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My Finger Lakes Travel Blog

Every year the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York is visited by thousands of tourists from around the world. The reasons are easy to see – the relaxing lakes, the beautiful rolling hills, amazing museums and in my opinion the best wineries and breweries in the country, if not the world. And oh yeah – the food is DELICIOUS!

I have had the pleasure of living in this region for the past 27 years. I love hiking in our local parks, kayaking on the lakes and checking out the area museums, festivals and locally owned shops.

Whether you live in the Finger Lakes region also or if you are planning to visit, I invite you to join me on all my journeys around the area. I will detail what I see and do, so you will know what to expect when you are planning your Finger Lakes experience.

Waterfalls Along The Way

If you are looking to take a relaxing drive to view waterfalls then you have to take a ride along St. Rt. 14 though Montour Falls and Watkins Glen.

When you come into Montour Falls you will want to turn onto W. Main St. This will take you right to Shequaga Falls. Over the years I have seen this waterfall gushing after a heavy rain or down to a low trickle during a dry period. No matter when you go the natural beauty is always on display.

There are a couple of parking places right in front of the waterfall with a 15 minute parking limit. You can easily view it from the road or walk the short distance to view it up close. There are also a couple of benches to sit, relax and take in the scenery.

As you continue down St. Rt. 14 from Montour Falls to Watkins Glen you will see another waterfall right on the main road. As you come around the curve look to your left and there is Aunt Sarah’s Falls.

Typically this fall has a nice flow. But during a heavy rain watch out! It is so close to the road I have seen times when it is churning so much the spray will go over the passing cars.

There is a small, gravel pull off area across the road where you can park to view this waterfall. If you decide to cross the road for a closer look – Be Careful! The curve can make crossing the road a little tricky. I recommend staying on the opposite side and viewing the falls from there.

There are several more small falls along St. Rt. 14 going into Watkins Glen. Make sure you keep your eyes open as you drive by. The more rain the more falls you will see.

Once you come into Watkins Glen you can always stop and visit Watkins Glen State Park. You can’t see these falls while driving by but if you have time the waterfalls in this park are totally worth the hike. I can honestly say out of all the state parks and hikes I have taken over the years Watkins Glen State Park is by far my favorite. The beauty of this park is absolutely breathtaking!

If you prefer to stay in your vehicle for you waterfall viewing then I recommend you continue up St. Rt. 14 into Watkins Glen. If you take a right onto E. 4th St. This will take you past Clute Park on Seneca Lake. While not a waterfall, take the time to enjoy the lake view as you are driving by. I happened to be there as a snow squall was making its way up the lake. It was a beautiful sight to see!

As you continue up E. 4th St / 414 following the lake, the road will split. Make sure you stay to the left following 414. About a mile or so after the split you will see Hector Falls. There are a couple of “pull off” areas on each side of the bridge where you can park to the view the falls. This is not an official parking area so be careful. You will basically be in the road if you get out for a better view of this one.

After looking at Hector Falls make sure you turn around and see the lake. The vast view from this height is spectacular!

I know there are several other falls around the Montour Falls and Watkins Glen area so if you decide to go exploring always be on the lookout. If you do come across others I would love to hear about them. I am always looking for new places to visit!

Thanks for exploring with me – Shelly

Hiking into 2020

The beauty of the Finger Lakes region shines year round. Yes I know it can be cold around the lakes but if you bundle up you can get out there and enjoy nature.

This year we joined in on a couple of the First Day Hikes of 2020. This is a fun, family friendly way to burn off those holiday treats and jump start your healthy routine for the new year.

The hikes are guided, inclusive to all skill levels and ages and they are free. With over 50 locations offering hikes you should be able to find one close to you.

We started our morning hike at Catharine Valley Trail. This 3.25 mile walk takes you through the Queen Catharine Wildlife Management Area. The scenery is peaceful and serene with a flat, easy to walk trail. We dressed in layers but once we were moving the temperature was very comfortable. And the softly falling snow add a very pretty touch to the overall view.

Once we finished this hike we headed to Taughannock Falls State Park for their 1:00 First Day Hike.

The trail at Taughannock was very muddy but the breathtaking views of this park make it totally worth it. And they have fire pits all along the trail for you to stop and warm up if needed.

If you decide to go to Taughannock you will defiantly want to bundle up. This trail runs along water and ends at a large waterfall so you will get damp from the mist. Trust me, you don’t want to miss this one so put on the proper outdoor gear and hit the trail!

