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#NYSummer2017 In Review

Our family had an amazing summer traveling around New York State.  Through four separate road trips, we saw parts of New York that we had never visited before. During one of these trips, I discovered my love for the Adirondacks and I can’t wait to make a return visit.  This summer also made me realize that we’ve only seen a fraction of what New York has to offer.  We really do live in a spectacular state! Here is our #NYSummer2017 in review: (Links take you to the full posts on the blog.  They will be updated as additional posts are published.)

Trip #1 (Albany, Adirondacks, Saratoga)

Day 1:  We traveled from our home in northern Westchester County to the Children’s Museum of Science and Technology in Troy, NY.  After a couple of hours at the museum we drove to John Boyd Thacher State Park in Vorheesville, NY.  We stayed at the Econo Lodge in Colonie for one evening.

Day 2:  We drove into Albany and toured the state Capitol building.  We then walked around Empire Plaza, past the Egg to the Corning Observation Deck.  After riding the elevator to the 42nd floor for some amazing views of the city we headed back to the concourse for lunch.  After lunch we visited the New York State Museum before driving to Moreau Lake State Park, where we tried cabin camping for the first time.  This was our “home base” for the week.

Day 3: We visited the Adirondack Experience in Blue Mountain Lake, NY.  My husband drove up after work Friday evening and met us at the cabin for a long weekend.

Day 4:  We visited the Olympic Sites at Lake Placid.  We ate dinner at A&W.

Day 5:  We spent the day at Six Flags Great Escape and then had dinner at Farmstead Flatbread in Queensbury.

Day 6:  We drove into the town of Lake George.  Unfortunately, it was a rainy and cold day.  We played indoor miniature golf  and walked around by the lake.  After a Middle Eastern lunch at Ali Baba Express, my husband drove back home.

Day 7: The day started out rainy again.  Our first stop was to Yaddo Gardens.  Then we visited Congress Park in Saratoga Springs where we rode the carousel (pictured above) and had lunch at Ravenous Creperie.  After lunch we drove to Saratoga Spa State Park where we did some geocaching and walked the geyser trail.

Day 8: We spent the morning at Lake Moreau and the kids finally got to go swimming.  Later in the afternoon we went white water rafting with Beaver Brook Outfitters.  That evening we drove back home.

Trip #2 (Buffalo/Niagara Falls)

Day 1: We drove the 6.5 + hours to Four Mile Creek State Park.  We were tent camping on this trip.  We got there after dinner and had to set up the tent…..in the rain.

Day 2: We drove to Buffalo and had a great brunch at the Lake Effect Diner. After eating we did a quick drive around the SUNY Buffalo campus.  During our drive it started to rain so we visited the Herschell Carousel Factory Museum.  After spending the afternoon there we drove over to the Canada side of the Falls.  After taking lots of pictures of the Falls in the rain we walked around Clifton Hill.  Luckily, by evening the rain stopped. We were able to see the falls lit up and the fireworks show before heading back to the campsite. We returned to the campsite to discover our tent had caved in and the kids’ air mattress and sleeping bags were soaked!

Day 3:  After packing up the camp site, we headed to the falls area on the American side.  After lunch, we took the Maid of the Mist boat ride and then headed home.

Trip #3 (Binghamton/Ithaca)

Day 1:  We headed up to Binghamton.  On the way up, we stopped at Animal Adventure Park and got to see April the giraffe and her baby Taj!  We then drove to Binghamton University where we walked around my husband’s old college campus.  After, we visited Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca.  The water was freezing, but the kids braved it to go swimming.  Finally, we drove to Cortland and had dinner at Central City Bar and Grill before heading to our hotel.

Day 2: We spent the day in Ithaca visiting Cornell University, my old college campus.  We started at the Botanic Gardens, then did some geocaching and walked along Beebe Lake for a bit. We walked around the campus and headed down to Collegetown for lunch.  After lunch, we drove to the Dairy Bar for ice cream.  After leaving Cornell, we drove down to Purity Ice Cream in Ithaca for some more treats!  We ended the day at Buttermilk Falls State Park.  It took us awhile to hike down to the falls where we were disappointed to discover that there was no swimming allowed that day.  We spent a little time at the playground and then had to hike back up to the car.  We then headed back home.

