Hidden Gems: Catskill Park

Jen Montanye, from Chemung County, sure knows how to keep herself busy during a pandemic.  She recently visited Catskill Park in Upstate N.Y. and shares her experience with us!

I spent a weekend in Catskill Park fastpacking in October, it was beautiful.  Even driving there, we were surrounded by ponds and streams on both sides, there were wide open green fields and herds of deer grazing. It took less than two and a half hours to get there and once we got there the trails were endless.

The Highlights

The Catskill Park was established in 1885. There are 98 peaks that are over 3000 feet high and hundreds of acres of forest.  The trails twist and turn through abandoned woods, roads and even private property.  We saw the remains of old structures, several fireplaces (still standing) and an old stone porch overlooking a pond. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Don’t Miss

The park also has several Bivouac Areas where you can camp, first come first serve.  You park and then hike in and keep hiking until you find a tent site.  This is where we camped. It’s quite rustic with no amenities but we did have a cozy fire.  There are also bear signs everywhere, warning of bear activity.  We actually had a bear in our campsite the first night we were there!

The Details

  • Location: The park spans land in Ulster, Greene, Delaware and Sullivan Counties
  • For hiking trail information and maps: visit the Catskills Visitor Center at 5096 NY-28, Mount Tremper, NY
  • For more info: com/Catskill-Park or call (845) 688-3369

10 Pumpkin Patches To Visit in Upstate New York

Fall has arrived and you’re ready to hit the pumpkin patches. But which ones should you visit?

To help, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite pumpkin patches in these regions of upstate New York: Rochester, Buffalo, Syracuse, and Utica. Grab your kids, camera and in some cases your pet. Head over to the pumpkin patch to enjoy some fall family fun.

There are a lot more great pumpkin patches in upstate New York. If we missed your favorite one, add it to the comments section below!

For more, read Pumpkin Picking at Chase Farms in Fairport, NY.

Please follow COVID-19 precautions while enjoying your visit to the pumpkin patch . For more information, contact your local farm. 

Rochester

1. Stokoe Farms

  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sept. 26 – Oct. 25.
  • Location: 656 South Rd, Scottsville, NY 14546

2. Wickham Farms

  • Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. You must reserve online tickets to guarantee admission
  • Location: 1821 Fairport Nine Mile Point Rd, Penfield, NY 14526

3. Pick’N’Patch

  • Hours: Fall season is Sept. 1 – Oct. 31. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Location: 2205 Rts. 5 & 20, Stanley, NY 14561

Buffalo

1. The Great Pumpkin Farm

  • Hours: 10 a.m. to dusk every day, Sept. 19 through Nov. 1.
  • Location: 11199 Main Street, Clarence, NY 14031

2. Kelkenberg Farm of Clarence

  • Hours: Open starting Sept. 18 through Halloween. Visits are by reservation only.
  • Location: 9270 Wolcott Road, Clarence Center, NY 14032

3. Akron Acres

  • Hours: Open to the public on Fridays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Open on weekends through Columbus Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Private visits are available during the week by reservation.
  • Location: 12607 Stage Road, Akron, NY 14001

Syracuse

1. Tim’s Pumpkin Patch

  • Hours: Open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the fall season.
  • Location: 2901 Rose Hill Rd, Marietta, NY 13110

2. The Pumpkin Hollow

  • Hours: Open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Sept. 19 through Halloween.
  • Location:  3735 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse NY 13215

Utica

1. Pumpkin Junction

  • Hours: Open daily through Halloween from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
  • Location: 2188 Graffenburg Road, Sauquoit, NY 13456

2. Cullen Pumpkin Farm

  • Hours: Open daily 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Sept. 7 through Oct. 31.
  • Location: 587 Cullen Road, Richfield Springs, NY 13439

Did we miss your favorite pumpkin patch? Add it to the comments section below!

