I have been to New York City countless times but I had never ventured outside the five boroughs. I had no idea what I was missing until we decided to take a family road trip from New York City to Toronto. Upstate New York is truly beautiful specially during Spring and Fall and the scenery in itself makes it worth a family road trip. One of the most beautiful and interesting parts New York State is the Finger Lakes region. Named for the 11 glacial lakes located in the area the Finger Lakes region is known for it’s natural beauty. There are countless things to do with kids in the area but here are our favorites:
Make your own glass art at the Corning Glass Museum: The Corning Museum of Glass houses the largest collection of glass in the world and with a mix of art, technology, and history there is something for everyone in the family to see, learn and enjoy. We felt like we where traveling back in time and around the world through the art of glass making and got to witness glass blowing demonstrations and enjoy interactive exhibits. Kids and adults can also sign up for workshops where they can create their own glass art using different glass-making techniques.
Walk under a waterfall at Watkins Glen State park: Filled with trails, campgrounds and a playground Watkins Glen is best knows for it’s waterfalls. The 2 mile gorge trail is awe inspiring taking you along 200ft rocky cliffs while it winds over and under 19 waterfalls, up 800 steps, across stone bridges and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. The trail is easy enough for kids but smaller kids might find the large amount of steps challenging so you may want to consider just doing the first mile or so if you have young children. I loved that this park was just steps from the Watkins Glen town center so we could really take advantage of our day and explore the town after our short hike.
Take a boat tour around Seneca Lake: There is no better way to see the beauty of the Finger Lakes than to enjoy the scenery that can only be appreciated from the water. You can hop on a Seneca Lake boat cruise in Watkins Glen and enjoy the beautiful views while you learn about the history of the lake area. Along the lakefront you will also find other fun things to do like enjoying a meal at the Seneca Harbor Station, a 1800’s train station turned restaurant that offers beautiful waterfront views, or playing a round of mini golf.
Learn about wines and grape vines: The Finger Lakes region is know for it’s wineries and although spending the day on a wine trail with kids in tow might not be the best idea visiting a winery or two can be a fun experience for the whole family. We visited Castel Grisch winery where we had lunch at the restaurant on the terrace while we enjoyed a gorgeous view of the vineyards and Seneca Lake in the background. After lunch we tasted a couple of wines while the kids enjoyed the explanation about how wines are made and browsed the gift store ad we even had the opportunity to see the vineyards and the grapes up close. If you are planning to do some wine tasting while traveling with kids look for wineries that are kid friendly: wineries with restaurants can be a great choice, some wineries also offer tours and a couple of them even have grape juice tasting for the kids to enjoy while you taste the wines.
Enjoy small town life: I love small towns with their peaceful attitudes and unique charm they are the ideal place to wind down. We passed along many quaint small towns where we had the chance to have lunch at friendly eateries. We chose to spend the night in Penn Yan, a charming village on the north shores of Keuka Lake. Its location is perfect to for visiting Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga Lakes so it was the ideal station for us to explore the area. Our stay at the BEST WESTERN PLUS Vineyard Inn & Suites in Penn Yan was truly memorable with huge rooms, perfect for families, free hot breakfast and the friendliest staff we’ve encountered in a hotel ever! Staying in Penn Yan was such a contrast from the hustle and bustle of New York City and gave us a chance to truly slow down and appreciate the countryside and the beauty of the Finger Lakes region.