Welcome to my hometown- Oswego, NY.
We may get winter snow, but it is beautiful otherwise.
Welcome to my hometown- Oswego, NY.
We may get winter snow, but it is beautiful otherwise.
Throughout 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 locally 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.
During 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 staying 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.
If 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 a 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.
If 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!”
On the first Saturday of May the horse racing world converges on Louisville, Kentucky for the running of the Kentucky Derby. Though the race only lasts a little more than two minutes on that Saturday, tens of thousands call Louisville home for weeks leading up to Derby Day. Here are some events and places to visit if you plan on visiting this horse racing mecca.
Fest-a-Ville and Chow Wagon:
Held at the Waterfront Park along the Ohio River, this festival has a little bit of everything. From beer gardens to rows of food vendors, helicopter rides to free concerts, Fest-a-Ville and Chow Wagon continue to grow in popularity each year. This year’s highlight of Waterfront Jam is a Friday, May 2nd concert featuring country artists Scotty McCreery with special guest Cassadee Pope. Horse race? Did someone say something about a horse race?
The Pegasus Parade:
Held in downtown Louisville since 1956, this family-oriented event is filled with marching bands, inflatable characters, and of course “horses”! Running along Broadway between Campbell and Ninth Streets in the heart of Louisville, the Pegasus Parade is the longest running Kentucky Derby Week event. This year’s parade is on Thursday, May 1st.
The Kentucky Oaks:
Traditionally held the day before the Kentucky Derby, “The Oaks” celebrates the finest three-year fillies in the thoroughbred world. Lilies and the color pink highlight this prestigious race to honor and celebrate women and breast cancer awareness. Tickets for this day long event can be obtained in advance from the Kentucky Derby website or the day of the race at Churchill Downs.
The Kentucky Derby:
“The Run for the Roses” will take place on Saturday, May 2nd this year. Gates will open at 8am with tickets available online ahead of time or at the gates the day of the race. From dedicated horse race enthusiasts to well-known celebrities, the stands, infield, and rail of Churchill Downs will be packed with mint julep-sipping fans excited to be part of “the most exciting two minutes in sports”. With thousands women wearing stunning (and outlandish) hats, the playing of “My Old Kentucky Home”, and the garland of roses for the winning horse and jockey, the Kentucky Derby is filled with tradition and pageantry.
Though it is known as the Home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs is also the location of the Kentucky Derby Museum. Often referred to as “the next best thing to being at the Derby”, the Kentucky Derby Museum is filled with memorabilia and artifacts from years gone by. And not only does Churchill Downs celebrate its past, but it is excited with nearly 75,000 square feet of new and renovated grandstand space along with a new $12 million outdoor, state-of-the-art video board.
The Louisville Slugger Factory and Museum:
This iconic factory has turned into more than just baseball bat making facility. From the moment your walk up to the front of the building, the six-story high, 68,000 pound bat welcomes you to what will surely be a memorable experience. This hands-on museum contains baseball memorabilia galore and artifacts from the sports such as Babe Ruth’s bat the he hit his last homerun with as a Yankee. Visitors can even have their own personal bat made for them during their stay. The factory and museum is open seven days a week with admission only $12 for adults and $7 for kids 6-12 years old (Under 5 yrs old are free).
Louisville Slugger Field:
Keeping with the baseball theme, Louisville Slugger Field is home to the minor league baseball team named——-wait for it——- “The Louisville Bats”. Even if you’re not a big baseball fan, there is fun to be had at all home games, especially Thursday home games which feature $1 beers and live music throughout the game. This Triple AAA farm team of the Cincinnati Reds plays in front of nearly 14,000 fans each home game.
The Louisville Zoo:
Open all year round, the Louisville Zoo is so much more than a place to go and see the animals. Featuring Sky Ropes and Sky Tykes for kids, this series of rope trails take participants over the zoo visitors below. 5K run/walks, concerts, and kid camps are also offered throughout the year at this community zoo. With dozens of exhibits located inside and outside, animals like polar bears, tigers, penguins, and gorillas all call the Louisville Zoo home.
Louisville Mega Caverns:
What can only be described as ‘Magnificent’, the Louisville Mega Caverns are one of Louisville’s must-see attractions. Located just off Interstate 264, whoever knew you could have a day full of fun 100 feet underground? The MegaTram is an hour long tour through the nearly seventeen miles of cavern trails steeped in history, education, and fun. MegaZips is a different kind of tour through the caverns. It is a 2-hour long tour using zip lines and a registered guide. MegaQuest is an aerial rope course that takes visitors to places throughout the cavern they won’t believe. The Louisville Mega Caverns are capable of hosting birthdays, team-building, and other events up to 200 people.
