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  • Watkins Glen State Park - Photo Courtesy of Beautiful Destinations Watkins Glen State Park - Photo Courtesy of Beautiful Destinations

    Great OUTdoors

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender things to do OUTdoors

Watkins Glen State ParkNew York's amazing outdoors are calling: "Come out and play!" All-season fun awaits, including gay-friendly places and gatherings, in the awe-inspiring natural beauty of New York State.

For some, the best of the great outdoors includes sun and surf. Long Island has the famous gay beach communities of Cherry Grove and the Pines on Fire Island, the LGBT-favorite fields at Jones Beach, and the white sands and posh shopping of the Hamptons. There are freshwater beaches on the St. Lawrence Seaway in the Thousand Islands, and on the Great Lakes across New York's northern and western borders.

New York is teeming with hikes, from serious backpacking to leisurely nature walks. Try some (or all!) of the 46 high peaks of the Adirondacks. Take the Cave of the Winds to the famous Hurricane Deck under Niagara FallsLetchworth State Park called the Grand Canyon of the East, and Watkins Glen State Park with its gorge path winding amid and under 19 waterfalls, were rated the #1 and #3 best state parks in the nation by USA Today readers.

Activities on New York's 70,000 miles of waterways include kayaking and canoeing on the Delaware River in the Catskills, whitewater rafting in the Adirondacks, jet boat tours in the whirlpools of the Niagara Gorge, and day- and overnight-cruising on the Erie Canal.

For adrenaline junkies, try the highest and longest zip line in North America at Hunter Mountain. Or enter another world scuba diving among shipwrecks in the crystal blue waters of the Thousand Islands. 

Fire Island LighthouseGay-friendly camping is available at places like Jones Pond Campground & RV Park, as well as at state parks all across New York. For those who like only a dash of rustic, glamping offers farm-to-table dining, custom-made tents, and fancy amenities. Upscale resorts like Mohonk Mountain House have miles of hiking and skiing trails followed by a luxurious dinner or soothing massage.

In winter, cool temperatures only heat up the fun. No state in the nation has more ski slopes than New York, and Whiteface Mountain has the greatest vertical drop east of the Rockies. Some resorts, like Bristol Mountain in the Finger Lakes, host LGBT ski weekends. The I Love New York Bus, operated by Hampton Jitney, provides transportation from Manhattan to the slopes, with rentals and lessons available.

Organizations like Sundance OutdoorOutcycling, and Ski Bums organize social meet-ups, trips, and events in New York for LGBT outdoorsy types.