Category Archives: New York State travel

Summer Vacation Travel in NYS: Come for the Fireworks, Stay for So Much More

 Be spellbound as you walk the two-mile trail through Watkins Glen gorge © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Edited by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York State offers some of the best destinations for summer family vacations, with Independence Day festivities providing an added spark:

If a staycation is your cup of tea, enjoy the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks (New York City)  over the Hudson River starting at 8pm or Jones Beach State Park, where, after a day enjoying the beach, boardwalk, surfing, fishing, miniature golf, and adventure center, stay for 9:30 pm The Jovia Financial Credit Union Fireworks Spectacular at Jones Beach when 8,000 fireworks blaze through the sky accompanied by patriotic songs.

But there is so much to explore in New York State this summer:

Capital-Saratoga

Albany’s 4th of July Celebration : Celebrate the holiday with 20,000 other revelers at Empire State Plaza . The 4th of July Celebration takes place from 5-10 pm with live performances, food and fireworks. Watch the sky over The Egg, the New York State Capitol, and Corning Tower

Saratoga Springs is famous for horse racing, where you can visit the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Wake up early and you might see the horses being worked out © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Saratoga Springs exudes small town character and charm and is near where the famous Battles of Saratoga took place in 1777, marking the turning point of the Revolutionary War in favor of American Independence. Commemorate America’s independence in Saratoga Springs with annual events including the 18th annual Firecracker4 Road Race, the longest and largest Independence Day race in the Northeast. StaySaratoga Arms Hotel, a historic 31-room boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Saratoga Springs. Originally built in 1870, Saratoga Arms is a classic, Second Empire-style building that evokes old-world charm with a grand wraparound porch.

Saratoga Springs is famous for horse racing, where you can visit the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Wake up early and you might see the horses being worked out © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

While in Saratoga: Saratoga Race Course offers summer race days, from watching the thrilling horse races to exploring the historic facilities and grounds which date to 1863 (you can get to the rail early and watch workouts and there is an outstanding Racing Hall of Fame). The summer season officially runs July 11–September 2 with popular races like Travers Day on August 24. Saratoga Spa State Park is the place to go for swimming, golfing, hiking, biking, and fishing. The park is also home to a resort and spa,  performing arts center, as well as a museum dedicated to automobiles.

Hudson Valley

LEGOLAND New York Resort in Goshen is a theme park destination for kids ages 2–12, with 50 rides, shows, and attractions on 150 acres it’s the largest LEGOLAND theme park in the world, is hosting Red, White & BOOM at LEGOLAND (included with the cost of regular admission). Also in the area: hike the trails along the waterfalls of Neversink Gorge.

Walkway Over the Hudson, one of the longest pedestrian/cycling bridges in the world, is an ideal platform for viewing the City of Poughkeepsie’s fireworks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Walkway Over the Hudson’s Fireworks SpectacularWalkway Over the Hudson, one of the longest pedestrian/cycling bridges in the world, is an ideal platform for viewing the City of Poughkeepsie’s fireworks. The New York State historic park will hold a ticketed event 6:30-10 PM (fireworks begin after 9 PM). See website for tickets. 

4th of July in Dutchess County: Head to the home of the minor league baseball team, the Hudson Valley Renegades. Fireworks displays will take place at Dutchess Stadium for three nights  (July 4-6) after their games against the Brooklyn Cyclones. Enjoy the Hyde Park Independence Day Parade

Catskills

4th of July at Windham Mountain: The annual parade at Windham Mountain begins at 7 PM on Route 296, through Main Street, followed by fireworks beginning at dusk. 

The Catskills also affords a new experience: camp at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on days when you attend concerts. (Bethel Woods was the site of the legendary Woodstock music festival). For the 2024 summer concert season (May-October), concert-goers can pitch their own tent, glamp in style, or roll into Best Road Campground with an RV.

The Catskills inspired America’s first native school of art, the Hudson River School, and artists like Frederic Edwin Church who built Olana. His 250 acre estate is one of the most intact artist-created landscapes in America, and one of the most intact artist residences of its age in the world © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Finger Lakes

Genesee Country Village & Museum Independence Day Celebration: This family-friendly daytime celebration will feature games, picnics, a pie-eating contest, patriotic tunes, and a swearing-in of new U.S. citizens. The Genesee Country Village & Museum is hosting its grand 19th-century style parade and a reading of the Declaration of Independence. July 4, $23 for adults, $20 for senior citizens, $20 for students 13-18, free for children 12 and younger.

Cortland County Independence Day Spectacular has a day-long celebration at Dwyer Memorial Park in Preble with live music (starting at 2 pm), food vendors, and a beer and wine garden, and fireworks from 9-10 PM. July 6, free, $5 parking per car starting at 8PM.

A stellar Finger Lakes destination is Watkins Glen State Park where you are kept spellbound as you walk the two miles trail along the stream that descends 400 feet passing 200-foot cliffs, creating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge. The park is a sensational place for camping (Olympic-size pool, tours the gorge), or stay in the charming village, on Seneca Lake. (To book NYS Park campsites, https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com/)

 Be spellbound as you walk the two-mile trail through Watkins Glen gorge © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Got a need for speed? Head to Watkins Glen International, the famous auto race track where you can experience world-class racing and events throughout the season. You can even drive your own car around the track on Drive the Glen days. Visit Sunset View Creamery, 10 minutes from Watkins Glen, for refreshing ice cream and some “cow cuddling,” a 30-minute experience that recognizes the calming influence of these docile creatures. Unwind with a Captain Bill’s cruise on Seneca Lake. Head northeast to Taughannock Falls, one of the highest falls east of the Rockies, where the water drops 215 feet and you can swim, camp, and picnic.

On the western edge of the Finger Lakes, campers looking for adventure can seek out the scenically magnificent Letchworth State Park, nicknamed “the Grand Canyon of the East,” for its massive gorge with three major waterfalls between cliffs as high as 600 feet. Letchworth also offers 66 miles of trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, a special one-mile loop Autism Nature Trail, nature center, museum, swimming pool and guided walks. There is whitewater rafting through the canyon as well as hot air balloon rides (shared basket: $425/person; private flight: $2,150/couple).  Sit down for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at the historic Glen Iris Inn and soak in the views of the Middle Falls. Letchworth offers 257 campsites ranging from $27 to $30 a night, plus cabins $132-$568 per week. (https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com/)

Letchworth State Park is nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the East” © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Chautauqua-Allegheny

Mayville July 4th Celebration: The village of Mayville’s festivities include a Grand Parade, live music and entertainment including magic, comedy, variety and stunt shows, finishing with a fireworks display. July 4, free.

Panoramic Parks Scenic Park lets you experience 15 acres of the Paleozoic ocean floor at this scenic park established in 1885. Natural attractions to explore include towering rocks 60 feet high and cavernous dens. You can hike the trails around the rocks and navigate through the nooks, crevices, and caves, and the park includes informational signs that explain the geology, as well as an educational treasure hunt for the kids, and picnic tables for lunch.

A short drive away, the famous Chautauqua Institution, a preeminent exemplar of lifelong learning, is where for nine weeks each summer you can experience a unique mix of fine and performing arts, lectures, programs, classes and community events for all ages, within the beautiful setting of a historic lakeside village (tickets and accommodations.chq.org, 800-836-2787)

Greater Niagara

Independence Night Celebration at the Ballpark: The Buffalo Bisons and Rochester Red Wings face off at Sahlen Field. After the game, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra will entertain, followed by the largest fireworks show of the season Game starts at 6:05 PM. Tickets cost $30.10 each

Thousand Islands-Seaway

Fireworks over Boldt Castle: Alexandria Bay’s Independence Day celebration uses the stunning backdrop of the St. Lawrence River and Boldt Castle for its fireworks display. Picnic along the shoreline or rent a boat to view from the water. The fireworks begin at dusk, this far north estimated at 9:45 pm.

Adirondacks

Best 4th in the North 2024 Celebration: This festival taking place from July 1-4 at Bicentennial Park in Ticonderoga is jam-packed with a grand fireworks display, parade, live music, craft and food vendors, kid’s activities, a reading of the Declaration of Independence. July 1-4, free.

Ticonderoga 250th Throughout 2024, Fort Ticonderoga commemorates 250 years since the battle for independence. The region along the Lake Champlain shoreline, at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains, was critical to American victory in the Revolution.

4th of July in Lake Placid: You can begin the day at the Lake Placid Horse Show starting at 8am ($10), swim at the Lake Placid Public Beach, stroll around Mirror Lake, browse the shops, enjoy live music from 1-4 pm. At 5 pm, a July 4 gala parade will feature Olympic athletes and special guests, floats, classic cars and the fireworks extravaganza over Mirror Lake starts at 9:30 pm.

Great place to stay: High Peak Resort’s summer family package features family-friendly activities like face painting Fridays, educational wildlife experiences Saturdays, water aerobics Tuesdays and Thursdays, evening live music on Thursday, guided nature explorations on Saturdays (www.highpeaksresort.com/packages/adirondack-experience).

More to do: bike the first 10 miles of the new Adirondack Rail Trail connecting Lake Placid to Saranac Lake (when finished, the trail will stretch 34 miles between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, see Bike Adirondacks for updates).

Meanwhile, The Adirondack Experience Museum on Blue Mountain Lake is celebrating the centennial of the 138-mile long Northville-Placid Trail (oldest in the state) with a new exhibit about the history of the trail and the team who built it. There are guided overnight hikes (via Adirondack Hamlets to Huts). (www.npt100.com)  

High Falls Gorge offers an exciting, accessible adventure in Wilmington, just outside Lake Placid, NY © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

For more natural awe, visit High Falls Gorge, 22-acre nature park features waterfalls, hiking/walking trails and glass-floor walkways (4761 NY-86, Wilmington, NY 12997, www.highfallsgorge.com) and the awesome Ausable Chasm, where you walk along the Cliffside trail, do mountain biking and river rafting (2144 US-9, Ausable Chasm, NY 12911, 518-834-7454, www.ausablechasm.com).

Ausable Chasm in the Adirondacks offers exciting hikes along the cliffs, river rafting and mountain biking © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

For a great all-day outdoor experience, head to Tupper Lake and the 115-acre Wild Center & Wild Walk to explore trails, take guided canoe trips on the river, and meet staff ready to show you around and answer questions about the wild world of the region. The star of the Center’s outdoor experience is Wild Walk, with more than 1,000 feet of bridges and platforms rising over the top of an Adirondack forest, a four-story treehouse, swinging bridges, a spider’s web where people can hang out, and a giant-sized bald eagle’s nest for a rare point of view of the Adirondacks.

New York State’s Challenge

Hiking Chimney Mountain, in the Adirondacks. New York State is celebrating the centennial of its parks system with a Challenge © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

New York State is in the middle of a year-long challenge which began January 1, 2024, celebrating the centennial of the state’s park system. The New York State Parks Centennial Challenge includes 100 missions that can be completed at various state parks and historic sites – the challenge is to complete 24 missions of them during the course of the year. (More information on the New York State Park Centennial, visit https://www.parks.ny.gov/100/challenge.)

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which saw a record 84 million visits in 2023. For more information, visit parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer mobile app or call 518-474-0456.

More information on New York State travel at www.iloveny.com

July 4th Festivities Around the USA

The Jefferson DC, Washington, D.C.  Festivities: There may be no more iconic city to celebrate the 4th of July than Washington, D.C. The National Mall is the most popular place to watch the fireworks display with the Washington Monument, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial among the scenic spots to celebrate. Stay: A jewel among historic hotels in Washington, D.C., The Jefferson DC started life as a luxury apartment block in 1923. The 99-room hotel enjoys one of D.C.’s most prestigious and strategic locations, just four blocks from the White House and within a short walk of museums, monuments and embassies. Take advantage of walking tours crafted by in-house historian Susan Barnes and be sure to check out the historical memorabilia that decorates the hotel, echoing the patriotism of the holiday. 

The Newbury Boston, Boston, MA Festivities: It doesn’t get much more Americana than Boston, which not only played an integral role in the American Revolution, but was also one of the first cities to light fireworks on the 4th of July, dating back to 1777. Not to mention, the state of Massachusetts was the first state to recognize the 4th of July as a holiday. Unsurprisingly, Boston puts on one of the country’s largest celebrations with an annual Boston Harborfest Celebration. Taking place July 1-4, 2024, the family-friendly event includes historical reenactments, live music, parades, and a fireworks display over Boston Harbor. Stay: Situated directly across from The Public Garden in Back Bay, The Newbury Boston is conveniently located close enough to the action – within 2 miles of the Harborfest and Fireworks Spectacular – but is a calm and comfortable sanctuary to retreat back to following the fun. The hotel is ideal for families with special kids amenities and pet-friendly accommodations. 

Hilton San Diego Bayfront, San Diego, CA: Festivities: One of the best spots to see the spectacular Big Bay Boom Fireworks show is Hilton San Diego Bayfront from its Bayfront Park lawn or Hudson & Nash waterfront kitchen during the 7:30 p.m. seating (to make a reservation, visit OpenTable). Stay: Rising above San Diego Bay and steps from Gaslamp Quarter, Petco Park, and Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, Hilton San Diego Bayfront is the signature SoCal resort.

Backland Luxury Camping, Williams, AZ: Festivities: Celebrate 4th of July with a spectacular patriotic parade and fireworks in Williams and Flagstaff, Arizona, touted as a “Top 10 Small Town Fourth of July Celebrations.” Stay: Backland Luxury Camping a luxury eco resort featuring 10 glamping tents, on-site dining and a wellness focused spa tent.

Hotel 1000, Seattle, WA: Festivities: Don’t miss the 75th annual Seafair 4th of July – one of the best ways to celebrate Independence Day in the Pacific Northwest – featuring a choreographed fireworks display set to music over Lake Union, family-friendly activities, food vendors, live music, a glow-in-the-dark dance party, and more. Catch the spectacular fireworks show with concert-quality sound from Gas Works Park at the north end of Lake Union or South Lake Union Park. Stay: The 120-room Hotel 1000, LXR Hotels & Resorts is a luxurious gem walking distance of Pike Place Market and the waterfront. Residential-like guest rooms and suites are well-appointed with plush Frette linens, pedestal bathtubs in every room, and oversized windows to take in the stunning city views. Over Independence Day weekend, sports fans can also catch a Seattle Mariners game at T-Mobile Park just one mile from Hotel 1000.

July 4th Fireworks in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Coeur d’Alene Resort, Coeur d’Alene, ID: Festivities: 4th of July kicks off in downtown Coeur d’Alene with the American Heroes Parade. This year’s theme is America the Beautiful where the town will commemorate the bravery and dedication of veterans and active-duty service members. Following the parade, venture to Coeur d’Alene Resort for the 4th Fest, a family-friendly event that includes dinner buffet. After dinner, enjoy live entertainment followed by a spectacular fireworks display on the Front Lawn to top off the night. Stay: The famed Coeur d’Alene Resort offers families a premier lakefront vacation, with a spa and restaurant remodel, and resort pool updates. The newer One Lakeside offers quintessential Northwestern charm with stunning views of Lake Coeur d’Alene and proximity to rivers, mountains, trails, and lakes for exploration.