The historic area of Louisville known as Old Louisville is filled with rich architecture and history dating back to the late 1800s. Located north of downtown Louisville, this area has streets lined with classic victorian homes and neighborhood squares like St. James Court. Being located between downtown and the University of Louisville has made Old Louisville a favorable place for relocation in the area.
The Muhammad Ali Center:
The museum’s Mission Statement just about says it all: “The mission of the Muhammad Ali Center is to preserve and share the legacy and ideals of Muhammad Ali, to promote respect, hope, and understanding, and to inspire adults and children everywhere to be as great as they can be.” This breath-taking facility was created to share with the world the life of the great boxer and humanitarian, Muhammad Ali. This interactive museum also hosts seminars, special community events, and educational programming. Many of the photos and memorabilia held in the Muhammad Ali Center are priceless, one-of-a-kind artifacts from “The Greatest”.
Fourth Street Live:
When you are done sightseeing for the day, why not join a few thousand of your closest friends in the heart of Louisville? Fourth Street Live is conveniently located just a few blocks from the Ohio River in the middle of historic Louisville. Billed as your “one-stop destination for dining, entertainment, and shopping”, Fourth Street Live is packed with sports bars and night clubs, famous restaurants and name-brand stores, as well as live entertainment. Country stars Big and Rich will be performing on Thursday, May 1st, and Fall Out Boy will be in concert on Friday, May 2nd as part of Fourth Street Live’s Derby Week. The concerts are free for those in the area before 7pm, with a $5 cover for those arriving after seven o’clock.
Whether you’re planning to be on the rail for the big race or just heading to Louisville for all the festivities, the town is ready for you. From zip lining through 100 foot deep caverns to taking a selfie next to a 60 foot baseball bat, the City of Louisville has events and attractions to keep you entertained before, during, and after the Kentucky Derby.
When the middle of March arrives two things are a near certainty in the U.S.; one, winter is nearly over for most of the hearty souls living throughout the country; and two, everyone becomes Irish for a day (or in some cases, a week) for endless St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. To help you “Get Your Irish On” here are eight of the hottest, craziest, tradition-filled cities and what they have planned for their St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
The St. Patrick’s Day parade takes place in South Boston on Sunday, March 16th this year,
beginning at 1:00pm. With nearly three-quarters of a million people expected to attend, visitors are urged to take the “T” (Boston’s public transportation) into the city and maneuver from there. In Boston, think of the parade serving as this year’s ‘halftime show’ of the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. There will be plenty of celebrating on Friday night and Saturday throughout the historic pubs of Beantown, including several Pub Crawls and parties. Of course the celebration will continue in Boston, as in most cities on Monday; the actual St. Patrick’s Day, with plenty of “Wearin’ o’ the Green” and the tasting of green beer. So whether you celebrate with the ‘Southies’ or party it up near Quincy Market, Boston will surely welcome everyone Irish,
if even for the day.
With its huge immigrant population, Cleveland has traditionally played host to a St. Patrick’s Day celebration to rival many cities even several times its size. Since 1867 Cleveland has hosted a parade, and this year promises to be no different, as nearly 10,000 participants will march through downtown Cleveland on Monday the 17th. Those who can’t wait to get their holiday started can head to one of two historic Cleveland watering holes known as Flannery’s Pub or Pickwick & Frolic for some breakfast and a pint. After the parade, those celebrating the “The Luck of the Irish” can stay in downtown and stop by Moriarty’s or the Flat Iron Cafe for tasty beer and great tasting corned beef and cabbage. Various types of Irish music will heard throughout the city of Cleveland through the weekend, as area pubs will provide entertainment ranging from traditional Irish folk music to rock.
San Francisco, California
Though the west coast may not have the same history as its neighbors to the east, don’t be fooled; SanFran knows how to throw a St. Patty’s Day bash! Featuring its annual Irish Festival, local Pub Crawls, downtown Block Parties, and parade, San Franciscans have wrapped their Irish arms around this holiday. With U2 cover band, ‘Zoo Station’, playing nearly all of U2’s popular songs in a concert at the Brick & Mortar Music Hall and the ‘Emerald Across the Bay 12k run’ being featured across the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco promises something for everyone this and every St. Patrick’s Day.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
From 11am to midnight on Saturday, March 15th the touristy town of North Myrtle Beach will transform itself into something just this side of Dublin, Ireland, (well, kind of) as it kicks off its
annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Authentic food and beer will be available from dozens of vendors, along with a Family (alcohol free) Fun Zone for kids of all
ages. Perhaps the best part of the festival is that all the music and activities are free. By the way, when viewing the parade, be sure to check out one of the more popular parts of it, as locals show off their decorated and suped-up golf carts cruisin’ down Ocean Blvd. Yeah, that’s what I said, golf carts. And I haven’t any beer yet.