As part of the First Day Hike 2020, the organizers had us gather at the base of Taughannock Waterfall for a group picture. They announced this is the largest First Day Hike not just in NY State but in the country. It was really cool to be part of this amazing hike!

Thanks for exploring with me – Shelly

Creating Memories & Art in Elmira

I recently spent an evening creating, drinking and laughing on a fun night out with Wine & Design.

You don’t need to be an artist to give it a go with Wine & Design. The instructor will walk you through your project, step by step. And if your design is not quite the same as everyone else’s, that’s ok! You should make your artwork your own anyway!

Our local Wine & Design studio is located at 90 E. Market St. Corning, NY. They offer a multitude of painting and creating classes each week with a variety of designs to choose from. You can check out their schedule at http://www.wineanddesign.com/locations/corning. You can also do like we did and schedule a private, mobile party at a location of your choice. We chose the Finger Lakes House on Water St. in Elmira, NY.

Finger Lakes House is one of Elmira’s newest hot spots. This refurbished, historic row house offers a cozy tavern atmosphere. They serve only locally crafted Finger Lakes beer and wine along with a menu of mouthwatering shareable appetizers.

We had a wonderful night snacking on a smorgasbord of delicious food, sipping beer and wine while creating our masterpieces. I will admit being in this historic building added to the creativity of the moment.

The Wine & Design instructor brings all the supplies needed to create your project so all you need to do is show up, drink up and get busy painting! You will be amazed at what you create and the the fun you will have during your two hour session. And best of all, at the end you will have a cool, new piece of artwork created by you plus fun memories to last a lifetime.

Thanks for exploring with me – Shelly

Things are heating up at The Corning Museum of Glass

When cold weather blasts the Finger Lakes region things get hot at the Corning Museum of Glass. 2300 degrees hot!

The third Thursday of each month, Nov. – March, Corning Museum of Glass is the place to be in the Finger Lakes region. And I was there to experience it all first hand for the opening night.

Just walking to the museum will put you in a festive mood. The Christmas lights are glowing and the atmosphere is exciting. When you walk in you will be surrounded by sparkling glass and beautiful scultpures. There is so much to see!

Each month, 2300 degrees features live music, regional fare and live glass making demonstrations by a glass artist. What does it cost to enjoy this amazing event you ask??? Admission is FREE! You do have to pay for your food and drink but you can enjoy the music and experience the glassblowing at no charge.

After checking out some of the items in the gift shop we made our way to the live music area. The room was rocking! And everyone was having a blast.

Of course being at the Corning Museum of Glass my main goal was to see the glassblowing demonstration. This month’s featured artist was Aya Oki. She was making a piece of art that featured bubbles. She made the bubbles by sucking in when the glob of hot glass was put on the large outside piece of glass. With Corning right in my backyard I have gone there a few times and made (with lots of assistance from the actual glass artist) a couple of glass pieces and I can honestly say I never knew this technique even existed. It was really cool to see what she was able to create.

There was an announcer who explained the process step by step so it really brought it all to life as you watched the process. We were told once the piece cools – in a few days – the artist will then cut off the outside pieces leaving the glass bubbles to make a sculpture. I am hoping to get back there soon to see the finished piece. Stay tuned for more to come from the Corning Museum of Glass!

Thanks for exploring with me – Shelly

Hiking at Taughannock Falls

Novemeber in New York brings cold, winter winds. So when you get a warm, sunny day you should take full advantage and head to one of our beautiful parks for some time outdoors.

I was thrilled to wake up to a beautiful Novemeber day last weekend. So of course we headed right out to enjoy a day at Taughnnock Falls. With its flat trails and easy walking path this park is open year round. Just make sure you use caution during inclement weather.

We saw several people out enjoying this beautiful fall day; hiking and fishing.

At Taughannock Falls you can actually walk on the rock bed. Of course there are signs posted stating this is at your own risk.

At the end of the trail you will find a waterfall plunging 215 feet.

If you would like to see waterfall but not able to walk the trail you can drive to a lookout point at the top of the gorge. The view from there is also spectacular.

Thanks for exploring with me – Shelly

Merry and Bright

“Oh what fun it is to ride through a Christmas light display!”

With the Christmas season quickly approaching I was thrilled to discover an all new light display in Elmira, NY.

Twinkle Town at Bradley Farms is a magical, musical holiday light show you view from the comfort of your own vehicle. No mittens are required as you slowly wind your way along a mile long stretch featuring over 200 individually lighted holiday scenes.

