A Day (or Weekend) in Old Forge

Old Forge is located on the western edge of the Adirondacks. It’s definitely busy in summer. It sort of resembles a beach town, which it is in a way, yet with so much more to offer. On the shores of First Lake in the Fulton Chain of Lakes, Old Forge is the place to find a variety of restaurants, souvenir shopping, go-karts, mini-golf, and ice cream, and nearby you can find adventure outfitters for kayaking, canoeing, paddle boarding, horseback riding, river rafting, and so on. Lots of information is available at the hamlet’s official website, so follow this link for up to date information.

A family favorite is certainly Enchanted Forest and Water Safari, which according to WKTV, was just ranked as the 4th best water park in the USA and 17th in the world by Trip Advisor. Read more here. There are many reasons to love this water park, but here are a couple:

  • The admission price is reasonable when compared with other water parks.
  • They allow you to bring your own food into the park in a cooler and eat in designated areas.
  • The lifeguards actually pay attention and enforce the rules, so it’s safe and fun.
  • It’s clean.
  • When the kids (or you) need a break from the sun, the Enchanted Forest section of the park is an old-fashioned trip through fairy tale land, and it’s well shaded.
  • Many rides have heated water, which is nice for the somewhat cooler Adirondack weather.
  • Their food selections are more varied than many amusement parks, including their buffet-style family dinner at the end of the day.

If water parks aren’t your thing, there are plenty of natural places to swim, particularly First Lake or Fourth Lake. If you’d like to take a boat ride but aren’t up for paddling yourself around, try a lake cruise with Old Forge Lake Cruises. It’s also fun to take a ride on the historic Adirondack Scenic Railroad from nearby Thendara. Personally, I think the Haunted History Excursion sounds the most fun, but we haven’t had the chance to try that one out yet. We did a ride with a magician when our kids were younger, and that was cute and enjoyable.

There are a number of hiking trails, and Bald Mountain is a local favorite with great views of the region from the tower at the top. Alternatively, you could take a ride up the McCauley Mountain Chairlift, which is a ski mountain in winter time, but a nice picnic spot in summer.

If you stay for a long weekend, be sure to check out the Adirondack Experience, a museum that is great for all ages and that gives visitors a great sense of the history of the Adirondacks as a region. Without exaggeration, I can safely say it’s one of the best museums I have ever been to anywhere in the world.

And if you choose to visit Old Forge this weekend and stay over Saturday night, head to View to see Nick Ziobro perform live at 7:30 pm. He is a multi-talented singer and performer who is now based in New York City, but he went to Fayetteville-Manlius High School and has since performed all over the country in prestigious venues. It would be a treat to see him perform live in concert.

Whatever you choose to do, have a fantastic weekend!

Local Treasures of Canandaigua, NY

There are so many things to do in and around Canandaigua, NY, that one blog post can’t possibly do it justice. However, I have several favorites for which we have been repeat visitors, so those are what I’d like to focus on for today’s post. First of all, the scenery is fantastic. Canandaigua is a charming, historic village along Canandaigua Lake with a variety of shops and restaurants that make a brief visit to the village worthwhile.

If you choose to just hop in and check it out, I strongly recommend visiting the restaurant Rheinblick at 224 South Main Street for lunch or dinner, even if you’re not sure that German food is up your alley. (They also have a gluten free and vegetarian menu.) In college, I spent a semester in Germany, and the food here is just as good as any place along the actual Rhine River (spelled Rhein in German). The beer and wine are authentic – NOT American Heineken, but actually from Germany. My favorite appetizer is the Fried Pickles.

If you’re stopping by and have little children with you, make sure you do not miss the Unique Toy Shop at 120 South Main Street. With so few dedicated toy stores remaining, it’s a real treat when you find one, and the Unique Toy Shop will not disappoint.

For a full day’s visit, there are several options depending on your interests. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Roseland Water Park. This water park is smaller than Water Safari or Seabreeze, but it is good for all ages and lots of fun. There is food available for purchase, or you can eat a picnic lunch on the picnic tables outside the main gate. The park offers water slides of several different sizes, wave pool, splash park, lazy river and the Roseland Wake Park (including private lessons available for beginners). They open at 11 am all summer, and closing hours are posted on their website.
  2. Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park. This 50-acre property is one of only two public gardens maintained by New York State Parks. Although it’s not specifically geared towards children, it is fun for all ages, and my kids adored this place when they were just 7 and 9. The gardens are large and varied with lots of statues and hidden nooks and crannies, and the entrance desk gave us a scavenger hunt to complete. The mansion is beautiful and interesting, and it is a popular spot for weddings. If you like wine, check out their Finger Lakes Wine Center Tasting Room, which is open from 12 – 3:30 pm daily. The park is open 9:30 am – 5:30 pm through Labor Day.
  3. Granger House and Homestead. Tours are available of this historic home mid-day. I have only been here for the authentic German Christkindl Market in November (which I strongly recommend – mark your calendar for November 8 – 10, 2019), and I’m hoping to make it back for a tour this summer. There is a combination pass available for a discount if you also visit Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion.
  4. Kershaw Park Beach and Bathhouse. If you want to enjoy the beautiful waters of Canandaigua Lake, head to Kershaw Park. Beach hours are 11:00 am to 7:00 pm through this weekend, but starting July 1st the beach is open 10:00 am to 9:00 pm.
  5. Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail. For those who like wine, this is a great area to visit. Heron Hill is my favorite among the Canandaigua wineries, but there are several good options to visit. Tour companies are available to help with the driving.
  6. Finger Lakes Beer Trail – Canandaigua Loop. For beer drinkers, definitely a fun day with over 30 breweries to visit. Tour companies are available to help with the driving.
  7. Canandaigua Lake State Marine Park. If you have a boat, this would be a great starting point for exploring the lake.
  8. Cycling. If you like bicycling, here is a link to several trails in the area.

The options abound in Canandaigua, and I haven’t covered everything. There are many things nearby, as well, so you could easily spend several days exploring. The places described above will give you a few suggestions to get you started. Don’t be afraid to explore, though. That’s how we found Rheinblick – just driving down Main Street looking for a place to grab a bite. Either way, Canandaigua is a fun place for a day or a weekend. Enjoy!