By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Summer and fall are the perfect time to learn about important historic sites around Upstate New York. Many of these include numerous outdoor elements, giving visitors an opportunity to enjoy the great weather as they connect with the past.
As with other attractions, check the sites’ social media pages before heading out to ensure they’re open.
The history of Fort Ontario (https://historicfortontario.com) goes back to 1759, well before the nation’s founding. The grounds include buildings housing many artifacts and period-furnished rooms depicting officer’s quarters, barracks and storehouse. Check the website for special events.
In addition to historic Boldt Castle (www.boldtcastle.com), you should also visit the Boldt Yacht House on Wellesley Island, too. In addition to the historic architecture that mimics the style of European castles, the boat ride and views of St. Lawrence River make Boldt Castle a must-see attraction. Look online for package deals and tour operators that serve the islands.
Sonnenberg Garden (www.sonnenberg.org/) is a 50-acre estate that’s now a New York state park. It features formal gardens and artifacts displayed in historic buildings. The peak time to tour Sonnenberg is in mid-June to July, when the roses are in bloom. Stop at the small tea room-style café for a light lunch.
Carnwath Farms Historic Site & Park (https://carnwathfarms.webs.com) includes nearly 100 acres of protected parkland, which includes hiking trails with excellent views of the Hudson Valley. While on the grounds, tour the pre-restoration 1850 Italianate-style Carnwath Manor, 1873 French-style Carriage House, Reese Cultural Center, Sports Museum of Dutchess County, and 1927 colonial cottage. Bring along a picnic and use the park’s tables for lunch.
The Vanderbilt Mansion (www.nps.gov/vama) was modeled on the style of an English country house. Nearby, there’s also The Cottage at Val-Kill, dedicated to Eleanor Roosevelt and The Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site includes the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum. Surrounding these sites, enjoy strolling formal gardens and well-kept grounds.
Fort Ticonderoga (www.fortticonderoga.org) offers a glimpse of Revolutionary War life through battle re-enactments, museum displays and tours of historic buildings. The historic gardens, educational programming, activities, period farm and other features make Ticonderoga an ideal summer daytrip.
A walking tour through Genesee Country Village and Museum (www.gcv.org) whisks visitors back to the 1800s as it replicates every aspect of village life in that period: blacksmith, tinsmith, weaver, one-room school, small farm and everyday “citizens” going about their business. Encourage your children to ask questions and check out the displays in each of the replica and authentic building on the grounds. They can also participate in activities such as making a tin ornament.
Albany to Buffalo
The Erie Canal Corridor’s museums and heritage sites (https://eriecanalway.org/explore/culture-heritage) offer both museums to visit and trails to hike and bike. In addition to the historic sites, explore the port towns dotting the canal. They offer small-town charm with unique shops and family-owned restaurants, architecture from yesteryear and their own museums and historic sites.
Photo: The history of Fort Ontario on the shores of Lake Ontario in Oswego goes back to 1759. It holds several events during the season.