There’s More to NY than NYC

New York’s Finger Lakes region is a beautiful destination filled with history, adventure, and the great outdoors. Hikers, historians, artists, and literary buffs alike can find numerous attractions to draw them to the area. From Mark Twain’s time spent writing in Elmira, to the Corning Museum of Glass, and the natural splendor of forests and lakes, this is a truly inspirational trip.

NY State vacation

Mark Twain Country

One of America’s greatest writers, Mark Twain, was a regular visitor to Elmira NY. He summered there for over 20 years, his words flowing as he looked out over the countryside, penning such works as Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Now tourists can have their own adventures in the very same surroundings.

You can visit the octagonal study where Twain wrote, which he called “the loveliest study you ever saw.” USA Today list it as the “number one literary attraction in America”. Now located at Elmira College, tours of the study are offered. Or perhaps a trip to Woodlawn Cemetery to see the author’s final resting place. Don’t be surprised to see a cigar or two, a common offering to the memory of the great Mark Twain.

In July and August the hour long Trolley into Twain Country Tour is available. Starting at the Chemung Valley History Museum the narrated tour hits multiple historic stops in Elmira touching on Twain, Civil War Sites, the restored Powers Theater, and Dunn Field, “home of the Elmira Pioneers baseball team”.

Tanglewood Nature Center even features a Mark Twain trail. Quotes from the author are posted along the trail. His voice still resonates surrounded by the very places he too visited. Twain’s appreciation of the natural world is reflected in all of his work, and though he traveled all over the world this is the countryside he returned to time and time again.

Younger visitors may find the Children’s Trail more up their alley. This path includes some obstacle courses while following “a disassembled nature-themed book along the way.” The Nature Center is home to more than 40 species of live animals most notably their birds of prey. They have ongoing education programs and events for kids and families.

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Soaring Above Harris Hill

Searching for a loftier view? Try a trip above the tree tops. Soaring is a familiar word, but what does it mean when you are entering the “Soaring Capital of America”? An opportunity to take to the skies in a glider, high above the terrain that inspired some of America’s greatest literary works.

You can visit the National Soaring Museum to learn about these motorless planes or head over to Harris Hill Soaring Corporation in Elmira NY for a ride in the passenger seat. Weather can be an issue with gliding, but on a clear day there are no prettier view for your silent 15-20 minute flight across the sky.
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New York’s Lake Placid Holiday Stroll

If you are seeking a great place to get into the holiday spirit, you need look no further then Lake Placid, in upstate New York.   During one magical weekend a year, the area holds a “Holiday Stroll” where the entire town celebrates Christmas with a wide array of activities and festivals, many of which are free, and almost all are family friendly.

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The Lake Placid Holiday Village Stroll is amazing for the holiday season- you will find yourself  in an Adirondack Winter Wonderland. The volunteer run committee plans a wonderful weekend of art, music, gourmet foods, and boutique shopping. It’s a fun and festive alternative to  big box store options, and the intimate setting makes the Village Stroll appealing to couples and families (not to mention you gift the local flavor as well- take home a bit of the Adirondacks and give a taste to your friends and family).

There is much to see and to in the area, well known for winter activities and sports, as well as formerly hosting the Olympics. Families will love the ice skating party and Holiday Story Time at the Mirror Lake Inn. Couples will enjoy the wine tastings and art displays. Children will delight in the matinee showing of the Polar Express, the craft workshops and breakfast with Santa at participating hotels on Sunday morning.
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Halloween Harvest At Luna Park Coney Island NY #HalloweenHarvest #MyLunaween

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It’s that time of year again- the air is crisp, the leaves are changing color, and the ghouls are out.  With this time of year comes the Halloween Harvest at Luna Park.  Luna Park is full of rides and fun for kids of all ages, but this time of year also includes in park Trick or Treating, mazes, pumpkin carving, and more.  Luna’s employees are decked out in costume such as princesses and super heroes and ready to hand out candy to all the little candy hunters that come to the pier. Make sure to visit Jack’s Pumpkin Shack, where guests can try to guess Jack’s weight for a chance to win cash prizes.  Jack is one huge pumpkin!

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Creepy Crawly Crafts are also spread throughout the park, where kids can make fun crafts to bring home and decorate.  Kooky Spooky Karaoke has guests dress up and sing some of their favorite songs.  There is also a monster themed dance party, the Monster Mash, magic shows, clowns, face painting, and balloon benders as well.  This is the perfect time to check out Luna Park with your little ones in tow for a fun seasonal activity.
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Save On Your New York Vacation With The New York Pass

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New York is definitely a spot that should be on your vacation bucket list – and great things are coming to New York! With a newly updated New York Pass, the City’s largest attraction pass card – the first of which is the inclusion of a free double-decker bus tour with every New York Pass purchased (thanks to a new partnership with the Big Bus New York) – now is the time to start planning that New York vacation you have always talked about.  With the New York pass it will make your Big Apple visit fast and easy as your ride along on the double-decker bus and enjoy the sights and sounds.

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Not only will you get to ride the double decker bus and tour the Big Apple, but you also get admission and discounts to over 90 must-see New York attractions. You can hop-on or hop-off at any attraction or sight that catches your eye, and then be back on your way in a matter of minutes to a new and wonderful destination of your choosing. With the New York pass, you will get more bang for your buck by saving up to 70% all while skipping the lines at several of the busiest attractions in the Big Apple area.
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Getaway to the Catskills

We are fortunate to live near New York City, with lots of cultural events and attractions. However, going to NYC at any time has some drawbacks, namely that it is SUPER CROWDED, everywhere, and it can be SUPER EXPENSIVE.