Can’t get enough pumpkin? Check out  5 Pumpkin Breakfast Recipes for Fall

Man and woman sitting on a hill by valley

Hidden Gems: The Mohawk Valley Region

Two undeniable blessings of living in the Mohawk Valley are its beautiful summer months and its wealth of opportunities for outdoor adventure. People who know me have heard me talk about the stress-relieving properties and other health benefits of being outdoors and in nature. Now I have some recommendations for where you can go to reap those benefits for a stronger mind and healthier body!

Mohawk Valley Gems

The Mohawk Valley region sits between the resplendent Catskill Mountains and the largest of all state parks in New York, the Adirondack State Park. At 6.1 million acres, the Adirondacks abound with year-round opportunities for just about every outdoor activity from kayaking and mountaineering to ice fishing and snowmobiling.

The same can be said for the Catskills, the second largest state park at 700,000 acres. It, too, is rich with possibilities such as scenic drives, hiking, fly fishing and camping. With these formidable neighbors, collectively known as the New York State Forest Preserve, it should come as no surprise that the Mohawk Valley also boasts its own plentiful and varied selection of excursion-worthy destinations.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. FT Proctor Park in Utica and Lock 20 Canal Park in Marcy. The Lock 20 site features access to the Erie Canal tow path which affords miles upon miles for walking or riding bikes.  In the winter season, you can partake in one of my favorite activities, snowshoeing.
  2. Utica Zoo – Another great place for walking and snowshoeing, with the animals as an added bonus!
  3. South Woods Switchbacks at Roscoe Conkling Park in Utica. Anywhere that’s great for snowshoeing in the winter is great for walks and hikes in the spring, summer and fall, and this is no exception. For added fitness opportunities, take advantage of the 12 fitness stations around the 2.2-mile perimeter of the South Woods Loop.
  4. Hiking at Pixley Falls State Park in Boonville. The main attraction may be the 50-foot waterfall (and it is beautiful), but Pixley Falls also features a nature trail and miles of trout fishing.
  5. Trenton Falls Scenic Trail. This hidden gem is open just a few weekends a year. The main trail offers wonderful views of the Trenton Falls Hydro Dam. Secondary trails take you along West Canada Creek and the limestone and fossil-encrusted gorge. Unfortunately, they recently cancelled the final open date for 2020, but I recommend keeping this on your list for a future visit – it’s worth the wait!

I’ve only scratched the surface of opportunities for outdoor fun and adventure the Mohawk Valley has to offer. I encourage you to get out and explore one or more of the places I have listed, or ask friends and family, and search the internet for other recommendations. The great outdoors is a natural stress reducer and always a healthy choice. You’re never wrong when you step outside.

Hidden Gems: Audubon Community Nature Center

Spending time in nature can enrich us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. That’s the motto of the Audubon Community Nature Center (ACNC).  Looking for a new place to take in the great outdoors? Consider visiting this hidden gem in western New York’s Southern Tier.

The Highlights

ACNC is in Jamestown, N.Y., about 60 miles south of Buffalo. Established in 1957, this nature preserve includes close to 600 acres of wetland and forest ecosystems which are home to a variety of native plants, animals, and insects.

Visitors can enjoy hiking on more than five miles of trails, which are easily navigable for people of all ages. Wander through a native tree arboretum and explore educational gardens. Audubon Community Nature Center’s trails remain open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. ACNC asks that visitors practice safe social distancing when they encounter others on the trails. The trails are made accessible to the public, free of charge, from dawn until dusk daily.

The Nature Center building, which houses the additional animals as well as interactive exhibits, is temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Many of ACNC’s programs have been moved online or have been rescheduled. For more information visit www.auduboncnc.org .

The Details

  • Location: 1600 Riverside Road, Jamestown, New York 14701
  • Hours: Trails are accessible daily from dawn till dusk. For information on the hours of the Nature Center building (when open), click here.
  • Admission: Use of the trails is free year-round. For information on the admission to the Nature Center building (when open) click here.

