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

Wine-ing Your Way Through the Finger Lakes

ImageFor centuries some of the world’s best wines have been found throughout Europe and Australia. And for the last hundred years the United States’ wine mecca has been considered to be California’s Napa Valley. But tucked away in the middle of New York State is a series of lakes dating back to the Ice Age. Located about two hours northwest from New York City and three hours southeast from Toronto, Canada sits the magnificent Finger Lakes. With their warmImage summers and cool falls, these lakes are prime locations for the wine-making business. Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake, and Keuka Lake are three of the most popular and successful of the Finger Lakes when it comes to wine tasting fun.

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 Imageas 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 thatImage 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 Imagebrewery 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 aboutImage 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 fImageun 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.

Cooperstown Beverage Trail

For young and old, men and women, boys and girls, a great getaway can be found in Cooperstown, NY. Named after James Fenimore Cooper, the famous author of such classic writings as The Last of the Mohicans and The Deerslayer, Cooperstown is a wonderful retreat to days gone by. With its National Baseball Hall of Fame, Farmer’s Museum, and Fenimore Art Museum, there is so much to do for just about any interest.

One of my favorite things to do, wherever my travels take me, is to try the local wines and beers. Heck, send me to Russia and I’ll likely indulge in sipping their vodka. In the Leatherstocking Region of New York State sits the Cooperstown Beverage Trail. Actually also known as New York’s first “Cuisine Trail”, this compilation of wineries, breweries, and cider mills is truly a one-of-a-kind experience.

First on the Trail is the Fly Creek Cider Mill. This is a great place to stop first because besides the cider samplings, they have food and snacks, along with more food and snacks. And best of all, many of the things they sell can be sampled for free. From fudge to cheese, ciders to fruit wines, the Fly Creek Cider Mill is a flashback to the early General Store days.

Next on the Cooperstown Beverage Trail is the Brewery Ommegang. I swear the first time I visited the brewery I heard angels sing from above as I drove up the majestic path to its welcoming archway. The award-winning Brewery Ommegang offers several great-tasting beers, including Rare Vos, Hennepin, and the unique Three Philosophers. Ommegang’s tasting building is spacious and offers a nice variety of lunch selections as well.

A third stop on my “nearly-annual” tour is the Cooperstown Brewing Company. Though modest in exterior appearance, the CBC is a fun place to gather with friends to taste a wide-variety of brews. My favorites are found in their line known as the Lil’ Slugger selections.

Rounding out the Trail is the Bear Pond Winery. Their wine selection ranges from a Spumante to a Riesling, to a Pinot Grigio, to a sweet strawberry May wine. Tours at the Bear Pond Winery allow visitors to stroll the vineyards, watch the bottling process, and then follow the grape to its final destination by tasting the wine in the inviting Bear Pond tasting room.

In addition to the Cooperstown Beverage Trail there’s The National Baseball Hall of Fame opened in June of 1939, with its induction of Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Honus Wagner. Since that day, Cooperstown plays host to more than 350,000 visitors each year. The Hall of Fame celebrates the accomplishments of the game’s greats every summer during Hall of Fame Weekend.

Cooperstown isn’t all baseball though. The Farmer’s Museum offers a slice of the past with its many hands-on exhibits of the mid-1800’s. Visitors to the museum can see candlestick makers, blacksmiths, and more artisans work their craft in the 19th century surroundings. The Heritage Gardens section of the Farmer’s Museum offers a glance at everyday life over 150 years ago. Spending a day at the Farmer’s Museum will seem like an hour.

The Fenimore Art Museum is made up of eleven galleries that contain the finest in American folk art and North American Indian art. The museum is also the home of the largest collection of James Fenimore Cooper memorabilia and original documents. Visitors to the museum will not only enjoy the variety of collections, but will be in awe of the museum’s structure itself.

Cooperstown is also the home of the famous Otesaga Hotel and Resort, an experience that one should enjoy at least once in a lifetime. Adjacent to the Otesaga is the Leatherstocking Golf Club, a magnificent test of golf in meticulous surroundings. Of course any baseball fan shouldn’t pass up a visit to Doubleday Field, the Home of Baseball. History tells us that it is here where Abner Doubleday first invented the game.

Shopping and dining in Cooperstown is seemingly endless. The four blocks of Main Street are lined with tiny shops and eateries, most (but not all) with a baseball theme. Pictures, memorabilia, and autographs of baseball’s greats are packed into every nook and cranny of the village. Whether you’re in need of fine dining or just a snack, the village’s restaurants will certainly accommodate your appetite. My favorite stop for lunch in Cooperstown is Danny’s Market. I love the feel of a traditional NYC deli, and the food and company inside is one of a kind. Of all the times I’ve stayed in Cooperstown I find myself going back to the wonderful accommodations of The White House Inn. Owned and operated by Ed and Marjorie Landers,  this fabulous B&B annually accommodates Hall of Famers in town for visits and autograph signings. All of which have even autographed the wall leading up the main staircase.

