Lakeside Music in Skaneateles

There are many reasons to spend some time in Skaneateles, NY, throughout the year, but for music lovers, Skaneateles is the ideal place to be in August. For two more weeks (through August 24), you can watch a concert of classical, jazz, or other orchestral music by highly respected professionals. The Skaneateles Festival is world renowned, but the tickets are reasonably priced and it’s a beautiful location.

If you come for the festival, don’t let that stop you from exploring all the rest that Skaneateles has to offer. The lake is beautiful, clean and clear, and there are many ways to enjoy it by boat. One fun option is the three hour mail boat cruise, but there are lunch, dinner and shorter sightseeing cruises available as well from Mid-Lakes Navigation.

For a day of luxury, visit the well-known hotel, restaurant and spa Mirbeau. The staff at the day spa provide a variety of luxurious spa treatments, and a visit includes use of their facilities for the day, including a hot tub, fitness center, sauna, steam room and relaxation room. Lunch or dinner will be guaranteed to be excellent (though not a bargain).

Wine lovers would enjoy a visit to Anyela’s Vineyards on the western shore of the lake, and there is a gorgeous panoramic view of the lake from their patio. Plenty of other Finger Lakes vineyards are within easy driving distance if you wish to make a day of it.

The village of Skaneateles itself is quaint and has thriving shops and restaurants. The Chamber of Commerce has put together a great website with a list of both restaurants and stores, as well as a guide to local lodging. Instead of re-creating the wheel, I decided to just link to their site. A couple of favorites to recommend, though, would include the restaurants Skaneateles Bakery for lunch and Moro’s Kitchen for dinner. As for shops, I love the toys made by HABA and the toy store Hobby House Toys for kids, and Skaneateles Artisans for items made by local artists.

Skaneateles has something for everyone, even if it’s just a stroll by the lakeside and a walk down the pier. It’s a relaxing and beautiful place to just “be,” and even a brief visit will leave you feeling refreshed.

Lake House Gifts, Auburn, NY

Owner:  David Mazzeo

Address:  3953 East Genesee Street Road (Rte. 20), Auburn, NY

Phone:  (315) 685-1984


If you’re heading to the Dickens Festival in Skaneateles either this weekend or next, it’s only a short two-mile drive west from Skaneateles on Route 20 to reach Lake House Gifts.  That quick drive will be well worth the time!  This store is a true gem, and anyone who lives nearby probably knows it well, but if you don’t drive on Route 20 between Auburn and Skaneateles on a regular basis, you may not have heard of it.

A picture of the storefront taken in spring by the owner; the cars out front blocked my picture

As stated on their Facebook page, Lake House Gifts works to promote the Finger Lakes region and all of the things that make it a great place to live and a fun region to visit.  Therefore, it only fits that they sell a number of products that can be customized for your favorite Finger Lake.  There are personalized wine glasses, cutting boards, signs, and multiple other items available.  Look for the shelf by the front windows with hand-thrown pottery by Harvey (made in Pennsylvania), which have the names of the Finger Lakes imprinted on the side.  In the picture below, I have shown a small assortment of  clocks and artwork that have an aerial view of the Finger Lakes etched into wood.

For those who love boating, a hefty section of the store is devoted to all things boat-related.  Clocks made from helms; key chains, letter openers, and business card holders decorated with scrimshaw; model boats; cast iron mermaid statues; and my personal favorite, the candelabra chandelier on the left in the picture below made from an anchor.

A small selection of items aimed at boating enthusiasts

Next up, the furniture is handmade and truly special.  In my Wildflowers Armory post, I mentioned I have a weak spot for pieces made from natural wood, and there is a wide selection of natural wood furniture at Lake House Gifts.  Several standouts include a beautiful kitchen island with drawers and a towel rack; a decorative shelf in the shape of a rowboat; an Adirondack Chair with a back made from old skis; and the cabinet below, made out of an old barrel.  If I had a place to put it and more money to burn, I would have gladly walked out with this cabinet (which was on sale, too, so it was especially hard to walk away).

An old barrel that opens up as a cabinet, with a big shelf in the middle

The store has two large rooms, and so far I have described items that are found up front.  The back room has a number of heavily discounted items, including unusual lamps and clocks, as well as several collections of items displayed by theme (cats, dogs, the Yankees, firefighters, travel, wild animals, farm animals, fishing, hunting, and much more).  Since I know a few firefighters, I’d like to feature the shelf with items for firefighters below.  

Great gifts for the real-life heroes in your life

In both rooms, artwork abounds.  The store carries art that is appealing to a variety of tastes, and not just one style.  In particular, I liked the Collector metal signs.  As a child of the 1980’s, I especially liked the one with Smokey the Bear that reads, “Only You.” There are a ton of old signs for sale, including U.S. Marine Corps, Route 66, I Love Lucy, Coca-Cola, James Dean, and much more.

Moving back to the front room, there is a cute section with puzzles and old-fashioned games for kids (such as Jacks, Hopscotch, and Jumbo Checkers).  Not too far from that section, there are funky wine caddies made out of metal, which would make a truly unique gift for any wine lover.  The store contains a variety of local food products, such as honey and maple syrup, as well as jewelry, clothing, cute signs, and many of the typical items you might look for in a gift shop. 

I want to be sure to mention my favorite item – the best coasters in the world, which I bought a while ago from Lake House Gifts.  Shown below, these woven mats come in several larger sizes as well, including hot mats, decorative mats, and rugs.  Made by Earthrugs, these mats are absorbent, lightweight, inexpensive, and come in a variety of designs for any time of year.  Maybe the items shown below aren’t your style, but there are many other patterns available.


Though a quick stop would be possible, I recommend planning to spend at least 30 minutes browsing the store in order to fully appreciate the selection of gifts available.  There are tons of items that would make nice teacher gifts or grab bag gifts, and probably something for just about everyone on your list.