Trip #4 (Corning, Rochester, Syracuse)


Day 1:  We drove up to Corning, where our first stop was the Rockwell Museum.  After a short visit to the museum, we had lunch at the Old World Cafe.  Then we visited the Corning Museum of Glass.  After our visit, we went to our hotel at the Staybridge Suites, where the kids had a quick swim in the indoor pool. Then we headed out to dinner at Hand + Foot.

Day 2:  We drove to Elmira and went kayaking down the Chemung River with Southern Tier Kayak Tours.  After a quick lunch, we drove to Watkins Glen and went horseback riding at Painted Bar Stables.  Then we visited Watkins Glen State Park and walked the Gorge Trail to see all the waterfalls.  We made a short stop at Seneca Harbor Park before heading to dinner at Nickel’s Pit BBQ.  After dinner, we drove to Hammondsport, where we stayed for the night.

Day 3:  We spent the morning walking around the Village Square in Hammondsport.  We went down to Depot Park, where only my son was brave enough to withstand the cold temps for a quick dip in Keuka Lake.  We then had lunch at the Village Tavern Restaurant before heading to Rochester.

Day 4:  We spent the day at the Strong Museum of Play in Rochester.

Day 5:  We spent the day at the Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford.

Day 6:  We spent the morning at the Seneca Park Zoo in Rochester.  We then drove to Syracuse and spent the rest of the day at the New York State Fair.

Day 7:  We got up early and drove the four hours back home.

We had a lot of fun this summer and the kids will have lots of memories.  As you can see, there is so much to see and do throughout New York. We can’t wait to continue to explore the Empire State!

What is your favorite New York State attraction?

 

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Walking Under Waterfalls at Watkins Glen State Park

We visited Watkins Glen State Park on our recent trip to the Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes region. I was able to cross another New York State Park off my list AND I was able to walk under waterfalls!  Not only was this park already on my want-to-visit list, but it won 3rd place in a 2015 USA TODAY Readers’ Choice Award for Best State Park!  We couldn’t be in the area and not visit.

Watkins Glen State Park is one of the most well-known state parks in the Finger Lakes region.  Covering 778 acres, the park has an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a playground. It also has 293 camping sites, including 10 cabin sites.  However, people come from near and far to walk the trails along the gorge to see the waterfalls.

The park has three trails: Indian Trail, South Rim Trail and Gorge Trail.  The park recommends hiking the Gorge Trail for the best experience of Watkins Glen.  This trail follows Glen Creek and includes over 800 stone steps, stone bridges and 19 waterfalls.  Several labeled landmarks are situated along the 2 mile trail.  During the summer, shuttles run from both the main and upper entrances if you are too tired to walk back.

On our visit, we entered through the park at the main entrance off Franklin Street and parked by the pool.  We walked down to Lily Pond and crossed the Suspension Bridge.

The Suspension Bridge is the only bridge on the trail not built of stone. As we walked along the trail, it was necessary to constantly stop and take in the beauty of the waterfalls.

Around every bend was another beautiful sight to see.  It was such a peaceful and scenic hike.  It’s unbelievable to think that this gorge is thousands of years old.

As promised, we were able to walk under Rainbow Falls and touch the water!  Truly a memorable experience!  As you can tell from the picture, you may get wet from the falls!

We did not walk the entire two-mile trail as we were already tired out from a full day of kayaking and horseback riding.   Instead, we walked approximately 3/4 of the trail to Mile Point Bridge.  There, we crossed the bridge and walked the South Rim Trail back to the parking lot and avoided climbing the 180 stone steps of Jacob’s Ladder near the upper entrance.  FYI, the South Rim Trail is higher than the gorge and does not offer views of the waterfalls.

Watkins Glen State Park offers a day of family fun.  The trail hikes include truly amazing views and a visit to this park will not disappoint!

The Details:

Watkins Glen State Park
1009 N. Franklin Street
Watkins Glen, NY 14891
(607) 535-4511

Parking:  $8 per vehicle, which includes pool access  (fee is collected during peak times, please check the website for exact dates and times)  The Empire Pass is accepted here.

Hours:  Although the park is open year-round, the trails are only open mid-May to early November, weather dependent. Please check the park website for up-to-date information and trail status updates.