So this summer, whether the kids are complaining that there’s nothing to do, or you’re just looking for a quick escape as a couple, consider Cooperstown as a weekend getaway or a week-long stay. It is most assuredly a time that will add to your summertime memories for years to come.

 

Glenora Getaway

 If you’re looking for a break from your day-to-day routine; maybe a little getaway not too far from home, consider the Finger Lakes wine country. Whether you make it a trip with just a couple of friends, or a wine tour with a larger group, the west side of Seneca Lake is packed with wineries waiting for your visit. Most are open from 10am until 5pm daily, and welcome you with smiling faces and uncorked bottles. 

My wife and I recently took Rte.14 south out of Geneva on a Saturday afternoon and worked our way through some spectacular wineries along the way. Our first stop was at Fox Run Vineyards. After sampling several of their wines we took advantage of their small bistro/deli and grabbed a bite to eat. Their Arctic Fox white wine was fantastic, as was their turkey panini sandwich. Just a bit further down the road was Torrey Ridge. This is always one of my favorite stops because of its delicious Niagara wine. It is just like a green grape bursting in your mouth! Torrey Ridge is introducing two new wines with a fun flare and great taste. They are Redneck White and Redneck Red. Both pack a fruity, grapey taste; perfect for that small get together or kicking back on a weekend. 

The amazing thing about the folks along Rte. 14 is how they support one another. Throughout many of our conversations with the proprietors I’m always astounded by the way they suggest that we try stopping by a “competitor’s” winery. You don’t see that happen in many sectors of business. Another stop on our Sunday was exactly one of those suggestions. How the Seneca Shores Winery ever eluded my wine-radar, I’m not sure; but boy am I glad I found it. Rachel and I were blown away by the fantastic taste of several of their wines, along with the knowledge of how each was prepared.

Anthony Road Winery was another stop we made. Tony’s White (formerly named Poulet Rouge) is a great table wine, with a very nice taste and body.  The Thirsty Owl is a fun winery. Home of the great tasting- Liquid Wisdom. It is a white wine with a fun, grapey flavor. I think it is a perfect wine for a summer night sunset or lounging by the pool. Another winery that we hadn’t visited before was Miles Winery. Housed in a majestic, haunted mansion, perched overlooking Seneca Lake, Miles Winery was a neat place to visit for some wine sampling. 

At many of the locations we visited we were told over and over again that we should absolutely stop at the Lakewood Winery. Many of the people that we had conversations with grew to know that we preferred a semi-sweet wine, and maybe an occasional Riesling. They emphasized how good Lakewood was. And when we arrived, we were not disappointed. Their Niagara was fantastic! 

Our last stop, and final destination, was Glenora. Their winery is one of the most spacious, and offers an enormous selection of great-tasting wines. After a sampling of their Cayuga White, our favorite; Rachel and I checked in at The Inn at Glenora. Upon check-in guests are served a glass of sparkling champagne… Nice touch! When we got to our room we found the mini-fridge stocked with bottles of water and a bottle of wine. Another nice amenity. Our accommodations had plenty of room, with a sitting area, work station, and comfortable bed. The bathroom was very nice and clean. Perhaps the nicest part of any of the rooms at Glenora is their view. Every room at The Inn at Glenora comes with a lake-view of Seneca Lake. The rooms on the 1st floor have patios, while our room on the 2nd floor had a balcony.  Though the balconies aren’t huge (probably somewhere around (8’ x 5’), they offer up spectacular views and two comfortable chairs to relax in. 

For dinner we made our way to Veraisons, Glenora’s incredible restaurant. I would have to say that in my travels, Veraisons setting and atmosphere is one of the finest. Overlooking the grape vines and Seneca Lake, the restaurant has a warm, rustic setting. Though the room is quite large (able to be divided for private gatherings), you never feel lost in its size. Its cathedral ceiling and exposed beams add a sense of warmth and comfort. Make sure you bring your camera the first time you visit, so you can get a few pictures of the enormous and fabulous stone fireplace at Veraisons; it is breath-taking!  My “Trio of Pulled Pork” appetizer was fabulous. Served on mini Johnny cakes with apple chutney- wow! For dinner the chef prepared “Coq Au Vin Rouge” for me. Now typically if I can’t read it, or understand it, I’m not going to eat it, but boy am I glad I did. The braised chicken in red wine, dressed with bacon lardoons was amazing. Perfectly prepared and packing a tremendous taste. And on weekends, Veraisons is known throughout the Finger Lakes region for having one of the finest weekend brunches around. 

