Home Travel 19 Can’t Miss VIP Experiences in New York State

19 Can’t Miss VIP Experiences in New York State

by Ohio Digital News

Credit: @balloonsoverletchworth on Instagram

From private helicopter rides and hot air balloon flights to behind-the-scenes tours and over-the-top stays, get the VIP treatment in the Empire State! It’s no secret that New York is packed with once-in-a-lifetime adventures, but if you’re looking for something a little more exclusive, we’ve got you covered. Cruise through Finger Lakes Wine Country on a private boat, have a castle all to yourself in the Thousand Islands, and much more.   

Rent an entire ski mountain in the Catskills (Catskills) 

A person snowboards down a snowy ski hillCredit: @tryitmom on Instagram

There’s no feeling like flying down snowy slopes surrounded by stunning views of the Catskills, and Plattekill Mountain is one of the best places in the region to do it. Take your visit to the next level and rent out Plattekill Mountain all for yourself (and your friends)! You read that right. For $10,000, you and up to 200 guests can enjoy Plattekill Mountain in all its wintry glory. That means access to skiing and snowboarding on 40 trails of ranging difficulty, lifts, and more. Plus, add ons like rental shop access, snowtubing, and lessons from the mountain’s experienced instructors are also available. The mountain can also be rented in the spring, summer, and fall, for up to 150 people with access to the lodge and second floor deck for $2,750. Add-on options include scenic lift rides and full bar service.

Go beyond the glass at the Aquarium of Niagara (Greater Niagara)

Aquarium of NiagaraCredit: Aquarium of Niagara

Ever wondered what happens behind the scenes at Aquarium of Niagara? Go beyond the glass and experience more than 120 species of rescued animals and 1,200 fish and invertebrates like never before. Make the most of your visit and become a trainer for the day ($274.95), where you’ll help experts prepare fish, learn about animal medical care, tend to sea lions, gray seals, Humboldt penguins, and more. Spend time with penguins ($74.95) or seals ($84.95) on an animal encounter, feed sharks and sting rays at mealtime ($39.95), participate in a live training session at the “Dangerous Beauties” exhibit ($29.95), and more. If you’re in need of a new profile pic, book a one-on-one photo op ($29.95) with a California sea lion or take a behind-the-scenes tour of the aquarium ($10) to see areas that aren’t visible to the public.  

Indulge in Gilded Age elegance at the Saratoga Arms (Capital-Saratoga)

Exterior of the Saratoga Arms in SpringCredit: Saratoga Arms

Step into the New York high society of yesteryear with a Gilded Age Experience at the Saratoga Arms. A prime filming location for HBO’s Gilded Age show, the Capital region is the perfect place to indulge in historical elegance. For $375/person, add on the Gilded Age experience to your room rate. This lavish package includes a 40-minute water bath at the famed Roosevelt Baths & Spa, a self-guided walking tour of the “summer cottages” and grand estates on historic North Broadway, a luxury picnic at Yaddo Gardens (built in the Gilded Age as a summer estate), a docent-guided walking tour of downtown Saratoga, and more. To truly unlock ultimate luxury, book the Enhanced Luxury Gilded Age Experience ($35,000 plus room rate). This package includes a private personal butler and chauffeur for the duration of your stay, a horse drawn carriage ride, a $2,000 private shopping spree, private dinner for two at exclusive Saratoga restaurants, a full spa day, $5,000 custom jewelry consultation, a two-hour helicopter tour of Saratoga and the lower Adirondacks, and more.  

Live like royalty in a castle all to yourself (Thousand Islands-Seaway)

Credit: @rbbramlett on Instagram

Ever dreamed of living like royalty? At Singer Castle you can! At this Scottish-inspired castle, once owned by the CEO of Singer Sewing Machine, you can book a night in the Royal Suite, where the 28-room castle on Dark Island becomes yours for the night! The suite is actually an entire wing and can sleep up to six people, featuring canopy beds, lavishly decorated rooms, and luxurious bathrooms equipped with period-style fixtures. In the evening, enjoy a decadent dinner followed by a private tour of the castle, and in the morning, wake up to a breathtaking sunrise alongside breakfast. You may also request to have your meals served at one of many locations around the castle such as the tearoom, dining room, drawing room, loggia, or front terrace. Available May-October. Pricing varies.  

Admire the Big Apple from above with on a Helicopter Tour (New York City) 

Aerial view of New York City skylineCredit: @718mango on Instagram

What better way to top off an unforgettable trip to the Big Apple than with a helicopter tour. This once-in-a-lifetime experience provides a birds-eye-view of the bustling city from above including famous landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building, Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges, Central Park, and more. HeliNY offers a variety of tours ranging from $199-$339/seat, making for a truly memorable adventure and photo ops that are sure to make your Instagram followers jealous. 

