Last Minute Beat the Heat Escapes

Volleyball at South Edison Beach in Montauk. | DARREN MCGEE/ NYSDED

So you never got around to planning that amazing summer vacation for this year. Okay, totally understandable, your life is crazy busy. You’re still a good person.

But now it’s 92 degrees outside and your co-workers are jetting off to glamorous long weekends in beautiful locales. Meanwhile, you are about to lose your hard-earned vacation days and your weekend plans consist of binge watching TV with a struggling air conditioner as company.

Fear not! One of the best things about living in New York State is that you are never more than a couple hours away from a rejuvenating getaway that lets you feel the effects of an extended vacation in just a few days.

It’s not too late to break out for a New York State getaway

Many New Yorkers already know about the beauty of Long Island in places like the Hamptons and Fire Island. There are many other great seaside getaways too, from Robert Moses State Park to Jones Beach and Long Beach, with some areas featuring beachfront hotels and spas. There’s also great shopping at places like Americana Manhasset and the Tanger Outlet Center, award-winning wineries on the North and South Forks, and sightseeing at historic Gold Coast Mansions and museums covering topics from aviation to whaling.

Canoeing in the Constitution Marsh Audubon Center and Sanctuary in the Hudson Valley at Garrison. | DARREN MCGEE/ NYSDED

Just north of the city in the nearby Hudson Valley region, art lovers take in the views from Olana, home of Hudson River School artist Frederic Church, or stroll outside among the sculptures at Storm King Arts Center, the Fields Sculpture Park at Omi, or Opus 40. Others gaze down on the river from 21 stories up on the Walkway Over the Hudson. The region’s wine trails beckon, and there is lodging for every taste, from luxurious to historic to intimate.

Nearby, the Catskills have been drawing summer visitors for decades. Guests catch concerts under the stars at Bethel Woods, site of the Woodstock Music Festival, try their hand at fly fishing, or tube or raft down the Delaware River. Lodging options range from the fun and funky, to full service resorts, charming inns and B&Bs, and even glamping.

The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts at the original site of the Woodstock festival in the Catskills regions at Bethel. | DARREN MCGEE/ NYSDED

Just a little further north in the Capital-Saratoga region, it’s time for the annual running of the thoroughbreds at stately Saratoga Race Course, and outdoor music at Saratoga Performing Arts Center and at the theater in Washington Park in Albany. Craft beverages await at Nine Pin Cider Works in Albany, and at Brown’s Brewing Company in Troy and North Hoosick.

In America, the word “vacation” was first used for vacating the city to the cooling forests of the Adirondacks. You can be active and go hiking, kayaking, or whitewater rafting, or choose to relax by taking the Cloudsplitter Gondola to the top of Little Whiteface Mountain, where the temperature is always a few degrees cooler.

In the Thousand Islands-Seaway, you can tour the Antique Boat Museum and ride on one of its vintage wooden cruisers. Join a scenic cruise to see the mansions on Millionaire’s Row and tour island castles.

The appeal of Cooperstown goes well beyond the Baseball Hall of Fame, with award-winning craft beer and outdoor concerts at Brewery Ommegang and lakeside opera at the Glimmerglass Festival.

You might decide this is the summer to finally try the Finger Lakes, with summer wonders like afternoon trips on wine trails, stone paths among and behind waterfalls at Watkins Glenn State Park, breezes through the “Grand Canyon of the East” at Letchworth State Park, and cruising along the Erie Canal.

Aboard the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls State Park. | DARREN MCGEE/ NYSDED

Further west, just a quick and inexpensive flight away from New York City, nothing cools you off like a walk or cruise under Niagara Falls. Or maybe you want a more calming experience, like a Summer Wind Cruise on Chautauqua Lake in Jamestown. There are outdoor performances at venues like the Chautauqua Institution, Canalside on Buffalo’s waterfront, and Artpark in Lewiston. While out west, you can tour the works of Frank Lloyd Wright as the region celebrates the architect’s 150th birthday.

And that’s just the beginning. Everywhere you look across the state there are sandy freshwater beaches, amusement and water parks, museums and historic sites, open air dining, and so much more. So, don’t sit at home, sweating it out while the summer passes you by. Get out and venture around New York State –– it’s not too late to have the time of your life.

Ross D. Levi is vice president of 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