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Finger Lakes and Niagara Falls questions

Old Mar 26th, 2012, 11:15 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 95
Finger Lakes and Niagara Falls questions

We will be taking a vacation up to the Finger Lakes and Niagara Falls area the first week of August. We are coming from central Jersey ending our trip in Bethlehem, PA for a couple of nights at Musikfest.

I had originally thought of doing 2 nights in the finger lakes, 2 in Niagara and then 2 at a differant finger lake. But after doing a lot of reading I think it makes more sense to start with 3 nights in Niargara, 3 in the finger lakes and ending up in Bethlehem.

Originally thought we'd do the long drive up early Saturday morning but now thinking makes more sense to drive partway Friday night. Which brings me to my first question. We'll be going through Binghamton and Syracuse. Can anyone recommend a clean, inexpensive hotel/motel in those areas? As it is just a rest stop doesn't have to be fancy, just don't want to get skeeved when I step in the room.

Next question is re the Niagara area. I've never been to Niagara Falls which is part of the reason we are going. I think it could be cool to stay right there with a fallsview room, but at the height of the season those rooms are pricey. Is it really worth it? Figure we don't spend that much time in the room.

I thought instead might be nice to stay in Niagara on the Lake as it looks quite nice and is not too far for the falls.

We don't mind spending money on a room but would rather conserve on the room and spend elsewhere. There are a ton of B&Bs in that area. But some look like the kids moved out and we'd be staying in Little Johnny's bedroom. I do like B&Bs and have stayed in many, but most I've stayed at have had separate inn keepers quarters.

Any recommendations? Would like to be within walking distance of the main part of the town.

As for the finger lakes, there seems like so much to do. I'd like a place that makes it easy to go to the various lakes and see the sights. Again looking for suggestions of nice places to stay that won't break the bank.

As for what we like or plan to do when on this trip, I've got a long list. Obviously see the falls and all the tours that go with it. Also think the locks could be fun.

Husband is a beer guy and I like wine. We like to tour some wineries while in both areas. Maybe have a nice dinner at one.

We do like easy hiking as a way to see the sights. Bike riding an also be fun.

We love good food and by that I mean from fancy 4 star places to a really good cheeseburger at a neighborhood bar. So eating out will be high on the list.

Hope I gave you enough to get me started.

Thank you in advance for your help.
KathyH is offline  
Old Mar 26th, 2012, 11:29 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,653
Goat Island is your place for a hike at Niagara Falls
If you want to see the real Upstate New York, travel 1 way or the other on US 20 and avoid a long trip on the NYS Thruway.
There are a couple fancy restaurants in Canandaigua.
Naples is the town where you can get a good grape pie.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Mar 26th, 2012, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 127
There is a beautiful path for walking or riding right along the river that goes fron NOLA right to Fort Eriie. It is nice just to ride from NOLA to the bottom of the escarpment(Queenston Hill). There are many picnic tables and scenic lookouts on the way. There are also fruit markets, ice cream stops and wineries right on the parkway. Once you stop at one winery they will give you a map of the others that aren't on the parkway. We actually did this ride last week and with 2 winery stops it was about 25 easy flat km. It really is a very pretty ride. You can go up the escarpment and right past the Falls on your bike but the path becomes very congested with pedestrians around the Falls. There are bike rentals in various places around the area.
The Niagara Glen near the whirlpool( a few miles towards the lke from the Falls above the escarpment) is a beautiful hike. It goes right down to the river so you need to be fit enough to climb back up.
The Maid of the Mist is pretty fun.
I suggest leaving the immediate area around theFalls to eat as the prices are ridiculous.
As for winery dinners Peller is excellent ,but pricey.
outdoor1 is offline  
Old Mar 26th, 2012, 12:27 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Here is a map of the Niagara Glen
outdoor1 is offline  
Old Mar 26th, 2012, 01:08 PM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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on your trip up, stop at Johnson City, NY... it's one exit past Binghamton and has several nice and inexpensive lodging choices... its also a Mall exit and has lots of food choices... the next morning, you will be less than four hours from Niagara...

If you are not in a hurry, head towards Watkins Glen and drive up through the Finger Lakes to US 20 where you can drive along through little towns, small farms, antique stores, diners on your way to Niagara... this is a great drive on a Saturday Morning... with a few stops this will add about two hours to the trip...

Some people love the Fallsview rooms, especially on friday and Saturday nights during the 10 pm fireworks... However, Niagara on the Lake can be much more pricey during the Summer Theatre Season... I would recommend a bidding website if the Fallsview doesn't matter in Niagara... and contacting the Niagara on the Lake Chamber for B&B help...

For your dinner in Niagara on the Lake, consider Hillebrand Winery for excellent food, a great romantic vineyard view, although it can be pricey...

For beer, there are two Pubs, The Irish Harp(Irish) and the Olde Angel Inn(genuine British) with great authentic food and draft...

