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New Reasons to Love New York State With the Kids

by Felicity Long

Mar 20, 2019

© I Love NY


If the only thing that comes to mind when you think of New York is the Big Apple, you’re missing a huge bite of what New York State has to offer. This year, the tourism office came up with five family-friendly highlights of what to do throughout the state, from new attractions to major anniversaries.


Believe it or not, it was a half-century ago in the Catskills town of Bethel when the now-iconic Woodstock Music and Art Fair made history. Woodstock’s 50th anniversary will be commemorated this summer with special events and exhibits at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. Highlights will be the “We Are Golden, We Are Stardust” exhibit commemorating the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing along with the birth of the peace movement. Various concert series will include performances by Ringo Starr and Santana, and the film Woodstock: The Director’s Cut will be shown on the lawn at Bethel Woods. More events will be added to the schedule in the run-up to the celebration.


This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising at the historic Stonewall Inn in New York City’s West Village. Considered the birth of the LGBTQ+ pride movement, the inn is now a National Historic Landmark. Events marking the anniversary will take place across the state and will include Pride at the Falls, a free concert by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra with fireworks at Niagara Falls State Park on July 5. The anniversary coincides with New York State hosting WorldPride 2019, a month-long celebration of the international LGBTQ+ community in June, marking the first time the 20-year-old WorldPride event will be held in the United States.


National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY- First state-of-the -art museum dedicated to telling the story of comedy in America, Chautauqua County, Chautauqua-Allegany Region © I Love NY

National Comedy Center in Jamestown, NY- First state-of-the -art museum dedicated to telling the story of comedy in America, Chautauqua County, Chautauqua-Allegany Region © I Love NY


The National Comedy Center, billed as the first nonprofit cultural institute dedicated to comedy, opened in August 2018 in the western New York town of Jamestown, the birthplace of comedian Lucille Ball. The 37,000-square-foot center offers more than 50 interactive exhibits, including a hologram theater featuring performances by famous comedians (although part of the venue — the Blue Room — is for adults only).


Would it surprise you to learn New York State has more ski areas — although some of them are under the radar — than anywhere else in the United States? This year, several mountains up their game by completing ambitious expansions and development projects designed to enhance the visitor experience. Hunter Mountain in the Catskills, for example, received a $9 million investment for expansions; Bristol Mountain benefitted from a $2 million upgrade to the terrain park and freestyle aerial site; and Catamount Mountain Resort spent $2 million on a new lodge and triple chairlift.


Bristol Mountain Ski Center outside Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes © I Love NY

Bristol Mountain Ski Center outside Canandaigua in the Finger Lakes © I Love NY


New York State also takes its amusement parks seriously, and some of them offer new rides this year. Six Flags Darien Lake, located in the Greater Niagara region, opened the Tantrum coaster, where riders experience a 98-foot vertical lift at a 90-degree angle, followed by a 97-degree drop and pretzel inversion, hitting speeds up to 52 mph along the way. Meanwhile, Six Flags Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom in Lake George opened Pandemonium, a new family thrill ride that lifts, spins and tilts 24 riders at a time at all different angles. The Kartrite, the state’s largest indoor waterpark and resort, will open this spring about 90 minutes from New York City. In addition to the two-acre waterpark, facilities will include a resort with 324 suites and a spa, shopping outlets, laser tag, a ropes course and video games. Beyond the massive two acres of waterpark, families can dine at various restaurant options or take the kids to Explore & More, a new children’s museum in Buffalo. Interactive highlights include a two-story waterfall, an immersive farm and a mini-sports auditorium.


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