This week I took a road trip to the Finger Lakes Region with my Mom!
We stayed in a little town called Horseheads, a central location to many of the areas we wanted to explore. We got into the area just in time for lunch and traveled in to the town of Watkins Glen. The Glen Mountain Market was a superb spot for sandwiches. I tried my first BLT ever and it certainly did not disappoint. Everything was fresh and plentiful. I loved the addition of sprouts in the sandwich, and the foccacia bread was out of this world!
After a great meal it was time for some hiking. Watkins Glen State Park is what inspired the idea for the trip. In a short 2 mile distance you see 19 waterfalls, and you are able to go behind a few of them and reach out to the water.
The views are phenomenal. The trails are cool from the rushing water and often shaded so it is very comfortable hiking conditions.
You can combine the gorge trail with the quieter forested rim trail to create a loop back to the main parking lot. Here away from the throngs of stomping feet you may spot some beautiful wildflowers.
This park is highly populated, just something to be aware of. After the hike we walked about the town speckled with little antique shops and galleries. We headed to nearby Lakewood Vineyards, a lovely establishment in a beautiful setting.
I loved the atmosphere of this vineyard from the friendly staff to the friendly dogs to the beautiful scenery.
After our tasting we walked down a path looking at the grapes, flowers, and wildlife until we were in sight of Seneca Lake, the deepest of the Finger Lakes with a depth of over 600 feet!
Dinner was at the Hill Top Inn in Elmira. This place was perfect. We came just before sunset and were in for such a treat.
There are beautifully maintained flowers, perfectly classy decorations, a fire pit for warming on a cool night, and the biggest pepper cracker you have ever seen.
The meal started out with the fluffiest most delicious rolls, which tasted like they were right out of the oven. I enjoyed the fact that portions were not so huge that it was unfathomable to finish, or too small that I was left hungry. It was just right. I ordered shrimp scampi and the shrimp were cooked to perfection and they were not supersaturated with butter but had a perfect balance.
I also had a blue margarita that gave a good buzz without tasting too alcoholic. Along with the view and the food, the staff was perfectly attentive without being overbearing. So perfect.
We headed out to Ithaca and first stop was to Ithaca Falls. Here you will find a natural area which is free to visit with two small parking lots in a quiet area of town. When you walk a short distance to the falls, you will be shocked at the awe-inspiring beauty. This is a massive falls that drops 105 ft, and there was barely a soul around. Truly a magnificent gem.
We stopped at a small farmers market across for the library on the edge of Ithaca Commons. We tried some items new to us such as gooseberries and currants, a summer roll, and iced hibiscus tea.
Everything was great and we enjoyed looked at the natural art such as flowers and mushrooms, and street art that is prevalent in the city.
Next stop was Buttermilk Falls State Park, one of the coolest state parks I have ever visited! Right as you enter you are greeted by a beautiful waterfall with a roped off swimming area.
Hiking the gorge trail brings you to the top of this waterfall, and along the gorge to more and more waterfalls that feed the initial falls.
The views are rousing and ever changing and in such a short distance you see so much. To complete a loop you may take the rim trail back to the parking lot and along the way you may encounter some awesome flora and fauna.
Lunch was at Moosewood Restaurant a fantastic joint known for their cookbooks and vegetarian options. It is located in Dewitt Mall, an interesting little mall with unique shops inside. The food was very affordable, different, and most importantly tasty. We got a curried lentil soup and split items from the lighter fare menu and we were stuffed.
Decorations inside the restaurant were cool, but there is a lovely outdoor patio which is great for people watching. We loved walking through Ithaca Commons popping into eclectic shops and looking at more street art.
Soon we were moving on however, and on our way to Taughannock Falls State Park. Here you may enjoy Cayuga Lake and cool down in a quiet atmosphere. There is a roped off area where you can swim out to a dock and jump off a diving board.
When you are finished with the beach lake, you can cross the road and take a very mild hike out to the falls. The falls are a spectacular sight to bestow.
They are 215 ft making it the tallest in the northeast and come complete with legend.
We visited the Corning Museum of Glass, which was one of the coolest museums I have ever visited (other than the USS Slater of course)! There are so many facets of this museum that can appeal to almost any individual. There is the gallery full of unique and eclectic glass works to oogle at.
There are various demonstrations to watch and frequent times during the day. I enjoyed a scientific demonstration about glass breaking, and an artistic demonstration of glass blowing.
There are many scientific panels to read about glass used for all different purposes from bifocals to telescopes to prisms. There is the history of glass and different glass pieces throughout the ages. There are beautiful stained glass works of art.
You also have the option of creating your own glass masterpiece. My mom chose to make wind chimes, and I created a sun catcher. We had the best time with our arts and crafts.
After our great museum experience, we went to have a fabulous lunch at the Turtle Leaf Café. The food was good for you, and tasted good, making us feel great! We split two flatbread veggie pizzas that came with grapes and carrots. We also got a spinach mango pineapple shake. Filling and delicious! We loved this healthy joint, I wish there was one in Albany.
I had such a great time making my way through the nature, restaurants, and culture of the Finger Lakes with the best partner in crime, my Mom! I would highly recommend making the reasonable 3.5 hour drive out there to spend some time in this remarkable region.