Golf Gadgets for the Holidays

asiseeit_fayette_headshotGolfers all around the world are constantly looking for that newest golf ball to give them added distance or that latest club to give their game confidence and control. Walk into any sporting goods store or browse golf items on Ebay and you will see that there are dozens of tools and gadgets to make your golf game that much more enjoyable. Like the ball retriever or the adjustable loft iron, many of these items come and go as fast as a Tiger Woods tee shot. However, over the last few years course GPS and range finders have made incredible leaps and bounds, both technologically and price-wise. The neatest thing about many of these new items is that they’re available on your Android or iPhone.

Here are five of what I think are the best golf apps and gadgets available this holiday:

Golf Logix– This free app is able to be used on just about any smartphone and boasts nearly 35,000 golf courses in its library. This app not only provides you with accurate tee to pin distance, but it also has features that will give you distances to hazards or lay up locations. One of the neatest things about this Golf Logix app is its “fly over” feature. One touch of your smartphone and you get to see a tee to green birds-eye view of the hole you’re about toGolfLogix play. This feature is extremely helpful when playing a new or unfamiliar course. Golf Logix also has built in features to allow for not only scorekeeping, but shot by shot record keeping and even post-round video lessons on the areas your game needs work on. Golfers can even book future tee times at thousands of courses through Golf Now on the Golf Logix app, with daily updates and discounts. It’s pretty obvious why over 3 million golfers have chosen this app as their go-to golf app.
Swing By Swing- This golf GPS range finder and scorecard ups the ante a bit on other golf apps by also offering wind speed and direction on every hole. The unique “Plays Like” feature takes into consideration wind and elevation to give the golfer a more realistic distance that the ball needs to carry. Claiming to have every golf course in the world in its library (by the way, I didn’t check each one) Swing By Swing also offers a website community where golfers can share theirs scores, stories, and even pictures from their round. The scorecard feature not only keeps track of every stroke entered, but will also help organize various betting games such as Skins, Stableford, Nassau, and more. Swing By Swing is free for life and available for download on most platforms.

 
Golf Pad GPS– Don’t be fooled by it’s name, this handy little golf caddy is available for smartphones as well as iPads and tablets. Featuring over 30,000 free golf courses, Golf Pad GPS has taken the best features from the industry’s top apps and 81D-BiffmtLmade them even better. The GPS range finder gives distances to the front, middle, and back of every green, while also giving distances to course hazards. The 4-players scorecard tallies the shots, putts, and even penalties of every player playing in the round. Hole by hole fly overs, round by round playing history, and accurate game-improving statistics are just some of the reasons why Golf Pad GPS is quickly gaining in popularity in the free golf app category. And by the way, if you find a course that this app doesn’t have a simple visit to their website allows you to map the course in about 20 minutes.

 

SkyCaddie LINX Golf GPS Watch– For those not wanting to constantly be fidgeting with their smartphone while playing golf, one of the GPS industry leaders, SkyCaddie, has introduced its new Golf GPS Watch. While this isn’t designed to have all the colorful bells and whistles of the smartphone apps, it does get the job done unite well. For around $150 this versatile and sporty watch can be worn on and off the course. It skycaddie-linx-front-black-white-400cwfeatures not only the time, but also a built in odometer which users can then download onto their own profile on the computer. With regards to the GPS range finder feature, this SkyCaddie watch gives a large display of the distance to the front, center, and back of the green. Distances to various hole hazards can also be displayed with a click of a button. This watch is water resistant and durable. It comes with a rechargeable lithium ion battery and includes mini-USB cable for charging. For me, this SkyCaddie Golf GPS watch could be my next acquisition. A simple glance to the wrist will provide me with more than my next golf shot will need.