For more info: Visit https://auduboncnc.org/ or call (716) 569-2345

Don’t Miss

ACNC is home to ‘Liberty’ a non-releasable Bald Eagle, as well as a variety of other live animals that are cared for by Nature Center staff and volunteers. You can find Liberty in her enclosure near the Nature Center Building.

Picture of a bald eagle

Liberty, the bald eagle (photo courtesy of ACNC)

 

A man and a woman look at an ipad

Hidden Gems: Center shares the healing power of laughter

Most of us could use a good laugh right now. Fortunately, now you can enjoy comedy virtually thanks to the National Comedy Center.

The National Comedy Center, located in Jamestown, New York, is the nation’s official cultural institution and non-profit museum dedicated to presenting the vital story of comedy and preserving its heritage for future generations. Opened in August 2018, the in-person museum complex offers an unprecedented visitor experience using state-of-the-art technology, interactivity and personalization to create a true 21st Century museum environment. The museum was recently named the “Best New Museum in the Country” by USA Today, and named to Time magazine’s “World’s Greatest Places” in 2019.

Picture of the front of a building that is the National Comedy Center

Photo of the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, N.Y.

Virtual Comedy

While the museum is temporarily closed as a COVID-19 precaution, you can now enjoy the comedy experience from the comfort of home. National Comedy Center Anywhere is a new online museum experience, featuring exclusive content directly from the interactive comedy exhibits.

Explore the story of comedy virtually with the artists themselves as your guides. National Comedy Center Anywhere has rare archival material never-before-seen outside of the Comedy Center Walls. The platform features a selection of free material with the option to upgrade to access more content from the museum.

The Details

  • Visitors can begin their National Comedy Center Anywhere experience now, by visiting ComedyCenter.org/Anywhere.
  • Location: 203 West Second Street, Jamestown, N.Y. 14701; (716) 484-2222
  • Hours: Temporarily closed to visitors. Typical hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday through Friday, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Saturday.

Need a new running spot? Look no further!

“Remember, the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running.” – Sarah Condor, New York Marathon runner

My high school baseball coach firmly believed that forcing his players to run miles after making blunders during games served as atonement, as an effective deterrent against future mistakes. After all, high schoolers hate to run, right?

As far as I can tell, he was right. We all dreaded the look he’d give us after booting a ground ball or missing a sign – the look that inevitably meant we’d need our running shoes for practice the next day.

Running is a fickle friend, a cardiovascular monster that both invigorates the subject and makes them wish for a painless death at times.

However, given the right setting, I’ve come to like running. Well, actually…

I’ve come to tolerate running and enjoy the feeling of accomplishment when it’s over.

As Sarah Condor quipped, a good run can feel good in the moment and great when you’ve toweling off and enjoying a cool burst of fresh water.

There’s no sure secret to developing an appreciation for running, no formula to develop an artificial love for the activity. However, through painstaking trial-and-error, I’ve discovered what very well may be the biggest indicator of how much I’ll enjoy any given run.

The setting.

Jogging down countless cookie-cutter boulevards in succession can feel boring and repetitive. That’s why I’ll ditch the suburban streets for a good view anytime, even if it means hopping in the car and driving a few minutes to snag a solid spot.

Rochester boasts plenty of running trails, but trails aren’t for everyone. The uneven terrain can be a hindrance to enjoyment and some don’t like the silence. For that reason, I’ll focus on some of my favorite spots all across Rochester, many of which feature a mix of settings, from country to waterfront.

EAST SIDE

Eyer Park trail

Let’s start off with a real hidden gem. I’m from East Rochester, a small town nudged between Pittsford, Penfield and Fairport. East Rochester’s Eyer Park holds several ballfields and a lodge for parties, but the real beauty is a trail between the park and the train tracks.

The rush of Irondequoit Creek and the playful chirping of birds will make you feel at peace.