View of the Buffalo Bills football field from the standsCredit: @empirephoto1788 on Instagram

Cheer on the Buffalo Bills in style from your very own private suite at Highmark Stadium. Suites cost around $9,000-$30,000 and can be rented for single games and events or for the full season. Not only will you be sheltered from the elements, your price includes all-inclusive food and beverage packages, a personal suite attendant, premium parking access, and more. If you’re not a football fan, you can still indulge in Highmark hospitality. Suites can also be booked for big name performers like Luke Combs, who hits the stage in April!

The Chautauqua Institution on surrounded by green grass and blue skiesCredit: @hasanelahi on Instagram

For the past 150 years, the Chautauqua Institution has come alive each summer with an exciting mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, interfaith worship, programs, and activities. The annual nine-week summer assembly is set to celebrate its historic 150th anniversary in 2024, promising an unforgettable Chautauqua summer. For the ultimate assembly experience, book the Chautauqua Experience Package for a weeklong stay at the historic Athenaeum Hotel, found on the institution grounds. Rates start at $1,495/person per week and include a traditional gate pass to the institution, parking, breakfast each morning, and stunning views of Chautauqua Lake.

Soar through the Adirondacks on a private hot air balloon ride (Adirondacks)

Hot air balloons float in the sky during the Adirondack Balloon Festival

Experience the rolling hills, valleys, farmland, and mountains of the Adirondacks like never before… sailing through the skies in a hot air balloon ride. Whether you’re planning a romantic proposal or an exciting group adventure, Sun Kiss Ballooning offers a variety of high-flying hot air balloon experiences. For $500/person, you can book the premium package which includes a personalized, private 40-60-minute balloon flight, a post-flight champagne toast with commemorative flute, a Sun Kiss embroidered t-shirt, and unrivaled memories. Open April-mid November. 

A glass of white wine sitting on a wooden table with a view of pink blossoming flowers and Cayuga LakeCredit: @lakesideprovidence on Instagram

With four wine trails, over 130 award-winning wineries, and countless stunning lake views, the Finger Lakes is one of the most renowned wine regions in the world! Not much beats a sunny day out on Cayuga Lake sipping wine, so why not spend the day cruising the waters in style on a Finger Lakes boat tour? Bianconi Tours (open April-October) and Captain Jim’s (open May-September) both offer winery tours, making stops at three wineries as you navigate Cayuga waters with an experienced guide. You can even book private charters just for you and yours like Bianconi’s Wine and Dinner charter ($850 total) or Captain Jim’s Wine and Lunch cruise ($660 total). Both include visits to Finger Lakes favorites, a delicious meal, and breathtaking views. 

Aerial view of Niagara Falls on a sunny dayCredit: @portcityheights on Instagram

On any normal day, Niagara Falls showcases some of the most unrivaled views in the world. Take this once-in-a-lifetime experience to new heights (literally) with a Rainbow Air Helicopter Tour (open April-October). Incredible vantage points and everlasting memories await among the skies on a 15-minute classic tour ($170/adult, $135/child) taking off from the Niagara Falls Intl. Airport. Rainbow Air also offers options to extend your tour with even more amazing vistas, and private charters for special occasions if you’re looking to pop the question or say “I do” with a view! Open April-October.

Luxuriate in Gatsby-like elegance at Oheka (Long Island)

The resplendent gardens and fountains outside of the opulent Oheka Castle on Long IslandCredit: @ambientevents on Instagram

Live out the glitz and glamor of “The Great Gatsby” and Long Island’s famed Gold Coast at an extravagant real life castle! Party like it’s 1920 and plan an Oheka escapade with the Gold Coast, “Gatsby” Experience ($1,025 for two guests). This luxurious package features lavish overnight accommodations in the Chateau Room, a mansion tour, entry tickets and a picnic lunch at Old Westbury Gardens, Vanderbilt, or Coe Hall, and more. 1920s Gatsby-inspired attire is encouraged, but optional. Oheka also offers a variety of other decadent packages including the Ultimate Romantic Evening for Two ($15,000), the Oheka “Million Dollar Package,” and more. Gold Coast, “Gatsby” Experience offered May-September.  

Take a private cruise on Lake George aboard a historic steamboat (Adirondacks)

Lake George Steamboat Company - Photo by NYS ESD

Not much beats a sunny summer day out on the “Queen of American Lakes.” With three unique and historic ships, Lake George Steamboat Company is the best way to experience the majesty of Lake George. Make your cruise even more memorable and book your own private charter! The Lac du Saint Sacrement, Mohican, and Minne-Ha-Ha can all be booked for large events and celebrations or just enjoyed all to yourself. Options to add private lunch, brunch, dinner, live entertainment, and fully stocked bars are also available depending on the ship. Open May-October. Prices vary. 

The moon behind the outdoor skydeck at the Edge NYCCredit: @vivi_kiki_127 on Instagram

Look out at one of the best views of New York City from the highest outdoor skydeck in the Western Hemisphere. Cheers to everlasting memories with champagne admission ($55/person) at the Edge, which includes a glass of bubbly alongside a spectacular 360 degree vista spanning from Central Park to the Statue of Liberty. Your admission also includes a free digital souvenir photo and a sky assurance weather guarantee. If you’re feeling brave, snap a selfie from the glass floor above the city and for a real treat, plan to toast at sunset. 