The Valley Hotel, Homewood Birmingham, AL: Festivities: Vulcan Park hosts its annual “Thunder on the Mountain” fireworks show on July 4th. Located less than a mile from The Valley Hotel, the fireworks utilize the Vulcan statue as the backdrop, which is visible from Ironwood’s patio, the second floor Terrace Bar patio, as well as outside the hotel’s front entrance. StayThe Valley Hotel, Curio Collection by Hilton™, is a 129-room hotel in Homewood, a bucolic neighborhood known for its picturesque tree-filled landscape, charming shops, restaurants, bars and galleries.

See also:

DRIVEABLE ADVENTURES: HIKING/CAMPING IN THE ‘GRAND CANYON OF THE EAST’ – NY’S LETCHWORTH STATE PARK

NEW YORK’S WATKINS GLEN STATE PARK IS SPELLBINDING

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Photo Highlights: Total Solar Eclipse Above Long Lake, in New York’s Adirondacks is Stellar

In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

With a huge swath of New York State in the path of totality for the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse, we headed to the Adirondacks, cleverly basing ourselves at The Lorca on Indian Lake, which was scheduled to have totality for two minutes, with a plan to drive 30 minutes further to Long Lake, which was scheduled for totality to last a full minute longer, 3 minutes, 1 second, beginning at 3:24 pm, where we based out of the historic (140 years!) Adirondack Hotel, right on the lake.

That proved fortuitous, because though totality spanned a 124-mile wide path stretching from Chautauqua-Allegheny to the majestic Niagara Falls in Greater Niagara, over the pristine Finger Lakes, mighty Adirondacks, and magical Thousand Islands-Seaway, and while Niagara Falls and Buffalo were scheduled to have totality for as much as four minutes, the weather clouded up for most of it. New York State won’t be in the path of totality again for 400 years.

Meanwhile, we had a magical three minutes of totality on Long Lake, starting exactly at 3:24 pm, experiencing the thrill of night-in-the-daytime where you could see stars, then the Diamond Ring, and hearing a dog howl along with everyone’s collective gasps. Then, only a few minutes after, the sun’s crescent started to reappear, but was hazy behind a thin cloud cover, making us appreciate the experience we had all the more.

Here are highlights of the stellar show:

In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
In the path of totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Day turns to night, stars can be seen, and the moon is a tiny dot in the crown of the sun’s corona, during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Day turns to night, stars can be seen, and the moon is a tiny dot in the crown of the sun’s corona, during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The Diamond Ring formation lasts mere seconds during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The moon is a tiny dot in the crown of the sun’s corona, during totality of the Solar Eclipse, April 8, 2024, at Long Lake, in New York State’s Adirondacks © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The sun begins to reemerge as a crescent after totality, but soon, clouds make it hazy © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Our family enjoys this once-in-a-lifetime experience of a Total Solar Eclipse in New York’s Adirondacks, on April 8, 2024
The Long Lake community gets set for the Total Solar Eclipse © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
 
Long Lake was a setting for Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
The Adirondack Hotel was a fabulous base for watching the Total Eclipse © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.
Staying over before and after the Total Solar Eclipse at The Lorca on Indian Lake avoided the traffic coming and going to the Adirondacks  © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

The next time you go:

It may be 400 years before a total solar eclipse returns to New York State, and this may have been a once-in-a-lifetime experience for millions, but there will be total solar eclipses coming up around the world. If you are now hooked on pursuing totality or if you regret missing out:

Prepare well in advance – even a year in advance. Research ideal locations based on path of totality and duration of totality (in North America, ranged from two to four minutes, so significant difference). Scout out locations and book hotel accommodations, travel to the extent possible even a year in advance for the best locations. (See: Fjords, Pharaohs or Koalas? Time to Plan for Your Next Eclipse).

Make sure you have solar glasses and necessary camera gear (solar filters, long-focus lens, ie 300 mm. Have TAPE to attach a paper solar filter to camera, as I used, if you don’t have the glass filter, check www.bhphotovideo.com). Practice in advance (the hardest part is switching from partial to total eclipse – you have to remove the solar filter and reset the manual settings). Review videos of techniques and get a list of suggested camera settings.

Go to the location at least the day before. Scout where you will be standing. Take sample photo of where sun will be at the time of the eclipse (usually one hour before and one hour after totality). Fill up gas tank, get supplies (food, water for next day).

Day of: download maps/directions (cell service may not be available). Get to the site EARLY to get parking and a position (set up your chair, so you can roam around, use restroom). Plan for extra traffic/time to get to site. Bring chair, camera, lenses, extra memory cards, SOLAR GLASSES, SOLAR FILTER, tripod, hat, sunglasses, jacket, book, charged cell phone, food, water.

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

Best Viewing Spots in New York State for Total Solar Eclipse April 8 – Plan Now

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. Miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience when the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into night and sparking all sorts of eerie reactions and you’ll have to wait 400 years for the next total solar eclipse in New York State. (Map:  I LOVE NY/NYS Dept. of Economic Development)

Edited by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. The total solar eclipse will begin around 3:20 pm (the time will differ depending what part of the state you are in), and last up to 3 minutes and 38 seconds depending on your vantage point, with about an hour before and after totality when you see the moon begin to cover and then recede.

The regions, cities, towns and villages where the viewing is most ideal – a 124-mile wide path stretching from Chautauqua-Allegheny to the majestic Niagara Falls in Greater Niagara, over the pristine Finger Lakes, mighty Adirondacks, and magical Thousand Islands-Seaway are taking on a festival atmosphere, and attractions, from the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory to the Rochester Museum & Science Center  are hosting events even days before.

(See Part1: NYS WILL BE IN PATH OF TOTALITY: BEST PLACES TO VIEW SOLAR ECLIPSE ON APRIL 8)

Grab your eclipse glasses and head to upstate New York State for the best viewing of the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024. Many places are hosting three-day festivals. Plan early and book now. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Best Eclipse Viewing Spots in Greater Niagara

Curated by Emma Frisbie, Digital Content Coordinator for ILOVENY.com

Imagine viewing the total solar eclipse while overlooking the roaring waters of Niagara Falls, surrounded by the 14,000-acre “Grand Canyon of the East,” or enjoying all kinds of festivities leading up to lively celebrations on the big day. At most of these sites, trained staff will be on site with proper equipment for safe viewing including telescopes with specialized filters and eclipse glasses.

Niagara Falls: Elevate your total solar eclipse viewing experience from one of the world’s greatest natural wonders, Niagara Falls State Park. The park itselfhas 400 acres of stunning landscapes, so you’re sure to find a prime location for this once-in-a-lifetime event. Prospect Point and Goat Island offer waterfall vistas with unobstructed skies. Not only will Niagara Falls prove to be an exceptional vantage point, but whenthe eclipse is viewed through the perpetual rainbow that lingers just above the falls, the color of the light will change from rainbow to monochromatic pink. About a 10-minute drive north is Whirlpool State Park where you can watch the event alongside the roaring Niagara River Rapids. On the days leading up to the eclipse, NASA will be providing free public programming and exhibits throughout the area, including Niagara Falls Public Libraries, the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center, the Aquarium of Niagara, the Niagara Power Vista, the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute, and Niagara Falls State Park.

Beaver Meadow Nature Center: Watch the eclipse surrounded by the natural beauty of the Beaver Meadow Nature Center with 324 acres of meadows, ponds formed by glaciers, boardwalk trails and wooded forests. Significantly, this spot is known for its breathtaking clear skies, ideal for viewing our galaxy at night throughout the year so is sure to be an amazing spot for the bigday-turned-to-night event. The center will also be hosting a family-friendly viewing event so everyone can safely admire this celestial phenomenon. Book a stay at the rustic and cozy Beaver Meadow Cabin on-site for a more secluded experience. For the days leading up to theevent, check out the Buffalo Astronomical Association Observatory’s schedule for monthly public nights where you can learn more about the eclipse, take a tour of the solar system, and pick up solar eclipse viewing glasses for a $2 donation. 

Fort Niagara State Park offers unobstructed skies combined with waterside views of the Lower Niagara River and Lake Ontario. The 504-acre park is home to gorgeous scenery, woodland hiking trails, year-round living-history programs and the historic Old Fort Niagara, which controlled access to the Great Lakes during monumental wars. Check out the museum and 18th-century military architecture including the oldest building in the Great Lakes area: the French Castle. (Parking: $8/car.)

Buffalo Harbor State Park, 10 minutes from Downtown Buffalo, offers gorgeous viewing spots from sandy beachside vistas of Lake Erie to the outdoor patio at Charlie’s Boatyard restaurant. Also, the 264-acre Tifft Nature Preserve is next door with five miles of hiking trails, boardwalks, and hands-on exhibits. 

Genesee County, with its sprawling rural landscapes and low light pollution, makes for an ideal eclipse viewing experience, plunging the county into a deep twilight revealing stars, planets, and a level of darkness larger metropolises won’t be able to rival. Plan to spend the weekend for four days of eclipse festivities throughout the county. The Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel is planning an eclipse-themed party complete with on-site hotel packages, themed menus, live music, gaming promotions and giveaways and viewing glasses to watch the eclipse from the infield race track. The Genesee County Park, Forest, & Interpretive Center will be presenting informational videos, self-guided activities, crafts and activities for the kids, and a telescope with a solar filter special for eclipse viewing.    

Whitworth Ferguson Planetarium at Buffalo State College, which has been holding public programs focusing on the eclipse’s main players – the sun, moon, and earth, and the mythology, history, and safety behind it all is hosting a watch party complete with special viewing glasses.

At the 14,000-acre Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East you can revel at totality alongside one of the three magnificent waterfalls, named Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

At the 14,000-acre Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East, you can revel at totality alongside one of the three magnificent waterfalls, named Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls. Scenic views are accessible by bike or car throughout the park and on 66 miles of hiking trails.Make it an eclipse weekend and stay at one of Letchworth’s 19 cabins and cottages, which can be booked now at ReserveAmerica.com. The Glen Iris Inn is also within the park and provides a special viewing experience next to Middle Falls where it might even get a little misty.​ (NOTE: While Letchworth State Park will be open for public viewing, space will be limited. For public health and safety, no new visitors will be admitted once capacity is reached.)

You can also view the Eclipse at: Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel, Genesee County Park, Forest & Interpretive Center, Lakeside State Park, Orleans County Marine Park

Campgrounds such as Four Mile Creek State Park with 50 campsites and Golden Hill State Park with 25 campsites make for great eclipse stays that can be booked now on ReserveAmerica.com.

See the full blogpost: https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-greater-niagara/

Best Eclipse Viewing Spots in Chautauqua-Allegheny

Curated by Marta Zielinska, Managing Editor of ILOVENY.com

Chautauqua-Allegheny region offers the chance to experience solar eclipse totality amid enchanting mountains, tranquil lakes and bountiful vineyards.

Many of the best solar eclipse viewing sites are in New York State parks which have campgrounds, like Letchworth State Park, adding to adventure to the experience © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Allegany State Park Red House and Quaker areas: Allegany State Park offers 65,000 acres of primitive forested valleys, two sandy beaches, pristine lakes, miles of hiking trails, and picnic spots under the open sky for viewing the celestial spectacle. With 165 campsites, cabins and cottages open for booking, you can turn your eclipse adventure into an extraordinary eclipse getaway, giving you more time to experience the park’s natural beauty and its two museums and restaurant.

Griffis Sculpture Park, one of America’s oldest and largest sculpture parks, features 250 enormous structures of steel and other materials that set in the woods, fields, and even ponds of this sprawling 450-acre art wonderland, creating a spellbinding setting to witness the cosmic dance of the sun and moon. Typically open from May through October, the park will welcome visitors for this rare celestial spectacle. 

The 360-acre Long Point State Park, a moraine left long ago by a retreating glacier, juts peninsula-like into Chautauqua Lake and is popular for fishing, hiking, and picnics. Head over to the marina or beach on April 8, 2024 for the park’s best views of the total solar eclipse over Chautauqua Lake. After the main event, explore the quaint shops, restaurants, and charm of the lakefront village of Bemus Point.

Jamestown Riverwalk: Jamestown, the hometown of the iconic comedienne Lucille Ball, is the first city in New York State to achieve totality on April 8, 2024, happening justseconds shy of 3:18 pm. Experience the cosmic phenomenon from a bridge or bench on the Jamestown Riverwalk, a five-mile urban trail system that winds its way through downtown along the Chadakoin River. The trail connects to the National Comedy Center and is an easy walk to the Lucy Desi Museum

Views from Lake Erie:  The 355-acre Lake Erie State Park in Brocton is located on a high bluff that offers breathtaking views of the sky and water. Evangola State Park’s beautiful arc-shaped shoreline and natural sand beach lined with low cliffs of Angola shale makes for another great spot for eclipse and Lake Erie views; the park has 25 campsites that can be reserved for eclipse weekend. The historic Dunkirk Lighthouse has some of the most stunning views of Lake Erie. Pick up lunch from the Boardwalk Market in Dunkirk Harbor and settle in for an eclipse watching picnic in the park grounds surrounding the 60-foot tower.

Scenic Vineyards in Lake Erie Wine Country: The oldest and largest Concord-grape-growing region in the world, is where you can raise your glass as you raise your gaze to the skies at any of the more than 20 wineries nestled along the southern shore of beautiful Lake Erie. Toast to the total solar eclipse at any of these fine choices including Johnson Estate WinerySparkling Ponds, and Noble Winery, which delivers stunning panoramic views of Lake Erie from its expansive porch.

Audubon Community Nature Center, a 600-acre wildlife sanctuary, has five miles of easy hiking trails that wind through fields, woods, and wetlands with observation towers and an accessible overlook offering ideal views of the natural landscape and spectacular celestial show.

You can also view the eclipse at: Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History, Chautauqua Lake Rest Area, Dunkirk Harbor, Point Gratiot Park and Lighthouse, Barcelona Lighthouse State Park

See the full blogpost: https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-chautauqua-allegheny/

Best Eclipse Viewing Spots in the Thousand Islands-Seaway

Curated by Emma Frisbie, Digital Content Coordinator for ILOVENY.com

That spot on the right is the International Space Station passing by the sun as the moon finishes its eclipse, during the Great American Eclipse, August 21, 2017 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Thousand Islands-Seaway offers awe-inspiring lighthouses, historic battlegrounds, and celebratory atmosphere in which to experience this once-in-a-lifetime cosmic phenomenon on April 8, 2024. Here are some of the best places to view the total solar eclipse from the Thousand Islands-Seaway. 

