By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant
Support the mom-and-pop restaurants and shops that make your home town unique. Many of these businesses have struggled during the pandemic and robust support from the home folks will make a big difference in their survival. They have also likely adapted and grown to stay in business. Attend the local festivals. Go to that small, volunteer-run museum. Grab some takeout for a picnic from a locally owned restaurant. Supporting local businesses helps keep your home town unique.
2. Go regional
As gas prices fluctuate and tourism restrictions may change, this can be a good time to support your regional venues when you go on vacation instead of traveling to a far-flung location. Travelers from around the world come to New York for attractions like Niagara Falls, the Finger Lakes, the Adirondacks and the Thousand Islands. Revisit these old favorites and also try a new place in New York this season.
3. Attend the fairs
From the county fair to the Great New York State Fair, plus organization-run and food-oriented fairs, you have plenty of options to get out and hear local music, experience the rides, sample local foods and enjoy the sunshine. Shop for holiday gifts early among vendors of unique crafts and other goods. They’re far more interesting than mass-produced items. Take the time to talk with artisans, chat with your neighbors and play a few games. The site www.festivalguidesandreviews.com/new-york-festivals can give you a few ideas; however, check with the venue to make sure the event is still happening this year.
4. Get wet
New York is home to plenty of bodies of water, from lakes to streams. Or take a day to splash with your family at a local community pool, splash pad or waterpark. Soak up some vitamin D as you cool off (but use sunscreen to avoid sunburn).
5. Get in nature
Why stay indoors when the weather is so inviting? The state’s park system (https://parks.ny.gov/parks) offers more camping, hiking, and fishing venues than you can shake your walking stick at. Visit national parks (www.nps.gov/state/ny/index.htm) in New York, too. Also check the site of your municipality, as not all parks are maintained by the state and federal government.
6. Grow something
Whether you enjoy growing produce, flowers or both, digging in the dirt is good for you and the environment. It also adds value to your property if you plant trees, shrubs and perennials. Talk with an expert at your local garden center or reach out to the county’s Cornell Cooperative Extension agent to learn what will work best for your soil type and your gardening goals.
7. Attend an outdoor concert
What says “warm weather” more than an outdoor concert? Across Upstate, you have plenty of choices for outdoor concerts, such as CMAC (Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center, wwwcmacevents.com) in Canandaigua, Darien Lake Amphitheater (www.sixflags.com/darienlake) in Darien Center, and St. Joseph’s Health Amphitheater at Lakeview (www.asmsyracuse.com/p/amphitheater). Check your own community’s events for local band concerts.
8. Visit a historical site
Every community boasts a historic site. Make plans to visit a few sites to learn about yesteryear.
9. Pick your food
You-pick farms offer the opportunity to harvest your own produce, from springtime strawberries to autumn pumpkins. You can find the absolute freshest produce and your children can learn where their food comes from. While at the farm, stop at the farm store to see what other goods are available. Many farms sell things like preserves, pickles and home goods. Searching on https://upickfarmlocator.com can give you a few ideas as to where you can pick; however, it is important to check the farm’s social media page or call to ensure that their harvest is ready and that you understand all the farm’s guidelines and what to expect. For example, some farms require you to use their containers; others allow bringing your own. Many do not have restrooms available for the public. If you are unable to harvest your own produce, patronize a farmstand or farmers market for the next-best thing.
10. Eat al fresco
Whether at your own picnic table, at a park or at a restaurant’s outdoor seating, enjoy the season more by dining outside. ϖ