Since 1771 the City of Brotherly Love has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with its annual
parade. And this year, in following with tradition, the parade is scheduled to be on Sunday, March 16th at 1:00pm. Beginning on Friday, March 14th revelers can begin a weekend of bar crawls, with several to choose from each day. One of the nice parts about these crawls is the free shuttle service called ‘The Erin Express’, which is runs all day through the City of Philly. Several concerts (some free) will be held throughout the city during the weekend along with neighborhood festivals and Irish dancers.
What is now considered the second largest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States will kick things off on March 7th with what is known as the “Greening of the Fountain”. Locals gets things going a week early when the famous Forsyth Fountain is filled with green water. One of the most popular festivities in Savannah is the ‘St. Patrick On the River Festival’ along the banks of the Savannah River. Continuous entertainment on multiple stages along River Street and
fantastic Irish food and beverage vendors throughout the city make this one of the hottest
festivals in the country. Nearby Tybee Island (known as “Savannah’s Beach”) has its own
St.Patrick’s Day parade scheduled to take place on Saturday, while Savannah’s parade is scheduled for Monday, March 17th. From the sandy beach of Tybee Island to the historic squares of Savannah, the hospitality of the South is on full display during its St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
You know Chicago takes its St. Patrick’s Day seriously when nearly a half-million people line the banks of the Chicago River and watch as the river turns into a vibrant green for the nearly five hours in the afternoon of Saturday, March 15th. A parade of floats, bands, and bagpipes
continue the afternoon of fun as revelers march up Columbus Drive. Those visitors to Chicago staying in ‘The Loop’ will be close to some of the best pubs Chi-town has to offer. Fun-filled pub crawls are found throughout the city and many establishments will feature lively entertainment. From Irish-step dancers to sight-seeing cruises along the Chicago River, guests to Chicago will non-stop fun during St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
New York, New York
The 253rd St. Patrick’s Day parade will take place on the holiday itself. For nearly 2 miles down Fifth Avenue, over 150,000 march in the annual parade. That’s right, 150,000 “marching” Irish! Local community groups, the NYPD & FDNY, along with special guests entertain millions along their path. After the parade, those wishing to continue celebrating the Irish will be able to gather at nearly any bar, on any street, in any borough of NYC. Many like to honor our Founding Fathers on this day with a trip to the historic Fraunces Tavern located down in the southern
section of Manhattan. It is at Fraunces where legend has it that George Washington would often frequent for food and libations, and where he also gave his historic farewell to troops. Many
St. Patty’s Day partiers also feel a sense of, ummm, “responsibility” to visit NYC’s oldest bar on this celebration of everything-beer-holiday, and McSorley’s is the stop in the East Village.
Note- that when and if you get into McSorley’s be ready to drink many beers, and fast. If the workers don’t feel you are up to their expectations, you will be asked to leave. (No joke.) Throughout the St. Patrick’s Day weekend, area neighborhoods will feature Irish festivals with the smells and sounds of authentic Irish food and music floating throughout the city.
So there you have eight of the country’s most popular destinations for the St. Patrick’s Day
holiday. But make no mistake about it, these United States have town after town celebrating the Irish in their own unique way. From Dublin (Ohio) to the Home of the Fighting Irish, Notre Dame University, people love St. Patrick’s Day. Whether a town paints the largest shamrock in the U.S. on a nearby Interstate and serves green eggs and ham for breakfast around town, like those in O’Neill, Nebraska, or a neighborhood that receives special permission from the Department of Transportation to permanently ‘flip’ a traffic light along a popular Irish street, so that the “green light is always on top” like those on Syracuse, NY’s Tipperary Hill, American’s love their Irish heritage like no other ethnic background. Of course if every ethnic group would include beer in their celebrations, think of how much fun we could have almost every weekend of the year!
On Sunday, February 2nd the sports and entertainment world will be focused on the city of New York, as it plays host to Super Bowl XLVIII. Though the game will actually be played at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, NJ (home of the NY Giants & NY Jets) much of the pre-game hoopla will occur on and around the island of Manhattan. Though activities and events began during the first week of January, most of the high-profile companies as well as the Super Bowl Committee itself will open their venues during the week leading up to the big game.
The nice thing about “Super Bowl Week” is that even those who don’t have a coveted ticket to the big game can enjoy many of the free activities positioned around the city. And leave it to The Big Apple to have events galore scheduled leading up to the game. From shutting down Times Square to creating what will be known as the “Taste of the NFL”, NYC has entertainment covered for young and old alike. Here are some things to put into your planner if you are making your way to New York City during the last week of January and first weekend of February.
