Visit Waterfalls and Gorges In and Around Finger Lakes, New York
[ NEW YORK, NY - NYC - 10/2/2009 - www.Littleviews.com ]
>> If you crave highly unique scenery, desire regional food (wine, jellies and jam, and pies), and seek regional crafts that rival what's available year-round in Asheville, North Carolina, or at The Lincoln Center in spring and fall, visit the Finger Lakes, New York area.
The Finger Lakes region is approximately a six hour drive (seven, including lunch) from the Lincoln Tunnel in Manhattan, making it a highly desirable, unique, and relaxing getaway. Got five days to spare? Maybe Friday through Tuesday? This is the place to go.
This itinerary is designed to highlight eye-popping scenery and guide you to unusual local foods, arts, and crafts. To see everything, you will commute from two- to five-hours each day, but with never-ending, beautiful scenery, your drive time will be relaxing.
Go to Watkins Glen, which is located on the south end of Seneca Lake, where you'll find the Watkins Glen State Park. Enter the park from its main parking area just off Highway 14 and walk into the gorge.
The gorge features 800 steps. These steps, however, are not overly steep. With viewing platforms, in fact, they are fairly easy to navigate. If you have a physical problem, but can walk, just take it easy and perhaps ask your friends or family to help. This is not an area where you'd want to rush, anyway. It's worth the effort!
When you are finished enjoying the gorges, your next destination will be approximately 50 miles away at Naples, where even fire hydrants are painted grape purple. If you are hungry, eat in Naples, or at least leave room from your previous meal for a large slice of grape pie.
If you were staying a week, you'd probably visit Naples after visiting the interesting Canandaigua, which is north of it on Canandaigua Lake. During this suggested three-day itinerary, however, you'll need to drive the distance just so you can taste grape pie, stock up on any of over 100 local jellies, jams, compotes, fruit juices, etc., and browse local arts and crafts.
The best view of the American and Horse Shoe falls is from the Canadian Queen Victoria Park. To get there from the U.S., everyone must bring their passports, or birth certificates, plus related identification. If you forget, the border patrol may let you in (as they did us). You will pay for this convenient and courteous treatment, however, by being subjected to a lecture about how passport requirement rules have been in effect for U.S. citizens since June 2009 and why you are a dummy for not knowing this common information.
If you arrive at Niagara Falls on a sunny afternoon, you will see several rainbows over the area. Not content to just look? Take a thrilling boat ride to the base of the falls and, on the American side, walk alongside the thunderous American Falls to stay wet and excited. In early summer, when streams are filled with melted snow, you might also want to spend a few days visiting the entire Niagara Escarpment.
The Queen Victoria Park is beautifully landscaped, with just enough very nice facilities to prevent you from going hungry. Unfortunately, as this is a day trip, you probably won't stay for the fall's famous "Niagara Parks at Night," a nightly, multi-colored light show which is accompanied during the summer by weekend concerts and fireworks.
Directions: Head west on Interstate 90. At almost the end of the trip, take Interstate 290 to bypass Buffalo and follow the signs which will lead you through Grand Island, to the Robert Moses State Parkway and the falls themselves. Spectacular! Depending on traffic, the trip is 2 to 2.5 hours from Geneva.
The official New York State Park website does not say much about this park, which is very unfortunate as you need to understand this park's features so you can plan your visit.
There are three "must see" areas. In the summer, the huge Lower Falls (above) doubles as a swimming area. The Lower Falls, which is near the park's main entrance, is most commonly depicted in travel literature. There is, however, much more to see in this park!
You can elect to walk to walk through the gorge from the park's main entrance at the Lower Park, or drive to the park's upper entrance, where you will be greeted by the Old Mill (a free museum where you can learn how flour was once created) and the Old Mill Falls (above).
From this interesting area, follow a path to descend into the park's gorge, where you'll step downstairs into an amazing stone ravine. The stone path that winds along the edge of the cavern looks similar in majesty to the path contained in The Great Wall of China.
The entire round-trip gorge trail is four miles long, with the most spectacular scenery nearer the Old Mill area. If you are up to walking the entire trail, definitely do so, otherwise, begin your stroll from the Old Mill area by taking the Gorge Trail, then return after you've seen all the falls, including the magnificent, 115-foot Lucifer Falls.
As the length of this walk is longer than the 800 stairs in the Watkins Glen State Park, if you have a slight physical restriction, but can still walk, amble along the shorter distance, asking friends or family to help as needed.
With your hike finished, dine and browse for gifts at the Ithaca Commons in Ithaca. Among many nice shops are American Crafts by Robbie Dein and Now You're Cooking, a cooking implement store. You'll also see an interesting bike shop where "starter models" cost well over $2,000.
All of the lodging I recommend is in Geneva, New York. I've selected them based on their "value added" spectacular locations and the availability of beautiful, on-site restaurants. Under all conditions, check for room availability as special events can make heavy demands on rooms. That said, when rooms are available, off-season rates are a bargain.
Rather than name specific restaurants, keep in mind that excellent dining is available at all of the lodging I recommended. You'll also find several nice restaurants overlooking Seneca Lake in Watkins Glenn. When you visit Naples, ask for dinner recommendations at Monica's Pies (after you purchase a pie, of course).
Getting There from New York
Consult a map for your preferred route, as some longer trips (such as along beautiful-but-slow State Highway 17) might provide more interesting, mountainous scenery.
Questions? Ask Karen at Karen@littleviews.com
Article by Karen Little. Photos by Karen and Philip Little. First published on 10/2/2009. All rights reserved by www.Littleviews.com.