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OPEN | The Best New York Ways to Open Your Mind

OPEN | The Best New York Ways to Open Your Mind

Rose Compass 12" x 18" Print by Bold Version Design. View here.

New Year, new you? While research into the success rate of New Year’s resolutions is notoriously imprecise (how do scientists measure the efficacy of intangible goals like “eating healthier” and “being kinder”?), the data suggests that one-third of the pledges are broken after the first month, and some studies find that four out of five ironclad intentions melt down eventually.  

So instead of pledging to go to spin class five times a week, eat kale at least once a day, or save 35% of our income, here at New York Makers we’re planning on devoting 2019 to opening our minds -- which is pretty “open”-ended. To us, it means trying something new like a sport or a food, something we haven’t tried before, going to a place we have never been, consciously listening to different music, considering different perspectives on traditional views, and exploring mindfulness. With so much latitude, we have more opportunity to succeed. We suspect when we try one, it may inspire us to try another!

As a starting point, we have some fun ideas just right to open the New Year. Join us, won’t you?


A personal reboot sometimes requires being open to experiencing a new place.

Visit Jamestown

Start with some laughs watching reruns and then visit Jamestown, New York, where I Love Lucy’s star, Lucille Ball was born (and is buried). Every year, the historic town of Jamestown opens its institutions’ doors for one day only (January 19th) to all comers, for free! Among the businesses and cultural centers in and near Jamestown offering free entry and special events: the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum, the National Comedy Center, the Sports Hall of Fame, the Audubon Community Nature Center, Busti Grist Mill, the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel, the Chautauqua Regional Youth Ballet, the Fenton History Center, the Martz Kohl Observatory, the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, and others.

Can you spot the deer? Photo: Audubon Community Nature Center

If you want to keep opening up to new places, experiences, and ideas later in the year, discover The Chautauqua Institution only 17 miles from Jamestown. It is only open to the public for its nine-week summer programming from late June through late August, but January is the time to get reserve your accommodations at the Atheneum Hotel (these go very quickly!) and to buy your Gate Passes (these do, too!). From literary arts, opera, orchestral concerts, and theater to lectures on a host of educational and spiritual topics and recreational activities, the Chautauqua Institution and its programming are among New York’s most special treasures. The Institution, which began in 1874 as two men on a quest for “religious study and reflection on education”, is located on a 750-acre campus that comprises a Victorian village designated as a National Historic Landmark and a National Historic District, among other structures. In the early 1900’s, it led to “the ‘Chautauqua Movement’ which spread to rural communities throughout the country during the early 20th Century via traveling tent Chautauquas and distance learning courses.” This is truly a unique, fascinating, and transformational place and experience.

Atheneum Hotel at Chautauqua Institution. Photo: Chautauqua Institution


We are always open to taste something unexpected and delicious, so this is a no-brainer!

Hudson Valley Wing Fest / Poughkeepsie

Whether you like them sweet or spicy, dipped or dry, marinated or fried, there’s gonna be a wing that will send you soaring into culinary heaven at the Hudson Valley’s 12th Annual Wing Fest on January 26th. Poughkeepsie’s Mid-Hudson Civic Center takes on the hosting duties, where chefs from all over the Valley come fired up to compete in categories like “Best Buffalo Wings,” “Hottest Wings,” “Most Creative Wings,” and the vied for “King of Wings.” Pint-sized chefs can even participate in the Wing King Junior event for kids 8-12. There will also be live music, games, and prizes.

From the 2018 Hudson Valley Wing Fest. Photo: Hudson Valley Wing Fest

Best of Brooklyn Food and Beer / Brooklyn

If chomping wings isn’t your thing, consider the Best of Brooklyn Food and Beer Festival, happening the same day, January 26th, and geared toward a more mature audience. In addition to tapping the borough’s best craft brewers and 20+ chefs, there will be DJs spinning, tons of giveaways, and unlimited sampling opportunities. Dime Best of Brooklyn organizes the fest, which presents the “winning” chefs, businesses, and brewers that emerged from thousands of nominations voted on by more than 45,000 in-the-know consumers. Tickets start at $39.


The best way to recharge your own batteries can sometimes be to take in some of the light and energy others are giving off -- though you might want to participate a bit as well!

