I LOVE NY tourism statue in the Southern Tier.

Spotlight on Summer Tourism: Q&A with Executive Director of Tourism Ross Levi

Summer is one of the most beautiful times of year to visit New York State. From swimming at Long Island beaches and camping in the Adirondacks to touring Finger Lakes wineries and soaking up the mist and views at Niagara Falls, there are endless opportunities to enjoy all the outdoor attractions New York has to offer. This year, New York State has a whole new roster of exciting experiences to offer visitors, including historic anniversaries, festivals, arts and cultural events. Executive Director of Tourism Ross Levi gave us the inside scoop:

Q: What’s special about 2019 in terms of tourism in New York State?

A:  This year, we’re commemorating the 50-year anniversaries of two pivotal events in the history of New York and the world: the Woodstock Music and Art Fair and the Stonewall uprising of 1969. During Woodstock’s anniversary week in mid-August, music fans can attend the screening of the Oscar-winning documentary about the festival on the field where it took place in 1969. The Aug. 15 screening is hosted by Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, where "A Season of Song & Celebration" from Aug. 15 - 18 will also feature performances from legendary musicians including Ringo Starr, Arlo Guthrie, Santana, the Doobie Brothers and John Fogerty.

New York State is also hosting WorldPride 2019 this summer -- the first time the international event will be held in the United States -- in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising in New York City, which is widely seen as the birthplace of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. New York City is the epicenter for WorldPride, with official activities in June from the opening and closing ceremonies, to a human rights conference, outdoor Family Movie Night and the epic Pride March. However, from Long Island to Buffalo, WorldPride 2019 is truly a statewide celebration. The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown is hosting an exhibit through Sept. 2 about celebrity LGBTQ photographer Herb Ritts, featuring his iconic photos of artists including Elton John, Cher and Madonna. In the Capital Region, the "Sing Out! New York" music festival includes free outdoor concerts by the Albany Symphony playing newly commissioned works by LGBTQ composers from June 2-9. Across Long Island, visitors can celebrate Pride on the Beach from June 12-29 with events like a market fair on the boardwalk and a Pride Pet Parade. At the Chautauqua Institution, Bishop Gene Robinson, the Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop, will lead discussions about the building of America’s LGBTQ community with activist Judy Shepard on July 2. The Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will perform at Pride at the Falls at Niagara Falls on July 5, complete with fireworks and a rainbow-lit Falls. In Jamestown, LGBTQ comedian Matteo Lane is performing two shows on July 6 at the National Comedy Center. The "New Glass Now" exhibit at the Corning Museum of Glass features works by LGBTQ artists and Queer Tours daily from June 20-July 6.

Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

Q: What else do visitors have to look forward to that’s new this summer?

A:  We have several new exciting hotels and attractions across New York State. The Chautauqua Harbor Hotel is a beautiful new lakeside property, convenient for visitors to the Chautauqua Institution and the National Comedy Center in Lucille Ball’s hometown of Jamestown. The Catskills are a revitalized destination with the Resorts World Catskills hotel and casino, the Kartrite Resort & Indoor Water Park, Scribner’s Catskill Lodge and the YO1 Wellness Center. And some of New York State’s historic hotels are back in business. The iconic Hotel Saranac reopened in the Adirondacks after a four-year, $35 million renovation and the 140-year-old Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga Springs is open again following a $34 million restoration. In Western New York, the new Explore & More—The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum at Buffalo’s Canalside is a 43,000-square-foot space offering hands-on activities and exhibits that tell the story of Buffalo for children and families. While it’s technically not opening until next spring, we have a lot to look forward to in the Hudson Valley, with the highly-anticipated LEGOLAND New York Resort which will be the first LEGOLAND Resort in the Northeast and the last in North America. Next year, we’ll also see the opening of the Empire State Trail, the longest multi-use trail in the United States, that will allow visitors to bike or walk from New York City to Canada and Buffalo.

Q: What other summer events should visitors mark on their calendars?

A: This summer is packed with a range of events, from art and culture to history and performing arts. The Path Through History Weekend June 15-16 features more than  200 events at historic sites statewide.  The Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site on Long Island is commemorating the iconic poet's 200th birthday with a 2019 Whitman Bicentennial Celebration that includes panels, tours, poetry readings, musical performances and workshops. New York City visitors can catch the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, a groundbreaking African-American modern dance company that just celebrated their 60th anniversary, from June 12-16 at Lincoln Center. Celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer, the Phoenicia International Festival of the Voice is bringing vocal artists from around the globe to the Catskills and special events from Aug. 2-4 will honor African-American culture.

Q: Why should travelers visit New York State?

A: New York State is home to 11 spectacular vacation regions, each with its own unique character, culture, history and scenery. With each changing season, New York offers a range of activities perfect for making memories that last generations. We’re always striving to make it even better for travelers by modernizing our airports and train stations and showcasing all there is to see and do through our recently completed regional welcome centers. These centers offer a taste of New York, including fresh farm-to-table foods and craft beverages, as well as information about all there is to see and do in each area. We encourage everyone to go to iloveny.com to find what they love and plan a weekend getaway or a full-fledged family vacation for this summer. Whether it’s celebrating one of our historic milestones, exploring New York’s museums and state parks, attending a concert or play, watching sports or enjoying a relaxing retreat, there’s something for everyone in New York State.

The new Explore & More - Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children’s Museum in Buffalo.