Upstate New York
Just below Lake Ontario in New York State are the lesser known Finger Lakes. Fishing, boating and wine make this area of the Northeastern United States irresistible. Check out Finger Lakes Wine Country for a wonderful break and be sure to rent a boat for the day especially if you have kids. Consider water skiing or tubing behind your boat, whatever your age. Perhaps dock your boat to walk around Hammondsport for an hour and discover a small town with abundant charm. There are a bountiful amount of wineries to explore that will keep you wandering for days.
Are you a fishing lover? Here’s just the facts on each of the finger lakes. Want to check skydiving off your bucket list? A couple of years ago I jumped for my first time choosing this wonderful place so I could savor vivid blue lakes as I fell back to Earth.
About 20 minutes from the World famous Niagara Falls is a quaint town where the vibe is quite unique. My wife and I have visited Niagara-on-the-Lake on the same day for over 15 years. We honeymooned in Niagara Falls and each year we return partly for the romance but also for another reason. I grew up in Rochester, NY so we visit my parents each year at Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving we leave our kids with my parents and drive 2 hours across the border to Canada.
We explore vineyards and other places during the day, walk around town in the early evening, dine at our favorite restaurant and then stay the night. The next morning we enjoy breakfast at the park feasting on scones, lemon tarts and so on and then leave Canada. We then visit the falls on the American side and stop for lunch at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo. This restaurant, who invented buffalo wings, cooks amazing chicken wings but my favorite for this style of food is Country Sweet Chicken and Ribs. The Anchor Bar restaurant has another location in Niagara Falls and sometimes we change things up and eat on Friday on our way into Canada and drive straight back to Rochester on Saturday. We sure are a flashy and interesting couple!
Almost a secret, Niagara on the Lake is exceptional wine country. You might want to try Ice Wine which is produced using partially frozen grapes that are harvested in the Winter. The concentration of natural sugar is quite high and I could clarify further but this site explains ice wine better. Ice wine was originally made in Austria and Germany. Apparently 75% of ice wine is now created in Canada. This sort of wine is sweet and is considered a dessert wine.
Do you enjoy morning breakfast? Be sure to visit this fine pastry shop for all sorts of breakfast treats and then walk to Queens Royal Park to enjoy your tasty delights. The panorama of the water and Fort Niagara in the distance during the late Fall is quite brilliant. Take time to walk around town in the evening, especially near Christmas, and in the early morning for a special memory. From what I hear this town is often used as a filming location for good reason.
Adjacent to a large vineyard, The Riverbend Inn might not be HANDPICKED quality, but it’s one of my favorites. My wife and I often stay here and dined at their elegant restaurant once. The rooms are immense with plenty of “antique like” furniture and a modern and clean bathroom. Each room contains a gas fire place and private balcony overlooking their gardens. Assorted rooms assigned to us over the years have yet to disappoint in their views. Sometimes the view is small and personal but most of the time the view is wide and panoramic. Most hotels I have stayed in over the years are small and confined. I promise you the rooms are monumental making you feel like royalty while simultaneously creating a sense of coziness. As I write this, I discovered that Andrew Peller Limited acquired this wonderful inn. My intuition tells me that this inn will soon be HANDPICKED quality considering the extensive resources that a larger organization provides.
We also stayed at the Pillar and Post Hotel and were quite happy. The rooms are normal sized and the hotel has a rich history with the building originally being a canning factory in the 1890s. We quite enjoyed our time at this uncommon hotel and guest reviews seem to confirm our thoughts. Similarly, we dined at the hotel owned Cannery Restaurant on multiple occasions. Entering the hotel lobby, a substantial and beautifully adorned Christmas tree greets all visitors. Inside the restaurant everything is lit just right and the decorations make for a pleasant environment. There is nothing like eating warm roast beef and drinking fine wine with my wife during the holidays.
We dined at the impressive Prince of Wales hotel restaurant two times. The food was fine but the attention to detail by the waiters is out of this World. I am not into super fancy restaurants but it was fun to feel like I was part of the Crawley family on Downton Abbey. Both The Prince of Wales Hotel along with Pillar and Post Hotel is managed by the same company named Vintage Hotels. One last tip, be sure to check out this interesting ornament store and hat shop.
Unfortunately, we will be visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake just occasionally. Our kids are now in high school and travel with us less as they become busier with their own lives. We are looking forward to traveling the World and opening ourselves to new experiences. Nevertheless, we will always be grateful for our late November visits to this perfect town.
Historical, beautiful and peaceful. No more needs to be said. Oh wait. Do you like chocolate? I spent 20 years of my life in the candy business and even I was amazed.
There are plenty of run down castles around the World. Want to see one that is still quite beautiful?
I visited Europe staying in London, Antwerp, Bruges, Amsterdam, Edinburgh and York for just about 2 weeks in 2018 and will expand on my adventures soon.