Historic Thompson Park in Watertown. has a Total Eclipse of the Park weekend of festivities starting April 5 with the grand finale viewing event on April 8. The park is 574 acres and sits atop a hill that overlooks the city of Watertown which means you’ll be able to look up and look out across the city (www.watertownnewyorkeclipse.com). 

Tibbetts Point Lighthouse: Frame your eclipse experience at the point where the sparkling St. Lawrence River meets the powerful Lake Ontario at the Tibbetts Point lighthouse in Cape Vincent. Get a closer look at the lake and river through the telescope or explore the historic lighthouse which was built in 1827 and features the only working fresnel lens on Lake Ontario. 

Witness this star-studded celestial occasion from the star-shaped fort dating back to the 1840s at Fort Ontario State Historic Site. This clear sky viewing spot is right on Lake Ontario and offers 36-acres of open air and waterside views. The fort was the site of many monumental battles from the French and Indian War and War of 1812, as well as a WWII US Army base. Take a guided tour where you’ll get to see officer quarters, the Enlisted Men’s Barracks, and the Storehouse. (Admission: $4/adults, $3/seniors 62+ and students, free for children under 12 and active military.) 

Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site, 70 acres of open fields and lookouts of Lake Ontario makes for excellent eclipse viewing. Afterward, follow the Battlefield Historic Trail through Centennial Grove and the Navy Yard, with sweeping views of Black River Bay. For more history, follow the trail to the village’s War of 1812 Bicentennial Trail connection for a six-mile circuit.

Robert G. Wehle State Park offers 17,000-feet of Lake Ontario shoreline from which to view the eclipse. The 1,100-acre parkfeatures unobstructed skies and waterfront views, some visible from 80-foot limestone cliffs overlooking the lake. Once the estate of Robert G. Wehle, who was an avid conservationist, sculptor, and lover of English pointers (hence the canine sculptures you’ll find throughout the park), you can explore the Wehle residential compound and even make a reservation for up to eight people to stay at the cottage overnight for the ultimate secluded eclipse weekend. 

Peer up at this cosmic event while you peer out at the sparkling waters of the St. Lawrence River at Wellesley Island State Park, with 2,600 acres boasting sandy beaches, miles of scenic hiking trails, and breathtaking Thousand Islands views. Plan an eclipse weekend at the campground with 21 cabins and cottages (book your reservation now at ReserveAmerica.com). Stop by the Minna Anthony Common Nature Center, one of the largest nature centers in the NYS park system.  

You can also view the eclipse at Fort de La Présentation/AbbéPicquet Trail.

See the full blogpost: https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-the-thousand-islands-seaway/

More information at iloveny.com

See also: NYS WILL BE IN PATH OF TOTALITY: BEST PLACES TO VIEW SOLAR ECLIPSE ON APRIL 8

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

NYS Will Be in Path of Totality: Best Places to View Solar Eclipse on April 8

Grab your eclipse glasses and head to upstate New York State for the best viewing of the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024. Many places are hosting three-day festivals. Plan early and book now. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Edited by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. Miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience when the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into night and sparking all sorts of eerie reactions and you’ll have to wait 400 years for the next total solar eclipse in New York State.

The total solar eclipse will begin around 3:20 pm (the time will differ depending what part of the state you are in), and last up to 3 minutes and 38 seconds depending on your vantage point, with about a half-hour before and after totality when you see the moon making its dramatic pass to cover and then recede.

Look closely and that spot you see is the International Space Station passing by the sun during the August 21, 2017 Great American Solar Eclipse © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The regions, cities, towns and villages where the viewing is most ideal – a 124-mile wide path stretching from Chautauqua-Allegheny to the majestic Niagara Falls in Greater Niagara, over the pristine Finger Lakes, mighty Adirondacks, and magical Thousand Islands-Seaway are taking on a festival atmosphere, and attractions, from the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory to the Rochester Museum & Science Center  are hosting events even days before.

A gigantic swath of New York State will be in the path of totality of the April 8, 2024 Solar Eclipse. Miss this once-in-a-lifetime experience when the moon completely covers the sun, turning day into night and sparking all sorts of eerie reactions and you’ll have to wait 400 years for the next total solar eclipse in New York State. (Photo:  I LOVE NY/NYS Dept. of Economic Development)

Editors at New York State’s tourism bureau, ILoveNY, have curated the best places in each of the regions to go. You should plan early and book accommodations (and check the weather three days before), and remember to bring your eclipse glasses (though some festivals and events will be handing them out) and filter for your camera:

Best Viewing Spots in the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks Region is going all-out for the Solar Eclipse, with many venues and festivities.  More than half of the Adirondack Park will be in the path of totality, when the entire face of the sun is obscured by the moon.

Because there is likely to still be snow on summits in the Adirondacks, unless you are an experienced hiker with crampons, steer toward fields or parks (especially the ones that are hosting special events).

Rachel Dymond, Editorial Project Manager of ILOVENY.com, has prepared this curated list of destination-worthy sites that offer ideal vantage points for the rare astronomical event.

Olympic Legacy Sites in Lake Placid: Lake Placid, home to four distinct Olympic sites used in the 1932 and 1980 winter Olympics, is hosting “Glow for the Gold” where you can marvel in the eclipse for free from historic venues including the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval; Olympic Jumping ComplexMt Van Hoevenberg; and at Whiteface Mountain (a free event, but discounted lift tickets for a once-in-a-lifetime ski day, then party at Cloudspin Bar & Grill deck, eclipse glasses included). Festive events will feature eclipse sunglasses, glow sticks and music (www.lakeplacid.com/events/glow-for-the-gold-at-lake-placid-legacy-sites).

Tupper Lake is in the center of the path of the Solar Eclipse and will experience 3 minutes and 35 seconds of totality. Totality in Tupper, a free community event at the 115-acre Wild Center in the Adirondacks, will feature free solar viewing glasses, telescope and binocular view stations, make your own pinhole viewers, XL Solar viewing glasses, livestream of NASA coverage, special programming in Planet Adirondack, live creature features that focus on how the sun affects animals’ lives, circadian rhythms, and yearly behavior, solar-powered maple tastings, tours, tapping demos, special themed foods, food trucks, New Forest Music composition, live glass-blowing demonstration from reps from the Corning Museum of Glass, live community mural creation, solar-powered silent disco with live DJ, and opportunities to get commemorative eclipse tattoos from hand poke tattoo artist Jane Romm (wildcenter.org/eclipse).

Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory is hosting free family-oriented activities include a 36’ mega-screen that will provide numerous multimedia experiences, live music, food, NASA live streaming, guest speakers, demonstrations, and crafts.

Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center: The VIC’s 25 miles of trails, including six miles of interpretive nature trails, showcase the natural beauty of the Adirondack Mountains and provide unparalleled opportunities to view, hear, photograph, and enjoy nature– and the Eclipse! Connect with nature, astronomy and weave through woodland and marshland, by ponds, brooks, and bogs. Eclipse events are being hosted on campus at Paul Smith’s College.

Saranac Lake: Head downtown on April 8, 2024 for “Saranac Lake Solar Fest” where there will be live music, art exhibitions, food and drinks, and a supreme vantage point to view the eclipse surrounded by scenic mountains and lakes. The Village Main Street is the venue for the community wide viewing party. Additional viewing points downtown include: Hotel Saranac Terrace, Saranac Waterfront Lodge’s waterfront yard, Riverside Park extending to Riverfront Park, and Berkley Green.

Lake Placid, with the sparkling Mirror Lake, is in the path of totality. Pack a picnic and settle in at Mid’s Park, a grassy area along the shore with Adirondack chairs and a pavilion, where there will be live music and activities throughout the day. Additional activities will be held at nearby John Brown Farm, and Marcy Field. The Lake Placid Horse Show Grounds and North Elba Athletic Fields are also fantastic wide open viewing areas to catch the Eclipse.

Nestled along the picturesque northwestern shore of Lake Champlain, Point Au Roche State Park is an ideal destination for viewing the Solar Eclipse. This stunning location perfectly aligns with the path of totality, and the combination of its protected beach area, expansive open shorelines, and diverse network of walking and hiking trails makes it an exceptional setting for observing celestial phenomena.

Ausable Chasm, touted as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, makes for an extraordinary place to view the Eclipse along any of its five miles of well-maintained hiking trails © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Ausable Chasm, touted as the “Grand Canyon of the East”, makes for an extraordinary place to view the Eclipse along any of its five miles of well-maintained hiking trails. As you walk along you’ll reach multiple scenic vistas that provide different perspectives of the natural beauty of Ausable Chasm, while interpretive signage describes the native flora, wildlife, and geologic history. Immerse yourself in geological and astronomical splendor, all in the same spot! (This is a private attraction so expect to pay admission fee to go on the trails but there is viewing on a bridge as well before you enter the attraction.)

Blue Mountain Lake: Total Solar Eclipse Experience at The ADKX (Adirondack Experience): The Museum on Blue Mountain Lake ($25 admission includes live music, eclipse glasses, food trucks, museum exhibits, commemorative photos.)

High Peaks Resort on the shores of Mirror Lake in the heart of Lake Placid is offering a Total Solar Eclipse package . In addition to the eclipse viewing on April 8, 2024, High Peaks Resort is throwing a lawn party from 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM with food, drink, and entertainment at Lake House. (Book: https://www.highpeaksresort.com/events-at-lake-placid/total-solar-eclipse).

Also, The Lodge at Schroon Lake (210 Registration Way, Schroon Lake, (www.lodgeatschroonlake.com) is hosting a community watch party on the resort’s property.

Another lodge that can serve as an excellent base is Lorca Adirondacks, Indian Lake (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916).

More lodging: https://www.adirondackhub.com/lodging

You can also view the Eclipse at these Adirondack sites: Cadyville Recreation Park, City of Plattsburgh Beach. Byron Park, Arrowhead Park – Inlet, Mt Sabattis Recreation Area, Makomis Fire Tower / Sacandaga River Community Park, Newcomb Overlook, Crown Point State Historic Site, Jay Village Green, Westport Golf, Powerhouse Park – Port Henry Public Beach, “The Grove” municipal park, and Frontier Town Gateway.

Visit Eclipse ADK 2024Lake Placid 2024 Total Solar EclipseAdirondack Coast Eclipse, and ​Tupper in Totality to stay up to date on the latest events, deals, and other eclipse offerings in the Adirondacks.

More information at www.2024-eclipse.com.

 (See the full blog at https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-the-adirondacks/)

Best Viewing Spots in the Finger Lakes

Curated by Emma Frisbie, Digital Content Coordinator for ILOVENY.com

The Finger Lakes offers the perfect pairing of picturesque views with the total solar eclipse experience on April 8, 2024. Witness this once-in-a-lifetime event from the sandy shores of Lake Ontario, at multi-day magical eclipse celebrations, alongside a 96-foot Rochester High Falls. Here are some of the Finger Lakes’ best viewing spots:

Seneca Lake, the largest of New York State’s Finger Lakes, will afford plenty of sites to view the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8, 2024 © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Rochester Museum and Science Center is hosting a four-day ROC The Eclipse weekend festival featuring music and food, 200 hands-on activities and exhibits, live science shows and programs at the museum or travel through the universe under the 65-foot dome theater of the Strasenburgh Planetarium (www.rochestereclipse2024.com). 

On any day, Rochester’s High Falls is an extraordinary view – where else can you see a 96-foot waterfall amid a bustling cityscape? But on April 8, 2024, this view will be spectacular and totality will last 3 minutes and 38 seconds. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Rochester’s High Falls: On any normal day, High Falls, the tallest waterfall on the Genesee River, is an extraordinary view – where else can you see a 96-foot waterfall amid a bustling cityscape? But on April 8, 2024, this view will be spectacular and totality will last 3 minutes and 38 seconds. Exceptional angles of the falls can be seen from the overlook in High Falls Terrace Park or the rooftop of one of the largest and oldest continually operating breweries in America, the Genesee Brew House. The 9,200-square-foot former century-old packaging center also features interactive exhibits, historical artifacts, a pilot brewery and tasting room, and pub-style restaurant to explore after the celestial event.   

Sodus Point Beach Park: Witness this celestial phenomenon from the sandy beaches of Sodus Point Beach Park alongside the mingling waters of the peaceful Sodus Bay and the spirited coast of Lake Ontario. You won’t have any trouble finding a great spot on the 1,150-foot pier with views of the original 140-year-old Sodus Point Lighthouse and Lighthouse Museum to the west, the magnificent Chimney Bluffs to the east, and the Sodus Outer Lighthouse straight ahead. Pack a lunch or grab a bite to eat from one of the village’s restaurants and settle into one of the pavilions. (Free admission.) 

Fair Haven Beach State Park offers views from 1,500 feet of sandy beaches at one of the finest public lakefronts on the eastern shoreline of Lake Ontario amid dramatic bluffs, hilly woodlands, and endless scenic views. Enjoy hiking and biking trails, picnic areas, a ball field, an 18 hole golf course.

Green Lakes State Park: Admire the wonder of the eclipse alongside the geological and biological wonders of two deep glacial pothole lakes. Green Lakes State Park has 2,100 acres of forested hiking trails, a sandy public beach with swimming access in the summer, seven cabins, 137 campsites, a playground, an 18-hole golf course (opens mid-April), and the famous Crystal Kayak rentals with glass bottoms (available to rent on weekends from mid-May until early-October). The park’s focal points are the two green lakes which were carved out of bedrock by glacial-melt waterfalls, making them very deep (195 feet!). Because of this, the lakes have a still, mirror-like appearance, revealing ancient plant and animal life and creating an amazing photo and viewing spot. 

Geneva, on the scenic north shore of Seneca Lake, is hosting a three-day “Embrace the Dark Festival” with exciting eclipse-themed events © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Geneva, on the scenic shores of Seneca Lake,the largest of the Finger Lakes is hosting a three-dayEmbrace the Dark Festivalwith exciting eclipse-themed events. Kick the weekend off with a tour of a historic observatory from the 1800s, live music, science-based winery and brewery tours,special viewing hotel packages. For the grand finale on April 8, make your way to the Geneva Lakefront or Seneca Lake State Park, a 141-acre park located on the northern end of Seneca Lake, for an unobstructed view of the beautiful blue waters and wide open skies(www.eclipsegeneva.com).

Genesee Country Village & Museums Solar Spectacle is three days of historical happenings leading up to the eclipse including special programming, performances, and activities. Throughout your journey through the 19th-century village, discover how Americans of this time period viewed, understood, and recorded total solar eclipses, viewing location experiences from the historic village, South Field Drive-In, or one of the other exceptional spots.

Other Eclipse viewing spots: Upper Onondaga Park, Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Genesee Valley Greenway State Park, Livingston County Fairgrounds. Also, the lakefronts of the Finger Lakes will be a prime viewing locations – Seneca Lake, Canandaigua Lake, and Honeoye Lake each have public lakefront parks.