Pool is open 11 AM – 7 PM, daily during the summer (dates and hours are subject to change and it is advised to call the park office to confirm hours before visiting)

Trail Shuttle:  9 AM – 6 PM, $5/person

Tips:

*Use the bathroom, located at either of the entrances to the park before beginning the hike.  There are no rest rooms on the trails.

*Pack drinks and snacks.  There’s nothing like hungry and thirsty kids to ruin a good hike!  The upper entrance has a snack bar and gift shop if you need to buy something before your hike.

*Wear appropriate footwear.  Hiking boots are best, as the rocks get slippery from the water.  Plus, there are steps and uneven surfaces.

*Weekends, especially in the summer, tend to be the busiest.  It wasn’t too crowded when we visited on a late Thursday afternoon in August.

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Visiting the Corning Museum of Glass with Kids

(Thank you to the Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes and the Corning Museum of Glass for hosting us.  As always, all opinions are my own.)

The first thing people associate with Corning, NY is the Corning Museum of Glass (CMOG). There are a bunch of good reasons why so many people come to the Finger Lakes region of New York each year to visit this museum. It houses an extensive collection of glass, with pieces dating back 3,500 years. Guest artists visit from around the world and give demonstrations of their work.  Plus, there is a Changing Exhibitions Gallery with new pieces being shown regularly.

You might not think a building full of glass is a great place to bring kids.  However, after recently visiting with my two children (ages 9 and 11) I can tell you that this museum is indeed a kid-friendly destination. I will admit, visiting with kids creates a very different experience of the museum versus visiting on your own or with other adults.  You will still have a great time.  To help you get the most enjoyment from your trip, here are some tips for visiting the CMOG with kids:

1. Prior to your visit, sign up for a Make Your Own Glass project – These projects are created in The Studio, located in the building across the parking lot from the CMOG.  Projects range in price from $13 for sandblasting to $30 for hand-blowing glass ornaments, glass forming flowers, fusing picture frames and more.  There are recommended age ranges for each project.  Classes fill up quickly and if you wait until the day of your visit, they might be all booked up.  This is a memorable experience for the kids, plus they will have a keepsake from the visit to take home.

2. Visit the Contemporary Art + Design Wing – There are many glass exhibits throughout the museum.  However, if you are short on time, I highly recommend you make sure to visit this exhibit.  This wing is part of a 100,000 square foot addition that was completed in March of 2015.  This section is spacious and bright with large, colorful, eye-catching exhibits, sure to interest even the youngest children.  Although we didn’t download GlassApp, the museum’s app, there is a Scavenger Hunt available on it for this wing.

3. Participate in a Gallery Hunt in the Glass Galleries – Near the entrance to the Glass Collection Galleries, there are several different gallery hunt booklets and pencils.  While there are no prizes for completing the gallery hunt, it will help give kids a focus while walking through the galleries.  These galleries have hundreds of pieces of glass and it can be a bit overwhelming for children. My kids enjoyed the “Searching for Animals” gallery hunt.  You can also download the different gallery hunt sheets as PDFs from the museum site to have before your visit.

4. Watch at least one glass demonstration – There are many different glass demonstrations held throughout the day.  The demos range from 15 minute glassbreaking, optical fiber and flameworking demos, to 30 minute hot glass demonstrations.  Each demonstration is held many times throughout the day, in one of six different locations.

During our visit we sat and watched two different hot glass demos.  We saw one in the Courtyard Hot Shop before we even entered the museum, and the other in the Amphitheater Hot Shop.  The amphitheater demonstration has a special camera inside the furnace so you can watch the glass being heated on one of the many large screens.  The shows are narrated, so you learn about each step of the glass making process as they are happening. It’s amazing to watch a glob of molten glass turn into a pitcher or a sculpture in a span of 30 minutes! These demonstrations were one of the kids’ favorite things to do at the museum.  We probably could have sat there ALL day and just watched the gaffers (master glass makers) create different pieces.  At some of the demos, the gaffers give away some of their glass pieces.

5.  Visit Innovations – This is the hands-on section of the museum.  Here kids can look through a periscope and see a 360 degree view of the town of Corning.  They can also look through a telescope, see the difference between regular glass and Low-E glass, bend glass, try to break glass, and participate in several other activities.