If you enjoy Biking, consider a Bike Wine Tour through they offer a full ride visiting up to five wineries with lunch in a vineyard...

there are two choices for the Finger Lakes portion of your trip ... you can stay North of the Lakes in a town like Geneva, or south in an area like Watkins Glen... we prefer and also be sure to hike at the watkins glen State Park for an amazing hike with waterfalls, standing pools and a great wooded path...

we also stayed at Catharine Cottages, a less expensive family owned 4 cottage setting that was fun...

have fun
garyt22 is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2012, 06:54 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 95
Thank you so much for your replies thus far.

We will probably take the interstate to get to Niagara but will definitely take the more scenic and interesting route to the finger lakes.

One reason for the interstate, in addition to just wanting to get there, is I want to stop at Lollipop Farm in Fairport for a tour. Supposed to be a great facility.

I love grape pie and one year made one using the Naples recipe. I want to try an original one to see how it compares. Added grape pie to my list of things to do.

Definitely think I'm leaning towards staying in NOTL instead of at the falls. Figure we can drive down on Sunday to see them lit at night and watch the fireworks.

And thank you so much of for the suggestion of the Bike Wine Tour. I checked it out and it sounds like so much fun. We are definitely going to do that. Looks like the riding is fairly easy too which is good.

The Irish and British pubs look fun too. One of husbands favorite type of beers is a british ale like a Boddington. I'm sure they'll have something like that one tap.

I did check out Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel and it is on my list. Trying to decide between there and a B&B. We'll be leaving the area right in time as the Nascar race is in Watkins Glen that weekend and everything will be booked.

Thanks all for your help, keep the suggestions coming.

KathyH is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2012, 08:35 AM
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Niagara on the Lake is for sure the best choice, but pricey, as noted above. Lovely, though - and Niagara Falls is not that great.
Skaneatales is super. I wish I could spell it.
cabovacation is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2012, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Ditto on NOTL. For me the area around the Falls has become too commercial. Sort of like Vegas. The Olde Angel Inn is fun and has good food. For something a bit upscale, try the Heildebrand Winery. The dining room looks out at the vineyard. We had a 3 course lunch that was wonderful.

Be very careful of the B&B's in NOTL. We stayed at one that was sort of a "I have 3 rooms upstair so I can run a B&B." The owner was rude and made our stay uncomfortable. We have stayed many times at the Moffet Inn. It is not a B&B but has a very homey feel. Each room is decorated differently but with much taste. It is priced a bit more reasonably than the other hotels.
gardendiva is offline  
Old Mar 27th, 2012, 12:15 PM
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I booked my 3 night stay at Britaly in Niagara-on-the-lake. I checked out reviews on trip advisor and it was rated second. They only had one room left, I think because the bathroom is across the hall. That doesn't bother me that much plus the price was great. Guest quarters are on one part of the house, with a separate sitting area for guests and owners live on the other side. Plus breakfasts look great.

Weekends in the summer book on NOTL book up quick. Believe it or not I checked 30 places and only about a third had rooms for the three nights I wanted.

I think as I will be in the finger lakes area mid week I can take a bit more time in finding a place.
KathyH is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2012, 11:27 AM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 163
I see that you're interested in visiting Lollypop Farm in Fairport. I live about 10 minutes from Lollypop, so I thought I'd put a plug in for the area. If you're wanting to stay somewhere on the road, I'd recommend not stopping in Syracuse, but staying instead in Victor (which is about 10 minutes from Lollypop Farm, and only about an hour west of Syracuse). There are several new hotels that are just off of the Thruway exit, which would make it easy for you on your way to (or from) Niagara Falls.
Danielle811 is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2012, 12:19 PM
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Danielle, thanks I checked into Victor and it is about 5-1/2 hours from our house. I think that is a lot farther than we'd like to drive on Friday night.

Not sure if we will go to Lollypop Farm on our way to Niagara Falls or our way back from there. As we get closer I'll start really looking into things and timing and figure it out. I did check their website and saw that you have to schedule a tour. I'm looking forward to visiting as I've read a lot about them and their programs, seems like an awesome animal shelter.

I just booked our stay in the Finger Lakes area. I started checking out a bunch of places and even mid week many were almost totally booked.

So I booked rooms at Silver Strand on Lake Cayuga. I like the fact that is is right on the lake. I think it will add to our stay. Plus seems to be a good area as we are right near the wine trails.

Thank you everyone for your help. Really appreciate it. I'm sure I'll be asking for more advice re food and things to do as we get closer to August.
KathyH is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2012, 03:21 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 3,873
Wondering if any of you with knowledge of the Finger Lake area can suggest which hotel to stay at in Ithaca for a family of 5? We are planning a short visit to Cornell. A number of hotels in Ithaca come up on TA as being pretty worn and dreary. I am leaning toward a Best Western or Country Inn although they are farther from campus than some others.
5alive is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2012, 06:19 PM
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Posts: 10,653
The Statler Hotel is on the campus and is run by the hotel management faculty.
tomfuller is offline  
Old Mar 28th, 2012, 08:35 PM
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Thanks, Tom. It looks lovely but I was hoping to spend less.
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