Discover What’s New in New York State Summer 2018

From free glassblowing demonstrations on a floating studio on the historic Erie Canal to curated bike tours along the waterway, there’s plenty of new things to do stretching across New York State Summer 2018.  There are new engaging and interactive museums that bring to life everything from the Underground Railroad and Irish heritage, anchored by the highly anticipated opening of the National Comedy Center, a first-of-its-kind museum bringing the history and art of comedy to life. Take a look below 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

New York State Executive Director of Tourism Ross D. Levi said, “New York State is experiencing a tourism renaissance. Wherever you go, you’ll find new attractions led by people living out their dreams by sharing their passions with others, from glassblowers showing off their craft, to comedians finding a place to call home in Jamestown. There’s no better way to indulge your passion, or discover a new one, than a New York State vacation this summer, and no better time to start your planning than now.”

Check out the Empire State’s calendar full of free outdoor events, wide array of warm-weather activities and this region-by-region sampling of new and exciting attractions across the state:

Hudson River / Erie Canal

  • Corning Museum of Glass’ GlassBarge will set sail May 17 from Brooklyn Bridge Park in New York City on a four-month tour along the Hudson River and Erie Canal. This voyage will commemorate the 150th anniversary of glassmaking in Corning and shine a spotlight on New York State’s historic waterways. The GlassBarge will offer free public glassmaking demonstrations at each scheduled stop on a route from Brooklyn to Albany, then west to Buffalo and south to Watkins Glen. A ceremonial last leg of the trip will take place by land, concluding with a community-wide celebration in Corning in September.

While there: Visit the towns and cities along the GlassBarge’s waterfront ports of call. In Poughkeepsie, check out the grand view from the Walkway Over the Hudson, then explore some of the area trails and parks. In Seneca Falls, visit the Women’s Rights National Historical Park where the first women’s rights convention was held, then head down the block to the Women’s Rights Hall of Fame. Out west, visit the Buffalo & Erie County Naval and Military Park, then enjoy the city skyline and a picturesque sunset aboard a Buffalo Harbor boat cruise.

Corning Museum of Glass

The Adirondacks

  • Pandemonium at Six Flags Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom (Lake George), a new family thrill ride, quickly accelerates to spin its 24 riders as they lift, whirl and tilt at breathtaking speeds. High-powered colored lights add to the excitement, playing on the twisting, twirling motions of the ride. Riders must be at least 48 inches tall. The new attraction will be located alongside a park favorite, Screaming Eagles, in the historic Alpine Fest area. The park also offers tamer rides for families and younger children, including slides, a wave pool and other cool activities at Splashwater Kingdom.

While there: Visitors can enjoy boating, waterskiing, fishing and beachside fun around Lake George or participate in a historical reenactment at nearby Fort William Henry Museum. 

Six Flags Great Escape


  • The Historic Downtown Albany Food Tour is now being offered by Taste of Troy Food Tours. This walking tour takes participants to historic sites in Albany, from its Dutch beginnings to the present, with stops for samplings at five local restaurants. The tour is offered on Fridays from May through October.

While there: Tour the USS Slater, a World War II destroyer escort, and check out the art, history and science exhibits at the New York State Museum, the oldest and largest state museum in the country.

Taste of Troy Food Tours LLC

The Catskills

  • Rail Explorers (Phoenicia) will be offering pedal-powered “rail bike” excursions along Esopus Creek starting this summer. The vehicles, which come as tandems and quads, offer an electronic boost option so people of varied fitness levels can travel together. The 4.5-mile ride takes about two hours roundtrip, including a short picnic break in a meadow. Pets and children are welcome and team-building outings can be arranged.

While there: Continue your outdoor adventures in Phoenicia, which has everything from fly-fishing to river tubing to hiking.

  • Catskill Thunder (Highmount), Belleayre Mountain’s newly-installed gondola will enable lift-serviced mountain biking as well as year-round scenic rides to the mountaintop for incredible panoramic views. The first and only gondola in the Catskills, it transports passengers at speeds up to 1,000 feet per minute. Each of its 60 cabins can carry eight adults. The summit can also be rented for weddings and other events.

While there: Visitors can check out the concerts and other events happening on the mountain and, weather permitting, enjoy the water and beach sports at Belleayre Beach.

Kaaterskill Falls, Catskill Mountains, NY

Chautauqua Allegany

  • The National Comedy Center (Jamestown), a $50 million world-class museum, will be the first national-scale visitor experience dedicated to the art of comedy. Scheduled to open this summer during the annual Lucille Ball Comedy Festival, the museum will feature holograms of famous comedians, living and past, performing their best-known sketches as part of more than 50 high-tech immersive exhibits. The Center will also offer a year-round calendar of live performances as well as classes for aspiring artists. Home to the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum and birthplace of Lucille Ball, the town already draws A-list comedians to its annual comedy festival every summer.