 
World Golf Tour (WGT)– For those days when your golf game gets rained out WGT comes to the rescue. Escape the local thunderstorms by playing a round at historic St. Andrews, Pebble Beach, or any other spectacular course around the world. World Golf Tour is truly the most realistic online golf game ever. This virtual golfing world allows players to connect with one another and play amazing golf courses regardless of the weather outside, day or night! Whether you play from your computer, smartphone or tablet, WGT offers realistic play which even the pros have claimed adds to the improvement of your golf game by working on your course management and decision-making skills. World Golf Tour simply requires a one-time sign up (username and password) and within minutes you’re playing with friends that you’ve invited in, or others from halfway around the world.

worldgolftourRemember that while these golf apps and gadgets are on the cutting edge of technology and offer never before applications for one’s game, nothing will ever replace the need for practice, play, and the occasional lesson from a PGA professional. But with that being said, those looking for a slight competitive edge, or just some plain fun to add to their game, the download of any of these five will surely not disappoint the inner Jack Nicklaus or Natalie Gulbis in all of us.

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10 Great Things to do at Disney World (Outside the Parks)

Most visitors to Walt Disney World feel that they must take in the four theme parks when vacationing in Central Florida’s wonderland. And for those visiting for the first time, a Park Hopper to the parks is a must. However, for those that visit Walt Disney World on an annual basis, and are looking for a change of pace on things to do, WDW is packed with sights and sounds located outside the four theme parks. To help you make your next visit a little more organized, here are ten things that you must do when visiting the Walt Disney World resort area, without ever stepping a foot inside any of the parks.

1- Dining at Downtown Disney. Divided into three sections, this area of Disney World has fun for every member of the family. The Marketplace, Pleasure Island, and West End are packed with dining, entertainment, and shopping galore. Start your day with lunch at the Earl of Sandwich. This gourmet sandwich and salad shop has perhaps the best meal you can get for the money. At around $6.00 lunch at Disney doesn’t get much better.  From the Earl Club to the Hawaiian BBQ, their sandwiches are made to order on fantastic artisan breads. Eat in or enjoy the Florida warmth outside, the Earl of Sandwich will turn out to be a place that you’ll come back to again and again. There’s also the Ghirardelli Ice Cream & Chocolate Shop. Offering up tasty chocolate samples, gift bags of their confections, and out-of-this-world ice cream sundaes, the Ghirardelli shop has something special about it (without the ears). C’mon, live a little! Let yourself splurge on a Ghirardelli hot fudge sundae that will make all other sundaes seem like just another bowl of ice cream. Perhaps my favorite place at Downtown Disney is Paradiso 37. This trendy restaurant/bar serves up some fantastic North and South American fare in a very relaxed atmosphere. Whether you decide to dine in or along DD’s waterfront, you will undoubtedly experience Paradiso 37′s cool vibe. One of the favorite beverages of many patrons (including me) is something the bartenders like to call a “Mangled Margarita”. Now I don’t know exactly what is contained in this magical drink, but after a couple you will be ready to take on Peter Pan, Captain Hook, and Tinkerbell all in one swoop. From its 24-theater AMC movieplex and Gloria Estefan’s Cuban-flare restaurant, Bongo’s, to Planet Hollywood and The World of Disney megastore, Downtown Disney could easily be a daily stop during your Disney World vacation.

2- The Boardwalk. Located in Disney’s EPCOT resort area, the Boardwalk Resort and Spa is not only a wonderful resort, but is also home to an authentic Atlantic Ocean seaside boardwalk. Complete with games of chance, sidewalk entertainers, and the sweet smell of cotton candy and roasted peanuts, Disney’s Boardwalk is a step back in time to the early 1900s. Nightlife at the Boardwalk is plentiful with a video dance club at the Atlantic Dancehall, dueling pianos at Jellyroll’s, and non-stop sports action at the ESPN Club. Dining options at the Boardwalk include Cat Cora’s Kouzzina, The Big River Grille, and The Flying Fish seafood restaurant. Located between the EPCOT and Hollywood Studios theme parks, Disney’s Boardwalk is full of fun and food.