Visit Total Solar Eclipse 2024 in Finger LakesRochester Eclipse 2024LivCo Sol: 2024 Total Solar EclipseExplore Steuben: Experience the Solar Eclipse, and Eclipse Geneva to stay up to date on the latest events, deals, and other eclipse offerings in the Finger Lakes. (www.fingerlakes.org/eclipse-2024)

See the full blog at https://www.iloveny.com/blog/post/best-2024-total-solar-eclipse-viewing-spots-in-the-finger-lakes/

More information at iloveny.com

Next:  Best Solar Eclipse Viewing in Greater Niagara, Chautauqua-Allegheny, Thousand Islands Seaway

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

New York State Ski Areas Welcome Beginners to Olympians to Slopes

Gore Mountain is New York State’s largest ski and ride resort with 439 skiable acres spanning four mountains, with expansive views of the Adirondack wilderness © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate,  www.goingplacesfarandnear.com

It always is a surprise to realize New York State has more ski areas (50+) than any other state, and they range from the world-class Whiteface and Olympic venues at Lake Placid, to a small, family-friendly, learn-to-ski area, ThunderRidge, reachable on Metro North, where families can ski into the night.

New York State’s Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) actually owns and operates three of our favorite ski destinations: Whiteface and Gore Mountain in the magnificent Adirondacks, and Belleayre, so easy to reach in the Catskills (orda.org).

Whiteface Mountain, Wilmington

Feel like an Olympian! Ski Whiteface Mountain, site for the 1932 and 1980 Olympics © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com.

Top of the list for ski areas with a world-class reputation is Whiteface, site of the 1932 and 1980 Olympics, where in addition to skiing, you can visit Olympic venues and even participate (biathalon, anyone? skate on the Olympic Oval, drive a coaster down the bobsled track).

Whiteface offers the greatest vertical (3430 ft. from the summit at 4867 ft.) of any lift-serviced mountain in the Northeast. This is a serious mountain – actually three mountains, Whiteface summit is a 4,867 ft.; Lookout Mountain tops at 4,000 ft.; Little Whiteface at 3,676 ft. – with more expert terrain, more long, rolling groomers (including one of the longest single intermediate runs in the Northeast, the 2.1 mile-long Wilmington Trail) in the East.

This season, Whiteface has a new detachable quad lift, “The Notch,” from the Bear Den learning center to just beyond the Legacy Lodge (the only one of its kind in the East that is two lifts in one operating seamlessly) which will significantly improve the experience for beginners.

Whiteface Mountain also has made snowmaking upgrades including adding150 high efficiency snow guns, and two snow cats, as well as improvements to the Cloudsplitter Gondola.

Mt. Van Hoevenberg, the cross-country and biathlon venue, has upgrades to snowmaking system as well as grooming and trail improvements (mtvanhoevenberg.com).

At Mt. Van Hoevenberg, experience the thrill of what it was like to be an Olympic Bobsledder during the 1980 Winter Games on the Cliffside Mountain Coaster, which boasts one of the longest year-round mountain coasters in the USA.

At Mt. Van Hoevenberg, experience the thrill of what it was like to be an Olympic Bobsledder during the 1980 Winter Games on the Cliffside Mountain Coaster, which boasts one of the longest year-round mountain coasters in the USA © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

Other attractions include the Sky Flyer Zipline  at the Lake Placid Olympic Jumping Complex, the SkyRide Experience, an 8-person gondola that brings you from the Olympic Jumping Complex’s base lodge to the 90-meter and 120-meter ski jump towers, a glass-enclosed elevator ride to the top of the ski jumps for a panoramic vista of the Adirondack High Peaks (and to experience what the jumpers see as they start to accelerate towards the end of the ramp!), Nordic trails at Mt. Van Hovenberg (where you can try your hand at the biathalon).

The Lake Placid Legacy Sites Passport includes a one-time admission to the Whiteface Cloudsplitter Gondola, The Olympic Jumping Complex Skyride, Skating on the James C. Sheffield Speed Skating Oval, entry to the Lake Placid Olympic Museum at the Olympic Center, 20% off a cross country trail pass, and admission to both the FIL World Cup Luge and the IBSF World Cup Bobsled & Skeleton at Mt Van Hoevenberg. The pass comes with Legacy Sites branded lanyard, sticker set at each venue, 10% discount on retail and food and beverage purchases at the venues (https://whiteface.com/legacysitespassport/).

There is no lodging on the mountain (it’s a wilderness area, after all), but many lovely inns, bnbs, hotels and resorts nearby, including the Whiteface Lodge Resort & Spa and Mirror Lake Inn Resort & Spa; The Lake Placid Inn and the Saranac Waterfront Lodge, an eco-luxe independent boutique hotel; and Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort (www.golden-arrow.com).

Also, High Peaks Resort  overlooking Mirror Lake and the Adirondacks offers a traditional hotel with 105 guest rooms and suites; Lake House with 44 guest rooms; and the private and serene Waterfront Collection, with 28 guest rooms including 10 suites on the Lake. (High Peaks Resort, 2384 Saranac Avenue, Lake Placid, NY 12946, 518-523-4411, 800-755-5598, www.highpeaksresort.com

Whiteface Mountain, 5021 Rte 86, Wilmington, NY 12997, 800-462-6236, 518-946-2223, 877) SKI-FACE (snow report). Olympic Center, 518-523-1655; vacation planning assistance at  whitefacenewyork.comlakeplacid.comwhiteface.com.

Gore Mountain, North Creek

Enjoy long, gorgeous blue trails at Gore Mountain with stunning views of New York’s Adirondack Mountains © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com 

As a perennial blue-trail/intermediate skier, Gore Mountain is one of my favorite places to ski. Nestled in the Adirondacks, it offers expansive views of a real wilderness. You actually feel as if you were in the Rockies.

Gore Mountain is New York State’s largest ski and ride resort with 439 skiable acres spanning four mountains, including Gore, Bear Mountain, Burnt Ridge Mountain and Little Gore Mountain, a vertical drop of 2,537 feet from the summit at 3,600 ft, 108 trails  (longest is 4.4 miles), accessed by 14 lifts.

The big news this year is that Gore opened The Bear Cub Quad, replacing its beginner skier lift. This lift is double the length and unloads at an easiest trail for beginners, significantly enhancing the learning experience at Gore. At their beginner run they added two new conveyor surface lifts to make it easier for newer skiers to learn.

Gore Mountain they have expanded snowmaking at the North Creek Ski Bowl, added snowmaking to the Moxham trail and upgraded to more energy efficient snowguns on 46er as well.

Gore’s North Creek Ski Bowl has a marvelous cross-country ski center, and offers Twilight Nordic Wednesday through Friday (2 pm-6 pm and Day & Twilight Nordic on weekends (9 am -6 pm) where you can do cross-country skiing or snowshoeing after dark. (A valid lift ticket or season pass gives you free access to the Nordic Center.) Check online for the most up-to-date information on Nordic hours and the snow report. (Ski Bowl Road, North Creek, NY 12853, 518-251-0899.)

Exciting news: for 2024-25 Gore plans to construct a new ski bowl lodge, chairlift, zipline and mountain coaster.

Gore Mountain has no on-mountain lodging but there are plenty of charming places throughout the Adirondacks, and marvelous dining in North Creek. Among them, Lorca Adirondacks at Indian Lake, about 40 minutes away, which is owned by a Great Neck native (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916). For a luxurious stay, choose The Sagamore, a historic, grand resort in Bolton Landing on Lake George, 45 minutes away (www.thesagamore.com).

Gore Mountain, 793 Peaceful Valley Road, North Creek, NY 12853, Snow Phone: 518-251-5026, info 518-251-2411, [email protected],  goremountain.com.

Belleayre Mountain, Highmount

Belleayre has natural separation of beginners (from the mid-mountain to the base, with long beginner trails) and more advanced skiers © Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Belleayre Mountain is especially popular with families because of its proximity (just about 2 ½ hours drive) and perfect size, with marvelous beginner trails and learn to ski programs, and a natural separation between beginner and advanced skiers.

Belleayre has made improvements this season including replacing an older triple chair ski lift from the Overlook Lodge to the summit, changing a few trails to expand intermediate terrain high on the mountain, modified the Upper Cathedral Brook trail so it returns to forest, added a hybrid groomer with a winch for better grooming on steeper terrain.

What I love best about Belleayre is its natural separation of beginners (from the mid-mountain to the base, with long beginner trails) and more advanced skiers. It affords a 1404 ft vertical drop from a 3429 ft summit, 63 trails, terrain parks, glades and an X-course. Intermediates will enjoy Deer Run, which meanders through a beautiful part of the mountain. Cross-country skiers can enjoy 9.2 kilometers of ungroomed, unpatrolled trails.

There is no on-mountain lodging, but quaint inns and lodges nearby in Fleischmann’s, Pine Hill, Big Indian, Phoenicia, Margaretville and Shandaken – among them, the Lorca Catskills offering several cabin/cottage-style accommodations (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916).

See more at www.belleayre.com/plan-your-visit/lodging/)

(Belleayre, Highmount, NY 12441, 800-942-6904, 845-254-5600, www.belleayre.com).

More information at the Olympic Regional Development authority, orda.org.

Windham Mountain Club

Windham Mountain, a Catskills ski resort popular for decades, is reborn as the Windham Mountain Club with a plan for $70 million in enhancements over the next several years to the mountain’s amenities and services. © Dave E. Leiberman/goingplacesfaranadnear.com

Windham Mountain, popular for decades, has been reborn (actually going back to its roots) as the Windham Mountain Club, with a plan for $70 million in enhancements over the next several years to the mountain’s amenities and services.

Though reorganizing as a membership club, the ski resort is still open to the public; daily lift tickets and season passes are available up to capacity limits to ensure minimal lift lines and uncrowded slopes. Also, Windham Mountain Club is continuing its longstanding partnership with the Adaptive Sports Foundation.

Enhancements this season include improved snowmaking and upgraded lifts, a reimagined culinary program, including new food court, Mediterranean restaurant in the base lodge, Italian Alps-style restaurant with wine program at mid-mountain, and The Windham, a private members’ club dining experience.

Windham Mountain Club is a premier multi-generational, four-season resort located in the Great Northern Catskills, 2 1/2 hours north of New York City. Boasting 285 skiable acres across 54 trails and serviced by 11 lifts (four high speed), the mountain offers an award-winning Ski and Ride School, lodging, a tubing park and world-class alpine and freestyle competition teams. Future enhancements to Windham Mountain Club include a new Windham Country Club, an 18-hole golf course designed by award-winning golf course architect Tom Fazio, a luxury spa and fitness center, and expanded lodging  (www.windhammountainclub.com). 

Hunter Mountain

Hunter Mountain, only a 2 ½-hour drive from New York City through the breathtaking northern Catskill Mountains, has been a winter sports mecca for generations.

And now, Hunter is poised to benefit from Vail Resorts’ Epic Lift Upgrades initiative: Hunter Mountain plans to replace the 4-person fixed-grip Broadway lift with a state-of-the-art 6-person, high-speed lift and relocate the existing Broadway lift to replace the 2-person fixed-grip E lift, to substantially improve uphill capacity and access to key terrain. Both projects, targeted for the 2024/25 season, are subject to approvals. As a Vail Resort, it is included on the Epic Pass, plus offers variations of regional and local seasonal passes. Slope-side accommodation is available at The Kaatskill Mountain Club (huntermtn.com).

More New York Ski Areas

Greek Peak’s night skiing. The resort has a 6,000 sq. ft. deck off its Trax Pub & Grill for outdoor dining (photo by Drew Broderick, Greek Peak)

Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Cortland is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2024, has invested nearly $1 million in ski area improvements. Now in year three of a five-year plan to upgrade snowmaking, new snowmaking equipment this year means they can put out the equivalent of 16.5 football fields with a foot of snow in a 24-hour period. They also upgraded the Chair 1 lift, trail lighting, and purchased new rental equipment (greekpeak.net).

Holiday Mountain, Monticello: New owners have invested millions of dollars in renovations and upgrades including expanding snowmaking to trails that had not had snowmaking before, re-opening dormant trails, renovating and upgrading their chairlifts as well as updating the base lodge. Tubing operations are also being expanded for 12 lanes of capacity with a conveyor and 100% snowmaking coverage with lighting (skiholidaymountain.com).

Holiday Valley, Ellicottville, NY (50 miles south of Buffalo) is Western New York’s largest year ‘round resort featuring 60 slopes and trails and features a mountain coaster (photo provided by Holiday Valley).

Holiday Valley Resort, Ellicottville has invested nearly $9 million into the resort for the 23-24 season, including the installation of the new High Speed 6-Pack Chairlift that replaced their Mardi Gras Quad, a new PistenBully 600 groomer, and upgraded snowmaking. Also, the Inn at Holiday Valley has refurbished rooms, resurfaced the pool and renovated John Harvard’s restaurant in the Tamarack Club (holidayvalley.com).

Plattekill Mountain, Roxbury widened its “I Think I Can” trail, to expand beginner terrain, added new snowmaking and improved the base lodge. New ski and snowboard demo equipment can be rented for up to two hours per day. Plattekill has partnered with 25 mountains to offer free and discounted tickets for anyone who purchases a Plattekill Seaon Pass. They have also added “Platty Perks” to their season passes too that will get holders discounts to local area businesses and restaurants when the pass is shown (plattekill.com)

West Mountain, Queensbury has made improvements in the base lodge added more lighting for night skiing, two new snow groomers, and made improvements to the base lodge. (westmountain.com).

Thunder Ridge Ski Area, reachable by Metro North, is really geared for families – from the ease of access, ease of reserving lift tickets, rentals, lessons (book online, since walk-ins are only accommodated if the mountain has not reached capacity), serious snowmaking. ThunderRidge offers private lessons from age 4, family private lessons, group lessons, Mommy/Daddy & Me, and race teams. Open Mon-Fri, 10 am -9 pm, Saturday, 9-9 pm, Sunday 9 am to 5 pm. Located 60 minutes from NYC. You can ride Metro-North ski train from NYC and metro areas, and take advantage of free shuttle service to and from the Patterson train station,(137 Birch Hill Rd & Rte 22,  Patterson, 845-878-4100, ThunderRidgeski.com.)

Hidden Gems in Adirondacks: Uncrowded, Affordable, even Free Skiing

One of the best-kept ski secrets in upstate New York is that The Adirondack Mountains have a handful of hidden gem ski areas ideal for novice to expert skiers, including two ski areas that offer skiing free of charge. Nestled into historic mountain towns with a distinct Adirondack feel, all of these under-the-radar ski areas offer visitors the opportunity to ski, snowboard or snow tube on uncrowded slopes with the spectacular scenery for which the Adirondacks are renowned. Many of these fun, smaller hills also offer ski schools, snowmobile trails, snowshoeing or Nordic skiing.

Adding to the appeal of these charming community ski areas, many offer extremely affordable ski experiences that make snow sports more approachable for all. Ski passes start as low as $15; a couple even offer free skiing!

