The days are getting longer, the trees are budding and it hasn’t snowed in three whole weeks. You know what that means: it’s almost time for an Upstate summer. It always goes by too quick and before you know it, we’ll be staring down another winter. So let’s make a pact to get outside this summer and enjoy it while it lasts. It’s not a real summer unless you…
1. Climb a fire tower.
There are more than 60 fire towers in the Adirondacks. Back in the early 20th century, each fire tower had a forest ranger assigned to it, whose job was to monitor the area for forest fires all day every day. (Doesn’t sound half gig, does it?). Technology makes it possible to monitor for fires without people posted up on top of mountains all summer, but most of the towers are still there. On summits where there would otherwise be no view, climbing the tower gives 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains.
2. See a Drive-in Movie
Sitting in a field surrounded by fireflies and watching a double feature on a huge outdoor screen sounds like the stuff of nostalgic dreams, but there are still drive-in movie theaters in Upstate New York. Go early, bring a Frisbee and get some exercise while you wait for it to get dark. Set up some blankets or chairs outside, hit the snack bar that’ll put Regal to shame and enjoy.
Start here: drive in locations
3. Get Ice Cream From Stewarts
Every town has their own famous ice cream place, but I think we can all agree that Stewarts has some of the best hard ice cream out there. Fireworks flavor is a given for Fourth of July weekend, Crumbs Along the Mohawk is a classic and Mint Marcy is a limited edition must-try. Best eaten sitting on the curb near your local Stewarts, or if you’re feeling generous, bring a whole carton to the next barbeque.
Start here: they're everywhere
4. Swim in a Lake
No matter what Downstaters say, there are beaches in Upstate NY. Just because we don’t have the ocean doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of great places to spend a lazy summer day making sand castles and swimming. The options for where to go are nearly endless, with hundreds of lakes to choose from. Everyone has their favorite spots, but try somewhere new this summer. Maybe a lake you have to hike to, or swim at a waterfall.
5. See an Outdoor Concert
Nothing screams summer like a warm night sitting in the grass, watching a show. Even if it rains you’ll have an unforgettable time. No worries about buying seats with your friends when the lawn is general admission. Of course the classic place to see the big name outdoor shows is SPAC in Saratoga. But there are also tons of other options that host summer concerts all summer long.
6. Go Camping
Camping is the ultimate way to enjoy the Adirondacks in the summer. There are options that range from primitive hike-in sites to cabins with wi-fi and cable. Even if you’re not much of a camper, try sleeping somewhere this summer where the crickets are louder than the road noise.
7. Take a Drive
During the winter, ice-covered, winding mountain roads are more harrowing than scenic. Take advantage of the carefree (and snow free) days of summer by going for a drive on one of Upstates scenic highways. Roll the windows down, get a playlist ready and enjoy the journey.