3- Golfing at Disney. There are four 18-hole championship caliber golf courses woven throughout the Walt Disney World grounds. The Magnolia course is located near the Polynesian Resort and is appropriately named for the fragrant magnolia trees that are found throughout the 7,000 yard course. The Osprey Ridge track is located near the Fort Wilderness Resort and is designed by the famous architect Tom Fazio, and measures about 6,600 yards long. Disney’s Palm Golf Course has just under one-hundred bunkers on its 6,500 yard lay out located near the Polynesian Resort. The fourth championship course is the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course. Located near the Downtown Disney area, this course measures about 6,700 yards. All four of these championship courses include a GPS enabled golf cart in the green fee. A fifth course, Oak Trail Golf Course, can be found at WDW near the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. This is a 9-hole walking course is just under 3,000 yards and a par 36. Golf club rental is available at all five courses. If playing isn’t what you’re looking for, guests of the Disney World resorts can take a lesson or two from award-winning PGA instructors.

4- LaNouba by Cirque de Soleil. This acrobatic, theatrical experience has been wowing crowds for over a decade at Downtown Disney’s West End. A mixture of strength and grace, LaNouba has performers from all over the world creating mesmerizing stunts and dance from hanging wires and trampolines. Nearly sold to capacity every night of the year, reservations are advised before you make your trip to Walt Disney World.

5- Characters in Flight. This giant tethered balloon rises nearly 400-feet above the Downtown Disney area, giving visitors a panoramic view of the surroundings. Priced at around $20 for adults and $12 for kids, this 10-minute balloon ride is sure to create Disney memories.

6- Miniature Golf. There are four unique and fun miniature golf courses at the Walt Disney Resort. Two are found by the Swan and Dolphin resorts. Fantasia Gardens has one course that takes players through the Disney classic “Fantasia” as they play, while the second is a fairway style course, resembling a traditional golf course. Two other courses are found just outside the Blizzard Beach water park area. Known as Summerland, these two courses celebrate two favorite times of year. The Winter course takes players through a winter wonderland with Santa and his elves, while the Summer course winds players through the sand and surf of summer fun.

7- Splitsville. Brand new to the Downtown Disney area, this rock n’ roll style bowling facility isn’t your grandad’s bowling alley. Located in the former Virgin Megastore, Splitsville is scheduled to open in September of 2012. It will feature 30 bowling alleys, a dozen billiard tables, a restaurant, and sports screens throughout. During late-night hours, Splitsville will have a minimum age of 21, so couples and friends can socialize in a kid-free environment.

8- Dining at WDW resorts. When it comes to world-class dining and menu variety, the restaurants found throughout the Walt Disney resorts are second to none. Some of my favorite places are The Turf Club found at the Saratoga Resort and Spa, The California Grill at the top of the Contemporary Resort, and Olivia’s at the Old Key West resort. The Turf Club serves lunches and dinners in relaxed atmosphere reminiscent of sitting on the veranda of the Saratoga horse track in Upstate NY. The California Grill offers guests spectacular views from its location atop the Contemporary Resort, and a menu ranging from yellowfin tuna to bison to organic chicken. Olivia’s is one of my favorite WDW restaurants because of its menu and laid back atmosphere. Throughout the restaurant are pictures and artifacts of Key West, Florida. With regards to the menu, be sure to try their Chicken Caesar Salad. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner will likely be a pleasant surprise. Of course every resort at WDW has at least one full-service restaurant, and all meet, or surpass the quality that you would expect from Disney.

9- DisneyQuest. Located at Downtown Disney’s West End, DisneyQuest is five floors of futuristic, interactive games. Whether you want to design, then ride, your own roller coaster with Cyber Space Mountain or drive your own out-of-this-world car with Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblasters, these and other fun interactive experiences can be found at DisneyQuest. Virtual Jungle Cruise, Pirates of the Carribean  -Battle for Gold, and Mighty Ducks Pinball Slam are just a few other attractions that can be played at DQ.

10- Relax at the Disney World Resorts. Whenever I visit Disney I try to remind myself that I am ‘on vacation’. With so much to do at WDW, it’s easy to forget that Disney World is packed with some of the finest resorts and spas to be found anywhere. All resorts at Disney have multiple pools, each with one large trademark swimming area, and usually several smaller pools, for a quieter, more relaxed, day of sun and fun. Each resort wraps itself around a theme, and true to Disney style, it is always done to near-exact detail. The Saratoga Resort and Spa celebrates the historic charm of Saratoga, NY, The Wilderness Lodge places its guests inside an upscale log cabin, complete with a working geyser, and The Grand Floridian is simply elegance personified. Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge offers guests a unique experience by having animals found on the savannah of Africa grazing and wandering outside their balconies, while The Polynesian Resort and Spa transports its guests to the feeling of the far east islands.