Some of the less-explored ski areas, with tips on accommodations and local eats include:

Oak Mountain ski area in New York State’s Adirondacks has been delighting skiers since 1948 © Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Oak Mountain, a quaint ski area popular with families since 1948, offers 22 trails (snowmaking on 40%), a 650-foot vertical from base at 1,750 feet to the summit at 2,400 feet, and four lifts (quad, two T-bars and a surface lift). The longest run is 7,920 feet. In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding, Oak features four lanes of snow tubing and miles of snowshoeing trails that take you through a majestic forest. Oak Mountain is a three-season resort in the Southern Adirondacks, an easy drive from Albany and Lake George. Oak Mountain’s website lists nearby accommodations and “Play and Stay” packages. Check out Lake Pleasant Lodge or Cedarhurst Motor Lodge for accommodations. The Lorca Adirondacks is just down the road (thelorca.com, 518-300-3916). Oak Mountain, 141 Novosel Way Speculator, NY 12164 518-548-3606, www.oakmountainski.com 

McCauley Mountain (Old Forge): A charming resort near the Adirondack wilderness. Get a great night’s sleep at the Adirondack Lodge Old Forge, stop by Keyes’ Pancake House for breakfast and Tony Harper’s Pizza and Clam Shack for lunch/dinner.

Mt. Pisgah Recreation Center (Saranac Lake): A welcoming community ski hill with night skiing and tubing, with half-day weekend ski passes available for $15. Kick off your boots at Traverse Lodge or Hotel Saranac and enjoy dinner at nearby Bitters & Bones.

Titus Mountain (Malone): A family-friendly ski gem a short drive from Plattsburgh, Lake Placid, Watertown and Northern Vermont, with terrain for all levels. Check out the rustic cabins at Deer Valley Trails (and stay for dinner) and stop by The Pines Tap & Table for evening revelry.

Two community ski areas actually offer free skiing:

Newcomb Ski Slope is an ultra-local and community-owned ski hill which offers free skiing. For the last 50 years, the town of Newcomb has owned and operated this two-run ski slope, where generations of residents have learned to ski. The hill also boasts a trail through the adjacent woods along its 200 vertical feet. At this low-elevation summit, skiers are treated to a view of the snowy High Peaks.

Indian Lake Ski Hill also offers skiing free of charge with the local feel and charm of a community-owned establishment. The recreation area comprises a small hill, two ski trails, a t-bar lift and even ice skating.

SKI NY Passport Program-Kids Ski Free

The SKI NY Passport Program-Kids Ski Free returns this season with more ski areas accepting it during holiday periods. The Passport is valid seven days a week except for holiday periods at certain ski areas.

The program is open to 3rd and 4th graders from any State or country and no reservations at ski areas are required.

The program offers free skiing for your third and fourth graders with an adult purchase, it can be used up to two times per participating ski area. A valid adult ticket purchase is one on the ski area website or at the ticket window and includes season passes as well. ($41 processing fee per application; rentals and lessons arenot included).

For info, email  [email protected]; to apply, https://www.e4stores.online/GoPassSANY_UI.

Connect with SKI NY online at www.iskiny.comwww.facebook.com/ISKINY, and www.instagram.com/i_ski_ny/.

See also:

TOPNOTCH SKIING AT NEW YORK’S GORE MOUNTAIN IN THE ADIRONDACKS

A BLUEBIRD DAY OF SPRING SKIING AT WINDHAM MOUNTAIN

WHAT A DISCOVERY! SKIING OAK MOUNTAIN IN NEW YORK’S ADIRONDACKS

NEW YORK’S ADIRONDACKS: DRIVEABLE WINTER OLYMPIC PLAYGROUND

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© 2024 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Visit instagram.com/going_places_far_and_near and instagram.com/bigbackpacktraveler/ Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures 

What a Discovery! Skiing Oak Mountain in New York’s Adirondacks

Oak Mountain ski area in New York State’s Adirondacks has been delighting skiers since 1948 © Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By Dave E. Leiberman and Laini Miranda

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

It’s 2:30 pm when we leave The Lorca, our lodge just up the road from Oak Mountain. By 3 pm we’re on Einstein’s Express, the quad chairlift that takes us up this delightful ski area, likely overshadowed by nearby major Adirondacks ski destinations, Gore Mountain and Whiteface. Looking behind us, the snowy Adirondack lake vista of Speculator bears a beauty that reminds us of the scene when you ski down Heavenly Mountain and come upon that sweeping view of Lake Tahoe. 

Our first run down is Sacandaga, a lovely green cruiser with gorgeous views, some nice bends, and exquisitely groomed snow. Our Weather app says it’s 9 degrees, but in the sun we don’t notice it. Perfect warm-up run.

Oak Mountain ski area in New York State’s Adirondacks has been delighting skiers since 1948 © Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We check out Upper Ryan’s Run (a black) and Lower Ryan’s Run (a blue). For a small, very family-friendly mountain that is so close to Lake Pleasant, Indian Lake, Blue Mountain Lake, and other popular Adirondack lake towns, Oak Mountain surprises us with its variety of trails to explore. Nova, Alternate, Skidway, and the other trails on that side of Einstein’s Express aren’t open, but we enjoy an hour of runs down Oak Mt. Run, Fifth Ave, and the trails surrounding Sacandaga. 

It’s fun (and educational!) to see the local high school ski team practice as we ride the chairlift. It inspires us to work on our weight-shifting and carving for the remainder of our spontaneous Friday afternoon ski outing. 

We hear great things about Acorn Pub and Eatery down at the base where there is often live music. We’ll need to check it out next time for après ski. 

This quaint ski area – popular with families since 1948 though a new discovery for us – offers 22 trails (snowmaking on 40%), a 650-foot vertical from base (1,750 feet) to summit (2,400 feet), and four lifts (quad, two T-bars and a surface lift). The longest run is 7,920 feet.

In addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding, Oak features four lanes of snow tubing and miles of snowshoeing trails that take you through a majestic forest.

Lift tickets to Oak Mountain are very reasonable. Full-day tickets are $44, four-hour tickets are $37, and two-hour tickets are only $30. We highly recommend starting or ending the day with even just an hour of skiing at Oak Mountain.

(Capacity is limited, and lift tickets, rentals and lessons must be booked in advance online.)

Oak Mountain is a three-season resort in the Southern Adirondacks, an easy drive from Albany, Utica or Lake George.

Oak Mountain, 141 Novosel Way Speculator, NY 12164 518-548-3606, www.oakmountainski.com 

Oak Mountain’s website lists nearby accommodations and “Play and Stay” packages.

Among them is Lorca ADK, our lodge which we recently renovated from a historic motel, to accommodate stays year-round.

Lorca ADK is a classic drive-in lodge, reimagined as a self-check property for the contemporary traveler (c) Dave E Leiberman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Lorca ADK is a classic drive-in lodge, reimagined as a self-check property for the contemporary traveler. It’s surrounded by forests, across the road from Indian Lake with gorgeous islands. The eight units provide coffee, tea, mini-fridges, s’mores and firewood. The property offers grills, fire pits, lawn games, a seasonal pool with weekend hours, and a nature walk. Lorca ADK is about 20 minutes from Oak Mountain, and about 30 minutes from Gore Mountain Resort.

Lorca ADK, Sabael, NY, 518-300-3916, [email protected], thelorca.com/adk

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© 2022 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

New York’s Watkins Glen State Park is Spellbinding

By Karen Rubin, David Leiberman & Laini Miranda

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Rainbow Falls, one of the highlights of the Glen Creek Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park, © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Walking the Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes is, in a word, spellbinding.

The centerpiece of the 778-acre Watkins Glen State Park is a 400-foot deep, narrow gorge cut by the Glen Creek that was left “hanging” when glaciers of the last continental glaciation, some 12,000 years ago, deepened the Seneca valley, creating rapids and waterfalls through layers of hard rock. The textures and shapes of the soft shales, sandstone and limestone – which erode at different rates – are gorgeous.

If you have ever visited a slot canyon, and marveled at the smooth, twisted, perfectly contoured curves, walk the Glen Creek Gorge Trail, where you can watch Mother Nature working her magic.

Rainbow Falls, one of the highlights of the Glen Creek Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park, © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We don’t waste time after arriving at the Six Nations Campground in the park in the afternoon, in order to take advantage of the beautiful sunlight. So we drop out things and rush down to the Gorge Trail for a taste of what we will see more completely the next day.

In the course of a 1.5 mile stone trail, with 800 steps and beautiful stone bridges you see 19 incredible waterfalls.

Cascading falls on the Glen Creek Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park, © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The waterfalls range from those that flow from dramatic heights of 200 foot-high cliffs, to those that cascade; you see waterfalls coming in together from different directions, cutting through the sedimentary rock of shale, sandstone and limestone, making exquisite, remarkably perfect shapes and cuts that are astonishingly precise and straight or curved, and cascades of falls that twist.

Rainbow Falls, one of the highlights of the Glen Creek Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park, © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In this “hanging valley,” we also see “hanging gardens” – the tender mosses, ferns, mosslike plants (liverworts) that drape over the rocks and down the rock walls, the delicate plants that stubbornly grow, albeit slowly in crevasses in the rock walls. They depend on continuous moisture trickling down, and you can see differences in ecosystems based on the amount of sun, shade and moisture that a section of the rock wall gets. (Visitors are told not to pick anything.)

A place of perfect peace, Watkins Glen State Park, © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

You are enveloped by a feeling of perfect peace – the sound of the flowing water, the cool of the green moss and moist rock, the fresh smell, the late afternoon light that turns the tops of the trees into shades of yellow and gold. The gorge is fairly narrow, so you feel cocooned in this primal, Jurassic Park-like setting.

Looking down into where the water flattens out at one point into soil what appeared to be a giant fossil skeleton, exposed in the low water. It is exciting to imagine.

Could this be a titanoboa fossil, only just exposed in the Glen Creek? © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We walk back to Mile Point Bridge where we follow the trail back into the Six Nations Campground, after this brief survey mission.

Back at our campsite, we set up our tents and go downtown to where John, who checked us into the campground, had recommended as the best place in Watkins Glen for sunset: the marina on the southern tip of Seneca Lake. There is a rock wall that is very popular for people to walk out to watch. We opt to go to the Village Marina for dinner where we can dine outside and take in the sunset.

Blazing sunset from the Village Marina in Watkins Glen © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The colors that blaze through the sky, reflect back in the water, after the sun went behind the hills, are spectacular.

The next day, we stroll down from our campsite to the Gorge Trail.

We enter the Gorge Trail at Mile Point Bridge, giving us our first stunning view. We walk the half-mile to the end, at Jacob’s Ladder (a set of 180 stairs that goes to the Upper Entrance), and then return, choosing to go back along the Gorge Trail rather than connect to the Indian Trail that goes along the rim for views down into the Gorge. Going back this way on the Gorge Trail we go down in elevation towards the Main Entrance in the village (many people who don’t want to do the 1.5 mile trail both ways start park up here, hike down, and take a shuttle bus back, $5).

Glen Creek Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park, is spellbinding © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Just beyond the Mile Point Bridge is Frowning Cliff, a gorgeous waterfall, then the climatic scene, Rainbow Falls (most dramatic from the other direction on the way back; you walk behind the falls along the trail), aptly named because, on some afternoons, the sunlight comes at just the right angle to create rainbows.

Rainbow Falls, one of the highlights of the Glen Creek Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park, © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

On to the Central Cascade (plunging more than 60 feet, this is the highest waterfall in the Gorge), Glen Cathedral (the horizontal layers of shale were formed 380 million years ago; ripples in the rock were created by wave action at the bottom of an ancient sea floor that eventually turned to stone), then a steeper descent, through the Spiral Tunnel (hand cut in 1927) to the Cavern Cascade, where you again walk behind the waterfall) and across Sentry Bridge (look for a round flume hole in the rock where, in the 1800s, water was once diverted to power a mill where the visitor center now stands) to the new Visitor Center and main entrance on Franklin Street in Watkins Glen.

Cascading falls on the Glen Creek Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park, © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com
Walk through the Spiral Tunnel (hand cut in 1927) to the Cavern Cascade, where you walk behind the waterfall, Watkins Glen State Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Along the way, we meet up with a park ranger who we tell about seeing what appeared to be a giant fossil. He tells us that it was exposed only two days before and might well be a titanoboa – a giant sea snake that could be as big as 45 feet long. This exciting news passes from one to another as people come to that spot to view it. Another park ranger tells us that a naturalist is coming to investigate.

For awhile, visitors to Watkins Glen State Park that morning had an extra thrill beyond the breathtaking scenery: the prospect of seeing a newly discovered fossil of a prehistoric sea snake, Monster in the Glen.

A place of perfect peace, Watkins Glen State Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

We finish walking the trail, have a delightful lunch at the Harbor Hotel on the lake. By now it is the afternoon and markedly less crowded (everyone seems to come out early for the walk) as we walk back on the Gorge Trail.

By the time we get back to where the “titanoboa fossil” would have been, we see the naturalist has etched in the soil, “Not a Fossil,” and smudged the image completely away, having revealed the fossil to be a hoax (people had remarked on what they thought were footprints leading to it).

Not a fossil! But now the mystery remains: who created it and how? © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

So, if we didn’t witness a major fossil discovery, we were witness to the hoax. ow the mystery is: Who created the hoax? How? Anyway, it got everyone buzzing that day.

Also, on my walk I saw in black rock what looked like an ammonite. That too was smudged away on our return.

Glen Creek Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park, is spellbinding © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

This stunning gorge has been visited by tourists since 1863 and was privately operated as a tourist resort ($1 admission per person, equivalent to $34 today) until New York State acquired the property, in 1906 for a state park. (It is named for Samuel Watkins; “glen” comes from a Greek word meaning “small, narrow, secluded valley”.). After the 1935 flood destroyed the trail, it was rebuilt with a stunning series of stone walks, staircases (there are 800 steps altogether), bridges and tunnels cut through the rock, by Franklin D Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps between 1935-1940. (You can do the trail one way and take a shuttle bus, $5, back).

The stunning rock formations, created by the rushing water, on the Glen Creek Gorge Trail, Watkins Glen State Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Capping this experience is the beautiful Six Nations Campground – beautiful trees, excellent restroom facilities, and a glorious Olympic-sized pool. There are also a couple of pavilions that can be rented for groups and even the Iroquois Lodge, which is essentially a house that can be rented instead of a campsite (altogether, you can imagine a wedding here, with photos in front of waterfalls; there are also lovely accommodations in town including a luxury Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, right on Seneca Lake, where we enjoy lunch). Where we camp, we are just a short walk down to the Gorge Trail.

