48 Hours In: Upstate New York
When we fly from big city to big city we miss what’s in the middle. Some of the most rewarding trips I’ve taken have unfolded on the road in those in-between places most people haven’t discovered yet.
I found myself in one of those places recently. The Finger Lakes region of Upstate New York is a blossoming wine country steeped in history. The region really comes to life in Spring and Summer as sleepy lakefront cottages fill up and those in the know come to bask in this rich cultural and culinary destination.
What to See
There’s so much history around every corner here it’s hard to pick the highlights. But a good place to start is George Eastman House in Rochester. This expansive estate built by George Eastman, the founder of Kodak, is a veritable time capsule of local history.
It is home to the world’s oldest museum of photography and one of the world’s oldest film archives. You can peer right into the curious life of George Eastman on a house tour. And if you’re wondering, yes, the giant elephant head in the conservatory is real.
People come from all over the world to the tiny town of Aurora in Upstate New York. Why? To follow Alice down the rabbit hole to Mackenzie-Childs, home of the quirkiest and most eye-catching handmade majolica pottery I’ve ever seen. It’s worth setting aside several hours to explore the 65-acre former dairy farm, starting with the Second-Empire farmhouse fully decked out in Mackenzie-Childs designs.
But come prepared to shell out a small fortune for this world-renowned enamelware if you fancy taking some home with you: a single dinner plate can range in price from US$36-122 and a compote bowl could set you back almost US$500.
Where to Eat and Drink
For the true oenophile and gastronome, a trip to Upstate New York wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the New York Wine & Culinary Center. Savour some of New York’s best grapes in the tasting room, or get your hands dirty with a Chef’s Table cooking class. The Upstairs Bistro is a huge light-filled space with fantastic views overlooking Canandaigua Lake.
The most game-changing gin in the state can be found at Black Button Distilling, a relative newcomer to the spirit scene. If, like me, you love all things local, this grain-to-glass gem run by young entrepreneur Jason Barrett is full of local flair. Make sure to ask him about the story behind the name.
You’d be remiss not to stop in at the Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles (that’s “Skinny Atlas” by the way) for lunch or dinner. Once a stagecoach inn, the Sherwood Inn retains its 2 centuries of history to a T.
The menu is robust and refined, but there’s one entrée you shouldn’t leave without ordering: the Yankee Pot Roast.
Where to Stay
Rochester makes a great base from which to explore the area, but just 20 minutes outside the city you’ll find an ideal spot for some much needed rest and relaxation. Check in at Woodcliff Hotel and Spa and drop your stress at the door. The hotel offers wonderful views of the Rochester skyline and the Finger Lakes region.
After a long day, reserve a treatment at Spa Elan on the second level. Dimmed lighting and barely-there music invite instant relaxation – the perfect way to start or finish a getaway to Upstate New York.
Often it’s the less obvious routes that teach you the most. Take a chance on somewhere different in your travels this Spring.
For more information about what to see and do in Upstate New York check out www.awelcomesurprise.com
Map of all locations mentioned in this article:
On this trip: Sights, food, drink and spa experiences were supplied by the vendors and supported by A Welcome Surprise.