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

Advertisements

8 Great St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Cities in the U.S.

asiseeit_fayette_headshotWhen 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.

Boston, Massachusetts
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 severalStPats-Boston 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.

Cleveland, Ohio
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 Cleveland_Ohio_St._Patrick's_Day_Downtown_2012has 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, localStPats_IrishDancers_SF Pub Crawls, downtown Block Parties, and parade, San Franciscans have wrapped their Irish arms around this holiday. With U2 cover band, ‘Zoo Station’, playingSF-GuinessGirl-StPats 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
People at the St. Patrick's Day Celebration in Myrtle Beach, SCFrom 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.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
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 New York City Holds Annual St. Patrick's Day Paradeweekend 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.

Savannah, Georgia
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 St.Pats-Forsyth_Fountain-SavOn 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.

Chicago, Illinois
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
mcsorleys-NYC_oldest bar in NYCsection 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 DayTippHill_SYR-StPats
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!

A Central NY Tradition at the Great NY State Fair

As every summer winds down, the excitement around Central NY revs up with the annual event known as the New York State Fair. Since 1841 Syracuse has played host to ‘The Fair’. Originally designed to be an agricultural and household fair, today’s fair still celebrates the region’s rich agricultural history, while introducing and recognizing many new services and products of the state.

During the last week of the summer treat yourself and your family to a day at The Fair. With tickets available at various outlets throughout the state, sometimes at a reduced cost or even free, it turns out to be a cheap way to enjoy a day of fun. Park your car for $5, pick up a program for another $3, and you’re ready to start your day. Inside The Fair’s program you’ll find a run down of events for the day, a map of the grounds, and many money-saving coupons for rides, food, and other attractions.

I try to visit The Fair at least once or twice a year, and here are some of my favorite Fair highlights. When I first arrive my wife and I head to the Midway. Though we don’t take in any of the rides, I must say they do have some pretty wild ones if your stomach is up to it. I do however try my luck at a few games of chance, and attempt to cash in on a new stuffed animal. (Like my house needs another one of those. That’s ok though, it’ll make its way to a local charity this upcoming holiday season.) Of course such strenuous Midway games can work up an appetite, and you can find great deals on classic Fair food around every corner. In the mood for a deep-fried Snickers? How about garlic shrimp-on-a-stick? Me, I keep my eyes open for the hot dog and a Coke for $1. Hey, I’ll take two!

Later on I make it a point to watch the chainsaw guy carve a lighthouse sculpture out of a block of wood in about ten minutes. Rachel and I will then ask each other, “Do you think that’s all he does?” I mean, how much wood do you have to carve AND SELL to pay the rent and feed yourself?  Anyways, further down the Midway be sure to stop into a few of the tented flea markets scattered about. Hey, they’ve got ‘Coach’ and ‘Louis V’ for only $20, and they ‘say’ it’s the real stuff! (They wouldn’t be fibbing, would they?)

The Horticulture Building is always kind of a neat place to visit. I can never figure out how one rose gets a Blue Ribbon, while another rose sitting right next to it, looking EXACTLY like the other, only gets Honorable Mention. Oh, and I can’t wait to come across the vendor pushing the latest and greatest back and neck massager, though the price tag usually makes me more tense than when I started. While there make sure you get a sample of the free grape juice too! Mmmm tasty.

One of my ‘must-stop’ places when visiting The Fair is the Center of Progress Building. I love walking the aisles and listening to the vendors recite the reasons why we NEED their product. Rachel likes to visit the ‘miracle’ jewelry cleaner booth and get her rings cleaned for free, and sometimes she even ends up buying their product — can you say, “sucker!” As you mosey further down one of the aisles don’t miss those new fabric softener balls for your dryer. You NEED them!

After the Center of Progress Building, I love gawking at the enormous hot tubs they now make. I’m serious; they make them with stereos and even TVs built in! Some are the size of small inground pools. Price? How about $18k! For that why not just get an inground pool? I had often asked myself in previous years, “Who buys a hottub at the Fair?” But after a visit to the wine tent in 2005, I ended up answering my own question. People that visit the wine tent before walking past the hottubs are the people who buy hottubs at the Fair.

While checking out the hot tubs, be sure to enjoy the free 2:00 & 8:00pm concerts at the State Fair Court. The days’ shows are always great with acts from all genres of music.

And then there’s that wine I mentioned. Ahh yes, the State Fair Wine Village. Whoever invented the White Wine Slushy is an absolute genius in my book. With dozens of various wineries from the Finger Lakes region, a cigar kiosk, and a few cheese booths set up nearby, one can easily spend an hour or so at this venue. Heck, I lost four hours there one year.

Rounding out a day at The Fair it is a ‘must’ to visit the purple A-frame Pizza Frite booth for some 2-foot long fried dough and walk through the Clydesdale barn just to say, “Man, look at the size of those horses!” (It’s a tradition-type of thing we do.)

So as you prepare for these last few weeks of summer, why not start, your own summer tradition for you and your family, and visit the great New York State Fair? This year the NY State Fair (nysfair.org) runs from August 22nd through Labor Day (September 2nd).