I was recently hosted on a weekend getaway with the Catskill Mountain Foundation and discovered that there is much culture to be enjoyed just a two hour drive away from the city, with wide open spaces.

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Our home base for the weekend was Sherwood House, a guesthouse where students, teachers, musicians,
dancers and artists have stayed to collaborate and produce amazing pieces.

We were situated in Sherwood House because it is very convenient to Sugar Maples Center for Creative Arts, a center for the study of studio arts. The arts are really poppin’ in the Catskills!

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In Hunter Village Square, the Kaaterskill Fine Arts & Crafts Gallery, features the work of local and regional artists in a variety of mediums, everything from craft exhibits to salon-style exhibitions for art work. Everyone in our group found something they needed to purchase.
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Spending the Holidays in New York City

The holidays are one of New York City’s busiest seasons of the year — with an estimated 5.2 million visitors expected to stay in the city during the 2015 holiday season. According to NewYork.com, now is the best time to book your trip to the Big Apple to ensure you get the best rates and availability on hotels, attractions and Broadway shows.

Also, many of NYC’s tour companies offer seasonal versions of their tours, like the popular Gray Line City Sightseeing Holiday Lights Tour and the Hornblower Thanksgiving Day Dinner Cruise, that generally go on sale 2–3 months before the holidays.

NewYork.com has compiled lists of the best hotels, attractions and Broadway shows of the holiday season that are most likely to sell out over the holiday and/or are offering early access pricing:

Top Hotels

  • The New York Palace goes all out for holidays, stringing up more than 68,000 lights and hanging 32,000 ornaments on the looming Christmas tree that presides over the elegant courtyard, and is one of the most sought-after hotels over the holiday season.
  • Centrally located near Central Park and the city’s most iconic stores, from Tiffany’s to Bergdorf Goodman, and holiday window displays, AKA Central Park gets snapped up quickly.
  • This playful midtown hotel, Le Parker Meridien, is one of the city’s most coveted holiday hotels with its annual Gingerbread Extravaganza fundraiser, where local bakeries craft gingerbread houses in the shapes of New York landmarks.

 

Top Attractions

  • Top Of The Rock Observation Desk often reaches visitor capacity during the holiday season, so book now to guarantee entry on the day of your choice. For those who want to skate at Rockefeller Center ice rink after, it’s important to book tickets at the rink in advance as there are limited tickets available.
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Spring Break in the Catskills

The Fisk House, a lovely Bed and Breakfast in the Catskills, would be the perfect place to stay for a large family, a family reunion, or a bridal party.  There are 5 individual rooms, one of which has it’s own bathroom, and 2 large bathrooms upstairs as well as another downstairs.  Breakfast is served daily in the large dining area, and there is a fully functional kitchen for your use the rest of the day.

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In addition to it’s spacious kitchen, dining area, and living room, there is plenty of space to spread out. The furnishings are cozy with mix of country chic and a rustic feel to it.  There is an outdoor swimming area and porch as well, which during warmer weather can be taken advantage of. Directly across the street is an antiques barn, where you can peruse and shop at your leisure.

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After eating breakfast, we headed out to Platkill Mountian for last winter’s hurrah. It was supposed to be Springtime, but as anyone in the Northeast can tell you, Spring too it’s sweet time to arrive to the area this yea. Located in Western upstate NY, you can easily spend the day (or several) on the many trails of Platkill.  You can choose from skiing, snowboarding, snowtubing and snowshoeing on the mountain.  Group or individual lessons are also offered.

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Not having our own equipment, we rented skis, boots, and helmets on site. After being properly fitted for our sizes, my son and I headed out for our ski lesson. We had only skied one other time, so we thought it would be a good idea. The ski instructor had his hands full with us, since my son decided he was all of the sudden scared of skiing. He wanted to (quite literally) hold my hand the whole time, and he cried quite a bit. Being 7 isn’t all it’s cracked up to be all the time. This was interesting, because I was feeling less nervous about the process- I guess we evened each other out.
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The Winter Clove Family Resort in the Catskills

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Winter is a great time to visit the Catskills in upstate NY. With the wide variety of winter sports and activities to do in the area, head East, young man (or woman) when next the weather looks stormy. What a great place to get stranded during a blizzard!

When we last visited, it was less then a winter wonderland. In fact, it was downright balmy at 50 degrees. While that made for a nice day outside- no chapped cheeks or frozen noses and toes to speak of- it did take the wind out of some of the typically snowy activities.

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There was still plenty to do, even if Mother Nature wasn’t cooperating. The resort we stayed at, The Winter Clove Family Resort, has a great location for family fun and activity in the area. It’s local to several mountains, horseback riding, and the Baliwick ranch.

The resort itself has quite a bit to occupy you and your family- it is also a great place to unwind and relax, spend some time reconnecting. We are all so busy, running this way and that, it’s nice to spend some time as a unit now and again. In addition to it’s activities, pools (both indoor and out) and bowling ally and game room, there is a grand room for spending time together, relaxing by the fireplace. Read, do a puzzle, check out a newspaper, play some board games- the lodge has lots of options to suite just about everyone. There are also sitting room areas on each floor, if you would like to watch TV or a movie.
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