The folks at Budweiser in recent years have taken over a resort or large hotel in the Super Bowl host city and declared it the Bud Light Hotel, as it threw a week-long party for contest winners and various guests. This year Bud Light has upped the ante and gone big, real big! Instead of taking over a hotel, the beer king will be bringing in a cruise ship and calling the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier home from January 30- February 3. Located at the west end of 47th St., along the Hudson River, the Norwegian state-of-the-art cruise ship “Getaway” and US Navy icon will be the venues of meet and greets, concerts from top name artists, and over-the-top parties. Those looking to be guests in the “Super Bowl hotel” can take their chance at winning by downloading the FanZone app and taking it from there.
Jersey City will host “Football Fashion Week” with established and rising stars in the fashion industry. Former NY Giant great Carl Banks will actually be on hand to feature some of his latest designs from his company, Gill Sports. Several former NFL players and entertainers will be walking the runway in this event running from January 23-25.
For video game aficionados, The Museum of Moving Image will be the location in Astoria (Queens), as EA Sports presents an exhibition called “Madden NFL Football: 25 years and Running!” Visitors will be able to take in this interactive exhibit and see the evolution of one of the most popular sports video games of all time.
Foodies Unite! The “Taste of the NFL” comes to the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal Pier 12 on Saturday, February 1st. This “foodfest” event will feature a chef from each NFL city serving their signature dish, alongside a current NFL player or legend. So bring your hungry tastebuds and a camera for this unique celebration of sport and food. Visit http://www.TasteOfTheNFL.com for more information and get tickets.
The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ will host the Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day on Tuesday, January 28th. Tickets must be purchased prior to the day of the event at SuperBowl.com, and the event will begin at 10:30am with seats reserved.
At Chelsea Piers- Pier 60, The NFL-Celebrity Bowling Classic will take place on Saturday, February 1st. Amateur bowlers will be teamed with NFL players, members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and America’s Wounded Warriors Project in a fun for all bowling event. Each bowler will receive a limited edition Super Bowl XLVIII commemorative bowling ball, pin and shirt. Participants as well as guests/spectators will be entitled to a “NY/NJ Neighborhood of Foods” buffet, soft drinks and auction. Entry fees for this event start at $200.
Starting on January 29th the “Crossroads of the World”, aka Times Square, closes down! That’s right, from 34th St. up to 47th St. on Broadway, “The Great White Way” will be transformed into “Super Bowl Boulevard”. Beginning at Herald Square on 34th St. venues like the ‘Super Bowl Theater’ and the ‘NFL Rush Zone’ kick off the 13-block sports fan nirvana. On 40th St. from Noon to 5pm daily, the Autograph Stage will offer free autographs from NFL stars. Then at 8pm, the Concert Stage comes alive with some of the best talent New York has to offer. Throw on an extra layer, embrace the cold, and enjoy the show! Though photo ops will be around nearly every corner of NYC during Super Bowl Week, perhaps no one block will better serve as a perfect backdrop than that located between 43rd & 44th Streets on Broadway. 20-foot high lampposts with the Roman numerals of the previous forty-seven Super Bowls will be the perfect place to snap that picture for the photo album. The Vince Lombardi trophy will also be on display in the same area for fans to capture that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with the trophy. At the northern end of Super Bowl Boulevard fans will get the chance to kick a field goal through actual NFL goalposts near the Fox Broadcast set. Other media outlets will have booths scattered through the area like CNN and the NFL Network. Every block of the Broadway tribute to the NFL will be sponsored by companies such as McDonalds, M&Ms, XBoxOne, and more.
Other events during Super Bowl Week will include:
-The Waldorf Astoria hosting the Super Bowl Friars Club Roast of Boomer Esiason on Thursday, January 30th.
-The world-famous Apollo Theater celebrating Black History Month and Super Bowl Week with a two-night musical tribute event on Thursday the 30th and Friday the 31st.
-Knicks and Nets NBA home games and Rangers, Islanders, Devils NHL home games throughout the week.
And oh yeah, don’t forget that the actual Super Bowl game kicks off on Sunday evening (around 6 EST), February 2nd.
Every summer tens of thousands make their way to their favorite ballpark every day to take in a few hours of America’s pastime. Whether you’re a season-ticket holder or just a tourist visiting for the weekend, the game itself often turns out to be just a good excuse to find some fun things to do for the day. So with that in mind, here’s a list of some of the most popular ballparks in Major League Baseball, and what to do before, during, or after the game.
