Summertime Fun in New York State

asiseeit_fayette_headshotThroughout the northeast, Summer is always welcomed with open arms, ready-to-spend wallets, and a desire to wear bathing suits whenever and wherever possible. With its four distinct seasons, from Memorial Day to Labor Day those in the New York State area attempt to squeeze every available sun-shining moment into their schedules.

So without further delay (because I think the sun is coming out to stay), here are some ideas I’d like to share with you for your summertime fun in and around New York State.

In Syracuse, Saturday mornings are reserved for hundreds to pay a visit to the Regional Market. Now this is open nearly all year round, but it’s a nice way to spend a summer Saturday morning as you stroll through locallySYR Regional Market grown fresh fruit, vegetables, and flowers. The Regional Market is open until 1pm on Saturdays. My wife and I usually start our Saturday out that way a couple of times during the summer. From there we head a few miles to the south, to the Armory Square district. This section of Syracuse boasts several restaurants, quaint pubs, along with specialty stores and boutiques. You can typically catch us enjoying lunch and a pint at The Blue Tusk. One of the largest attractions found in Syracuse when it’s not SU Orange basketball season is a trip to Destiny USA. Filled with hundreds of well-known stores, restaurants, and attractions, Destiny USA has something for everyone. Besides hours of shopping, this mega mall has indoor simulated golf, go-cart racing, comedy clubs, and museums. Popular eateries at Destiny USA include the Cheesecake Factory, Cantina Laredo, PF Changs, and Gordon Biersch.

Oswego Harborfest fireworks by GrucciDuring the last weekend in July the City of Oswego shows off its Lake Ontario lakefront beauty with its Harborfest celebration. From Thursday to  Sunday the city is transformed into a carnival atmosphere, mixed with great food, second-to-none free concerts, and traditionally Chamber of Commerce weather. Whether you want to taste regional wines, buy locally created crafts, take in a concert from top name acts, or just appreciate how lucky Oswegonians are to live alongside Lake Ontario, Harborfest weekend is a date you don’t want to miss.

Speaking of wine tasting, Central New Yorkers are blessed to have some of the world’s finest wines within a short drive. I enjoy taking a day, or sometimes even a weekend, to skip from winery to winery between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes. Part of the Finger Lakes Wine Trail, these wineries have fun employees, great tasting wines, and many now have overnight accommodations and restaurants. I prefer FingerLakes mapstaying at The Inn at Glenora at the south end of Route 14 or Belhurst Castle, located at the north end of Route 14 in Geneva. Some of my favorite lunch and dinner locations are Fox Run Farms Winery (found on the west side of Seneca Lake), Stonecutters (located in Belhurst Castle), and Sheldrake Point (along the west side of Cayuga Lake). As far as wine tasting goes, I have my favorites, but wine tasting is like that of music or food taste- it varies with each individual. That being said if you haven’t experienced the Finger Lakes Wine Trail some must-see stops are Swedish Hill, Hazlitt’s, Bagley’s Poplar Ridge, Three Brothers, and Fox Run Farms. You can find great interactive maps and descriptions by Googling ‘Seneca Lake Wineries’ or ‘Cayuga Lake Wineries’.

More family-oriented travels may see you spending the day at Rochester’s SeaBreeze Amusement Park, along Lake Ontario or the Darien Lake Amusement Park, located midway between Rochester and Buffalo just off the Thruway. Located in Sterling, NY (near Fair Haven Beach State Park) is the Renaissance Faire. Open for the months of July and August, the RenFaire takes visitors back to the Middle Ages with jesters, joustings, and the beloved fried turkey legs.

Niagara_FallsIf you have a weekend or a few days to spare, expand your travels to Niagara Falls. Whether you stay on the U.S. side or venture to the Canadian side, one of the great wonders of the world never disappoints. (Remember- a passport in now needed when traveling to Canada.) Besides that big waterfall that everyone goes gaga over, both countries boast casinos and plenty of entertainment. On the Canadian side they have the famous Clifton Hill, otherwise known as the ‘Hill of Fun’, with restaurants, attractions like Ripley’s Believe It or Not museum, and the Hershey Chocolate store. Of course don’t forget an unforgettable ride on The Maid of the Mist, as you get closer to the falls than you ever thought imaginable. Also over the border sits the City of Kingston, Ontario is a great weekend getaway! This quaint Canadian city offers tons of food and shopping along its famous Princess Street and Ontario Street.

Heading into the northern part New York, one fun stop can include Lake Placid, with a trip to the summit of Whiteface Mountain mixed in with a casual walk down their wonderful Main Street along Mirror Lake. Bobsledding in the summer is possible at the Olympic training center located just outside Lake Placid.

