Memorial Day is just around the corner, marking the unofficial start of the summer season. Welcome the warm weather with an unforgettable long weekend in New York State. Beaches and parks are officially open, the sun is out, and everyone is ready to celebrate. Whether you’re with a significant other, family, friends, or all of the above—here are some great destinations to kick off your summer right!

Originally Published 05/10/2019

Jones Beach State Park (Long Island)

Bethpage Air Show

Jones Beach on Long Island is home to more than six miles of white sandy beaches along the Atlantic. Soak in the sunlight and enjoy a nice swim by day and explore the many activities the boardwalk has to offer by night. Shake the sand out of your shoes and visit a historic exhibit and catch a game of miniature golf or shuffleboard nearby. Catch the Bethpage Air Show, one of the largest events on Long Island, on Memorial Day weekend (May 25-26). The United States Navy Blue Angels will perform high flying stunts and maneuvers that never fail to disappoint.

Waterloo, NY (Finger Lakes)

The exterior of the red brick and blue sign of the National Memorial Day

Waterloo is the perfect place to celebrate Memorial Day for any history buff, as it’s where the holiday was first observed! Enjoy a weekend-long lineup of dozens of events, including a car show, wagon tours, cannon firing demonstrations, fireworks, and so much more. Also be sure to check out the National Memorial Day Museum, where visitors can explore military uniforms and artifacts and learn about the history of the holiday from the aftermath of the Civil War to today.

New York State Military Museum & Research Center (Capital-Saratoga)

Displays and artifacts at the inside the New York State Military Museum and Research Center

Pay a visit to this museum dedicated to preserving, interpreting, and disseminating the stories, history, and records of New York State's military forces and veterans this Memorial Day Weekend. Travel through time with stories of the Native American Warriors to today's Homeland Defense Forces via unique exhibits and tours. Saratoga Battlefield, where the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga marked the turning point of the Revolutionary War, is nearby.

Memorial Day at Fort Ticonderoga (Adirondacks)

Adirondack French Indian War reenactment at Fort Ticonderoga

Celebrate the holiday weekend at one of America’s most important historic landmarks! Step back in time and experience military history through Continental Army soldier reenactments. Sail around Lake Champlain and take a guided tour on the Carillon. There will be daily tours in the fort, weapons demonstrations, and museum exhibits.

Letchworth Red, White, and Blue Balloon Festival (Greater Niagara)

Colorful hot air balloons soar over Letchworth State ParkCredit: @rochesterny and @johnkucko on Instagram

Watch 20 hot air balloons vibrantly splash the “Grand Canyon of the East” with color this Memorial Day Weekend at the Letchworth Red, White, & Blue Balloon Festival! The festival will have six massed balloon flights taking off from the Archery Field Overlook near the Castile Entrance of Letchworth State Park on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at 6pm, and Saturday and Sunday morning at 6am. This one-of-a-kind experience amidst one of New York’s most beautiful parks is one you don’t want to miss! Admission to the event is free. Entrance to the park is $10 between the hours of 9am-5pm.

Antique Boat Museum (Thousand Islands-Seaway)

Antique Boat Museum

Learn about the boating history of the St. Lawrence River and get out on the water. Tour the French Bay on a St. Lawrence skiff, take a speedboat ride in a triple cockpit runabout, and take a peek inside George Boldt's houseboat from 1903. The Antique Boat Museum officially opens for the summer season on May 4!

Panama Rocks Scenic Park (Chautauqua-Allegheny)

Panama Rocks Scenic Park - Photo  by Jonathan Weston

Stay in the shade and explore 15 acres of the Paleozoic ocean floor at Panama Rocks, believed to be the most extensive formation of glacier-cut, ocean-quartz conglomerate in the world. Climb along crevices reaching 60 feet in height and venture through caves. Hike through the ancient forest and avoid the blistering summer sun.

Statue of Liberty (New York City)

Statue of Liberty

A grand symbol of our nation, the Statue of Liberty has been a historic New York landmark since 1886. Take the ferry to Liberty Island and tour the monument that has welcomed generations of people to the United States. Learn about the history of this gift from France by taking a guided tour or visiting the museum inside the pedestal. Make sure to book a trip to see the Lady, as it is a very popular venture!

Woodstock-New Paltz Arts & Crafts Fair (Hudson Valley)

Back for its 43rd  year, the Hudson Valley kicks off every summer with their Memorial Day weekend Arts & Crafts Fair in New Paltz. Shop around the festival for unique homemade products created by some of our nation’s finest artisans and craftspeople. Enjoy free crafting demonstrations, live entertainment, and local Hudson Valley food and drink.

Maid of the Mist Boat Tour (Greater Niagara)

Maid of the mist
Credit: Destination Niagara USA

Feel the cool mist on your face as you take a boat ride past the base of Niagara Falls. This 20-minute tour will show you the rock formations that help tame the falls and the immense falls themselves. Don’t be afraid to get a little wet—approximately 3,160 tons of water flow over the Falls every second!

National Baseball Hall of Fame East-West Classic (Central NY)

Cooperstown ILNY - Baseball Hall of Fame - Photos Courtesy of

Grab your tickets to this year’s Memorial Day weekend of fun at the National Baseball Hall of Fame! The Hall of Fame East-West Classic weekend will be celebrating and honoring the greatest legends and history of Black baseball by hosting a seven-inning legends game at Cooperstown’s historic Doubleday Field on May 25. Plus, museum admission will be free the whole day, giving attendees the opportunity to witness the grand opening of The Souls of the Game: Voices of Black Baseball exhibit, and three floors filled with baseball history. 

Don't forget to share your summer vacation with us! Share New York State pictures on Instagram and Twitter with #FindWhatYouLoveNY and tag us on Facebook!