So next time you’re planning a trip to Central Florida’s most famous tenant, don’t feel you have to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the theme parks of Walt Disney World. True, the theme parks of WDW are like no other, and are world-famous, but the land of Mickey contains so much more. Besides the ten ideas mentioned, there are so many more things to do, like behind-the-scenes tours, parasailing, boat rentals, and bike riding. Walt Disney World is truly “The Happiest Place on Earth”, and has so many things to do that every time you visit you’ll find a surprise waiting for you everyday.

EA Sports release Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters

The Augusta National Golf Club has long been viewed as the mecca of modern-day golf. Sure you have St. Andrews across the pond, and the breathtaking panorama of Pebble Beach, but there has always been something magical about Augusta, home of The Masters golf tournament. And for decades Augusta National has only allowed a select few to actually play its course; and that may never change. But what we have to celebrate in the golf world this week is the release of EA Sports’ annual release of the Tiger Woods golf video game. This year Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters will feature the prestigious Augusta National as one of its courses. So while most of us mortals will not be able to actually ever play the famed course in person, the wonderful world of technology and EA Sports will let us experience it through the virtual world.

I just finished reviewing my copy of Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters for the Nintendo Wii platform, and it truly is spectacular. Though I mainly got the game for the Augusta National feature, I am happily surprised with the new features and incredible graphics. The laser scanning technology that the folks at EA Sports used to create the Augusta course is “eye”-mazing. This technology allows players to experience every ripple of water at Amen Corner, every whispering pine, and every twist and turn of the famed-Georgia greens.

Available for PS3, Xbox 360, PSP, and Wii, Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters doesn’t throw you on the course by yourself. New to the game this year is the use of a caddy to help you analyze your next shot, right down to the direction of the Augusta breeze and break in the green. With the game’s Career Mode players can progress through the game at their own pace, saving their games as they go. Players can also select to play as one of nearly two dozen PGA tour professionals.

Aside from the spectacular graphics and playability of the new Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters, EA Sports has added long time CBS Sports announcer (and former college roommate of PGA pro Fred Couples) Jim Nantz as the voice of the game this year.  Also new to this year’s release is the ability to replay the great moments at The Masters and attempt to match Tiger’s four winning tournament scores against the champion himself.

Though I can’t imagine myself getting tired of playing the Augusta National course, after waiting for over a decade for this day to come, Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters does feature other classic layouts such as the Atlanta Athletic Club, the Royal Melbourne Club (in Australia), and yes, Pebble Beach and St. Andrews as well.

Though Tiger Woods himself may be in a slight slump, EA Sports once again proves that it is at the top of the golf gaming world with their latest release Tiger Woods 2012: The Masters.

Vacation Destination: Myrtle Beach, SC

For decades northerners have been flocking to the sandy ocean shores of the Atlantic coast to escape the chill of early spring. Over the years one of the most popular destinations has been Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. 

Getting to Myrtle Beach is rather easy these days. Flights from Central NY get vacationers there in about 3 hours for around $250, while others may choose to endure the 15-hour drive, sometimes stopping in Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, or Washington DC to break up the trip. 

When finally at Myrtle Beach, the stretch of beachfront hotels seems endless, the restaurants infinite, and golf courses plentiful. Never can anyone claim that there’s nothing to do while visiting the Myrtle Beach area. The “Grand Strand”, as it is called, runs from North Myrtle, south to Surfside Beach. The strip along the coast is known as Ocean Boulevard, with the main drag being Kings Highway. Both roads contain restaurants, stores, and family entertainment galore.