While there: Visitors can catch a concert at the Chautauqua Institution or the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, bask on the shores of Chautauqua Lake and hike or bike through Allegany State Park.


National Comedy Center, Jamestown, NY, image courtesy National Comedy Center

Central New York

  • Irish Cultural Center of the Mohawk Valley (Utica), slated to open in July, will showcase Irish culture and history through exhibits and classes in dance, poetry, music, theater and language. The Center features a traditional 18th Century Irish pub, transported from Ireland, and event space for up to 275 people.

While there: Follow the New York Craft Beverage Trail to explore local breweries, wineries and distilleries and admire 300 years of American art at the Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute.

Irish Cultural Center of Utica

Finger Lakes

  • Erie Canal Bike Tours (Syracuse) has expanded its fully-supported, multi-day bike tour lineup and added “on your own” independent bike itineraries of the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal bike routes are easy, flat and scenic, and pass through quaint historic towns. Group tours include all the logistics—from hotels, breakfasts and lunches to special activities such as an evening Erie Canal cruise. Both independent and group tours provide backup support in case of bike or other problems. The company also offers free cyclist shuttle services at fixed times and places from Friday to Monday.

While there: Cyclists can learn more about canal history at the Erie Canal Museum in Syracuse and the Erie Canal Heritage Park in Port Byron.

  • FLX Live (Geneva) serves up great live music along with its craft beers, cocktails and local wines. The venue showcases well-known regional musicians, DJs and up-and-coming talent. Set in the renovated Headless Sullivan Theater, FLX Live offers comfortable lounge seating and a dance floor.

While there: Visitors can follow a Finger Lakes wine trail, stroll or splash around Seneca Lake State Park, or stroll around the historic center of Geneva and tour Rose Hill Mansion and other historic homes.

  • Finger Lakes Forest Therapy (Canandaigua), offers guided individual, public and group Shinrin-Yoku experiences. Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese wellness practice roughly translated as “forest bathing,” is a kind of forest immersion designed to tap into the powerful emotional and physical benefits of being in the forest and refocusing the mind on the images, sounds, aromas and feel of the forest. Walks, ideally around three hours, conclude with a tea ceremony, and can be scheduled in the city or suburbs, the stunning Bristol Hills and at ADA accessible trails.

While there: Visitors can follow the Canandaigua Wine Trail and dine at the New York Wine & Culinary Center.

Erie Canal Pittsford

Hudson Valley

  • Ulster Performing Arts Center (Kingston), which first opened in opened in 1927 and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in the 1970s, recently completed a $5.2 million renovation. The theater renovated its 1927 architectural features and added infrastructure upgrades like new HVAC and electrical systems, and new, larger restrooms.

While there: Visitors can explore the surrounding Kingston Midtown Arts District, which has been experiencing a cultural boom in recent years.

  • Boundless Adventures (Purchase), a family-friendly aerial adventure park, provides four levels of obstacle courses for thrill-seekers ages seven and up. Here, adventurers swing, balance, jump and zip-line through the forest, traversing bridges and climbing trees at heights of up to 40 feet. The Park’s nine obstacle courses span eight acres of hardwood forests on the SUNY Purchase campus.

While there: Without leaving the college, visitors can take in the Neuberger Museum of Art or catch a performance or concert at the Performing Arts Center.

Boundless Adventures (Purchase)

Greater Niagara

  • Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center offers an immersive experience into real-life stories of Underground Railroad freedom seekers and abolitionists who risked their lives for freedom. The Niagara Falls region was a major transit point on the journey to freedom, and the museum underscores the importance of its location near the Canadian border with a recreation of the International Suspension Bridge and the title of its permanent exhibition, “One More River to Cross.”

While there: Visitors can feel the power of Niagara Falls on a Maid of the Mist boat ride as nd the walkways of Cave of the Winds or take a virtual reality ride through the river and design a dam at the Niagara Power Vista science center.

Niagara Falls, New York, USA

Long Island

  • Belmont Park (Elmont), celebrating the 150th Running of the Belmont Stakes, will showcase the completion of extensive renovations made over the past few years. The renovation of this famous Thoroughbred horse racing facility focused on preserving its historic architectural elements while enhancing the guest experience. Updates include hundreds of high definition televisions across the property and new video display boards in the Paddock. The Park also installed the latest Trakus technology and expanded the Belmont Cafe and the Top of the Stretch picnic area.

While there: Families will enjoy the Queens County Farm Museum and Long Island Children’s Museum, while hikers can head to Valley Stream State Park.

Belmont Park

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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.