Explore. Experience. Engage.

Powered by our sister site, Family Vacation Critic

Finger Lakes, NY by car

Author: Marjorie B.
Date of Trip: July 2010

After another quick jog in the road we went down a hill and saw that we were in Watkins Glen via RT 409. When did that happen? We knew where we were now. We turned left onto Rt 14 and outside of town one mile we were at our hotel at 6:35pm.

watkins glen state park waterfall gorge new yorkWe sat on our balcony and finished the bottle of wine we had opened at Heron Hill Winery. "NO, we did not drink the entire bottle at the winery!" The rains never came. We visited with our neighbors and they told us we had to go the Watkins Glen State Park. It is a MUST. The problem was, to see the falls and gorge; you have to walk up 800 steps which may be slippery in sections. We were concerned about John's knees since he just had both of them replaced in Feb. 2010. They said there was a shuttle bus that can take you either up or down, depending which way you want to walk. John wasn't too sure he wanted to attempt the walk. I said it was entirely up to him. He could think about it.

They had also been at Corning, NY today which was where we were planning to go tomorrow morning. They said it was a great tour and we couldn't miss the building going south on Rt 414. That information made me feel better. I always hate to go somewhere new.

We were ready to retire. We had a big day and another tomorrow. Our plan was Corning, NY in the morning and the Seneca Lake wineries in the afternoon. Still "iffy" about the state park gorge.

Wednesday: 7/14/10 At 7:30 we were ready for the day to begin with our continental breakfast. After we ate we went back to our room to collect the remains of our cheese/crackers and fruit in our handy, dandy cooler. There were no refrigerators in the room so we had to keep filling the cooler with ice but it worked out fine.

We left for Corning at 8:25 and arrived at the Welcome Center at 9:05. The woman behind the desk informed us we could walk to the glass museum or wait for the next shuttle arriving in 15 minutes. We chose to walk to the Glass Works building which was just a short walk. We couldn't see waiting for the shuttle especially since the museum just opened at 9:00 and we would be one of the first guests for the day. It was a cloudy day, threatening rain.

We paid our admission fee which was $11.90 for seniors - $23.80 total. That was just for the tour. It did not include blowing your own glassworks. The gentleman did not encourage us to do that. He said it would take several days for the glass to be ready to take home, etc. So we took his advice. It was now 9:15 and our tour was 10:00 so we had time to check out the gift shop area downstairs. It was immense. It consisted of regular glass corning ware for the kitchen -- everything. Then the other side had all the colored glass of all colors and shapes. They even had glass jewelry.

We were very impressed by a beautiful multi-colored glass ball (a little larger than a bowling ball) which was on display and for sale if you wanted to pay $44,000.00. A video was playing of the day the "ball" was created. It was narrated by the glass maker and showed him and his team making the ball. There were several unexpected events that could have jeopardized the entire process. It was remarkable.

I wanted to buy a few things as gifts but every time I saw something affordable there was a little sticker "made in China". I wanted something local. So I continued my search until time for the tour.

At 10:00am we met our tour guide who was very informative and knowledgeable about the history of the Corning Museum of Glass as well as the Glass Works Institution. We walked a short way outside to another building where the glass making took place along with classes, etc. We viewed many demonstrations and marveled at the talent of the many students who were actually taking classes as we toured the building. It was Wednesday which was the special day of the week for children. Many children's classes were going on also.

We walked by a glass enclosed room and saw a man teaching several students how to create a mold out of plaster to be used for future glass creations. In another glass enclosed area we saw a female glass maker (with balloons on her head -- don't know why) who was creating a frog out of glass. It was no where near done when we were watching. It started with an actual blob of glass that was placed on the end of a very long rod that is inserted into a very hot oven or kiln. When the rod is removed by her helper he places it across a metal frame which allows the end with the hot glass to be at her right side where she shapes it with her tools. The rod is being rotated constantly while she does her magic. It is then put back into the kiln where the same procedure is repeated over and over until the final product is done. It takes time and patience to achieve perfection which is what they strive for.

When we were done we returned to the main building and were taken to the actual museum where antique and new glass of all shapes, styles and sizes were on display. It was beautiful. These were not for sale; they were part of the museum.

We then went back down to the shopping area where I found several items that were made in nearby PA (close enough to NY and far enough away from China) that were perfect for my gifts. I also bought a few functional corning ware pieces for me. We checked out, exited the building and walked back to our car.

John was hungry by now and wanting to eat somewhere. He suggested we just drive to Watkins Glen and eat there since we sort of knew the place. So we left Corning at 11:30 and headed north to Watkins Glen via Rt 414. I had information from the tour guide book about a restaurant called Savards Family Restaurant, so that was our destination. We arrived in town around 11:55 and parked only to find out that we had driven past our destination, So, we just walked a few more blocks. This restaurant is a blue, one story building where, it seems, the locals eat, like a mom and pop place. Everyone seemed to know everyone. We got a sandwich and salad. It was adequate.

lakewood vineyard winery seneca lake finger lakes new yorkWe were on the road again at 1:00pm hoping to do the Seneca Lake wine trail. We were told it took 40 minutes to drive the west side of the lake and 45 minutes to drive the east side of the lade. We went north on Rt14 which is on the west side of the lake and to our first stop, the Lakewood Vineyard. It was another one that did not charge for tasting. More cherry wood topped bars -- very nice. The guy behind the bar was very interesting with his tales about the wine making business, etc. but he also had very distinguished ears! Yes, ears. Normally when a person gets their ears pierced they have small hole punched into their lobe into which they place the stem of an earring. This guy had a hole in each ear the size of a ‘DIME" with a large similar sized round piece of metal also with a hole in it pressed into the opening of his ear. When I talked to him I had to force myself not to look at his ears. He was definitely unique.

During our conversation I happened to mention that I liked vodka. He jumped right on that and said we should check out the new distillery in town which was just across the lake. He said don't bother to go anywhere else just turn around and go there. We thanked him for his advice and promised we would act upon it -- which we intended to do, just not post-haste as he suggested. He certainly knew his wine. We bought several bottles of wine from "ears", I mean, him. On the road at 1:53pm

Now it is 2:00pm and we are at Glenora Winery. We didn't even taste. The place was very fancy with $5.00 tours of the winery. It was unique though. It had wine bottles stuck on the end of tree limbs forming the shape of a Christmas tree.

I felt sorry for John doing all the driving so I insisted that I drive for the rest of the day. He was elated. My job was to drive "around" Seneca Lake and end up at the Distillery before they closed at 5:00. So I had to make it before 4:30 to give us enough time. That was my "assignment" and I chose to "accept it"! It was now 2:10 and I am driving North on Rt 14 heading toward Geneva.

Related Trip Reviews
Mid-Atlantic Trip Reviews
Send Us Your Trip Review!

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add news@independenttraveler.com to your address book.

We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our privacy policy and Terms of Use.