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New York History & Museums

Once spring and summer have officially arrived in New York, it’s time to plan some fun and maybe a getaway or three. History is nearly everywhere you turn in New York, so why not combine your summer pleasures with some on-the-ground learning? History shows this could lead to very pleasant activities, such as picnics, hiking, guided touring, maybe even a boat ride in New York Harbor or in the Thousand Islands. You won’t even realize you’re enriching your mind.

Vantage points for some of the most beautiful and sweeping vistas of the Hudson River Valley are on the grounds of several mansions on both sides of the shoreline. During warm weather months, some host outdoor events – concerts, festivals, garden parties, dinners under the stars – but you don’t need a special invitation. A hike around the grounds, maybe even a picnic when the gardens are in bloom, is reason enough to visit. The Clermont, Olana, Kykuit, and Wave Hill House all offer stunning views in addition to their historic assets. One famous Gold Coast property on Long Island has been transformed into a world-class museum of art. Drive out to Montauk Lighthouse while you’re on the Island, too.

You’ll find similar beauty and history along the St. Lawrence Seaway, at Essex Shipyard in the Adirondacks, and on other bodies of water in New York. Two of the most popular destinations in the Thousand Islands are the Antique Boat Museum and Boldt Castle: the castle is only accessible by boat and there are guided tours on Heart Island once you arrive.

Anyone interested in Native American history and early New York culture will be fascinated by visits to the Susquehanna River Archaeological Center, Iroquois Indian Museum, and to the Quaker Meetinghouse in Farmington.

Historic farm houses and the Dutch stone houses popular with early New York settlers offer an important window into simpler times, and give many opportunities to get hands-on perspective on traditional ways of daily life. Historic Richmond Town is one fine example that offers many buildings to explore.

New York has two National Museums – one for Dance and the other for Baseball. You may also visit a new museum dedicated to the Underground Railroad; another focused on Spiritualism; Ulysses S. Grant’s former home; and a fully restored 1912 passenger railway station. Gracie Mansion, the New York State Governor’s home, makes a fascinating historic destination when you’re in New York City. And, battle buffs will definitely want to visit Fort Ticonderoga and Old Fort Niagara: both host numerous summer events, including re-enactments.

No one says you have to take your lessons sitting down or indoors. You’ll get some exercise and learn more about Native American history on The Old Portage Trail.

Gracie Mansion 
88 East End Avenue
Yorkville, NY 10128
Built in 1799, now the NYC mayor's official residence, tours and educational programs

Historic Richmond Town 
441 Clark Avenue
Staten Island, NY 10306
Living history village/museum complex with NYC's oldest continuously operating farm

Wave Hill House 
675 W 252nd St
Bronx, NY 10471
Gray fieldstone mansion, 1843; 28-acre public garden & cultural center overlooking Hudson

LONG ISLAND (LI)

Montauk Point Lighthouse 
2000 New York 27
Montauk, NY 11954
The oldest lighthouse in New York State, established 1796

Nassau County Museum of Art 
One Museum Drive
Roslyn Harbor, New York 11576
Ranked among the nation's largest, most important suburban art museums; spectacular three-story Georgian-style Gold Coast property; former Frick estate

Old Westbury Gardens 
71 Old Westbury Road
Old Westbury, NY 11590
Perhaps the finest example of a Gold Coast Charles II-style Mansion; set within a 200-acre picturesque landscape with gorgeous gardens

HUDSON VALLEY (HV)

Clermont State Historic Site 
One Clermont Avenue
Germantown, NY 12526
Four Gardens; July 4th & other summer events; former home of Robert R. Livingston Jr., who drafted the Declaration of Independence & held other important historic roles

Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate 
381 North Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY 10591
Georgian mansion & Beaux Arts landscape; 20th century sculpture collection (Calder, Picasso, Noguchi); Coach barn houses Rockefeller's antique autos

Olana 
RD 2, Route 9G
Hudson, NY 12534
Hudson River painter Frederic Church's Persian palace; paintings by Church, his teacher Thomas Cole; Romantic style landscaping

THE CATSKILLS (CT)

Stone House Day 
476 Old Route 209
Hurley, NY 12443
The Dutch Stone Houses of Old Hurley, a 330-year-old Dutch village, include 25 of the oldest private homes in the US

The Bronck Museum 
County Highway 42
Coxsackie, NY 12051
11 structures owned by eight generations of Bronck family; prosperous farm; by early 1800's, most valuable property in Greene County; now Historical Society headquarters

