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.
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.
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.
As the fall leaves drift away and the crisp hint of winter whispers in the wind, we decided to take in one last view of Keuka Lake. Even with the colors fading the beauty of this lake still shines through.
The Finger Lakes region is known for beautiful lakes, hiking trails and award winining wineries. I personally love exploring every inch of this area. But occasionally I need a little R&R. When that happens I make a beeline right to one of the many amazing spas the Finger Lakes region has to offer.
Today I made a visit at one of my favorites, Namaste in Horseheads.
You will feel the peace flow over you when you walk in the door. The staff at the front desk are always welcoming and friendly. They will show you to the back changing area where you can wrap yourself in a comfy white robe. Make sure you arrive early for your appointment so you have plenty of time to sit in the relaxation room before your service. As you sink into one of the oversized seats your cares will drift away.
Today I enjoyed a totally bone melting massage. I actually fell completely asleep on the table. It was heavenly!
They offer a full range of services at Namaste. You can treat yourself to one service or go for a full day of hair, nail and facial treatments plus relax with a massage. Check out their website for the full list of relaxing treatments. http://www.mynamastespa.com. And bonus – they have a steam sauna that is always free to use in addition to your scheduled service.
When you need a reprieve from exploring all the Finger Lakes region has to offer take a day and relax at one of the many wonderful spas in our area. It’s always nice to treat yourself to a little rest and relaxation!
With the fall foliage on full display I recently went on a hike at Robert Treman State Park. This is one of several beautiful parks in the Finger Lakes region. If you are looking to soak up the last of these warm fall days you should head out for a hike. Trust me the pictures don’t do justice to the beauty of seeing it in person.
The views at Robert Treman are worth the hike but it is a challenging one. There are lots of staris, hills and tree roots. If you start at the main parking lot it is a 2 mile hike one way with lots of waterfalls along the way.
With Halloween quickly approaching I decided it was time to get into the spirit by taking a ghost walk.
For the past 13 years the Chemung County Historical Society in Elmira has hosted a ghost walk in Woodlawn National Cemetery. This cemetery is home to many notable and interesting people throughout history.
I will be the first to admit I do not do scary. But I do love history so I reserved my ticket, bundled up to keep warm and headed out to the Chemung Valley History Museum.
This ghost walk is only available one weekend each year. They do run it both Friday and Saturday night. Our guide told us they had eight tours each night this year. They sell out fast so make sure you reserve your spot early. I booked my several weeks ago.
We were told to arrive 15 minutes before our 7:35 time slot. I recommend arriving a little earlier so you have time to look around the museum or join in on the local trivia questions being asked in the meeting room. We were able to enter our name in a drawing for a prize for every answer we got right.
At 7:35, our bus was ready to take our group to the cemetery. There were around 20 people in our group. When we arrived at the cemetery we were greeted by a group of people carrying lanterns to guide us around.
Walking through a cemetery at night will give you a little bit of apprehension all on its own. When you mix that with the occational “spirit” wandering by in the distance it is a creepy, fun time.
The guides led us to select graves where there are “spirits” who tell the story of their lives. They are dressed in clothing from that time period. They pull you into the story and truly make you feel like you are transported back to their life at that time in history.
In total we visited four gravesites plus saw various other spirits wandering through the cemetery. We were asked to not have our phones out during the spirit visits so I don’t have pictures to share. This is one you will need to see in person. I know I will be going again. It was spooky, good time!
If you would like to check out the spirits that have appeared over the past 13 years you can visit http://www.chemungvalleymuseum.org. They do change it up over the years so you will want to go back again and again.
This weekend I had an opportunity to literally float on air. I went on a glider ride!
A glider is a motorless aircraft that is towed into the sky then released to glide on air currents. Elmira, NY which is located in the Southern tip of the Finger Lakes region is known as the “Soaring Capital of America”. So the opportunity to take a glider ride is too tempting to pass up.
I arrived at the flight center at 10:00am Sunday morning. My flight was scheduled for 10:30am. The view from the top of Harris Hill was sunny and beautiful but the valley below us was full of fog. I was told we had to wait for the fog to lift because if there is an issue with the tow plane they have to be able to see the airport runway for an emergency landing. Hummmm…. I guess I don’t mind waiting, just in case…
While waiting my glider pilot, Bryan, went over all the controls and explained what was going to happen. One thing I found out is there is a weight limit for a glider plane; both a minimum and a maximum. I was a little under the minimum so Bryan put in a weighted pad to balance the glider. Guess I should of had an extra piece of cake with dinner.
Once the fog lifted I got buckled in and we were ready for lift off! The tow plane is hooked to the glider and then the plane and glider give the signal they are both ready. The tow plane wiggles its back flap and the glider wiggles back, then the tow plane is off. The rope pulls tight and we are moving.
As we go down the runway I see the edge of Harris Hill coming up quick. I have to admit it is a nerve wracking feeling to watch the land fall away beneth you as you go full steam ahead over the edge!
And then we are in the air, going higher and higher. Bryan said our goal was 2000 feet high. Once we reached it he said get ready, the tow line will release in 3, 2, 1. The rope fell, the plane went left and the glider went right. Now we are on our own floating on air currents.
The feelings of exhiliration, nervousness and being totally free are all wrapped up in one. One of the first things that struck me was the quietness. It is so peaceful. And the views are amazing. From high above Harris Hill Bryan pointed out Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen and Cowanesque River in PA.
We continued to circle around looking at differnet landmarks below us. I even saw the corn maze I was lost in the day before at Smithome Farms.
The ride was smooth and totally relaxing. Bryan did tell me morning rides tend to be smoother while afternoon rides can be a little rockier. It all has to do with the sun heating the ground which in turn changes up the air currents. I’m very happy I went in the morning and had a smooth, relaxing ride. As we continued to circle we slowly made our way back to the ground. In all it took about 20 minutes. But it was one of the best 20 minutes I have ever experienced.
If you are visiting the Finger Lakes region you should definately take a trip to Harris Hill and go for a glider ride. Due to constantly changing weather conditions they don’t take reservations. It is first come, first served so get there early. It fills up fast. And if you live here; what are you waiting for? This is one you need to go do!
The Finger Lakes region is now full of red, gold and orange colors announcing that fall has truly arrived. To enjoy the full fall experience we recently headed to Smithome Farms.
Nestled between rolling hills on St. Rt. 352 in Big Flats you will find a Corn Maze, Hay Wagon rides and an expansive Pumpkin Patch. Of course my grandson couldn’t wait to jump in and check it all out!
We purchased our tickets to try out everything they had to offer. For the two of us it was under $20 so very affordable for an afternoon of fun.
We started with the Haystack Hunt. He had a blast kicking hay and tunneling through it to find a hidden chip for a prize. Of course he was a winner!
Then it was time for the Duck Race. This cute game is a new one to me. You put your little rubber duck in the plastic tube and use the old fashioned water pump to send the duck flying down the tube and back to the finish line. He loved do this one!
After playing these games we were ready to take on the corn maze. I have to point out it had rained earlier this morning so there was a lot of mud. When you mix mud and a five year old you definately get FUN! We only found three of the eight clues but we laughed, slid and came out a muddy mess! We had a blast!
Now it was time to jump on the hay wagon and go for a ride. This was a perfect opportunity to pick out the biggest pumpkin in the patch. Once the the wagon stopped we hopped off, grabbed a cart and headed out to claim our pumpkin. Of course we ended up with several more along the way!
If you are looking to make some wonderful fall memories with your family head over to Smithome Farms soon. They are open Saturday and Sunday through October so get there soon!