Your Next Weekend Escape: The Finger Lakes
Know the North Fork like the back of your hand? Already hiked across the Hudson Valley? There’s another region that needs to be on your weekend short list. The Finger Lakes—so named for its series of long, thin bodies of water—have been garnering buzz as a wine region for a while now, but the area has way more than just award-winning Riesling (which you should definitely try). Here’s everything you need to know about your new favorite place upstate.
The area’s lodging options range from the rustic to the luxurious. Belhurst Castle, overlooking Seneca Lake, was originally built as a private mansion in the 1880s and later served as a speakeasy and casino during Prohibition. Now the property features three hotels (rooms start at $79 per night): There’s the stately castle itself (outfitted with antique furnishings and artwork); White Springs Manor, a secluded Georgian Revival guesthouse; and the modern Vinifera Inn, where every room has a fireplace, jetted tub and two-person shower. For accommodations straight out of a Monet painting, book a room at the Mirbeau Inn and Spa (from $250), located in the charming, tree-lined town of Skaneateles. After indulging in spa treatments (like a detoxifying French-clay body wrap), you can also take part in on-site cooking and baking classes that use local, seasonal ingredients.
Where to Eat
This is wine country, after all, so expect a restaurant scene that stands up to both serious vintages and discerning foodies. FLX Wienery (nope, that’s not a typo) takes fast food up a notch with artisanal, locally sourced hamburgers and hot dogs, including vegetarian options. Stop by for a casual lunch between wineries or a relaxed dinner. Housed in an adorable, colorful old Victorian, Roots Café serves up hearty, home-cooked fare made with ingredients from nearby providers. For a special dinner, visit Ravinous Kitchen at the Ravines Wine Cellars, where seasonal produce and ethically raised meats are procured from neighboring farms (sensing a theme here?). The restaurant also hosts a 6 p.m. vineyard tour followed by a four-course meal among the barrels.
Wineries, Breweries and Distilleries
With more than 120 wineries, breweries and distilleries in the Finger Lakes region, you’re in the right place to sample some of the Northeast’s finest booze right at the source.
The Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard is one of the most well known—it’s been working to perfect the region’s Riesling since 1979. Heart & Hands, a small-batch winery, is worth a stop for its sparkling Riesling and Polarity, a white wine made from Pinot Noir grapes. If you need a break from vino, check out Myer Farm Distillers, a craft distillery that uses organic grain for its spirits. Beer nerds should stop into CB Craft Brewers, which keeps more than 26 home-brewed small-batch beers on tap at all times, and Bacchus Brewing Company, which serves a rotating menu of seasonal brews in its taproom and beer garden.
Things to Do
OK, you can’t drink all the time, and fortunately, the area is replete with other activities to keep you busy in every season. If hiking is your thing, be sure to explore Watkins Glen State Park, a verdant gorge that boasts a whopping 19 waterfalls. The easy, three-mile round-trip trek offers no end of ’Grammable moments. With more than 20 lakes in the area, there are also plenty of places to kayak in the warmer months, while the cooler months allow for skiing (Toggenburg Mountain is a local favorite) and other winter activities. Looking to pick up a few unique souvenirs before heading back to the city? Dig for treasure on the Bloomfield Antique Country Mile, a quaint stretch of colonial-era architecture and shops stocked with furniture, rare books and collectibles.