Savannah Marie searches for the best restaurants, wildlife and attractions that Harrisburg has to offer.
Midstate couples, families and independent travelers who want a bit of a different summer adventure this year may want to turn their sights northward to Finger Lakes wine country. This area of New York spans from the central to the western-middle section of the state and offers more than just adult libations to quench the thirst – and tickle the palate – of those 21 and above. There are festivals, shops, restaurants, boating excursions and other possibilities perfect for families and those who just aren’t that “into” figuring out which wine pairs best with which aged cheese.
Despite the massive ice damage Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes got this year and the Penn Yan flood that made headlines – and no doubt led to an unprecedented increase in construction bidding -- the region is reportedly ready to dazzle all guests. If you’re new to the experience of exploring the Finger Lakes wine country, why not try the following suggestions for a day, weekend or week of enjoyment this summer?
#1: Stay at a Bed and Breakfast
There are no shortages of B&Bs in the Finger Lakes region, and if it’s been a long time since you indulged in the luxury of this kind of overnight accommodation, it’s time for you to jump back into the mix. Many of the B&Bs offer special packages and rates such as dinners, winery tours and more. If you can take a few days off in the middle of the week, you might get a sweeter deal. In general, this is a better option for those traveling without youngsters; not all B&Bs are set up to be “kid friendly.”
#2: Plan Your Visit to Several Wineries
While you can easily drive along the major highways and simply “stumble” upon wineries as they cross your path, you might want to do a bit of planning beforehand to map out your destinations. This will not only help you to plan your experiences around your favorite wineries – presuming you have some favorites you like to purchase at the State Store--but will also ensure you don’t miss winery events or tastings.
One note: Always have a designated driver if you’re going to be heading to a lot of wineries during the day.
#3: Make the Most of the Great Outdoors
State parks--like Watkins Glen, Keuka Lake and Pinnacle--state forests and trails garnish the Finger Lakes region. Each of these locales showcases Mother Nature’s incredible beauty in unique ways, such as the falls at Watkins Glen. Plan to take pictures galore. Oh, and don’t forget the kiddos: They’ll adore the views just as much as adults do!
#4: Head to a Local Annual Food and/or Wine Festival
Each year, the Finger Lakes wine country schedules numerous festivals, such as the Hunt County Harvest Festival and the Beef, Barrel and Blues at Knapp Winery. Many of these events are actually on a “rolling” basis, meaning they don’t always take place on a certain day or throughout a certain week. Just make sure you’re there to participate during the seasonal time they’re offered. It’s a good idea to do some online research; every winery has a web presence and most will keep their events front and center on their web pages.
#5: Do a “Loop”
As National Geographic points out, if you want to just take a day or two exploring a select number of wineries, you can always start and end in Ithaca. There’s a 175-mile loop that takes you around the Finger Lakes and leaves you knee-deep in wine country. If you don’t want to bother with reinventing the wheel, use their itinerary as a guideline.
Make this year a time for trying something new. If you’ve never been to the Finger Lakes, or you can barely count the number of years it’s been since you visited, it may be time for an old-fashioned road trip! Don’t worry: Central PA will be waiting for you when it’s time to come home… with your fermented grape “booty” in tow, of course!