Our campsite at Six Nations Campground, Watkins Glen State Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Six Nations Campground is named for the Haundenosaunee Confederation, more commonly known to us as Iroquois (Haundenosaunee means “They made the house”), a reminder of whose land this was before the European colonists came. The loops of the campground are named for the nations of the Confederacy: Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy, the park brochure notes, is renowned for its organization and democratic system, one of the first of its kind (Ben Franklin is said to have drawn upon the Iroquois Confederation for our US Constitution; suffragist Melinda Gage drew upon the Oneida’s matriarchal structure, in which women could be chiefs, own property, have custody of their children in a divorce, to set out demands for women’s rights in 1848).In 1842, what remained of the First Nations were relegated to the Six Nations Indian Reserve. (More information is available at nearby Ganondaganb State Historic Site, 7000 County Rd. 41 (Houghton Hill Rd), Victor, NY 14564).

Walking the stone trail along the Glen Creek Gorge, Watkins Glen State Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

There are seven moderate trails in Watkins Glen State Park ranging from 0.7 to 7.6 miles and from 479 to 1,171 feet above sea level, but we focus all our time on the Gorge Trail (1.5 miles), captivated by the views and the enchantment of the place. Other trails – the Indian Trail (2.4 miles) and the South Rim Trail (2.6 miles) provide views of the Gorge from above. You can connect from the Gorge Trail to Lovers Lane Loop which takes you to a Suspension Bridge for a view above the gorge. You can also do a Gorge Trail, Outer Rim and Finger Lakes Trail combination (7.6 miles, about 3 hours) (see alltrails.com for more detail). (The trail is closed in winter.)

Cavern Cascade, Watkins Glen State Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It’s about 3:30 in the afternoon when we return to the campsite. We go to the gorgeous, Olympic-sized pool to refresh before returning to the campsite for an amazing steak dinner David and Laini prepared over the campfire they built for our second night camping.

The gorgeous Olympic-sized pool at Watkins Glen State Park © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

It is no wonder that Watkins Glen State Park was awarded the third best among 6,000 state parks nationwide in 2015, and is consistently among the state’s top parks.

Watkins Glen State Park, 1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891, 607-535-4511, https://parks.ny.gov/parks/watkinsglen/maps.aspx.

There is so much to do in Watkins Glen, in the heart of the Finger Lakes, you could easily make this your base for a week.

Auto enthusiasts know Watkins Glen for its famous NASCAR races. The pavement is dotted with names of winners throughout the years, the crosswalks painted like the race start/finish. Auto racing is still sacred here, with much of the quaint village (the downtown was a recipient of New York State’s $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative award) themed for autos.

Wine enthusiasts know Watkins Glen as the southerly point of Seneca Lake, from which you can drive up Winery Trails on both sides.

Nearby is the Corning Museum of Glass; about 1 ½ hours drive away is another jewel,  Letchworth State Park, “The Grand Canyon of the East,” where we camped and hiked last year; a half-hour away is Ithaca.

The Finger Lakes region has over 1,000 waterfalls and gorges, 650 miles of shoreline, more than 16,000 acres of National Forest, and over 2,000 miles of hiking and biking trails. There is plenty to explore indoors at museums, art galleries, historic sites, theaters, wineries, breweries.

With summer turning to fall foliage season (which is amazing here), plan early and secure tickets and lodging.  

Excellent planning aids are available from The Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, 309 Lake Street Penn Yan, NY 14527, 315-536-7488, 800-530-7488, www.fingerlakes.org.

New York State Begins Weekly ILoveNY Fall Foliage Reports; New Interactive Map

The 2021 fall foliage season is underway in New York State. Fall is one of the most popular travel times in New York, attracting visitors from around the world to explore the state’s unique communities and support local businesses. To help travelers and foliage enthusiasts plan a fall getaway, I LOVE NY has begun issuing its weekly fall foliage reports and will now include a new enhanced interactive progression map (www.iloveny.com/foliage).    

The foliage report is compiled each week using the on-location field observations from I LOVE NY’s team of volunteer leaf peepers. More than 85 spotters extending across the state’s 11 vacation regions are tasked with keeping track of the color change in their area as leaves progress each week. Reports detail the predominant leaf colors, approximate percentage of change, and how much color change has progressed relative to peak conditions.  

View from Chimney Mountain, The Adirondacks. ILoveny.com/foliage report helps you monitor the progress of fall foliage throughout New York State © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

New this year, I LOVE NY is introducing an enhanced, interactive map that tracks weekly foliage change and progression across the state throughout the season. The map, located on the I LOVE NY foliage website, showcases great foliage viewing locations in each of the various regions throughout the state. Visitors can also use the map to see what the foliage is like during peak viewing in a given area, and learn about nearby, must-see attractions. 

Thanks in part to its size and location, New York State has one of the longest and most colorful foliage seasons in the country. On any weekend from late September through mid-November, part of the state is likely experiencing peak foliage.  

Travelers are also invited to share their photos of New York State’s amazing foliage on social media by using the #NYLovesFall hashtag. Photos submitted to this hashtag have a chance of being featured on the I LOVE NY fall foliage website and official I LOVE NY social media accounts reaching nearly two million followers. Reports and the new interactive map are updated Wednesdays throughout the season at www.iloveny.com/foliage.Reports are also available toll-free by dialing 800/CALL-NYS (800/225-5697) from anywhere in the U.S., its territories and Canada. For more information on how to volunteer for as an I LOVE NY leaf peeper, e-mail your name, address and phone number to [email protected].

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© 2021 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

From Glamping to Biking to Hiking, New York State Makes it Easy to Get Out There!

After a year’s hiatus, registration for the 2021 Cycle the Erie 8-day, 400-mile biking adventure from Buffalo to Albany is now open for a limited 350 riders. The 350-mile long Erie Canalway is now part of the state’s 750-mile long Empire State Trail Network © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

by Karen Rubin, Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, when so much was locked down and out of reach, New York State parks and outdoors were a godsend, providing needed respite. Indeed, the state’s parks received a record number of visitors, even as measures were in place to control capacity. And throughout the year, the state consistently made improvements and found ways to be available to more people.

The improvements are part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY Parks 100 initiative, which renews the historic commitment to investing and expanding the State Park system by committing at least $440 million over the next four years.

“This critical period of revitalization will culminate in the 2024 celebration of the 100th anniversary of the State Park Act, which first created our nation-leading State Park system in 1924 under Governor Al Smith. NY Parks 100 will continue crucial investments in park infrastructure while enhancing opportunities to reach the full range of New York State’s recreational and cultural offerings, including local parks and trails, regional flagship parks and historic sites, and vast wilderness parks. The initiative will focus on creating places to recreate locally, relieving overcrowded parks, welcoming new visitors, and protecting New York State’s environmental and historic legacy. This new plan will ensure people from all communities and across all ages and abilities can fully experience our outdoors, our culture, and our heritage,” the state said.

Here are some of the improvements that will welcome visitors this year:

New York State has formed a new public-private partnership for a new tent camping service with 45 sites at four State Parks in the Hudson Valley. Tentrr’s fully outfitted campsites are available to reserve at the Sebago and Silver Mine areas of Harriman State Park in Orange and Rockland Counties; Taconic State Park and Lake Taghkanic State Park in Columbia County; and Mills-Norrie State Park in Dutchess County.

The service provides tents, sleeping accommodations and an array of equipment needed for camping at each site. All items are set up and ready to use upon arrival for added convenience and sites are maintained by Tentrr staff.

All locations include a 10-foot by 12-foot, canvas-walled tent atop a raised platform. Each site is outfitted with a queen-sized bed and memory foam mattress, a propane heating source, a solar-powered “sun” shower, a camp toilet, water container, Adirondack chairs, a fire pit, grill, and a picnic table with storage and benches.  

Tentrr camping site at the Sebago area of Harriman State Park, New York. The tenting service has a partnership with New York State to provide 45 glamping sites at four state parks in the Hudson Valley.

Guests have the option of single, double, and triple sites. Singles sleep up to six (two occupants in the main tent and four occupants in a provided pop-up tent). Double sites – or buddy sites – sleep up to 12 (two occupants in each of the two main tents and four occupants in each of the two provided pop-up tents) and triples can accommodate group camping. 

Sites are $135 per night, with a portion going toward the maintenance and stewardship of New York State Parks.

While Tentrr’s sites are naturally socially distanced, Tentrr adheres to state guidelines for maintaining and sanitizing the sites. Tentrr will continue to keep sites clean and wiped down with high-grade sanitizers and encourages guests to follow recommended COVID requirements and protocols. For more details on Tentrr’s COVID-19 protocols, visit here

To make a reservation, visit tentrr.com/nysp. Reservations can be made up to six months in advance.

Camp Rockaway

Through the Reimagine the Canals initiative, Camp Rockaway, a New York State based outdoor excursion company, is managing the site at Lock C-5 on the Champlain Canal in Schuylerville between Memorial Day weekend and September 8, with possible extension through early October. The glamping site will offer vacationing New Yorkers an opportunity to experience the vast history and bucolic landscapes of one of New York’s oldest canalside communities by enjoying luxury camping on the banks of the Canal.

Through the Reimagine the Canals initiative,  Camp Rockaway, a New York State based outdoor excursion company, will manage the site at Lock C-5 on the Champlain Canal in Schuylerville between Memorial Day weekend and September 8, with possible extension through early October.

Reservations are now being accepted for a glamping experience on the Champlain Canal that will attract visitors to the State’s historic upper Hudson Valley and boost the local economy that is still recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

This new glamping experience is the latest innovation from Governor Cuomo’s $300 million Reimagine the Canals initiative that is revitalizing the Canal corridor as a tourism and recreation destination while simultaneously boosting economic development and the resiliency of canalside communities.

Visit https://camprockaway.com/schuylerville/.

Biking, Cycling the Eric Canal

Parks & Trails NY is offering its sensational eight-day, 400-mile biking adventure along the Erie Canalway for a 23rd year in 2021, after a hiatus in 2020. Riders will leave Buffalo July 11 and reach Albany on July 18. Registration is open for spots, limited this year to 350.

The route follows the legendary Erie Canal passing locks and aqueducts and winding through historic villages and rural farmlands. Over the course of the eight days, cyclists enjoy stunning pastoral scenes, fascinating history extending 400 years in which the story of how America came to be unfolds, and some of the best cycling in the United States. Covering between 40 and 60 miles per day, cyclists travel along the Erie Canalway Trail, which is now more than 85 percent complete and the east-west axis of the statewide 750-mile Empire State Trail.

You can’t help but become immersed in history on Parks & Trails NY’s annual Cycle the Erie ride, 400-miles from Buffalo to Albany and 400 years of history © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Designed as a supported camping trip, accommodations are provided with showers, toilet facilities, some with pools or lakes for swimming; eight breakfasts and six dinners; two daily refreshment stops along the route; evening entertainment including music and historical presentations; guided tours of the Canal, historic sites, museums and other attractions including the Women’s Rights National Historic Park, Erie Canal Museum and Village, Fort Stanwix National Monument and a boat tour through the Lockport locks; kick-off reception and end-of-tour celebration; Cycle the Erie Canal t-shirt; baggage transport; SAG wagon and mobile mechanical support; daily maps and cue sheets; painted and arrowed routes; pre-departure info packet including training tips. Other amenities available (at additional fee) include fresh daily towels, gourmet morning coffee, tent and air mattress rental and set up (for those who don’t want to pitch their own tent).

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of riders, volunteers, staff, vendors, and local community members is at the forefront of planning. With this in mind, the tour is limited to 350 participants and volunteers; all registrations will be for the full eight-day option; and to keep everyone safe and meet state and local COVID-19 regulations, registration fees have increased this year.

The price up until June 7 is $1200/adult, $650 youth (6-17); $290 child (5 and under); shuttle is $100.

The PTNY coordinators are following the guidance from New York State, and will be prepared to follow all regulations in place in July. Registrants will be notified of any updates or changes. Visit New York State’s COVID-19 Travel Advisory to stay abreast of restrictions that might impact your travel plans.

Find answers to questions riders may have on the Cycle the Erie Canal FAQ page. If there are questions that aren’t covered, email  [email protected].

Can’t do the Parks & Trails NY’s Cycle the Erie ride? Among the bike tour companies offering the trip, Wilderness Voyageurs offers a self-guided inn-to-inn tour (https://wilderness-voyageurs.com) and Classic Adventures (https://classicadventures.com/) and Womantours (www.womantours.com) offer guided itineraries.

Cyclists ride the Erie Canalway as Erie Canal Adventures’ Lockmaster sails by © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Another way to enjoy the Erie Canal is by boat – and bring a bike along. Erie Canal Adventures’ fleet of 11 custom-designed Lockmasters sail from Macedon, near Rochester, NY, and with enough time, you can cruise some 200 miles from Buffalo to Lake Oneida in Syracuse along the canal. Besides sailing along the Erie Canal (as far as , you can also sail on other waterways, taking spurs south to the Finger Lakes, or north up the Oswego canal to Lake Ontario. Erie Canal Adventures, 315-986-3011, www.eriecanaladventures.com.

With all these marvelous ways to enjoy the Canalway, the trail system was more popular in 2020 than any prior year, according to the 2020 Who’s on the Trail report from PTNY and the NYS Canal Corporation. The system saw a record 4.2 million visits in 2020, with 3.97 million visits made to the 360-mile Erie Canalway Trail between Albany and Buffalo and 288,000 visits to the 90-mile Champlain Canalway Trail between Waterford and Whitehall.

And now, the 353-mile long Erie Canalway, from Buffalo to Albany is linked and part of the state’s Empire Trail Network – 750 miles of interconnected off-road and on-road biking and recreational trails and lanes from the tip of Manhattan to the Canadian border.

Empire State Trail Open

New York’s ambitious Empire State Trail, now the nation’s longest multi-use state trail, is now fully opened. The trail network spans 750-miles total, 75 percent of which is off-road trails ideal for cyclists, hikers, runners, cross-country skiers and snow-shoers. The new recreational trail means you can go from New York City north-south through the Hudson and Champlain Valley to Canada, and east-west from Albany to Buffalo along the Erie Canal on a safe and incredibly scenic pathway, discovering fascinating historic and cultural sites along the way.

Biking over the Rosendale Trestle, 150 feet above the Rondout Creek, on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, part of the New York Empire State Trail © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Empire State Trail website provides quick and easy access to trail information including segment descriptions, access points, trail distances, parking areas, restrooms, and nearby amenities and attractions. The website’s responsive and user-friendly design allows users to access interactive maps from mobile devices, zoom in to specific location of interest, and download/print maps of trail segments. Cyclists can print “cue sheets” with highly detailed directions for following a selected trail segment. The site also features information about the variety of activities and destinations on or near the trail such as campgrounds, parks, historic sites, and popular stops among the local communities. (empiretrail.ny.gov/)

To promote the opening of the Empire State Trail, the state has formed a partnership with the nationally-known Boilermaker race to create the “Empire State Trail Challenge” virtual race where participants can register and log their miles to reach milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail, through July 31.  