Wrigley Field- Chicago Cubs
Located in ‘The Windy City’, the beloved Cubs of Chicago have been searching for that elusive World Series visit since the 1945 “Curse of Billy the Goat”. Fans of the Cubs annually pack ivy-covered Wrigley Field to cheer on their “Cubbies”. Many visitors to the area head to Michigan Avenue to do a little shopping at what seems to be every imaginable retail store, as well as take in the numerous restaurants and taverns. For those looking for some culture, a stop at the Field Museum of Natural History or the nearby Art Institute is a must. Both are considered as one of the best in the country. If you’re looking for breath-taking views, a trip to the 462-foot high Tribune Tower or the cloud-shattering 1,451-foot Willis Tower (formerly known as the Sears Tower) are sure to offer the perfect cityscape views. Of course no visit to Chicago is complete without a deep-dish pizza at the original Pizza Uno restaurant located on Chicago’s North side.
Yankee Stadium- New York Yankees
Located in the Bronx of New York City, the 27-time World Series champion Yankees are not only a fan favorite in every city they visit during the season, but they more or less own “The Big Apple” when it comes to baseball. Fans visiting the new Yankee Stadium have a variety of things to do in the area. Within minutes of the stadium is the famous Bronx Zoo. This 250-plus acre animal sanctuary contains a variety of birds, monkeys, and other wildlife. Many say that there is so much to do at the Bronx Zoo that it can’t be seen in just one day. The New York Botanical Garden is also located in the Bronx. Like the zoo, the Botanical Garden is also situated on 250 acres of lush NY real estate. Included on the floral site are 50 unique gardens, an ornamental Victorian-style greenhouse, and several family-friendly activities and events. If you’re looking for a place to grab a bite to eat or pre-game beer, look no further than Stan’s Sports Bar or The Dugout located within steps of the stadium for some traditional ballpark grub. Leaning a little toward the Italian side? Be sure to visit Giovanni’s for great pizza and Italian food. A restaurant known as The Feeding is where foodies head to for that Caribbean-vibe cuisine. Becoming more and more popular on a daily basis, The Feeding is the new “It” place around the ballpark. Inside the new Yankee Stadium sits a variety of restaurants and food courts offering a selection of food including BBQ, cheese steaks, and of course classic Nathan’s hotdogs and Carvel ice cream treats.
AT&T Park- San Francisco Giants
Out on the west coast sits San Francisco, California. For years this northern California city has long been known as a favorite place to travel to, as well as for its faithful sports fans. Built in the year 2000, replacing the former classic confines known as Candlestick Park, AT&T Park served as a breath of fresh air to the Bay Area. The Giants paid tribute to some of its great former players by building the stadium on Willie Mays Plaza, and along the waterfront now referred to as McCovey Cove, in honor of long-time team favorite Willie McCovey. AT&T Park is located in what is known as the South Beach area of San Francisco. Being situated on the San Francisco Bay, though the days can be beautiful and warm, the nights quite often will get down-right chilly, so be sure to bring a jacket or sweatshirt to any evening game. Across from the ballpark is a fan-favorite hotspot called MoMo’s. Fans seem like to make it a pre-game and post-game stop. In fact some have been known for stopping there for pre-game fun, and never making it to the game itself! While at AT&T Park everyone insists that you don’t pass up the garlic fries or tomato mozzarella sticks. Being sold throughout the park, these fries and cheese sticks have become a stadium staple because of their deliciousness. Some fans making their way to and from the game along Market Street will often stop off at the SF landmark, Red’s Java House for a burger and beverage. Along Market Street and around the China Basin marina sit many charming stores selling everything “San Francisco”. Of course getting around this Pacific Coast city can be an experience in itself. Whether you take the public transportation known as the BART, hop a trolley car, or hail a cab, getting around San Francisco is a breeze.
Citizens Bank Park- Philadelphia Phillies
The “City of Brotherly Love” is known for its significance in American history, being home to the famous movie-underdog Rocky Balboa, and also its no-holds-barred sports fans. Through the beginning of this new century the baseball team in Philadelphia known as the Phillies has seen tremendous success on and off the field. In 2012 the team was ranked #1 in all of MLB, with attendance numbers well over 3 million. While the stadium offers up Philadelphia food favorites such as cheesesteaks and hoagies, the area around CBP is as diversified as the population. In Philly the baseball stadium is located in a complex with other stadiums like Lincoln Financial Field (home of the NFL- Eagles) and the Wells Fargo Center (home of the NBA- Sixers and NHL- Flyers). All of these are located in the heart of the city with parks, museums, and shopping galore seemingly surrounding the perimeter. Of course a trip to historic Philadelphia wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Liberty Bell, Freedom Hall, and Congress Hall. Located within the Independence National Historical Park area of the city sits nearly 20 blocks of historic neighborhoods, buildings, and monuments commemorating the historical significance of Philadelphia. Along the waterfront is the Tweeter Center and Navy Yard. The Tweeter Center on the Waterfront is an outdoor concert venue seating over 20,000 during the warm months of the baseball season. Down at the city’s Navy Yard progress meets history as newly renovated factories and businesses intermingle with quaint shops, restaurants, and parks through beautifully landscaped streets.
