Resort and Spa in Kerhonkson was sold to HNA Group for $13.8 million in November. The new owner, a China-based international company with 440 hotels worldwide, plans to upgrade the former Borscht Belt resort, which opened in the late 1950s as the Granit Resort. The 400-plus acre property, nestled into the Shawangunk Mountains, has an 18-hole golf course, two gourmet restaurants, indoor and outdoor swimming pools and a full-service European health spa.

Capital Saratoga:

Embassy Suites by Hilton Saratoga Springs, which opened in 2015, offers 149 suites and 6,000 square feet meeting space. The hotel offers an indoor pool, fitness center, free breakfast and evening receptions.

Embassy Suites Saratoga Springs

EXPANSIONS AND IMPROVEMENTS

The Catskills:

There’s a lot happening in the Catskills, thanks to a series of actions to improve and promote tourism in the The Catskills region announced by Governor Cuomo on October 23, 2015. These include hosting the first annual Catskill Challenge in summer 2016. Governor Cuomo also unveiled a $7.3 million plan to modernize the gateway to Minnewaska State Park Preserve and better accommodate the growing number of visitors to the stunning Shawangunk destination. In addition, New York State will launch a $5 million Catskills region tourism ad campaign to draw visitors from around the world. The Governor made these announcements while on a “Ride the Catskills” Motorcycle Tour launching The Ride the Catskills website and theme-based itineraries were developed in partnership with Catskill Association for Tourism Services.

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, culinary wonders and farm-to-table fresh foods, or exploring the rich history and culture of one of the 13 original colonies, New York State offers diverse activities for all travelers. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

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.