Tag: Finger Lakes

Finger Lakes Favorites

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

I love the rolling farms, beauty, and quietness of the Finger Lakes. It’s easy to spend an entire weekend and never leave the house – between kayaking, hammock-reading, waterskiing, third-cup-of-coffeeing, s’moreing and floating – it’s an active weekend if we manage to bring out the croquet set or Settlers of Catan. Heck, going for a morning run (past horse and buggies no less) is a victory in my book!

Here are a few of my favorite things to do (when I do manage to leave the water!):


I love poking around The Windmill  on a Saturday morning for some marketing shopping / junk hunting. With a mixture of everything from homemade Mennonite loaves of bread, to handmade jewelry, to festival food tents, to vintage dishes, to t-shirts with wolves on them, you’ll find a wide assortment of goods at the Windmill. Parking is free and it’s worth checking out for an hour or two.


The Finger Lakes  - The Windmill


The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

The Finger Lakes - The Windmill

I’m totally biased when it comes to Belhurst Castle – I love it because we got married here! The Belhurst grounds are beautiful. The original castle was once a speak-easy, and is now home to two restaurants, gift shop, wine-tasting, hotel, and spa. They have a big brunch here on weekends, or you can grab dinner at Stonecutter’s restaurant in front of a fire pit. And, in case you’re in the market, it’s a great place for a wedding!

The Finger Lakes - Belhurst Castle

Fox Run Winery is a beautiful winery on Seneca Lake just south of Geneva. Wine tasting is popular all throughout the Finger Lakes, but I love Fox Run for it’s delicious cafe and front balcony with gorgeous views. We had our Rehearsal Dinner here in the barrel room and it was a blast! Fox Run is also home of the annual Garlic Festival (which I still have yet to make it to!).

The Finger Lakes - Fox Run

The Finger Lakes - Fox Run The Finger Lakes - Fox Run
The Finger Lakes

If you are in the Finger Lakes in July or August, you must go blueberry picking! Not only is it supremely relaxing, but you can get organic blueberries for $1.99/pound! My favorite place to go is Serendipity. I love blueberry picking not only for the delicious fruit, but also the lovely wildflowers!

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes

Looking for other things to do in the Finger Lakes? Try hiking Grime’s Glen, eating at the Airport Diner, picking apricots, or hiking in Watkin’s Glen.

I can never decide if I love lakes or oceans more. Does one really need to choose?

Add this to your Travel Bucket List: Watkins Glen


There are many beautiful places in the world. But there are a few that truly take my breath away.

I’ve posted on Watkins Glen NY State Park before, but we hiked it again a few weeks ago and I just had to share some photos of it’s AMAZINGNESS!

Recently there has been an article flying around social media, “29 Surreal Places in America You Need to Visit Before You Die”, (aka one of those million Buzzfeed articles on your Facebook newsfeed) and Watkins Glen is #8. The author says, “We all know Niagara Falls is a sight to see, but located south of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region lies a lesser-known fantasy-like area called Rainbow Bridge and Falls. It will make you feel like you’re in Lord of the Rings.”

Hiking through Watkins Glen definitely feels part-LOTR, part-Fern Gully, part-Jurassic Park.


The park was opened in the mid 1800s as an “amusement park” until it was purchased by New York State in 1906. The closest you will get to an amusement park is the laser shows they occasionally host.

The deep gorge was originally carved by glaciers, and has seen been re-shaped by the water flow of the streams, rapids, and waterfalls. The power of water is astounding.



There had been some heavy rain recently, so the waterfalls were flowing and the trail was pretty wet. Walking under a waterfall is always a magical experience. Wear appropriate footwear! (And protect your camera!)



There are some killer stairs at the top, but anyone in decent shape can do this hike. The main drag, the Gorge Trail, is a 1.5 mile hike and takes about 45 minutes if you stop to admire the general splendor, take some photos, and try to catch some of the little frogs. If you’re looking for a longer hike, the trail connects to the Finger Lakes Trail, which is an 800 mile network of trails running through New York state.
You can park at the top for $8. (Although there wasn’t anyone in the toll booth when we went.) A shuttle ($3 per person) runs back and forth from the bottom until 5:30pm if you don’t have it in you to hike back. More information can be found on the NY State Park Watkins Glen website.
Where’s the most unique place you’ve ever been?


Touring the Wacky and Whimsical Mackenzie Childs Victorian Farmhouse

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

The types of artists and designers that I truly enjoy the most are the ones that create things you don’t see with your two eyes. J.K. Rowling, Lisa Frank, Alex Katz, Betsey Johnson. And Mackenzie Childs.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs creates whimsical ceramics, furniture and household items. All pieces are created and painted by hand in one of several trademark patterns (the most famous being black and white checks).