Busch Stadium- St. Louis Cardinals
Like the St. Louis Gateway Arch welcomes travelers into the Midwest, the new Busch Stadium welcomes baseball fans of all ages to the Home of the Cardinals. Built in 2006, Busch Stadium has played host to two World Series championship titles since its opening (2006 & 2011). Like most modern U.S. cities, St. Louis offers some incredible eating experiences. There is a section of the city known as “The Hill” that serves up some of finest Italian food in St. Louis. Another famous snack landmark in the city is Ted Drewes, which is where thousands swear you’ll find the finest frozen custard anywhere. Around Busch Stadium, Cardinal fans can find friendly pubs and city-famous thin crust pizza parlors. For visitors looking to experience the cool neighborhood, urban-vibe of St. Louis, a day at the Delmar Loop will offer up cool boutique shops, hip restaurants and cafes, and even a St. Louis celebrity themed Walk of Fame. There is fun for all ages that can be found in and around the city, ranging from the Six Flags St. Louis amusement park and St. Louis Zoo for the kids to the Anheuser-Busch Brewery tour and nightlife excitement found at the 42-acre Westport Plaza. Not only do the Cardinals have a winning tradition, but the city of St. Louis proves it knows how to do “fun” right.
Fenway Park- Boston Redsox
For many years, actually many generations, fans of the Boston Redsox baseball club had wondered if they too had been cursed, like the Chicago Cubs. Year after year the spring would offer hope, only to find the autumn cold bring expected misery to the faithful fans of the Redsox. However in 2004 the “Curse of the Bambino” was broken with Boston’s first World Series victory in 86 years. Through all of the ups and downs of the Redsox drama, one thing had always been true- Redsox fans are arguably the most loyal in all of baseball. Getting from historic Quincy Market to the city’s Little Italy called The North End, or from the shopping district of Copley Square to the Home of the Redsox along Yawkey Way, traveling around Boston is easy with the use of the public transportation system known as the “T”. When at Fenway Park, baseball memorabilia shops, restaurants, and bars surround the 101 year old ballpark. Fan favorite watering holes include GameOn, the Boston Beerworks, and the Cask n’ Flagon. All three, and many more, are within a ground-rule double of Fenway Park. If you feel the need to get even closer than that then perhaps the Redsox version of tailgating is more your fancy. Every game day a section of street is blocked off along Yawkey Way. It is here that vendors serve up cold beer, hot pretzels and everything that makes you a Redsox fan for a day. Inside the relic of a stadium fans will see the famous Pesky’s Pole down the right field line and the Green Monster situated in left field. Not so widely known is a place built into the Green Monster known as the Bleacher Bar. Visitors to the Bleacher Bar will experience a ground-level view of the playing field from left field with a glass window that allows them to see out without players being able to see in.
Camden Yards- Baltimore Orioles
Though it’s been many years since the glory days of the 1970s Baltimore Orioles, the fan base for this mid-Atlantic region baseball club is as strong as ever. In 1992 the Baltimore Orioles moved out of their dated Memorial Park and into their new home. With that the team and the park rejuvenated the entire City of Baltimore. Located a couple blocks from Baltimore’s tourist-jewel known as the Inner Harbor, the stadium draws hoards of people into this revitalized section of the city. It is here that most visitors to Baltimore gravitate to. With dozens of restaurants and taverns, a variety of stores, and more entertainment than one could handle in a week, the Inner Harbor is really the only place you may need to visit around the ballpark. Max’s, Sliders, and Pickle’s Pub are just three hot spots for those looking for a fun pre-game meal. All three are located right around the stadium. Though Babe Ruth’s childhood home is no longer in its original spot (which is where left field of Camden Yards is now), a stop by the Babe Ruth Museum on Emory Street is definitely encouraged. Just follow the 60 baseballs painted on the sidewalk from the ballpark to the museum. Just a few blocks from Camden Yards and the Inner Harbor are a couple other cool areas known as Fell’s Point and Federal Hill. Both neighborhoods are lined with good food and fun libations.
Comerica Park- Detroit Tigers
Like so many of the new ballparks around the country, Comerica Park too has been the beacon to shed a new, fresh light on what was a dying urban area. In the year 2000 Tiger fans were shown that there can be so much more to do than just watch a game when you head to the ballpark. A ferris wheel that has you riding in baseballs and a merry-go-round that has replaced the decorated horses with yes, you guessed it, ‘Tigers’ are just two things that welcome visitors to Comerica Park. The state-of-the-art baseball stadium blends the modern conveniences of today with the yesteryear feel of decades ago. Located outside the Comerica Park area tourists should be sure to swing by the Henry Ford Museum to see where the American automobile began, the Renaissance Center which is full of shopping and restaurants, and the Hart Plaza to take in unique works of art as well as live entertainment.