6.  Make a stop at the “You Design It; We Make It” – This is a great place to take a little break and let your children’s inner artist come out.  In this little area, kids can use paper and markers to create a design.  If they are lucky, their drawing may be chosen to be recreated in glass!  Each week, glassmakers from the Hot Glass Demo team choose two drawings to recreate in the Amphitheater Hot Shop during a special “You Design It; We Make It!” demo. The Flameworking team also chooses a drawing daily to create at a special Flameworking demo.  Both of my kids sketched designs which unfortunately were not chosen.

7.  Make use of the two consecutive days –  Your ticket is good for two consecutive days and I advise you to make use of it!  Let your kids temperaments and attention spans factor into how you structure your day.  If they are really into watching the glass demos, you may want to spend a large portion of one day watching the various scheduled sessions.  Consider visiting in the morning one day and the afternoon on the next.

The Details:

The Corning Museum of Glass
One Museum Way
Corning, NY 14830
(607) 937-5371

Parking:  Free parking

Hours:  Daily 9 AM – 5 PM (9 AM – 8 PM Memorial Day through Labor Day)

Admission:  $19.50/adults, $16.60/55 Plus, AAA members, military and Students with ID, Free/children 17 and under  (**Tickets are valid for 2 consecutive days)

Tips:  

There are plenty of seasonal activities and exhibitions.  If you will be visiting during the holiday season, try to plan your visit to take advantage of the seasonal fun.

Food is available in the Cafe (open 9 AM – 5 PM).  Here you will find soups, salads, sandwiches, pizza and more. Sample prices:  $2.50 for a slice of pizza, $8.95 for a Chicken Salad wrap, $10.95 for a Southwest Steak Salad. There is also a coffee bar serving locally sourced coffee and tea.

You can bring your own food as well.  If the weather is nice, there are picnic tables to use outside.

There is a huge gift shop selling all types of glass items from jewelry to decorative items.  There’s even a section with items created in-house.  Not everything in the gift shop is expensive!  You can find glass items including ornaments, flowers and marbles for under $10.

If you need to charge your phone, there are outlets in the “You Design It; We Make It” area.

 

Ravenous Creperie {Saratoga Springs}

On a recent visit to Saratoga Springs the kids and I were wandering down Phila Street looking for lunch.  Many of the restaurants have menus posted outside with most offering the usual burgers, salads and sandwiches.  When we stopped to look at the Ravenous Creperie menu, the kids unanimously voted that we eat lunch here.

Ravenous Creperie is locally-owned and serves lunch, dinner and brunch.  We visited on a Tuesday afternoon and arrived at 12:15, prime lunchtime.  The restaurant space is small and cozy and it was packed!  There are several tables in the middle dining space that can be pushed together to seat a larger group.  There is also counter seating with a great view of the crepes being made and window counter seats with views of the street.  We had to wait a few minutes to be seated and were given three seats at the window counter.

This was our first time eating at a creperie and we were not disappointed!  I told the kids that we’d split a savory and a sweet crepe and either an order of pommes frites or poutine.  
The pommes frites are a popular starter.  As I looked around the restaurant, almost every table had a paper cone atop it filled with the frites.  But, the kids opted for poutine, and I wasn’t complaining about that!   We ordered the petite-sized poutine.  The ceramic dish was filled with crispy hand-cut pommes frites topped with locally-sourced cheddar curds and a house-made gravy.  We devoured this in no time!

The savory menu has a crepe for every palate including several vegetarian options.  They also offer a daily crepe special, which was a kale and white bean crepe the day of our visit.  If I was ordering a crepe, I would have chosen the Monterey Short Rib (braised black Angus short rib with caramelized onions, diced tomatoes and Monterey jack cheese) or the Upper West Sider (Smoked Atlantic salmon, cream cheese and a choice of scallions or capers).  However, the kids decided on the Mama Mia.  Although it’s difficult to see in the picture, this crepe was filled with Herb and Romano sausage, roasted peppers and onions, mozzarella and a tomato-garlic reduction. All savory crepes are served with a salad of mixed greens that is dressed with Saratoga Olive Oil & aged Balsamic Vinegar.  This is only half the crepe and salad, as my daughter had already started eating the other half!  The savory crepes are served in what looked and tasted like a wrap, versus a traditional crepe, which wouldn’t have been able to hold all of the tasty filling.  The Mama Mia crepe is kid-approved.  My two were very happy with their crepe pick!  There was plenty of filling and the sausage was flavorful but not spicy.

