It’s not too late to escape the concrete jungle before the end of the summer. For a quick getaway to the country look no further than upstate New York. For those who don’t know, the State of New York is so much more than the hustle and bustle of the City. Just a stone’s throw away from the Big Apple, you can find many beautiful, relaxing vacation destinations.
Although I grew up in south-western New York and went to school in upper-central New York, I never had or took the opportunity to see or spend time on the Finger Lakes, a region located in upper-central New York. Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a day on Cayuga Lake and I quickly realized I was definitely missing out.
The Finger Lakes Region encompasses an area of over 9,000 square miles, including the 11 Finger Lakes, part of Lake Ontario, and a section of the Erie Canal. Glaciers carved out the Finger Lakes themselves as well as some of the beautiful surrounding landscape. Gorges and waterfalls can be found throughout the Finger Lakes Region, particularly at Watkins Glen State Park, where 19 waterfalls can be seen in less than two miles.
This region is also rich in history. Women’s Rights, the Underground Railroad and aviation were greatly affected by those in the Finger Lakes region. (Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance)
Many already know the Finger Lakes Region for its 100+ wineries, but there is more to do than partaking in all the tastings. The region boasts more than 135 museums, more than 80 art galleries, more than 400 registered historic sites and landmarks, 14 professional theatre companies, and 45 community theatre groups, more than 300 bed & breakfast facilities (B&Bs), at least 100 restaurants with waterside views, more than 50 farmer’s markets, and over 2,000 miles of hiking and biking trails!
To make sure you’re having a Gay-cation in Upstate New York, be sure to check out I Love NY’s site, for gay specific destinations in Upstate New York.
On my day discovering the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, I visited several wineries, a brewery, and a distillery. Here is a quick low-down on my three favorites:
Three generations of the Lucas family have developed internationally acclaimed wines at this family owned business whose story began in 1974. As the oldest winery on Cayuga Lake, I found the grounds to be beautiful, and the staff to be very friendly and pleasant. The nautical theme cleverly sewn throughout the wine names, imagery of the branding, and accessories in the shop are based in one of the founders, Bill, having been a tug boat captain from the harbor of New York. This is a definite stop on your tour of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.
Not a winery, but given the significant growth in smaller, locally-based and locally-sourced distilleries, I loved visiting this distiller’s shop which was designed after old distilleries of Scotland.
Myer Farm Distillers is a New York State Farm Distillery using International Certification Services certified organic grain from their own Myer Farm, touted as one of the largest and oldest currently operating organic farms in the Northeast United States. They both plant the seed and produce the spirit.
Myer Farm Distillers crafts vodka, whiskey, and gin. My tasting allowed me to try three spirits from their collection. In the 2016 American Distilling Institute 10th Annual Judging of American Craft Spirits they won a silver and three bronze medals for their crafted spirits. Uniquely inspired spirits include the Myer Farm Pineapple Vodka; Myer Farm Coffee Vodka; several corn-based, wheat-based and single grain whiskies; and their silver medal winning Cayuga Gold Barrel-Aged Gin which had a wonderful flavor. It was hard to tell if I was tasting gin or whiskey. I loved it!
Also not a winery, the Boat House Beer Garden has become a go-to location on the Finger Lakes for locals and visitors who are interested in experiencing locally crafted beers. With over 20 beers on draft, 13 bottled beers and ciders, and over five themed flights of beers, you’re sure to find something worth experiencing.
Boat House Beer Garden offers live music every Thursday and Friday, as well as occasionally on Saturdays. Also located on the grounds are the Shops at Traders Village, a Saturday marketplace offering 16,000 square feet of space where small business vendors and local produce farmers gather to create a fantastic shopping experience.