The trail itself is only about a third of a mile long, but it holds a wealth of possibilities. Once you clear the trail, here’s the route I encourage (it’s one of my most frequent runs).

Head down Midvale Drive towards Baird Road. Once you cross Baird, head through the BOCES parking lot. A right-hand turn onto O’Connor Road puts you on a straight line to the Erie Canal.

I love this route because it features so many different types of nature. The trail is thick and green, the streets provide a respite from seclusion, and the canal is an overall beautiful place to explore.

Here’s my suggested route (just over 5 miles there and back):

WEST SIDE

Gates Greece Townline Road

Strangely enough, one of my favorite spots on the west side of Rochester is one of the suburban streets I criticized earlier. However, given its close proximity to downtown Greece, it feels strangely serene.

Clocking in at just over 1.5 miles, Gates Greece Townline Road (which turns into Deming Street) is a picturesque stretch of land that features a farmer’s market, quaint homes and plenty of trees to go around. From there, the Erie Canal is just around the corner and Greece Canal Park isn’t much further.

For a nice long run, try parking near Greece Canal Park, trekking down Gates Greece Townline Road and finishing by heading back down the canal and exploring the park a bit.

Here’s how that looks in map form:

NORTH SIDE

Charlotte Beach

Charlotte is a lovely little neighborhood on the north side of Rochester, featuring cozy homes and abundant shops and restaurants. On the northern tip of Charlotte is Lake Ontario, and the beachfront area is a great place to get in some steps.

The boardwalk extends down a good portion of the beach and the pier gives a stunning view of the lake in every direction (but be careful of the other people trying to walk!). This spot is also great for people-watching. There’s never a shortage of dog-walkers or beach volleyball players.

SOUTH SIDE

RIT

I haven’t spent as much time in the south side of Rochester as the rest, so I’m hardly an expert. However, I’ve run around the perimeter of the RIT campus a few times, and I would gladly do it again.

The Rochester Institute of Technology boasts a massive campus enclosed by Andrew Memorial Drive. One complete loop on the road totals almost exactly three miles, which is great for a short run.

Feeling bold? Do several laps around the campus.

If you’ve ever been to RIT, you’re familiar with the modern-looking area and vibrant student life. There’s never an absence of activity, and you’ll likely see plenty of other runners who are always willing to exchange a head-nod.

DOWNTOWN

Who wouldn’t want this view from Corn Hill while going for a run?

If you’re not familiar with the Corn Hill area, you’re missing out.

Corn Hill plays host to luxury apartments and several nice restaurants, and its proximity to the Genesee River and Frederick Douglass-Susan B. Anthony (or Freddie-Sue) Memorial Bridge provides scenic views. Even though it’s well-known for the housing and dining options, it’s also a great place to burn some calories.

Run down Exchange Boulevard and the Genesee Riverway Trail (they’re right next to each other) to witness the gorgeous river and townhouses in the area. If you get sick of the run, there’s other things to do as well.

Nope, you’re not seeing things – that’s cardio equipment on the sidewalk!

Check out the cardio equipment lining the street! That’s right – if the run gets repetitive, try your hand at a different form of exercise!

BONUS

This one is a personal favorite, but might not be for everyone. I’m very susceptible to nostalgia, which is why I love running around…

My high school! I grew up in East Rochester, and went to the same school for pre-K through 12. Running the perimeter of my old school brings back a flood of memories, and I highly recommend it to anyone with easy access to their old campus.

Any other great running spots in the Rochester area?  Let us know in the comments below!

If not, what are you waiting for?  It’s a beautiful day for a run!

Hidden Gems: The Ausable Chasm in the Adirondacks

This summer a group of us moms and our teens took a weekend trip to the Ausable Chasm in the Adirondacks.  After visiting the North Star Underground Railroad located on the same park grounds, we explored the Chasm. We were hoping to build leadership skills among our teens, and have fun!