The headquarters, store and inspirational-styled Victorian farmhouse are located on what used to be an old dairy farm in Aurora, NY and open to visitors. While the men in our family were headed to the PGA golf tournament, my mom and I decided to have a girls day out and visit Mackenzie Childs.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

There is a lovely shop full of everything you can imagine – candlesticks, to rugs, to champagne glasses, to patio furniture. The only downfall of Mackenzie Childs – it is not cheap. But still fun to poke around.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

In a small theater off the shop is a 20 minute video where you can learn all about the ceramic molding, firing and glazing process. There is also a massive and intricately decorated dollhouse – my eight-year-old self was in heaven.

Visitors aren’t able to tour the work area – where all the pottery is molded, fired and glazed. But, we were able to peek through a few windows at the shelves full of works in progress!

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

There is a beautiful courtyard you can sit at and enjoy. Sadly it was a misty, rainy day, so we were unable to linger in it very much that day.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

The free Farmhouse tour is given hourly and is quite a treat.  Have you ever been to one of those home expo tours and go through beautifully styled homes?

Well, it was like that! Except Mackenzie-Childs-esque – which you’ll see is like nothing you’ve ever seen before.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

We had to wear protective booties because of the rain.

The style is not exactly how I’d decorate my own home, but I love how the brand beats to it’s own crazy colorful drum and doesn’t look back.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

There are small details all over the house – from funky reading glasses perched on open books, to classical painting that have been “modified” with crazy black and white checked pants and flowers.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

How adorable is this kitchen? I love the pink knobs.

I feel like I only might bake cupcake and french toast though if this was my kitchen. It doesn’t exactly scream grilled cheese or stir-fry to me.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs style waffles between eccentrically funky and decidedly feminine.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

How fun is that chair? I could actually see something like that in my house.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Small details like beautiful bottles of soap, large floral print wallpapers and decorative vintage handkerchiefs filled the hallways.

But the tiles in the bathrooms were some of my very favorite features!

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Hunter Boots even offers a Mackenzie Childs boot!

Mackenzie Childs Hunter Boots

The premises are beautiful and on Cayuga Lake – complete with gardens, ponds, and farm animals.

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

I had to take a picture of this – even the sawhorses in one of the outbuildings are “on-brand” with the classic checks!

We were there a week after their annual sale – which is pandemonium with people traveling from all over the country. Women camp out on air mattresses and wristband access is required to get into the tent to score goods for up to 80% off! About 15,000 people come to the annual sale event – yowza. I’m not sure I am even crazy enough for that.

After our farmhouse tour, we headed into the tiny town of Aurora (population 722 people!) and stopped in a few shops and had (a delicious) lunch at the Aurora Inn – a beautiful building in the center of town.

Aurora Inn

The restaurant overlooks Lake Cayuga, and the grounds are right at water-level.

The Aurora Inn

(It would be a great place for a wedding – if anyone is looking!)

The town of Aurora and the Mackenzie Childs farmhouse are around 1-1.5 hours from Rochester and Syracuse and definitely worth a day trip! While it would have been nice to stroll the property in nicer weather, I definitely walked away inspired!

Mackenzie Childs Farmhouse Tour

While Richard and Victoria Mackenzie Childs (the artists who started the brand) no longer own the company, they also restored another old home on Cayuga Lake. You can see it on one of my favorite websites – Hooked on Houses!

Have you heard of Mackenzie Childs before? What do you think of the crazy and whimsical patterns?

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Thanks for stopping by! : ) Kat

The Finger Lakes, NY: Hiking Grimes Glen and an Airport Diner

Upstate New York is entirely underrated. In case you were wondering.

The region is associated with the three snowiest cities in the United States (Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, thank you very much), but very little is it associated with the summer months!

Let’s keep it that way, eh? I like driving on an empty highway.

It is beautiful – sunshine, blue skies, budding vineyards and lots of big yellow fields that reminded me of Scotland!

A month or so ago, we spent the weekend in the Finger Lakes and spent the morning in Naples, NY. It’s right next to Rome, NY and Italy, NY.

No, really.

We had breakfast at the Middlesex Airport Diner – a small building on a small meadow that small planes fly in and out of.

While our waiter informed us we were a bit late for the usual plane sightseeing (what? 11am is too late for breakfast?) we still managed to see a few of them.

After breakfast we drove to Grimes Glen.

Grimes Glen is a hiking path in a glen. No surprise there.

It has a one mile creek walk up to some beautiful waterfalls.

Go ahead and swallow that vanity. Put on a pair of ugly nature sandals and walk all the way up the creek! (Some currents are a bit strong, but most places weren’t deeper than 12 inches of water. I was carrying my SLR around my neck).

We went on a Saturday morning and there was a fair amount of hiking traffic.

via flickr debpaul2010

Next time I think I’ll leave my camera in the car and bring my swimsuit.

There were lots of kids playing in the water. We went over Memorial Day weekend, so the water was nippy, but enjoyable! We only hiked to the first waterfall, so we were only going for an hour or two.

We spent the rest of the beautiful Finger Lakes afternoon doing a little bit of fishing, dock sitting and boating.

And of course a little bit of this:

The lazy, hazy summer afternoon was made for me!

What’s your favorite lazy, summer activity?