Credit: @slevels07ec on Instagram

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a zoo keeper? Now’s your chance! Spend the day at  Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville and work alongside the animal care team as a VIP Keeper ($400/person). Be prepared to get your hands dirty and work behind the scenes as you get the park ready for opening. Bottle feed baby animals, clean the rhino yard, assist the giraffes, observe tiger and wolf training, and more. This one-of-a-kind three hour adventure is all work and all play, so be sure to bring your full energy and attention, and a good sense of humor.  

Catch and cook your own dinner on a fishing tour (Thousand Islands-Seaway)

Fishing charter boat during sunset, Oswego County, New YorkPhoto courtesy of Oswego County Tourism

Whether you’re an experienced angler or fishing for the first-time, everyone can enjoy a day fishing out on the St. Lawrence River. For the ultimate experience, book a fishing charter through the angler’s oasis that is the Thousand Islands. A-Bay Fishing offers half day fishing charters ($580-$980) where you’ll hit the waters in search of Muskie, Northern and Walleye Pike, Small and Largemouth Bass, Jack Perch, and more alongside an experienced guide. All the gear and supplies including rods, reels, and tackle are included in your expedition. Afterward, indulge in a traditional shore dinner featuring your catches of the day! The A-Bay crew will clean and fry your fish in true Thousand Islands fashion alongside a tossed salad with Thousand Island dressing, BLT sandwiches, salt potatoes, and the guide’s famous French toast dessert.

A fountain spouts water outside the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in Hyde ParkCredit: @d_rebz on Instagram

Treat your tastebuds to a behind-the-scenes experience of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park. As one of the world’s premier culinary colleges, the CIA offers a unique look into the world of food. For the total culinary package, reserve a spot for the Moveable Feast ($190/person) on June 1. This memorable evening includes a course at each of the three award-winning restaurants and wine pairings, plus live entertainment from street performers and musicians as you move in between restaurants. On Saturdays, take a CIA Taste and Learn tour ($15/person) where you’ll get to participate in an interactive demonstration of the science of taste, tour Roth Hall (where culinary magic happens), and explore monumental points in food history. Afterward, connect with current students in an exclusive Q&A session.       

Bring your Broadway dreams to life (NYC)

A large elephant prop borders the red-lit stage of Moulin Rouge on BroadwayCredit: @lisaspoonertv on Instagram

Seeing a Broadway show is one of the most magical experiences in the world! If you’re looking to up the excitement and exclusivity, book a VIP Broadway experience. New York City Theater offers a variety of experiences for all kinds of hit shows like Hamilton, Wicked, Six, and more. Go behind-the-scenes and meet cast members on a backstage tour (starts at $300) or reserve a private dinner (starts at $400) with the stars of the show. Can’t make it in person? No problem. Virtual experiences like meet and greets ($50-$250), lessons ($100-$350/hour), and pre-recorded messages ($25-$200), are also offered.  

Explore an award-winning Finger Lakes winery on a VIP tour (Finger Lakes)

A plate of bread, cheese, and meats with a backdrop of a vineyardCredit: @foxrunvineyards on Instagram

Learn what it takes to run an award-winning Finger Lakes winery with a VIP Tour of Fox Run Vineyards. Your two-hour personal tour ($125/person) is led by the president and co-owner of Fox Run, Scott Osborn. Follow along as he guides you through the gorgeous estate, vineyards, and winemaking facility. Afterward, indulge in a private wine tasting from the historic barrel room that includes specially-selected wine and a delicious cheese and charcuterie board made with high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. 

Fly over the “Grand Canyon of the East” on a private hot air balloon ride (Greater Niagara)

Two hot air balloons soar through the blue skies over the green forests at LetchworthCredit: @balloonsoverletchworth on Instagram

With more than 14,000 beautiful acres, three magnificent waterfalls, and cliffs reaching as high as 600 feet in some places, the scenic beauty of Letchworth State Park is unrivaled. Experience the breathtaking landscape like never before from high in the sky in a hot air balloon ride with Balloons Over Letchworth. Shared ($425/person) and private flights ($2,150/couple, $425/additional person) are offered from April-October and take off at sunrise or sunset for a one-of-a-kind view. 

Pop the question at a Tuscan-inspired mansion in the Hudson Valley (Hudson Valley)

Nestled in the rolling hills of the lower Hudson Valley is the beautiful and historic Glenmere Mansion in Chester. Indulge in ultimate luxury throughout the restored Tuscan-inspired villa, built in 1911, with features like a relaxing spa, 15 unique guest rooms including a penthouse suite, an outdoor pool, exquisite culinary offerings, and more. Looking for an over-the-top, one-of-a-kind proposal? Look no further! The mansion offers three extravagant engagement packages that include a round trip private helicopter ride to Glenmere from Midtown Manhattan, a beautiful set-up for your proposal, a romantic meal with champagne toast, and options to add on spa treatments, lush overnight accommodations, and more. Prices vary by package.

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