The trip was a highlight of my summer and one that I will remember for years to come.  Since visiting I have been telling my friends and family members about this upstate New York treasure!

The Highlights

The Ausable Chasm is one of the oldest natural attractions in the United States. It’s also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Adirondacks”. The Chasm is a long, narrow sandstone gorge that stretches for two miles. In between the Chasm is the Ausable River that flows into Lake Champlain.

The trails and scenery are breathtaking. There is a rock that looks like an Elephants Head and stunning Rainbow Falls.

The Ausable Chasm offers many different adventures. Lace up your sneakers and enjoy a scenic walking tour of the Chasm. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can go rafting through the Chasm, which we did. Furthermore, if you are really daring, you can scale the Chasm. On the other hand, if you’re looking to relax, you can take a tube ride down the river.

The Details

  • Location: 2144 Route 9, Ausable Chasm, N.Y. 12911
  • Hours: The park is open year-round, except for major holidays. During the summer, the park is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The rest of the year, the park closes at 4:00 p.m.
  • Accessibility: Tours of the chasm are not recommended for people who have difficulty walking or climbing stairs. Strollers are also not permitted in the chasm.
  • Pets: The park does not allow pets. The park does allow service animals in the Welcome Center, and on the Elephant’s Head and Rainbow Falls trails.
  • Admission: Basic admission is $17.95 for adults and teens, $9.95 for children (age 5-12), and free for children under age 5. If you’re a resident of Clinton, Essex or Franklin Counties, admission is $9.00. You can also purchase optional adventure packages for an additional fee.

To learn more about the Ausable Chasm, visit the website: http://ausablechasm.com/ or call (518) 834-7454.

Don’t Miss

If you’re looking to explore all that the Ausable Chasm has to offer, consider camping at the Chasm.

Hidden Gems: 10 Must-Stops Along I-390

How many times have you used the I-390 to get to work? It seems like nothing but mileage markers and exit signs.

When driving on I-390, most folks are only concerned with getting from point A to point B. But if you look closely, you’ll see that this route is surrounded by fun and unique destinations for the whole family.

Exit 27: Braddock Bay State Park, Greece

Braddock Bay State Park (photo by Town of Greece)

Just off the northern tip of I-390, this expansive park and wildlife management area is home to many species of birds and ducks. On top of the hiking and fishing opportunities, you get a great view of Lake Ontario.

Exit 10: Vintage Drive-In, Avon

Vintage Drive-In (photo by Vintage Drive-In)

Located just 1.4 miles from the expressway, this old-school movie venue features four screens and can hold about 500 cars. It’s the closest drive-in to Rochester, and since it plays double features, you get two movies for the price of one!

Exit 9: Minnehan’s Fun Center, Lakeville

Minnehan’s Fun Center (photo by Minnehan’s)

If you’re looking for a fun spot for the family, Minnehan’s has you covered. Featuring three go-kart tracks, miniature golf, outdoor laser tag, a video arcade, batting cages and more, this is a great place for adults and kids to let loose. Not to mention, they have a full restaurant and irresistible ice cream menu.

Exit 8: Main Street, Geneseo

Main Street, Geneseo (photo by Jeff Uveino)

Anchored by the SUNY college that bears its name, Geneseo is home to one of the nicest small-town Main streets in the area. If you’re hungry, you can stop in to University Hots for a garbage plate, or Mama Mia’s for a huge slice of pizza. Shops, restaurants, a movie theater and more complete the scenery. Just make sure you don’t hit the street’s famous “Bear Fountain” when you drive by!

Exit 7: Letchworth State Park, Mount Morris

Middle Falls (photo by Larry Tetamore)

The “Grand Canyon of the East” is just an eight-minute drive from I-390. You’ll need to drive a bit farther through the park to see its three mighty waterfalls, but trust me—the view is worth it. While you’re there, check out the 1,000 step trail.