Participants can register now and begin logging their miles walking, running or cycling. Participants would complete the mileage of at least one leg of the Empire State Trail: either the Hudson Valley Trail: 210 miles (New York City to Albany); the Erie Canalway Trail: 350 miles (Albany to Buffalo); or the Champlain Valley: 190 miles (Albany to Canada Border at Rouses Point). Participants can sign up as teams or individuals. For more information or to register, visit the website.

Although people are encouraged to the explore the actual Empire State Trail, participants can run, walk, or ride anywhere geographically, on local trails and running/bicycling routes near where they live to log and complete the challenge.

Each entrant receives a t-shirt with their $25 entrance fee for a single leg of the trail. If interested, participants can register for additional legs at the time of registration or any time during the race period at $5 per leg. Challenge participants will enter their mileage on an online platform over the duration of the race window, reaching milestones tied to virtual progress along the Empire State Trail, and have the ability to share their experiences on social media.

State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “The Empire State Trail Challenge is one of the ways we are building back better at our state parks and trails. Our parks and trails have been safe and healthy outlets for everyone during the pandemic. Whether enjoying a fun nature break with friends and family, or truly testing their limits, the Empire State Trail Challenge offers participants of all ages and abilities a rewarding and socially distanced opportunity to enjoy New York’s outdoors.”

The Empire State Trail website provides quick and easy access to trail information along the 750-mile route including segment descriptions and an on-line map identifying off-road trails connecting on-road sections, trail distances, designated parking areas, restrooms, and nearby amenities and attractions. (https://empiretrail.ny.gov/)

Discovery Bicycle Tour on Empire State Trail

Here is what well may be the first bike touring company to come out with a guided, inn-to-inn trip along the recently completed north-south section of the Empire State Trail in New York State:  Discovery Bicycle Tours’ has introduced a six-day itinerary that rides from the very tip of Manhattan, to Albany.

The six-day trip rides 200 miles of the newly completed Empire State Trail, which actually extends 750 miles from Manhattan to Canada and from Buffalo to Albany.

Discovery Bicycle Tours’ six-day Empire State Trail trip starts on the Hudson River bikeway at the tip of Manhattan and rides up 200 miles on newly connected trails to Albany © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.

The Discovery Bicycle Tour goes through a wide variety of landscapes in New York State. Cycle passed the Freedom Tower and Manhattan skyscrapers, through forests, along lakes and rivers, with a triumphant finish in Albany, the state capital. You can be one of the first to enjoy this full section of the newly finished Empire State Trail, which allows cyclists to traverse the state almost entirely on dedicated hike/bike paths and routes.

Many miles are on dedicated rail-trail. And the riding is fairly flat with gentle hills. Look for vistas of the Catskill and Shawangunk mountains as you follow the gorgeous Hudson River Valley — favorite subject of Hudson River School landscape painters in the mid-1800s. As a bonus, you cycle across the Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge, and the iconic Rosendale Trestle.

Rated Level 1 (easier), daily cycling mileage ranges from 28 to 47 miles.

Accommodations are in casual and historic inns and a stylish boutique bed-and-breakfast.

The tour includes: 5 nights’ lodging, 5 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 4 dinners (you are on your own for 1 dinner in Rhinebeck), cycling routes with detailed maps and/or app-based navigation for those interested, plus bicycle, helmet, tour guides and van support, free week-long parking for guest cars in Hawthorne, NY. Free transfer on final day to either the Rensselaer Train Station (Albany) or take the van transit back to Hawthorne.

The trip is scheduled June 6-11, July 25-30, Aug. 1-6, Aug. 29-Sept. and Oct. 3-8, and is priced at $2,495; https://discoverybicycletours.com/empire-state-trail-bike-tour.

Discovery Bicycle Tours, Woodstock, VT., 800-257-2226, [email protected],  www.discoverybicycletours.com.

Adirondacks Preserve Gets Larger

Meanwhile, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the state has acquired 1,263 acres of land in the Warren County town of Johnsburg in the southern Adirondacks. The parcel includes Huckleberry Mountain, an elongated peak that tops 2,400 feet, with spectacular cliffs on the ridge’s south and southwest face.

“Through the Environmental Protection Fund, New York State continues to invest in land acquisitions that conserve open space and preserve the natural beauty of this great state for future generations to visit and enjoy,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.  “Preservation of the spectacular Huckleberry Mountain lands will benefit the region for generations to come, providing new opportunities for visitors to explore the outdoors.”

Hiking in New York’s Adirondack Preserve. The state just acquired 1,263 acres of land in the Warren County town of Johnsburg in the southern Adirondacks. The parcel includes Huckleberry Mountain, an elongated peak that tops 2,400 feet, with spectacular cliffs on the ridge’s south and southwest face. © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation purchased this property from the Open Space Institute for $770,000 using resources from the State’s Environmental Protection Fund. Permanent conservation of this land will enhance recreational access in the region and offers opportunities to connect New Yorkers with nature, protect crucial watersheds, and improve important wildlife habitat in this part of the Adirondack Park. The newly protected land adjoins Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, which includes Crane Mountain, a popular, publicly accessible mountain peak that also provides access to exceptional cliffs for climbers. The Huckleberry Mountain parcel contains a wide range of wildlife habitats, including a high quality cold-water stream—Crystal Brook—that is excellent for brook trout, cliff faces that are a preferred nesting place for the endangered peregrine falcon, and a wetland complex home to an active heron rookery.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which were visited by a record 78 million in 2020. To book a spot in a New York State campground, go to https://newyorkstateparks.reserveamerica.com/. For more information, call 518-474-0456 or visit www.parks.ny.gov.

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© 2021 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Topnotch Skiing at New York’s Gore Mountain in the Adirondacks

By Karen Rubin, Dave E. Leiberman & Laini Miranda,

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

On what must have been one of the busiest ski days of the season at Gore Mountain – the last day of Presidents’ Week, bluebird sky, no wind, crisp and comfortable temperature in the 20s and gorgeous powder after a couple of snowstorms – we were among the delighted downhillers, having snagged capacity-controlled lift tickets, easing into the COVID-19 routine to enjoy a sensational day on the slopes.

Winter resorts provide refuge, revitalization and renewal, especially in this time of COVID, and understandably, the three New York State-owned Olympic Regional Development Authority ski areas – Gore Mountain and Whiteface in the Adirondacks, Belleayre in the Catskills – sold out their Ski3 season passes early on. Lift tickets, capacity controlled, should be booked online to make sure there is still space. So the day we visited was one of the busiest of the season because the tickets were sold out. Even so, the mountain was gloriously uncrowded, even on the busiest day. And it was heavenly.

The modifications for COVID safety in facilities and services are pretty seamless, even ordinary, by now. In fact, they have led to improvements, like the ability to order food online from the lift and pick up at the Base Lodge, and RFID direct-to-the-gate ticketing.

I went through the rental process – the large room kept as open and as uncrowded as possible, with minimal transactions and the attendants behind a plexiglass protective screen.

A sign of the COVID-times: wearing masks on the lift at Gore © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The base lodge had no tables or chairs inside to minimize the amount of time people stay inside, but you could still purchase grab-and-go items at the food court (we brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and water to have on the mountain). You are urged to use your car as your personal base lodge but that wasn’t necessary. Other concessions to COVID this season: there isn’t day care for non-skiing kids or ski school, but private lessons are available (families and pods okay).

There was a line to get on the lifts from the base – the Northwoods Gondola and the Adirondack Express quad – with people generally keeping a social distance (skis helps provide natural distancing), wearing masks as required. Even though the lines were a bit longer because of the policy to keep non-affiliated individuals on separate chairs, it moved quickly enough under the watchful eye of a couple of ski ambassadors, who pleasantly supplied a trail map upon request and answered any questions.

There are new RFID readers so no person needs to click or read the lift ticket – the gate opens automatically as it reads the lift ticket in your jacket pocket.

The ride up the 7109-foot long Adirondack Express was so delightful, depositing us right at the Saddle Lodge at mid-mountain, where, peeking in, there did seem to be a lot of people standing around, but in their own groups, socially distanced from other groups. The restrooms were extremely clean, with a sign posted that only two people should be inside at any one time.

To warm up, I started down Sunway, a 2.2-mile long green, back down to the base, and back up.

From there, we hopped on Upper Wood-In, a blue-trail, to get to the High Peaks chair – new this season! – which brings you all the way up to the summit. The High Peaks chair replaced a double chair which deposited you lower down, and you would ski to the Streetbrook Quad to get up to the summit. Now, I was able to take the High Peaks chair to the top of one of my favorite blues on the mountain, Cloud, where you have the spectacular view from the Gore’s summit at 3,600 feet altitude.

Riding the new High Peaks chair to Gore’s summit © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

As a perennial blue-trail/intermediate skier, Gore Mountain is one of my favorite places – while Dave and Laini love the black diamond trails and the glades (Gore was one of the first Eastern ski areas to develop gladed terrain!). Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains, it offers expansive views of a real wilderness. And with a vertical of 2,537 feet, you actually feel as if you were in the Rockies.

It is surprising to realize that Gore is the biggest ski destination in New York State (and New York, with 50 ski areas and resorts, has the most in the nation!), with the most skiable acres (439 acres), 121 trails (10% beginner, 50% intermediate and 40% advanced), including 110 alpine trails, 28 glades, 8 freestyle areas and 11 cross-country and snowshoe trails, serviced by 14 lifts including a gondola (a year-round attraction, they cleverly post fun historical notes in each car). Besides the stunning views, the wilderness, what I love best is the long cruisers – the longest run is 4.4 miles and six of the trails are longer than 1 ½ miles. In all, Gore offers 42 miles of skiing. There is even night skiing (at North Creek Ski Bowl).

Cloud, a blue trail from Gore’s summit, accessed by the new High Peaks quad © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

With a vertical drop of 2537 ft. from the summit at 3600 ft. down to the base at North Creek Ski Bowl (998 ft.),  Gore also offers the 6th greatest vertical in the East – a greater vertical drop in fact than such famous mountains as Stowe (2360), Sunday River (2340), Okemo (2200), Jay Peak (2153), Mount Tremblant (2116), Mad River Glen (2037), Stratton Mountain (2003) and Mount Snow (1700) –  and comparable to ski resorts in the Colorado Rockies (Copper Mountain’s vertical is 2600 ft.)

Gore Mountain skiing consists of nine faces across four mountains: Gore Mountain is the biggest and highest, at 3600 ft., Bear Mountain rises to 3200 ft., Burnt Ridge Mountain rises to 2735 ft. and Little Gore Mountain goes up to 1900 ft. The areas are so well laid out and contoured, you can easily move among them, and it’s simple to get back to the base lodge and food-court or the mid-mountain Saddle Lodge to grab a bite or warm up.

And besides having outstanding variety, Gore is an ideal a family-friendly ski destination, with a lot of natural separation of skier abilities; even the way the trails merge together – in most cases flowing together instead of having fast skiers fly down a black and crossing over a green or traverse trail– which makes it a lot more pleasant.

Gore Mountain has great contours and flow among the trails. In all, it offers 110 alpine trails – 42 miles! © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Each of Gore’s four mountains have their own features and character, and among them is an astonishing array of terrain, not to mention views and the fact that if conditions are not the best in one area or are too crowded (not likely because of the way skiers are dispersed), you can simply move to another. Gore has seven distinct areas:

Northwoods on Bear Mountain is the biggest area, with 29 trails, 5 glades, on 146 acres, and has the lion’s share of green (easiest) trails, including the delightful Sunway that goes into Lower Sunway, a total of 2.2 miles of absolutely marvelous skiing, down to the base. The concentration of beginner trails are accessed by a new Sunway chair. It has the most gorgeous cruisers, including Twister, a long, wide and forgiving blue, lined with trees and providing gorgeous views of the Adirondacks.  There are four black diamond trails including three that have free-style (Lower Sleighride, Wild Air and Pot Luck). The area is served from the base by the Northwoods Gondola, the Adirondack Express high-speed detachable quad, a double and four surface lifts.

Sunway, a 2.2-mile long green trail, gives you lots of time to practice your turns © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The High Peaks Area, known as “The Dark Side” (“where experts like to hide”) offers “Classic Adirondack” skiing with 12 trails (9 blue, two blacks and a double black, Lower Steilhang) and 4 glades on 31 acres. It is accessed by the new High Peaks chairlift which now goes all the way to the summit and the top of Cloud.

It was enjoyable to take Cloud to Headwaters, both blue trails, to the Straight Brook Quad, back up to the summit. Here, though, are a group of some of Gore’s more challenging trails, Chatiemac, Hawkeye, Open Pit and the double-black trails, The Rumor, Lies and Upper Darby.

Straight Brook on Gore Mountain offers a variety of challenging terrain and glades and is where you will find two double-black runs, The Rumor and Lies, rumored (unconfirmed) to be the steepest train in the East. Chatiemac, a black, is one of Dave and Laini’s favorites on the mountain. There are also a couple of intermediate trails – like Cloud – which connects to other blues and greens to ski the whole way down. In all, this area has 10 trails, 4 glades and 55 acres accessed by the Straight Brook quad.

A bluebird ski day at Gore Mountain © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Topridge is where Dave and Laini go for southern exposure diamonds with views of Gore summit, plenty of pitch and sunshine. It offers five trails (3 blue including Tannery and Lower Uncas) and two blacks, on 45 acres, accessed by the Topridge triple chair.

The North Side – called “Natural North” because they keep it natural – is off the beaten path, and offers an array of easy-going cruisers and gorgeous views. It’s great for families, with uncrowded trails you feel you have to yourself (9 trails, 2 glades on 37 acres serviced by the North quad).

Burnt Ridge is noted for its geology and great views of North Creek Village and the Hudson River. Its seven trails, five glades (The Cirque is one of the longest glades in the East) on 76 acres are serviced by “one of the most luxurious rides” on the mountain, the Burnt Ridge high-speed quad. This area has Sagamore, another one of Dave and Laini’s favorite black trails on the mountain.

A bluebird ski day at Gore Mountain © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

North Creek Ski Bowl, which is owned by the town of Johnsburg but managed in partnership with Gore, is where two triple chairs access a surprising variety of trails – two greens, four blues, three blacks including a half pipe and skier/boarder X, and a double black, 46er – on 47 acres on Little Gore Mountain. The trails are relatively short, with a vertical of just under 1000 ft. A new Hudson chair lift connects Gore to the Ski Bowl (open for twilight skiing on weekends and holidays). There also is a shuttle bus between the two bases.

North Creek Ski Bowl also has the Nordic ski area, with 5k network of trails (3.7k with snowmaking and night lights) and snowshoeing (also “uphilling,” which is snowshoeing up the ski mountain).

The Ski Bowl has a long and storied history – when it opened in 1934it was one of the first commercial ski areas in the nation; skiers from New York City came up by train to North Creek. (Gore’s lift ticket is valid, and you can use it for twilight skiing; a Nordic trail pass is $20.)