Winter Fireworks at Niagara Falls / Greater Niagara

If the short winter days are getting to you, consider shooting up to Niagara Falls, where every Friday in January, there’s a spectacular fireworks show reflected by the stupendous Falls. The show starts at 9 pm. And if you can’t make it up on a Friday, there’s still a mind-bending display of LED lights projected on the Falls every night from 5 pm until midnight.

Winter Fireworks at Niagara Falls. Photo: Niagara Falls Ontario

Skaneateles Winterfest / Finger Lakes

Skaneateles knows how to do a Winterfest, held this year January 25-26. The show kicks off with a fire and ice blaze, in which a fire is built in a six-foot-tall ice chimney. On Saturday, more than 20 restaurants gather to offer meals and samples to the brave souls who dare the Polar Bear Plunge (could that be you?! Sign up!), and the warm and cozy gawkers who gather to laugh and point. There are plenty of activities designed for little ones, plus a gallery of ice sculptures to check out.

Winter Games / Lake Placid

Luge competition. Photo: Empire State Winter Games

If you have Olympic ambitions for your winter fun, look no further than Lake Placid. The 39th Annual Empire State Winter Games will feature fierce competitions in 30+ events, including bobsledding (you can go on a run yourself, without competing and with someone to steer!), figure skating, ski jumping, and luging. More than 2,000 pro and semi-pro athletes turn out for the annual event, which kicks off January 31st and goes through February 3rd. Multiple ticket levels are available.


Yes, it’s cold. But have you been outside lately? The entire state, but especially the top half, is transformed into a winter wonderland come January. Maybe this is the year to try skiing, snowmobiling...or (especially) if you have little ones, why not one of the state’s best winter festivals?


Know what you can count on in New York every winter? SNOW. May as well embrace the winter wonder, and for the less athletically inclined, there’s no better way to explore the Great Outdoors than on a little machine that will get us from point A to point B without breaking a sweat. Cue the Free Snowmobiling Weekend every year (this year January 25-January 27th), in which the requirement to register in New York to access its 10,400 miles of snowmobile trails is waived.

Ski & Snowboard

Perhaps you’re an old hand on the slopes, or maybe this is your first year out. Either way, there are 43 ski mountains all over the state, just begging to be conquered. And if you’re afraid to try, tag along with your friends anyway and warm yourself by the inevitable fireplace in the lodge, with some hot chocolate, perhaps a hot toddy...

Many mountains (like Gore, Whiteface, and Hunter) have become just popular for their fantastic spa and drinking/dining amenities with non-skiers as they are with skiers.

Salmon River Winter Festival / Thousand Islands

Snow sculptures (aka snow-people!). Photo: Salmon River Winter Festival

This free festival is in its eighth year, and not only is it an excuse to visit the stunning Thousand Islands, but also it’s a fabulous, free event for the entire family. Choose among a snowshoe walk/run, ice skating, sled dogs, snow sculptures, craft and children’s events galore, plus a Chili Walk and a Wing Walk, which are as delicious and ridiculous as they sound.


Life on autopilot is no fun; sometimes, we all need to turn inward and open ourselves up for a little jumpstart.

Sivanada Yoga Ranch / Woodbourne

Photo: Sivanada Yoga Ranch

The Sivanada Yoga Ranch was founded in 1974 to provide a place peacefully to  retreat from the world and immerse yourself in Yogic living while surrounded by natural beauty. Participants will emerge with tools for empowering and improving their everyday life, by examining and transforming thoughts to bring inner calm and improve relationships. Just 100 miles from NYC, the Yoga Ranch offers a variety of 2-3 day meditation and yoga retreats in the beautiful Catskills. All retreats include accommodation (single and shared rooms are available), with communal meals and access to spa treatments, a pool, and a sauna.

The Open Center / Manhattan

The New York Open Center, founded in 1984, offers holistically based educational programs with the goal of creating positive transformations in individuals and the world. The Center has turned into an urban destination for personal and professional development and enrichment, with an emphasis on healthy, spiritual inquiry, and creativity. If that sounds promising, perhaps the free intro class to The Language of Compassion: Transforming Our Relationships With Nonviolent Communication  or Full Moon Circles, designed to harness energies of healing and harmony  would be up your alley. The Center offers a wide variety of classes on a daily basis.

What are your New Year’s resolutions this year? We recommend being Open!

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