Progressive Field- Cleveland Indians
For what used to be referred to as “The Mistake by the Lake”, the City of Cleveland has certainly reversed its fortunes in a way like no other city has ever done before. Since 1992 Progressive Field has been the home field for the Indians’ baseball club. Attendance to games has steadily risen, tourists frequent all that Cleveland has to offer, and with that, Cleveland continues to offer more. For those taking in a game with “The Tribe” for an afternoon or evening there are several establishments around Progressive Field that fans should consider. One of these spots is The Winking Lizard Tavern. Located just a block from the stadium, “The Lizard” is famous for its burgers and wings, and of course ice cold beer. Irish stew, fish n’ chips, and Guinness on tap are the order of the day at Flannery’s Irish Pub. Only a couple blocks from the ballpark, this classic Irish pub is a perfect stop anytime, game or no game. Three blocks from Progressive Field fans can enjoy the taste of Mexico at the Zocolo Mexican Grill. Cold Coronas, tangy burritos, and fish tacos can be enjoyed before or after any game. An area known as “The Avenue” is located right near the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame in the Public Square district of Cleveland. The Avenue is a selection of shopping experiences, restaurants, hotels and movies all in one location. And yes, the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame is where everyone that comes to Cleveland must visit at least once. This museum of hits and superstars is full of musical memories that seem to offer up something new every time a person visits.
Dodger Stadium- Los Angeles Dodgers
In Southern California’s City of Angels, the LA Dodgers have easily been the most-admired and recognized west coast team since they relocated there from Brooklyn in the 1958. They play in Dodger Stadium which is located in an area of Los Angeles referred to as Chavez Ravine. It is in this part of the world that the sun seems to shine every day, the palm trees sway in the Santa Anna breezes, and the Dodger faithful come out every summer and cheer on their team. Though getting around LA may not be as easy as the larger, older, east coast cities, it isn’t too bad if you have a plan. Located about a half-mile away from the stadium sits the world-famous Chinatown. With authentic shops and restaurants, LA’s Chinatown has a little something for everyone. Within a mile of Dodger Stadium is the beautiful Olvera Street. Set up in the mid-1900s as a tribute LA’s Mexican heritage, Olvera Street serves as an oasis in the middle of a bustling city with Mexican restaurants and shops. Finally, sitting just off Sunset Blvd. is Elysian Park. With over 600 acres of picnic grounds and hiking trails, visitors to Dodger Stadium can find a way to get away from it all after a tough home team loss. Around the ballpark are several restaurants and sports bars that fans regularly visit. Some favorites include Two Boots, where east coasters gather to reminisce about life along the Atlantic, and The Park, which is known for its dishes like wild salmon or grilled polenta. Dodger Stadium itself is a microcosm of the diversity that exists in the LA area. Food at the stadium ranges from sushi to hot dogs, and cold beer to mixed drinks and wine.
I’m quite sure there will be some that wished I had mentioned their favorite team and ballpark, but in all honesty it was nearly impossible to come up with the ten I’ve highlighted. Ask another writer to come up with their ten, and they would likely end up listing five or six different places than mine. The bottom line is simple. Get out to a major League Baseball city this summer and experience not only the game, but the energy around the area. Chances are that each subsequent city you visit will become your ‘new favorite’ to check out America’s pastime.
The easternmost of the Finger Lakes is Cayuga Lake. Stretching from the city of Seneca Falls to the north and Ithaca to the south, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is packed with numerous and unique wineries, restaurants, and accommodations. One of my favorite places when I visit the area wineries is ironically the Amish-run Sauter’s Market in Seneca Falls. It’s what I refer to as an “Amish WalMart”. From freshly baked pies to newly constructed storage sheds and gazebos, about everything Amish can be found at Sauter’s. Seneca Falls is also the location of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park. Located in the center of town, it is here that nearly 100 women gathered in 1848 for the First Women’s Rights Convention. The city of Ithaca is the quintessential “College Town” with the two prestigious schools of Ithaca College and Cornell University. And with colleges comes college students; and with college students comes great restaurants, bars and “extra curricular fun”! The area’s most popular location is a gathering place known as the Ithaca Commons. This two-block by three-block renovated area, located in the center of the city has dozens of restaurants and taverns for locals and visitors to frequent. The city was recognized when Bon Appetite magazine named Ithaca “one of the best ‘foodiest’ cities in America” (with populations under 250,000). A couple of my “must visit” places when I visit Ithaca is Collegetown Bagels and the Ithaca Bakery. CTB (Collegetown Bagels) is a sandwich shop that has a very hip, cool college vibe. With a few locations throughout in the city, my favorite is located at the entrance of Cornell University. (ps: I recommend their club sandwich on a wheat bagel). When it comes to wineries, some of the most popular are located on the west side of Cayuga Lake. Sister wineries Goose Watch and Swedish Hill are found on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail off Route 89. Other wineries on the trail with industry awards and acclaim are Hosmer, Sheldrake Point, Lucas, Knapp and Thirsty Owl. Several of the wineries offer lunch and dinner options throughout the year. With regards to lodging, accommodations can be found from quaint Bed & Breakfast inns to corporate hotel chains.