Exit 5: Castle on the Hill, Dansville

The mysterious structure has been abandoned since 1971. Sometimes referred to as “Jackson Sanatorium,” it was once operated by hydropathist Dr. Caleb Jackson, and then later by fitness enthusiast Bernarr McFadden. You can get a pretty good view of it driving through Dansville, but don’t try to beat the “no trespass” signs that surround it.

Exit 4: Stony Brook State Park, Dansville

Stony Brook State Park (photo by New York State Parks)

Just two miles from the expressway, Stony Brook features three hiking trails and three waterfalls along the park’s gorge. If you’re a serious hiker, the number of stairs along some of the trails make them difficult. Trying to beat the heat? The park has a stream-fed swimming pool to cool you off. It’s a great picnic spot too!

Exit 2: Grimes Glen Park, Naples

Grimes Glen (photo by Joy Auch)

About 11 miles northeast of the expressway, Grimes Glen is another one of the beautiful parks hiding in the foothills. After parking in the Village of Naples, a half-mile hike will take you to two waterfalls that you don’t want to miss. Beware: locals warn that you’re probably going to get wet!

Exit 1: Caboose Motel, Avoca

Caboose Motel (photo by Caboose Motel)

Looking for a place to stay the night? How about a caboose? This motel features five caboose cars that have been turned into family sized rooms. They also have regular rooms and RV hookup sites, if you’re not into the whole train thing.

Bonus: Corning Museum of Glass

If you’re willing to drive an extra 30 minutes past the end of I-390 in Avoca, this museum is sure to make the extra miles worth it. It offers an expansive gallery, glass making demonstrations, and you can even make your own glass!

Fairies find a new home in Mendon Ponds Park

Countless hearts broke earlier this year when dozens of fairies were evicted from their homes in Henrietta’s Tinker Nature Park following acts of vandalism. The beloved fairy trail featured beautifully crafted and brightly painted doors carved into both trees and various pieces of wood.

The good news – you can rest easy! The fairies are safe and sound in their new slice of paradise – the Birdsong Trail at Mendon Ponds Park.

I recently had the opportunity to check out the fairy homes. They are brand new and tailored to the park. The inhabitants were too shy to come out and say hello, but I was blown away at how skilled they are at carpentry.

Check out the photos below to see how our winged friends live.  Don’t worry, though – there are still plenty more houses and surprises I didn’t include!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Highlights

If you’re interested in visiting the Tooth Fairy or checking out the Troll Hole, gather up friends and family and make the trek to Mendon Ponds Park.  The Nature Center sits on the corner of Pond Road and Clover Street.  There’s plenty of onsite parking, so don’t hesitate to load up several cars with eager explorers.

The Birdsong Trail begins to the left of the Nature Center, just past a small grass field.  Once you reach the sign, just follow the path in a square shape. It’s only about three quarters of a mile. Let your eyes feast on the adorable community built into the bark.

Feeling adventurous?  Instead of following the square path, turn right once you’ve completed half the square to continue down the Birdsong Trail into other criss-crossing trails.  You can find a detailed map of the Mendon Ponds trails here.  No matter how far you walk, the fairy house trail is a great way to get up and moving with your loved ones!

The Details

  • Location: The Mendon Ponds Park Nature Center is located at 27 Pond Rd, Honeoye Falls, NY 14472. For more information, call (585) 334-6170.
  • Hours: 6am-11pm (park access varies seasonally)
  • Pets not allowed on the Birdsong trail.

Don’t Miss

Once you’ve caught the fairy house fever (like I have), be sure to stop by the Corn Hill Arts Festival on July 13 & 14, 2019. The 7th Annual Fairy Houses Tour at the festival will feature tons of tiny dwellings built by individuals who want to carry on the fairy house tradition. Stop by and vote on your favorite!