Back in NYState are the Lake Ontario towns of Alexandria Bay, Clayton, and Sacketts Harbor. All are perfect for that much needed day-trip. Whether traveling by boat or car, these lakeside towns offer breathtaking views, fun shopping, and aBoldt Castle in 1000 Islands variety of restaurants and taverns.

If you feel like traveling a little to the southern part of the state, a great day trip or weekend getaway can be found in Cooperstown. Known of course for its Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown also is home to the Farmer’s Museum, Fenimore Cooper art museum, and the Leatherstocking golf course alongside the historic Otesaga Resort.

saratoga starting gateIf horse racing is more your guilty pleasure, check out Saratoga. During the summer months Saratoga comes alive with thoroughbred horse racing and an atmosphere of yesteryear. Saratoga is also home of SPAC (the Saratoga Performing Arts Center), which brings in top name talent in the music industry for great concerts in a perfect setting.

Of course NY City is always a fun place to make memories. Whether strolling along along Broadway or taking in views at the top of the the Empire State Building, the Big Apple is loaded with great attractions, incredible shopping and one-of-a-kind food options.

So let the thousands flock to Mickey’s Florida home or jam the roundabouts of the Cape, a trip into New York State can have you criss-crossing the Empire State and never running out of fascinating things to. The state’s traditional tourism slogan isn’t one of the most popular and long lastings phrases anywhere for nothing. This summer experience all that NY State has to offer and find out for yourself why everyone is always singing, “I Love NY!”New York Times Square


Weekend Getaway: Alex Bay- 1000 Islands

About 2 hours north of the Syracuse area is the wonderful little town of Alexandria Bay, NY. Also known as Alex Bay. Also known as ABay. Alex Bay, as I like to call it, is a gem of a town smack dab in the middle of the 1000 Islands region.

Though ABay has an atmosphere for year-round vacationers, with a variety of restaurants and shops,  it is from Memorial Day Weekend to Labor Day that it explodes with activities, people, and boats, boats, and more boats! I love going to Alex Bay to walk the pier at the Upper End  James Street dock to see some incredible powerboats and cruisers. Down at the Lower End James Street dock visitors to The Bay can go on the famous Uncle Sam Boat Tour, and view the multi-million dollar mansions dotted throughout the St. Lawrence Seaway. These tours range from 2-hours to lunch or dinner cruises, all stopping off at the magical Boldt Castle.

My wife and I decided to visit Alex Bay this past Memorial Day Weekend. We arrived on Saturday morning and stayed at the luxurious Riveredge Resort. The Riveredge’s rooms are always clean, spacious, and up to date. Its ammenities include an indoor and outdoor pool, Tiki Bar, Salon, restuarant, bar, and plenty of slips for those that travel by boat. We were fortunate enough to be given a room on the top floor overlooking Boldt Castle and a nearby marina. Our room consisted of an incredibly comfortable king-size bed on the large main floor, with a second story connected by a spiral staircase housing a mirrored-Jacuzzi tub, TV, and vanity (cue the Playboy mansion-style electric guitar twang-“pao, chicka waa waa”). Truly, The Riveredge is the one place that tourists must stay at for a guaranteed memorable experience.

During our stay, our Saturday consisted of lunch at Cavallario’s Bayside Restaurant, overlooking the Upper James Street dock. Though the facilities are nothing fancy, the lunch menu was very tasty. For dessert we wandered across the street to Coleman’s Dock of the Bay for a strawberry margarita; Nice. Personally that placed me in the right frame of mind to follow Rachel around from one quaint little shop to another. Though ABay has had a reputation of having one t-shirt shop after another, in recent years it has added colorful boutiques, unique shops, and is proudly boasting a new pier-renovation at the Upper James James Street dock.

For dinner on Saturday we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at the Riveredge’s Windows on the Bay restuarant, then took an evening walk to a local watering hole named Rum Runners. And again, their strawberry margaritas were sensational as we took in a breathless sunset. (Are you starting to follow my margarita theme here?)

Before we left on Sunday we were told by some locals to be sure to have lunch at Capt.Thomson’s floating restaurant. With tables for inside and outside seating, we chose to have our lunch overlooking Boldt Castle. The food was great, and the menu contained a nice selection. And yes, their strawberry margaritas passed with flying colors.

With  several nearby golf courses, arcades, go-cart tracks, driving ranges, and miniature golf courses, couples and families can find plenty of fun even if they don’t have a boat; though a boat would certainly be the best way to enjoy the area.

For more information about The Riveredge Resort, contact them at 1-800-ENJOY-US or visit
And to see what else is happening in Alexandria Bay, check out .