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George Eastman House, museum dedicated to photography
Arnaud Muller
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Glenora Wine Cellars tasting room
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Glenora Wine Cellars, Finger Lakes
Arnaud Muller
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Glenora Wine Cellars, Finger Lakes
Arnaud Muller
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Corning Museum of Glass shop
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Tiffany glass at Corning Museum of Glass
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Corning Museum of Glass, New York
Arnaud Muller
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Corning Museum of Glass, New York
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Demonstration at Corning Museum of Glass
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Telescope at Corning Museum of Glass
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  • States:
    New York

My recent trip through upstate New York took me from sophisticated Corning, through the delightfully scenic Finger Lakes, to lively and energetic Rochester and, finally, the monumental Niagara Falls region.

This itinerary, called Wine, Water and Wonders, takes you on a tour full of history, excitement, fine dining, outdoor activities, cultural and sporting events, as well as wine.

Arts and Entertainment in Corning

My first destination was the Corning Museum of Glass, showcasing more than 3,500 years of glass. With the world’s largest glass paperweight in residence, as well as the works of famous artisans, including my favorite, Dale Chihuly, I got lost for a few hours. I watched a demonstration by a seasoned gaffer, or glass-blowing artist, then walked throughout the exhibits and expansive museum store. Rather than sign myself up, I watched the excitement of two young brothers as they tried their hands at glass blowing.

After loading up with gifts, I headed downtown to Corning’s artsy and charming Gaffer District and wandered the streets filled with independent shops and boutiques.

Watching the Waterfalls in Watkins Glen State Park

Our next stop was Watkins Glen State Park. From the main entrance, I hiked up the Gorge Trail, along Indian Trail and Lover’s Lane, and paused to take in the view from the Suspension Bridge. I discovered numerous waterfalls – there are 19 throughout the park – one of which I could actually walk behind.

Open year-round, the park also offers activities such as fishing, hunting, camping and cross-country skiing in a beautiful natural setting that dates to the Ice Age.

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Wineries Galore in New York’s Finger Lakes Region

The Finger Lakes region is famous for both its stunning nature and many wineries. With more than 100 wineries to choose from, I was hard-pressed to make a decision. As we pulled into the parking lot of Glenora Wine Cellars, which overlooks Seneca Lake and a colourful hillside, I was excited to sample a few of the numerous varieties produced in the top-rated region. From Gewürztraminer, to Cabernet Franc, there’s something to suit every connoisseur’s palate.

Fun, Culture and Urban Excitement in Rochester

We continued northwest to Rochester, New York’s third largest city. With its diverse balance of things to do and see, and fun for the entire family, Rochester proved to be the ideal stopover.

At the George Eastman House, an international museum of photography and film named for the creator of the Brownie camera, I toured Eastman’s residence with curiosity. I wanted to learn more about the intellectual who, although appearing a little eccentric, spoke so eloquently and was a great lover of music and tulips, in addition to being a well-known philanthropist. The intricate, and original stained-glass windows in the game room as well as the music room extension created to obtain the correct acoustics illustrated his perfectionism.

The following morning, I visited the Erie Canal and walked through Fairport and Pittsford, two of the quaint picturesque villages along the canal’s banks. With a lock system similar to those made famous in Britain and Europe, the canal still attracts recreational boaters, and cyclists can enjoy 644 kilometers of adventure along the Erie Canal Trail.

Majestic Niagara Falls

My final stop, Niagara Falls, situated on the US-Canada border, is home to not just a jaw-dropping North American natural wonder, but also hiking, wildlife-watching, history and even more wine. This was a perfect ending to my holiday.

With a camera and head full of memories to take home, I added a new word to my itinerary’s title of Wine, Water and Wonders: Wow!