11 Places to Picnic in Upstate NY

Summer is a short season in upstate NY. That’s why it’s the perfect time to exchange your usual lunch out with a meal “al-fresco” at one of these picnic spots in upstate NY.

1. Porter Park, Youngstown, Niagara County

There is no better place to have a picnic than on Lake Ontario. You can see Niagara on the Lake, and on a clear day, you have a full view of Canada! The beach is rocky but there is always plenty of driftwood to sit on and enjoy the view. There is a large grassy area, picnic tables and pavilions as well. This hidden gem is set back from the road and most people drive right by it.

2. Hamlin Beach State Park, Hamlin, Monroe county

Further east on Lake Ontario is Hamlin Beach State Park. This park also offers sweeping views of the lake,  beach swimming (when it is warm enough!) and great picnic facilities including pavilions. While you’re there, explore the self-guided trail of the Yanty Creek Marsh.

3. Highland Park, Rochester, Monroe County

Highland Park may be known for the Lilac Festival in the spring, but there’s plenty to see all summer long in this park. Not only does it have plenty of places to sit in the grass or at a picnic table, but in the early summer, the trees are still flowering and bringing in a wonderful smell. Also, within the park is Lamberton Conservatory, which is full of large palms and ferns, as well as little button quails that run around your feet.

Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park (photo by Rachel Dowling)

Lamberton Conservatory in Highland Park (photo by Rachel Dowling)

 

4. Stony Brook State Park, Dansville, Livingston County

Head south to visit Stony Brook State Park. Enjoy a day in the park with a picnic and an adventure on the hiking trails. You can also go swimming in the natural pool, fed by the stream that is always refreshing.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

5. Harriet Hollister Park, Springwater, Livingston County

Less than an hour from Stony Brook State Park, Harriet Hollister Park is another beautiful spot with picnic tables, biking trials and a pavilion. This park comes with a breathtaking view of Honeoye Lake and the Rochester skyline in the distance. Sixteen miles of hiking, biking and even cross-country ski trails are available.

6. Onanda Park, Canandaigua, Ontario county

Located on the western shores of Canandaigua Lake, Onanda Park park offers picnic tables, a small beach, a swimming area, and a lake view. The park also features numerous hiking trails across the street. Trails can be found that are close to the stream, as well as more challenging hills that give you views of the multiple waterfalls upstream.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

7. Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen, Schuyler County

At the southern end of Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen State Park is a perfect place for a relatively flat hike. You may get a little wet from the spray from the absolutely gorgeous waterfalls, but it is well worth it. They also have ample picnic tables to use after your hike.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

8. Clift Park, Skaneateles, Onondaga County

A short drive from Syracuse, this park offers an incredible view of Skaneateles Lake. Make it an even better trip by stopping at Doug’s Fish Fry for take-out to eat on the benches in the park. After your picnic, you can walk down the pier that stretches out into the water. The park also has a public beach that is open during the summer.

Skaneateles Lake (photo by Erika Gruszewski)

Skaneateles Lake (photo by Erika Gruszewski)

 

9. Green Lakes State Park, Fayetteville, Onondaga County

Named for its two glacial lakes, Green Lakes State Park has plenty of pavilions and picnic tables throughout the park, offering sun or shade depending on what you like best. After your picnic, enjoy a leisurely walk around the lakes or enjoy a swim in the blue-green waters.

 

10.  Southwick Beach State Park, Henderson, Jefferson County

It’s the closest thing you can get to being at the ocean within an hour’s drive from Syracuse. The sand dunes and miles of beach are beautiful with good sized waves for jumping or boogie boarding. There are plenty of picnic tables to use and a nice new playground. You can get ice cream at the pavilion after a long day at the beach.

11. Verona Beach State Park, Verona, Oneida County

This park has a large picnic and cookout area with a lot of tall shady trees. You can feel the breeze coming off Oneida Lake, which makes it a very pleasant place to spend a summer afternoon. Plus, there’s the beach!