The Old Stone House 
282 Hasbrouck Road,
Woodbourne, NY 12788
Historic art gallery and community center

Time and the Valleys Museum
332 Main Street
Grahamsville, NY 12740
Preserving the uniqueness of the Rondout and Neversink watersheds for all generations

CAPITAL-SARATOGA (CS)

Caroga Historical Association and Museum (July-August)
145 London Bridge Road (County Highway 111)
Caroga Lake, NY 12032
Outdoor museum with 1905 farmhouse, 1870 cobbler shop, general store and 130-year-old pegged barn, large collection of Sherman's Amusement Park memorabilia

National Museum of Dance Hall of Fame (May-October)
99 S. Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Only museum in the nation and one of the few in the world that is dedicated entirely to the art of dance

Ulysses S. Grant State Historical Site 
Mt. McGregor, Town of Moreau
Wilton, NY 12831
Summer Porch Chats relive President Grant's final days

THE ADIRONDACKS (AD)

Essex Shipyard 
2264 Lake Shore Road
Essex, NY 12936
Marina and restaurant; mountain views and a National Historic Register town

Fort Ticonderoga 
100 Fort Ticonderoga Road
Ticonderoga, NY 12883
Restored fort, library, galleries, Lake Champlain views; daily artillery demos, frequent reenactments; America's first victory in the American Revolution

North Start Underground Railroad Museum
Town of Chesterfield Heritage Center
1131 Mace Chasm Road
Ausable Chasm, NY 12911-1704
New museum dedicated to the region that helped ‘light freedom's road'

THOUSAND ISLANDS-SEAWAY (TI)

Antique Boat Museum 
750 Mary Street
Clayton, NY 13624
Premier freshwater nautical museum in the 1000 Islands; speedboat rides, boat shows, special events, boat building classes, more

Boldt Castle 
Heart Island, Alexandria Bay, NY 13607
Accessible only by water, romantic and historic island destination; beautiful grounds & gardens

Stone Mills Museum 
34312 Route 180
La Fargeville, NY 13656
Agricultural history you can touch

CENTRAL LEATHERSTOCKING (CL)

Iroquois Indian Museum 
324 Caverns Road
Howes Cave, NY 12092
Fosters understanding of Iroquois culture by promoting Iroquois art, artists, history & archaeology

National Baseball Hall of Fame Museum 
25 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326
Just under 40,000 3-D items, three million books/documents & 500,000 photographs; the story of baseball via a three-story timeline; majestic Plaque Gallery is centerpiece

The Farmer's Museum 
5775 State Highway 80
Cooperstown, NY 13326
One of the oldest rural life museums in the US; experience 19th century village life through demos, interpretative exhibits; National Register for Historic Places

FINGER LAKES (FL)

1816 Farmington Quaker Meetinghouse 
187 County Road 8
Farmington, NY 14425
Summer gatherings at the symbolic and geographic crossroads of activism for African American, women's, and Native American rights

Susan B. Anthony Museum & House 
17 Madison Street
Rochester, NY 14608
Programs, tours; women's rights and Anthony's historic role

Susquehanna River Archaeological Center 
345 Broad Street
Waverly, NY 14892
Largest exhibit of regional Native American artifacts; from the Ice Age & to the Revolutionary War; events, performances

GREATER NIAGARA (GN)

Cobblestone Museum 
14389 Ridge Road
Albion, NY 14411
North America's oldest cobblestone church, a schoolhouse and shops to imagine 1800s village life

French and Indian War Encampment 
Old Fort Niagara
4 Scott Avenue
Youngstown, NY 14174
Authentic reenactment every spring/summer

William Pryor Letchworth Museum 
7 Letchworth State Park
Castile, NY 14427
Artifacts tell story of the parklands from prehistoric to modern times

CHAUTAUQUA-ALLEGHENY (CA)

Lily Dale Museum (July & August)
16-18 Library Street
Lily Dale, NY 14752
History of early spiritualism; 1890 one-room school house featuring a women's suffrage display as well as photos, artifacts, memorabilia

Salamanca Rail Museum Association 
170 Main Street
Salamanca, NY 14779
Fully restored passenger depot; constructed in 1912 by the Buffalo, Rochester & Pittsburgh Railway; contains artifacts, photo/video exhibits; "a step back in time"

The Old Portage Trail: Historic Indian Portage 
9 miles from Barcelona Harbor, Westfield, to Mayville, NY
Under development for hiking, some portions accessible; runs from Lake Erie to Lake Chautauqua, with many historic points en route
http://www.cecomet.net/~crtt/TRS05-2.PDF 

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