The sweet crepe menu has twelve different crepes to choose from which include everything from fresh strawberries, lemon curd, chocolate-hazelnut spread, fruit jam, Ghiradelli brownie and more!  Four of the crepes come in a petite size, for those looking for just a little something sweet to end their meal.  The kids opted for the Pommes & Caramel crepe (Maple glazed apples and house-made sea salt caramel).  This crepe was delicious!  Caramel and apples are a great combo and we could taste the sea salt pieces in the caramel.  While this dessert was sweet, it wasn’t overly-so.

I shared these three dishes with my two children, ages 9 and 11.  We left satisfied but not stuffed.

Ravenous Creperie has a prix fixe menu where you can get a small pommes frites with dipping sauce, a choice of one of three different classic crepes and a petite sweet all for $16.99/person.

For those local, they have a Rewards program, where you can earn points for every dollar spent.  Online ordering is also available (with pickup only, no delivery).

If you are in the Saratoga Springs area, I highly recommend stopping by Ravenous Creperie for some tasty eats!

The Details:
Ravenous Creperie
21 Phila Street
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
(518) 581-0560

Hours:  
Closed Mondays
Tuesday – Thursday:  11 AM – 8 PM
Friday:  11 AM – 9 PM
Saturday: 9 AM – 9 PM
Sunday:  9 AM – 8 PM

Prices:  Most savory crepes are priced between $12-$14, most sweet crepes are priced between $6.59 and $8.59. Petite sweets (mini sweet crepes) cost $2.99.   Pommes Frites come in small, medium and large sizes ($3.49-$6.99) and poutine comes in petite ($5.99) and regular ($7.99) sizes.

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The Road Trip Begins….

#NYSummer2017 is starting as we head to Albany, Lake George, Saratoga and Lake Placid

#NYSummer2017 has begun!  As you are reading this, the kids and I are on our way up to Albany for the first leg of our New York State road trip!  On this leg of our road trip we will be visiting Albany, Lake George, Saratoga and Lake Placid.  It will be quiet around the blog until we get back.  However, feel free to follow NY Foodie Family on Instagram and Twitter to get updates on our #NYSummer2017!!

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#NYSummer2017

When people think of New York, I’m pretty sure NYC is the first place that comes to mind.  However, having lived in the suburbs north of the city all my life, I can tell you that there’s so much more to this wonderful state.  A couple of months ago, my husband and I agreed that this summer was the perfect time for me to take our two children, ages 8 and 11, on an epic road trip of New York state.  Before we take on any more distant travels, we thought that it was important that the kids see as much of New York State as possible.  Planning this trip also made me realize how much of the state that I have never visited.

After several months of planning, I’ve narrowed down our road trip into four separate itineraries.  State parks, amusement parks and historical sites are all mapped out.

Our first leg will start July 19, after we spend 4th of July with my family in Rhode Island and celebrate my son’s 9th birthday. The kids and I will head to Albany, Saratoga, Lake George and the Lake Placid area. My husband will be joining us for a long weekend, but for most of the trip I’ll be traveling alone with the kids.

After a few days back home, my husband will be joining us for our second leg during the first weekend in August. All four of us will be traveling to the Buffalo/Niagara area and visiting Niagara Falls.

The third leg kicks off the second weekend in August, when the four of us will be heading up to Binghamton and Ithaca.  Part of this trip will include visiting Binghamton University and Cornell University, our alma maters.

The final leg of the trip will be in mid-August when I will take the kids to visit Corning, Rochester and Syracuse.

In between road trips, we will be exploring local attractions in Westchester and Dutchess counties as well as the Catskills.  Although we will be seeing a lot this summer, I know that this is only a small portion of all that there is to see and do in New York State.

This is going to be a memorable adventure for our family.  Not only am I breaking out of my comfort zone by taking the kids solo for most of the trip, but most of these places are new to me as well!  You can follow us on our adventures on social media.  I’ll be using #NYSummer2017 and #NYFoodieFamilyRoadTrip in all my travel posts.  And since there’s about a month before our first leg of the trip, please leave any suggestions or must-see attractions in the areas that I mentioned we’re visiting!