To the west of Cayuga Lake sits the next Finger Lake known as Seneca Lake. Two of my favorite wineries are found along the east side of the lake. Three Brothers and Hazlitt are wineries that not only make great tasting and good-selling wines, but they also have the new millenium marketing techniques down pretty well too. Catering to potential long-time customers, both Three Brothers and Hazlitt try their best to make your visit to their wineries a memorable experience. At Three Brothers, guests will find three wineries and a brewery located on the vino compound. Each of the wineries aim to please the various tastes of its customers. Whether you visit the Stoney Lonesome, Passion Feet, or Bagg Dare winery, fun, relaxation, and award-winning wines await you. Also located at Three Brothers is the War Horse Brewing Company. Famous for its industry-first Riesling Ale, this brewery has several ales and lagers, including the best tasting root beer I’ve ever had! Over at the Hazlitt 1852 Winery they have taken the stuffy stereotype of wine and have mainstreamed it to make it more fun and accessible. From the Red Cat wine chant to jello shots and slushies, turns out a visit to Hazlitt is more than just swirling and sipping wine. With Seneca Lake running from the city of Geneva at the north end of the lake to Watkins Glen nestled at the southern end, touring between Cayuga and Seneca is filled with dozens of wineries, many with restaurants.
Along the western shore of Seneca Lake, up and down the scenic Route 14, sit some of finest wineries, restaurants and overnight accommodations found throughout the Finger Lakes. One of the nicest locations on the Seneca Lake Wine Tour is the Glenora Wine Cellars, the Inn at Glenora, and the award-winning Veraisons Restaurant. Located about two-thirds the way down the western side of the lake, Glenora has all the bases covered! (I actually spent several minutes trying to come up with a wine or grape association to that sentence, but “all the bases covered” was the best I could do). Anyways, the Inn at Glenora offers several style of rooms; from the Vitner’s Guestrooms all of which face east and overlook the vineyards and Seneca Lake to the Vineyard Cottage which has two bedrooms placed within the vineyards below the the Inn. Not only do all rooms at Glenora contain a spectacular view, but they also have world- famous Stickley furniture adorning all of the rooms. Veraisons Restaurant has seasonal seating on its spacious deck and seating for over one-hundred inside with its stunning woodwork and awe-inspiring stone fireplace. Chef Orlando is on hand in the kitchen preparing memorable meals like NY Rohan Duck to Pan Roasted Faroe Island Salmon. Guests to the Inn are presented with a bottle of wine from their winery, along with guest tasting passes tat can be used during their stay. With just one stay at Glenora it’s no wonder that most sum up their experience as “Spectacular”.
When it comes to tasting the wine, other recommended stops along Route 14 include the Fox Run, Fulkerson, Anthony Road, Torrey Ridge, Billsboro, and Belhurst wineries. Each location has their own specialty, theme, and unique taste. From Fulkerson’s spacious and warm tasting area to Anthony Road’s vino experts, like Mike & Margo to make your visit an enjoyable one, each winery along Seneca Lake’s western side will surely appeal to any level of wine lover.
The third of the wine-filled Finger Lakes is Keuka Lake. Boasting a Baker’s Dozen of wineries from Hammondsport to PennYan, Keuka Lake is the smallest and quietest of the three “wine lakes”. But don’t let that fool you. The region is extremely resourceful at planning fun seasonal events throughout the year. With cottage rentals, privately-run restaurants, and antique stores situated around the lake, Keuka Lake has something for everyone in a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere. When it comes to the wineries of Keuka Lake, the Bully Hill, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Heron Hill, Keuka Spring, and Ravines wineries are some of that your your place on your “trail” list.
So whether you’re looking for a breath of fresh air on your next getaway or the newest Riesling or a fun seasonal wine for the holidays, consider New York’s Finger Lakes Wine Country. The lakes of Cayuga, Seneca, and Keuka, and the variety of communities around them, offer up some of the best-tasting wines, provide some unique and elegant accommodations, and provide wide-ranging cuisines and seasonal events for visitors from everywhere. For more information or travel planning throughout the Finger Lakes check out http://www.VisitFingerLakes.com.