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QUEENSBURY — The Adirondacks Welcome Center, located off the northbound lanes of the Northway near Exit 18, had its grand opening Thursday, showcasing tourism information, regional snacks and beverages and even some historical trivia.

The welcome center has an expanded parking lot with a playground that includes a small zip line and large sign of the I Love NY logo.

As you walk inside the facility, a large gold-colored trim map of the Adirondack Park with key locations make up the main walkway.

The building also includes vending machines with area-produced food for Taste NY, interactive quiz kiosks and seating areas.

“When Governor Cuomo first announced plans for welcome centers across the state, the idea was actually really simple. Let’s create regional gateways to the state’s various regions and to encourage visitors to explore all the exciting things to do right here in New York state,” said Ross Levi, Empire State Development executive director of tourism.

State and local officials, as well as area business leaders, attended the opening.

The drive to have local-focused food in the vending machines is something Cuomo has enforced with the regional welcome centers, said Gina Mintzer, Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce executive director.

The goal is to bolster the growing companies in the area where visitors are traveling.

“No, there are not Cheez-Its in there; there are actually cheese curds and they are from a farm that’s 15 miles up the road that you can actually go and tour,” Mintzer said.

Through a grant by Taste NY, the chamber will have employees work at the facility.

Placed in front of the building’s entrance are “Walk of Fame” stars for some who are well-known to the area. Actor Kevin Bacon has a star as he and his family have a camp in Old Forge, the Associated Press reported in June.

Other amenities available at the welcome center include boat washes to hinder invasive species from going to area waterways and electric car chargers.

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Andrew David Kuczkowski is the education reporter. Andrew can be reached at 518-742-3354. Follow Andrew on Twitter: @ByKuczkowski.

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