We had focused on the upper part of the mountain for much of the day to avoid lines on the Adirondack Express or the Gondola at the base.

Dave skis Twister © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

By the afternoon, the mountain really emptied out (it was Sunday at the end of President’s Week, after all, and people were probably not lingering over lunch), and we hit Twister which proved my absolute favorite – a long, winding blue, not intimidating, but enough of a challenge to make you feel like a real skier and bump up your skill. It turns out it is just about everybody’s favorite trail. It was no problem to come down to the base (there are two relatively steep drops at the end, but the conditions made it okay) and it was so great, we went back up again for a final run before heading out.

State-owned Gore Mountain, along with Whiteface in Lake Placid and Belleayre in the Catskills, has benefited from significant capital investments in improvements– including enhanced snowmaking, new and improved lifts and lodges – but also for year-round appeal.

Saddle Lodge, one of the many improvements that New York State’s Olympic Regional Development Authority has made at Gore Mountain over the past few years © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

In warm weather, enjoy rides on Gore’s gondola and chairlift, hiking, mountain biking and special events.

There isn’t a set closing date for skiing – so far the season has been exceptional – but typically, skiing is open until after Easter, or mid- to late April.

Gore began as a destination ski area – after all, it wasn’t that easy to reach. But over time, especially as the New York Thruway and Northway made it so easy to reach from Albany, Saratoga Springs and Glens Falls and even Montreal, Gore can be a day trip.

But Gore Mountain and the Adirondacks have so much to offer, longer stays are warranted. The landscape is breathtaking, and significantly, still wilderness. You also have some marvelous resorts and lodging – the grand, historic Sagamore Resort on Lake George is 45 minutes away (they offer a shuttle bus to Gore), and in North Creek, the Copperfield Inn is as intimate as an inn (only 31 rooms), but with all the services of a luxury hotel (Copperfield Inn, 307 Main Street, North Creek, NY 12853, 518-251-9808, www.copperfieldinn.com).

North Creek is a charming village with several delightful bistros and shops, and the village offers a free shuttle bus to the mountain, less than 10 minutes away, every 20-30 minutes throughout the day, in season.

Gore Mountain, 793 Peaceful Valley Road, North Creek, NY 12853, Snow Phone: 518-251-5026, info 518-251-2411, goremountain.com.

See also: Plenty to Discover, Experience Exploring New York’s Adirondack Hamlets 

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© 2021 Travel Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. Visit goingplacesfarandnear.com, www.huffingtonpost.com/author/karen-rubin, and travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate/. Blogging at goingplacesnearandfar.wordpress.com and moralcompasstravel.info. Send comments or questions to [email protected]. Tweet @TravelFeatures. ‘Like’ us at facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures

Plenty to Discover, Experience Exploring New York’s Adirondack Hamlets

By Laurie Millman and Martin Rubin,

Travel Features Syndicate, goingplacesfarandnear.com

Idyllic Hudson River spot near North Creek, NY © Laurie Millman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Less than a half hour from Lake George Village, in upstate New York, you can discover cultural and artistic venues in smaller hamlets in the Adirondack State Park all year long without the crowds usually found in the Village. The draw to the small town shops and restaurants are in the quality of locally sourced products they sell and use in food preparation.

Check out some of the Adirondack State Park towns we discovered while driving around Lake George and following the Hudson River:

North Creek, NY – in addition to this town being the location of Gore Mountain ski resort, it is taking off as the art center of the Gore region in the State Park. To get to North Creek, we drove north of Lake George on Rte 9 and Rte 28 for about 35 minutes. The short journey took us along a shallow, yet scenic section of the Hudson River. We found glassblowing, mosaics, local artist exhibits, and regional foods – we spent a day here, but we could easily have stayed over at a local hotel to do more in town and in the surrounding mountains. 

  • Widlund Gallery at Tannery Pond Center – also called the Adirondacks Art Center (228 Main St, North Creek, NY 12853;  518-251-2505 x128; https://tannerypondcenter.org ), runs exhibits by local artists continuously throughout the year (even during ski season). Each exhibit runs for 6-7 weeks. Check out the Center’s site for upcoming exhibits. Socially distanced, outdoor events will begin early Spring, 2021.

    We toured the oil paintings of Elizabeth MacFarland whose art reflects local, natural settings. We purchased a beautiful poetry book for our granddaughter from the Center — Butterfly, Dragonfly – Poetry for Children, which was both written and illustrated by Ms. MacFarland – you can also find this book on Elizabeth’s website (https://www.elizabethmacfarland.com/).

The Center is handicap accessible, with parking spots across the street and a ramp leading up to the main entrance. The main floor contains the exhibits. A performance hall on the lower level can be reached by an elevator. Expect to wear masks while visiting. 

  • North Creek Mosaic Project just a couple of blocks from Tannery Pond Center, we found artist Kate Hartley working on the last major section of the 180-foot long mosaic relief along Main St. For the past 10 years, this project has been a labor of love for Hartley who conceptualized covering the retaining walls on this street with beautiful mosaic scenes representing activities in the Adirondacks. A project of this scale has drawn more than 2000 volunteers to help place pieces of tile, glass, and stone on the walls with Hartley’s guidance. Laurie is now one of those volunteers, by adding one of the last pieces to the mosaic that day. The Mosaic Project, now fully tiled, can be easily viewed from your car, but we recommend walking up to the walls to see close up the variety of materials used to build it. (For more information about this project follow https://www.facebook.com/northcreekmosaicproject/, or go to http://visitnorthcreek.org/project/the-north-creek-mosaic-project/.)
North Creek Mosaic Project © Laurie Millman/goingplacesfarandnear.com
  • Artist-in-residence, Gregory Tomb (https://www.gregorytglass.com) – Reserve a 1-2 hour glassblowing class when Gregory returns to the region as Artist-in-Residence from late spring through late September 2021. For a private class, contact Gregory at 530-318-9413 or [email protected]. Gregory’s temporary studio is located at the North Creek Railroad Station Complex (21 Railroad Place, North Creek, NY 12853). Gregory helped Laurie learn to use glassmaking tools to create a beautiful paperweight; Marty learned to blow hot glass and shape it into a bud vase.  The building is handicap accessible with parking on a gravel lot, but no bathroom is located on premise.
Marty takes a glassblowing class in North Creek with artist-in-residence Gregory Tomb © Laurie Millman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Hudson River Trading Companyacross the street from the North Creek Mosaic Project, the 7,000 sq. foot, multi-level store (292 Main St., North Creek, NY; 518-251-4461) is filled with items for sale which represent Adirondack life and culture. The store has souvenirs distinctive of the region, including NY State maple-covered nuts and confections, accessories and wares for every room in your house, accessories for pets, and clothing for all ages.

As we toured the store, owner Laurie Prescott Arnheiter explained to us how she preserved the original 1898 walls and floors from its days as a livery and stables and later a butcher shop. Look for the posts and numbers where the horse’s yolks were hung on the walls of the lower room.  The retail store also has a kids’ section to keep them occupied while their parents shop – there is a puppet stage, a small piano, and a reading corner (note to us, bring our granddaughter next time). We purchased an Adirondack hoodie sweatshirt for our daughter, an apron for Laurie, some dog treats, local honey, and NY maple-coated peanuts and candies.

Arnheiter also owns the small gourmet shop next door — The Hungry Crow — which is also in a historic building, and offers all locally made shelf and refrigerated food, such as cheeses, ground coffee, chocolates, and pastas. She even scooped for us berry-infused ice cream freshly made from a local dairy. Check the website, https://hudsonrivertradingco.com, for spring reopening and hours.

Children’s Corner in Hudson River Trading Company, North Creek, NY © Laurie Millman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Gore Mountain – this Adirondack ski resort offers downhill and cross-country skiing and snowboarding. Gore Mountain remains open the rest of the year for activities such as scenic hiking trails, a mountain skyride, downhill mountain biking, and nine-hole disc golf. The 2020/2021 season pass packages start from $499/adult. The pass applies to some of the summer and fall activities, and includes an additional ticket for sharing a winter activity. (793 Peaceful Valley Rd, North Creek, NY 12853; 518-251-2411, https://goremountain.com)

Skiing Gore Mountain. Gore remains open after the snow melts for summer and fall activities, such as scenic hiking trails, a mountain skyride, downhill mountain biking, and nine-hole disc golf. (c) Laini Miranda/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Bolton Landing, NYthis lakeside hamlet is just 15 minutes north of Lake George Village, as you drive along the lake.  Beautiful views of Lake George and shopping in small businesses with plenty of parking was a huge draw for us to stop and spend an afternoon here. Bolton Landing is also the home of the historic luxury hotel, The Sagamore Resort. 

  • Lake George Adirondack Wineryfor a fun and educational wine tasting experience for up to four people, book online or call any of their three locations in the region: Bolton Landing 518-708-6672; Lake George Village 518-203-2597; Queensbury 518-668-9463, https://www.adirondackwinery.com/. We opted for the Bolton Landing location.

This family-owned winery uses northern New York State and Canadian fresh grapes and fruit to create delicious red, pink, white, and ice wines. Adirondack Winery also effectively infuses semi-sweet red and white wines with seasonal fruit. The Adirondack Winery shops and production facility are open seven days a week for wine tasting and shopping – confirm hours online.

For the “Original Wine Tasting Experience” (just $8/person) we each selected seven different wine samples from a choice of 32 Adirondack Winery prepared wines. We added the  “Locavore Sampler” and the “Cheese Lover’s Sampler”  for an additional $10/person, which allowed us to sample local Adirondack cheeses along with the wines. Our  platter included a mild goat cheese, a champagne-infused cheddar which paired deliciously with Adirondack Winery’s very own “Berry Breeze wine-infused” jam,  locally made chocolate truffles, and crackers and pretzels to eat with them. We finished off the wine tasting with a refreshing wine slushy of the day (additional $5/person).   Masks and social distancing are still required in the wine-tasting room, even though masks may be removed when you are sitting for the tasting experience. Based on our sampling,  we chose four different, full-bodied wines to take home, a block of the champagne cheese and the “Berry Breeze” jam  — they were a big hit with our multi-generational family.

  • Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course is perfect for a multi-generational family with over 100 obstacle courses and 15 ziplines for adults and older kids, and two courses and a playground for younger children. Whether you are a newbie to ziplining, treetop climbing and swinging obstacle courses, or an experienced adventurer, this aerial park offers something for everyone to spend a thrilling day in the wonderful mountain air and beautiful views of the Lake (5 Westwood Forest Ln., Bolton Landing, NY; 518-494-7200, https://adirondackextreme.com)

The aerial adventure park reopens in April 2021. Check the website for hours of operation, pricing of course packages, and minimum age requirements. Reservations and payment in advance by phone or online are required. Masks are required at check-in, during harnessing procedures, and walking throughout the park; masks are not required while climbing the courses. Social distance between separate groups is expected. 

North River, NY – a small hamlet on the banks of the Hudson River, North River is the home of the world’s largest, commercial-grade garnet deposits found on Gore Mountain. In 1969, Governor Nelson Rockefeller officially named the ruby red Barton garnet as New York State’s gem stone.

  • Garnet Mine Tours – currently closed due to Covid-19 restrictions; check the web site (garnetminetours.com) to learn when they will reopen for tours of the historic Barton Mines (1126 Barton Mines Rd., North River, NY).  
  • Garnet Hill Lodge  just 15 minutes from the center of North Creek and around 45 minutes from Lake George, this rustic, Adirondack wood lodge, high up on a mountain, boasts a scenic canyon view of Thirteenth Lake from the resort’s meadow. 
Rustic Garnet Hill Lodge © Laurie Millman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Garnet Hill Lodge  is a perfect one-stop resort for four seasons of outdoor activities. During winter months, the Lodge offers 35 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails and six different snowshoe trails starting immediately outside the lodge and its Outdoor Center. Every stay at the lodge comes with complimentary trail passes.  The full service ski shop assists guests with equipment, clothing, repairs, rentals, and lessons.

Throughout the rest of the year, lodge guests can enjoy the mountain’s hiking trails, the resort’s tennis courts, sign out complimentary mountain bikes, canoes and kayaks, and enjoy the Lodge’s staff-attended private beach on Thirteenth Lake. While walking around the mountain, in addition to looking out at the beautiful Adirondack mountain scenery and looking up at the beautiful clean sky, try looking down – you just might find a rock with garnets! (garnet-hill.com; 39 Garnet Hill Road, North River, NY 12856; 518-636-1652)

With continued Covid-19 flying and quarantine restrictions continuing throughout the country and world, this secluded, Adirondack State Park lodge and resort is ideal for a destination wedding. Pre-Covid, Garnet Hill was able to accommodate up to 120 guests for an outdoor or indoor ceremony and reception from June through October, and up  to 80 guests between November and May.

A two-night minimum booking for guests at the Lodge included food and beverages in the lodge’s full-service restaurant and pub, the Bobcat Bar and Grill. Guests have complimentary use of the lodge’s outdoor equipment in all seasons, including the lake beach and well-marked hiking and mountain biking trails. Contact Nicole at 518-251-2444 to discuss current capacity limitations, to book a getaway, or a visit and tour of Garnet Hill Lodge for a potential wedding or other group event. Nicole will assist with planning all aspects of a destination wedding or event within state guidelines and restrictions.

Glens Falls, NY

Reclining in zero-gravity chairs, wearing street clothes and covered up with warm, fluffy throw covers, we took off our masks, closed our eyes, and breathed in the medical-grade salt that was being released into the room. Listening to relaxing music, we immediately fell into a deep sleep.  Forty-five minutes later, owner Dawn gently woke us. We walked out of the room feeling quite relaxed, with Laurie commenting that she no longer had the acid reflux cough she came in with, and Marty left with clear sinuses.  The experience was a success for both of us!  We have one recommendation: the room is cool even with the warm comforter, so be sure to wear layers: long-sleeved shirt, jacket, or sweater, socks or booties, long pants.

Halotherapy room at Adirondack Salt Cave Halotherapy and Wellness Center in Glens Falls, NY © Laurie Millman/goingplacesfarandnear.com

The Wellness Center is a holistic healing arts center which also offers Swedish massage, Shiatsu, Reiki, Esthetician services, therapeutic reflexology, and other massage therapy services.  Owners Dana and Greg Russell renovated a 123-year old collar and shirt mill, built out therapy rooms and the large “salt cave” room while preserving the original wood floors, brick walls, and tall windows for lots of natural light in the waiting area. Over 7,000 lbs of Himalayan salt blocks went into creating the long, beautiful, backlit wall that is the focal point of the man-made “salt cave” room. They also built out the front desk and the base of the benches with salt blocks. For pricing of services and packages and to make an appointment,  visit adirondacksaltcave.com, call Dana at 518-798-2343, or email her at [email protected]. Please tell her that Laurie and Marty sent you! (11 Broad St., Glens Falls, NY 12801).

More information at https://visitadirondacks.com/.

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