 Miniature golf courses are seemingly around each corner, and touristy attractions overflow block after block. Just a few blocks from the ocean sits two real neat attractions. One is Barefoot Landing, containing unique shops, attractions and dining experiences. When I last visited the Myrtle Beach area I enjoyed a great afternoon dining experience at T-Bonz Gill & Grill. The House of Blues, Dick’s Last Resort, and Joe’s Crab Shack are just a few of the other great places to eat. The second neat tourist ‘must visit’ is found at Broadway at the Beach. With over 100 shops, 20 restaurants, 10 nightclubs, and 3 on-site hotels, Broadway at the Beach is the place to be when staying in Myrtle Beach. With a half-dozen themed neighborhoods meandering around the Broadway Cove, even window-shopping can become a fun experience. Ripley’s Aquarium, the IMAX Theater, and the NASCAR Speedpark can all be found scattered throughout Broadway at the Beach. I was especially impressed with the Ripley’s Aquarium. The ability to become emerged in what seems to be an underwater world is amazing. The glass viewing tunnel is spectacular! To your left, right, and even above you, there are sharks of all sizes within inches of you. For food, Broadway at the Beach has it all. During my day long visit there I had lunch at Bill Murray’s Caddyshack, dinner at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, and cooled off at the Hard Rock Café. 

When not at the ocean, Barefoot Landing, or Broadway at the Beach, try visiting one of Myrtle Beach’s most popular tourist stops. Studebaker’s has long been a favorite destination of many tourists. Great food, atmosphere, and music has always been the draw to this local landmark. Other great attractions not to miss in the area are the Carolina Opry, Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, and the Carolina Prime Outlets. 

Finding a place to stay at Myrtle Beach is never a problem. Ocean Blvd. has miles of beachfront hotels; many with beach access and elaborate pool areas. During a recent stay I was quite pleased with my accommodations at the Sandcastle at South Beach Hotel. The room was clean, it had an exterior entrance, and waking every morning to the roar of the Atlantic Ocean was something close to paradise. 

With warm temperatures being felt from March through November, Myrtle Beach, SC is a perfect vacation spot for those that are looking for something a little different than the typical Florida vacation. From dozens of golf courses to hundreds of attractions, there’s always something to do at Myrtle Beach. For more information about vacationing in Myrtle Beach, visit http://www.discovermyrtlebeach.com.

Relaxing at Hyatt’s Coconut Plantation

Most likely when you think of vacationing in Florida you think of the hot spots of Miami, the Keys, Ft. Lauderdale, or the tourist mecca of Orlando. But a few years ago my wife, Rachel, and I found a fantastic getaway. Located about 10 miles south of Fort Myers Beach and 15 miles north of Naples, is the quietly growing community of Coconut. By using our Hyatt Vacation Club membership, we now try to make the Coconut Plantation on Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico an annual getaway.

Flying into Southwest Florida International (RSW) gets our vacation off on the right foot. Perhaps one of the cleanest and most enjoyable airports in America, RSW sets the tone of relaxation from the moment we landed. With a dedicated area on the ground level of the airport, getting a rental car is as easy as renting a car can be. And we’re off on vacation!

A drive of less than 20 minutes find us at our destination- The Hyatt Vacation Club’s Coconut Plantation. Off the Tamiami Trail and onto Coconut Drive, the Hyatt Regency Hotel at Coconut sits against the sun-filled sky. All of the amenities at this 4-star resort are available to those staying at the Coconut Plantation, located less than 1/4 mile further down the road. In between these two resorts is a gorgeous golf course called Raptor Bay. With water and sand placed strategically throughout the 18-holes, Raptor Bay turns out to be an enjoyable round of golf.

The first thing you will notice when walking into the main lobby of Coconut Plantation is the one-of -a-kind scent of what else? — coconut oil! From the beautiful mahogany wood floors to the warm two-sided fireplace, and welcoming “come sit in me” chairs, the Coconut Plantation screams, “Get ready to relax!”

We traditionally start our retreat with lunch at the Corkscrew Restaurant, located poolside at the Regency. However keep in mind that saying ‘poolside’  may be somewhat confusing for first-timers, because both the Regency hotel and the Coconut Plantation resort each boast 5 pools each! And between both locales, and the golf course, visitors can choose between 5 distinct restaurants.

Settling into our room is always a treat. Each room at Coconut Plantation has a beautiful lenai, with each screened in patio offering up a unique view. Whether the view is of the golf course or the resort’s pool area, each is always a relaxing. With studio, 1-bed, and 2-bedroom units available, the HVC quality never wavers. With granite counters in the bathroom and kitchen, cool tile floors in the living area, and comfortable carpets in the bedrooms, the Coconut Plantation is a fabulous home away from home.

