Amazing things are made in New York State, from craft beverages to award-winning chocolate, brilliant art, and popular TV shows—now you can see how they come to life. We’ve compiled a list of tours and demonstrations that shed light on some of New York’s cherished creations. Tour factories, distilleries, and kitchens, watch live glass molded right before your eyes, and go behind the scenes on the sets of your favorite TV shows. We’re lifting the curtains, so come see where the magic happens!
Cooperstown Bat Company (Central)
Cooperstown is baseball town, home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (a must-stop!), and the Cooperstown Bat Company. Here, you’ll get to see how a chunk of wood transforms into a perfectly smooth, ergonomic baseball bat. The owners will regale you with tales of which legendary Major League players have played ball with Cooperstown Bat Company bats. There's also a perfect memento to take home from your visit: a custom-engraved bat.
Blind Buck Valley Farmstead (Adirondacks)
Get a taste of American farm life at the Blind Buck Valley Farmstead, home to the cutest goats, cows, chickens, and barn cats you’ll ever meet. Guests can request a tour of the farm, which includes the option to feed and pet various animals and visit the organic vegetable garden. Spend the night in the restored country farmhouse and wake up the next morning to breakfast made with eggs fresh from the chicken coop—which you can collect yourself! While you’re there, take a hike through the surrounding meadows or a hayride through the fields and enjoy this little slice of bucolic heaven.
The Culinary Institute of America (Hudson Valley)
What goes into the rigorous training of the country’s greatest chefs? Come see for yourself! The legendary Culinary Institute of America offers free public tours led by current students. Tour the kitchens and classes that have taught the likes of Cat Cora, the late Anthony Bourdain, and more. Best of all, the campus includes five amazing restaurants to try after your tour. Choose from seasonal American, French, or Italian cuisine, fresh baked desserts and sweets, and even craft beers; the brewery at the CIA won Brewery of the Year at the 2019 New York Brewer’s Association’s annual New York State Craft Beer Competition.
Nine Pin Ciderworks (Capital-Saratoga)
Nine Pin Ciderworks in downtown Albany takes cider to a new level. This cider mill uses 100% local New York apples and fruit to make exquisite flavors of cider. Some of the more interesting creations include Earl Grey cider, blueberry peach cobbler, and their cider monsters—cider crafted with more than 100 different varieties of apples. Best of all, they offer a fantastic production tour once a month. You’ll have the chance to walk through the 17,000-square-foot facility, learn all about the pressing process, taste the final product, and get a souvenir glass to keep. Tickets can sell out so book in advance!
Herschell Carrousel Factory Museum (Greater Niagara)
This factory/museum is one wild ride! Call in advance to book a guided tour to see the intricate process that goes into crafting beautiful carousels. The visit is about an hour long and takes you through the factory, one of only two remaining carousel manufacturing plants in the country. You'll also get a chance to ride one of the carousels. But the fun doesn’t stop there. The outdoor Kiddieland Testing Park has refurbished antique kiddie rides (you might remember a few from your childhood!). The whole experience is a trip into nostalgia, Americana, and craftsmanship.
The Tour at NBC Studios (NYC)
Get a literal peek behind the scenes of your favorite TV shows at NBC Studios. Tours are led by an NBC Page (fans of 30 Rock might remember the character Kenneth Parcell, a.k.a. Kenneth the Page) who will teach you all about the TV production process. You’ll see where the writers spitball script ideas, and get to walk on the sets of Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers, and more. The tour includes an interactive element where you’ll get to “produce” your own show! You get to keep an easy-to-download recording of your masterpiece as a souvenir.
The Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum (Chautauqua-Allegheny)
Step back in time and onto the set of one of America’s greatest sitcoms at the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum. Located in Lucille Ball’s hometown, also home to the new-in-2018 National Comedy Center, the museum brings the show to life for fans, old and new. See the costumes, the Tropicana nightclub, and even the conveyor belt from the classic Vitametavegamin commercial, where you can try to keep up like Lucy in the classic episode! Take a look at one of the most beloved shows of all time and the brilliant comedian behind it.
Dark Island Spirits and Distillery (Thousand Islands-Seaway)
Dark Island Spirits and Distillery, in the heart of the Thousand Islands, is crafting delicious liquors with the help of some music magic. Historically, liquor was transported by wagon, train, or ship, which meant it experienced a ton of movement, which actually enhanced the flavor! Dark Island has been using a patent-pending device to make waves in the liquor using music, to Musically Mature™ it. The process is absolutely fascinating and you can learn all about it on a free tour of the facility, available upon request. After your mind is blown by the unique system, make for the tasting room where you can sample any of their award-winning bourbons, whiskeys, brandies, vodkas, gins, and liqueurs.
Corning Museum of Glass (Finger Lakes)
You might not think about it, but you’re surrounded by glass—in windows, vases, light bulbs, jewelry, and on and on, but how did it get there? The Corning Museum of Glass illuminates the amazing process of glasswork. In the live Hot Glass Shows, you’ll get to watch master glass blowers walk you through the process from start to finish. Plus, the museum is filled with eye-popping exhibits of thousands of glass artifacts from history, as well as works of art by famous glass workers. Get a deeper understanding of the molten magic by trying it out yourself! Sign up for one of the museum’s Make Your Own Glass classes, where you can make flowers, ornaments, picture frames, and more.
Fruition Chocolate Works (Catskills)
Pull into the parking lot, roll down your windows and take a whiff—the sweet smell of chocolate will tell you that you’ve arrived. The Fruition Chocolate Works factory lies deep in the Catskills, smells like heaven, and produces some of the finest chocolate to come out of New York State. These are not your typical candy bars. Cacao beans sourced from the Dominican Republic, Peru, and Bolivia form the base, and the CIA (Culinary Institute of America)-trained owner Bryan Graham crafts a mouth-watering experience. Taste the Brown Butter Milk Chocolate bar, which won “Best in Competition” for Milk Chocolate at the 2017 International Chocolate Awards, or the dark-chocolate-covered, jalapeño-dusted corn nuts. Watch the magic happen through the viewing room and ask for a tour!
Brookhaven National Laboratory (Long Island)
The Brookhaven National Laboratory is a U.S. Department of Energy research institution where scientists work to solve problems and mysteries of the world—and where you and your little scientist can visit this summer! With Brookhaven’s Summer Sunday program, visitors get a glimpse of cutting-edge research equipment, including the world’s most powerful microscope and an atom smasher! It’s literally the only place in the country where the public can see this kind of high-level government research in progress. Enjoy a guided tour of the facility and a stop at the Science Learning Center, a space filled with interactive exhibits that bring scientific concepts to life. Stay tuned on their website for details about 2019’s programming from July 14 through August 4.