The nice thing about The Inn at Glenora is that they have several packages that guests can choose from. Whether it is including a sailing adventure to your stay or a complete dinner and breakfast for two, Glenora will accommodate your desires. Located at the southern end of State Route 14, just north of Watkins Glen in Dundee, Glenora is the perfect getaway destination any time of year. Don’t think that wine touring is an autumn thing. It can be a wonderful experience throughout the year. 

For more information or to make reservations at The Inn at Glenora, call 1-800-243-5513 or visit their website at www.glenora.com .

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 .

A Gentelman’s (Survival) Guide to Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that is typically difficult for most men.  It’s not that we don’t care for the women in our lives; it’s more that we just don’t get the whole pink hearts and chocolate thing. I blame Hallmark.

Nonetheless, let me take this time to pass along some helpful ideas to assist in this year’s preparations. And oh, Rule 1- regardless of your feelings of the day, do not forget it, or deliberately ignore it. Remember the saying that goes something like, ‘…nothing worse than a woman scorn…’. 

So let’s tackle this Valentine’s thing head on, and keep in mind, this year is going to be different. Women love the ‘original’ stuff. Dinner out, a heart-shaped box of chocolates, and a two-dollar card are a thing of the past. Not to mention, our better halves really don’t buy the idea that getting lingerie is truly for ‘them’. My Valentine’s Day idea has been created by using, appropriately enough, the KISS-method (Keep It Simple Stupid).

 First, organize your plan at least one day ahead of time. Some shopping is going to be needed. The evening will include music, a home-made dinner (yes, by you…), a bottle of wine, and a movie at home. Creating a ‘Mix CD’ has never been easier. Go to I-tunes, or your favorite music download site, and put together a catalog of twenty meaningful songs. I highly recommend Prince’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” and “Anniversary” by TonyToniTone to lead off your selections. Even some soft jazz is a nice change up. And please promise you’ll stay away from songs created by head-bangers and rappers.

 For dinner I’ve got two easy and impressive possibilities. First, an entrée of pork tenderloin, cooked either on the grill or under the broiler. You can marinade or season it to your liking. The key to great taste, sear it on the outside to bring out the flavors of the seasoning and seal in the juiciness. Serve it with shrimp cocktail as an appetizer and a side of sweet potato and vegetables. A perfect wine to complement this meal would be Hazlitt’s Cabin Fever. A second entrée possibility would be to serve tilapia with brown rice and broccoli, with a drizzle of honey mustard dressing. Tilapia is a farm-fish and is extremely light and not fishy at all. Whether you purchase it fresh or frozen, it’s always easy prep and ready to cook. It can be purchased fresh at most markets, and after some seasoning and light breading, fry it up or broil it. It doesn’t take long, 3-7 minutes at the most, so keep your eyes on it. We don’t want to have to be making a last minute call to Domino’s. I love a Niagara wine with my seafood; and few glasses in, she will too.

 End her special dinner (notice I said ‘her’, not ‘your’…remember, make this evening all about her) with a simple, yet elegant dessert. Brownies are easy to make, and even easier to buy at a bakery. Warm the brownie in the microwave for 15 seconds, then drizzle it lightly with her favorite yogurt. Side it with fresh fruit (same as the yogurt) and sprinkle the top with confectionary sugar. I like using red raspberry yogurt and setting the berries around the plate. The raspberries and the chocolate have a great taste together.

 Of course, to make this whole dinner event a smashing success, be sure to plate her food away from the table and serve it to her. Having a hand towel over your shoulder when you serve it will only enhance the personalized touch. One candle is all that is really needed on the table, and go ahead break out the ‘good plates’.

 Following dinner pop in one of these three ‘guaranteed success’ movies: The Lake House, Chocolate, or Serendipity. Romantic, yes. Sappy, no. All three are easily watchable, though nothing blows up in any of them. The Lake House takes place in a serene, country retreat, Chocolate’s setting is in a small European town, and Serendipity is set in NY City. So take your pick. You can’t go wrong with any of them, and all are available to rent or buy at Blockbuster.

 If all of this sounds a little overwhelming, remember a two-day getaway is always a great idea. Road trips to Geneva’s Belhurst Castle, Dundee’s The Inn at Glenora, or Cooperstown’s The White House Inn are all fabulous and elegant retreat destinations.

 Regardless of how you celebrate this year’s Valentine’s Day, be sure to not forget the card and some kind of token gift, on top of what you have already planned. A certificate to a spa or jewelry is always sure to be a hit. But then again, a Victoria’s Secret gift card would also be nice. Hey, I always love a ‘win-win’ situation.