Watch the magic of the holidays light up your child’s face when they see Santa’s Workshop, an adorable Christmas train and so much more. The lights move and dance to synchronized Christmas classics delighting you and your family with a symphony of sight and sound.

Twinkle Town is open Nov. 22nd – Jan. 4th from 5:00pm – 10:00pm daily. Prices are per car. Also, $1.00 of every ticket will be donated to Meals on Wheels of Chemung County so you will also be helping out a wonderful, local organization. You can check out their website at http://www.twinkletownelmira.com. Bradley Farms is located at 1543 Maple Ave. Elmira, NY 14904.

This year start a new holiday tradition for the young and young at heart as you turn up the volume, roll down the windows and take in the festive light display at Twinkle Town!

Thanks for exploring with me – Shelly

Adventure Awaits at the Happy Hippo

Princesses, Pilots and Pirates can all come to life when your child walks into the Happy Hippo. Located inside the Arnot Mall in Horseheads, NY. I recently stopped in to visit this charming toy store. And it is just that, a stand alone, independant and locally owned toy store. The kind I remember from when I was a little kid.

Even through the eyes of an adult the lights are sparkling, the stuffed animals are smiling and imagination comes to life.

This is no typical store. They actually let the children get hands on with several of the toys so you will know what your child loves before you take it home. They have a kitchen area set up with all the “food” for your child to prepare. My grandson loves to cook me meals everytime we visit.

You never know what you will find when you stop in. This time I found an arts and craft table where children where making turkeys for Thanksgiving and a table with sugar cookies to be decorated and gobbled right up. Yummm!

Of course being a kid at heart, I was thrilled to find a puppet show stage and a multitude of puppets just waiting for you to bring them to life.

After a busy day of playing every kid needs a cuddle buddy to curl up with for a nap. And what is better than cuddling with a soft, warm stuffed animal. These soft pets can be warmed in the microwave for the perfect snuggle or be put in the freezer and used to soothe a bump or bruise when needed.

With the holiday season quickly approaching why not take some time to spend with your children playing at the Happy Hippo. You can make memories while also buying them a gift you know they will love.

Thanks for exploring with me – Shelly

Sailing Into History

During my recent Finger Lakes exploring I came across a museum tucked away on a hillside in Hammondsport. I love poking in the corners of museums, so of course we had to go in to check it out. And believe me, this one will not disappoint!

The Finger Lakes Boating Museum is located inside the historic former Taylor Wine Company. Talk about a uniquely cool building! We started out in the basement. When you step off the stairs you will step into an arched stone doorway. This will lead you between huge old wine barrels to pass into a room that feels like you are transported back into an old world castle. This room is amazing! And it is available to rent for all your special occasions. I have already put in my request to my husband for a party there soon. Fingers crossed!

Once you head back upstairs you will find two floors dedicated to the boating heritage of the Finger Lakes region. This museum is filled with the rich history of wooden boats built and enjoyed in the Finger Lakes region. These “old antique boats” are beautful! The musuem will walk you through the process of building the boats, the fun times flying across the lake with the wind in your hair, and the lazy, carefree days of leisurely floating around soaking up the sun.

The museum currently has over 200 boats in their inventory, a multitude of boating artifacts and handpainted murals that will make you feel as if you are standing at the side of the lake. There is also an active boat shop where you can witness boats being built and restored firsthand.

The museum is primarily run by volunteers. All of whom follow the example of the museum’s founder, Mr. Ed Wrightman. And believe me, their enthusiam is contagious. We were shown the Pat II restoration project. This boat, originally built in 1924, was brought to Skaneateles Lake in 1956 where she served as a tour boat and postal delivery boat until 1991. From 1991 until 2013 she sat deteriorating until the Finger Lakes Boating Museum took her in and started refurbishing her.

After seven years and countless hours of dedication by approximately a dozen volunteers, this beautifully restored boat will be ready to launch again in the spring of 2020. I plan to be there for a ride so stay tune for more information and details to come!

If you love lake life and boating you will definaetly want to go check out this museum. The volunteers are friendly, inviting and a wealth of information. If you are like me you will walk out with a whole new respect and enthusiasm for the wooden boats of the Finger Lakes.

The Finger Lakes Boating Museum is located at 8231 Pleasant Valley Rd. Hammondsport, NY 14840. You can also check out their website at http://www.flbm.org.

Thanks for exploring with me – Shelly