With cascading waterfalls, a 1000-foot lazy river, and pools ranging from a kiddie pool to the adult pool on the veranda, Coconut Plantation has enough water to cool you from the typical 80-degree temperatures. Tennis and basketball courts, bike rentals, and an air conditioned fitness center are just a few of the other amenities for guests. And whether you’re taking in the rays at the Regency or the Plantation, their poolside beverage servers are the epitome of relaxation and luxury.

When we finally force ourselves to leave the grounds of this multiple resort, the south Gulf Coast offers an array of fun options. Less than two minutes away sits the vast condo/shopping area of Coconut Point. With hundreds of famous name stores, dozens of restaurants, and luxury living accommodations, this community is a modern twist on an early 1900’s city. The city of Naples is about 15 miles south of Coconut, and their pristine beaches, unique shopping, and outdoor restaurants make this a must-stop every time we’re in the area. The famous Fort Myers Beach area is just to the north of our resort and  is always ready to offer up fun til the early morning hours. Picking shells on the beaches, taking in the sunsets at the pier, and great food and drink at the Yukatan is a typical afternoon and evening at FMB.

Though the region offers beautiful public beaches and the two resorts have 10 pools between them, the best part of our stay at the Hyatt Vacation Club’s Coconut Plantation is always a trip to their private beach located at Big Hickory Island, across Estero Bay and on the Gulf of Mexico. Privacy and more relaxation is the order of the day when spending time at the beach. With complimentary lounge chairs, umbrellas, and ice-filled coolers for your favorite beverages and snacks, a day at this beach will surely spoil you for future excursions.

Though this region eluded our vacation getaway radar for some time, we now have it locked in and look forward to our visit nearly every year. For more information about The Coconut Plantation or the Hyatt Vacation Club, contact 1-800-Go-Hyatt and mention this column.

Hot Fun in the Summertime!

Central New Yorkers have weathered through another winter and unpredictable spring, and are poised to welcome Summer with open arms, ready-to-spend wallets, and a desire to wear bathing suits whenever and wherever possible. Summer is special in the northeast with our four distinct seasons, and from Memorial Day to Labor Day we attempt to squeeze every available sun-shining moment into our schedules.

So without further delay (because I think the sun is coming out), here are some ideas for your summertime fun in and around the Central New York area. Every Saturday morning Syracuse has its 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 area. This section of Syracuse boasts several restaurants, quaint pubs, and specialty stores and boutiques. Rachel and I enjoy lunch and a pint at The Blue Tusk.

During the last weekend in July the City of Oswego shows off its 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, and skipping 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, 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) is the Renaissance Faire. Open for only a handful of weekends each summer, the RenFaire takes visitors back to the Middle Ages with Jesters, Joustings, and 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 resturants, 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.

Heading north from Central New York, one fun stop can include Lake Placid, with a trip to the summit of Whiteface Mountain and a casual walk down their wonderful Main Street along Mirror Lake. Again crossing the border, the City of Kingston, Ontario, Canada is a great weekend getaway! This quaint Canadian city offers tons of food and shopping along its famous Princess Street and Ontario Street. A little closer to home are the Lake Ontario towns of Alexandria Bay and Sacketts Harbor. Both 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 south and east, 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 Otesaga Resort. If horseracing 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.

Central New Yorkers are also fortunate to only be about five hours away from two of the greatest cities in the world- Boston and NY City. Whether strolling along Newbury Street in Boston or along Broadway in NYC, or taking in views at the top of the Prudential Building in Beantown or the Empire State Building in the Big Apple, these two cities speak for themselves- Fun, fun, fun!

Throughout the summer and autumn look for future columns as I travel to many of these locations and offer up what’s hot and what’s not. And I invite you to ‘Leave a Response’ to this and future columns with stories of your own, as you travel around this summer at https://edfayette.wordpress.com .

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 www.riveredge.com.
And to see what else is happening in Alexandria Bay, check out www.abay.com .