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Wine tasting at Thirsty Owl Winery and Bistro in Ovid, New York
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Aurora Inn in Aurora, New York
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Gardens at Aurora Inn in Aurora, New York
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In front of the Aurora Inn in Aurora, New York
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Backyard outlook at the Aurora Inn in Aurora, New York
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Fine dining at Aurora Inn in Aurora, New York
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Waterfalls at Robert H. Treman State Park, Ithaca, New York
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View of Robert H. Treman State Park in Ithaca, New York
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Grape vines at The Thirsty Owl Winery and Bistro vineyards in Ovid, New York
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Boat dock at Thirsty Owl Winery and Bistro in Ovid, New York
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  • States:
    New York

During a recent visit to New York State, I made a point of seeking out the fabulous Finger Lakes region in Upstate.

In particular, my goal was a visit to the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway, a place that’s all about outdoor fun and excitement, and plenty of food and wine. Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes. Native Indian folklore tells that the Finger Lakes were created when the High Spirit placed his hand upon the earth as his final act, to bless this area with outstanding natural beauty. Since it’s so gorgeous here, it’s a story that is easy to believe.

Visiting the Village of Aurora

The charming village of Aurora is on the east of Cayuga Lake. This is an adorable little town, with quaint buildings, shops, the well-known Wells College and numerous grand waterfront properties (many with fabulous wrap-around porches overlooking the lake).  After a quick pint at Fargo Bar and Grill, I crossed the street for a bite to eat at the Aurora Inn. Dating back to 1833, the building first opened as a place for travelers and merchants to stay. Today, its facade looks almost exactly as it did those many years ago. Thanks to the generosity of Pleasant T. Rowland, a former Wells College student who fell in love with Aurora, the Inn and several other buildings in the village have undergone extensive renovations. After eating a scrumptious meal of caprese tart followed by seasonal tilefish with gnocchi, peppers, garlic and summer beans, I took a tour of the property and fell in love myself.

Waterside enjoyment at The Thirsty Owl Vineyard

I then drove to the west side of the lake to visit the award-winning Thirsty Owl Wine Company. Before sitting down to indulge in yet more delicious food and wine, I took a short shuttle drive down to the water’s edge, where I met Captain Skip Stamberger, the owner and operator of Water to Wine Tours. A colourful character, Skip offers visitors to the region a tour of lakeside wineries by boat, which enables him to share his love of the water with his love of Finger Lakes wines.

Hiking in Robert H. Treman State Park, Ithaca

For my last activity, I headed off to hike some of the waterfalls and gorges in Ithaca that date back over 2 million years. The Robert H. Treman State Park is a great example of rustic wilderness and a wonderful place to see these natural wonders up close. And if it’s quiet, all you can hear is the gurgling and bubbling of the river water and falls, accompanied by sweet birdsong. I walked past a few of the 12 waterfalls, including the mighty Lucifer Falls. The park is beautiful at any time of year, but come rainy season, the abundance of flowing water makes it truly magnificent.

This region has so much to offer its visitors year round. The scenic beauty is second to none and complemented by the region’s superb food and drink. I will definitely be back again for another holiday in the not too distant future.