After moving here with Cameron three years ago, I’ve always been super curious what upstate New York was like. I kept hearing that it was stunning and a must see – but honestly I didn’t know where to even start! As you know, New York is a BIG state, so which Finger lake should I go too? Wheres the must see spots If I’m on a quick trip? Welp, my friends this blog post is all about my experience and my genuine thoughts about the area. More specifically Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen, New York!
Through social media and the travel blogging world, I was lucky enough to connect with two really amazing women who I have a lot in common with and also have a love for the New England area! So when my friend Kristy of Kristy and New England asked me If I would be interested in going on a girls road trip to the empire state – I was all in! Kristy is a super talented creative who has a deep love for New England and all things historic. We connected instantly and have a crazy amount of things in common – one included is that we both got our Bachelors of Arts in Interior Design! My other friend, Helen of Style Inherited was the other gal on our road trip I’ve actually had the pleasure of photographing Helen several times for her amazing fashion and lifestyle blog! We also connected right away last year when we started working on projects together – she is such a cool gal who is always so positive and up-lifting. She also has a really sweet pup named Ranger, who I just love!
How we got there
I am based along the shoreline in the middle of Connecticut so I picked up Kristy and we headed out to New York to meet up with Helen – this was about 2 hours from where I live. From there we carpooled up to Watkins Glen, New York. In total from Fairfield, Connecticut it will take you around 4.5 – 5 hours depending on how many stops you make (which I hope you do stop to sight see, It’s a beautiful drive!
If I’m honest, this was my first hotel stay since COVID-19 happened back in February. I was a little nervous, but after learning more about the hotel, I felt a lot more comfortable. We stayed at the beautiful Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel on Seneca Lake. As soon as we arrived we were greeted by friendly staff and we found sanitizers located all around the front desk and lobby for guests to use. Also, everyone on the premises is required to wear a mask when indoors and maintain a 6′ social distance from one another. In the two days that we spent at this hotel, I never saw this rule broken once. You could tell that staff and visitors were very serious about this and It made me feel relaxed as I walked through the hotel for meals and check-in/check-out. A few perks of this hotel include, the location – oh my goodness you guys…you are RIGHT on the Seneca Lake! You can get lake front rooms with balconies as well, which I highly suggest (it will really make you feel like you are on vacation!). This hotel also has a pool and spa that is available by registration and you can also hold small weddings and events during this time of COVID-19. Needless to say, I felt super comfortable and was incredibly impressed with how clean and cautious our hotel was in protecting it’s guests from getting sick.
The rooms at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel are very roomy and they are decorated in navy blues and whites to give you a rustic coastal feel. The beds were super comfortable and the two queens were perfect for my friend Kristy and I to share! I also have to mention that our bathroom had a huge jacuzzi tub, separate shower and two vanity sinks. This was amazing for us as we both had our own spot to get ready in the morning!
As a busy wedding and lifestyle photographer, I did bring some work with me on the trip. I have lots of editing to finish for my clients, so I took my laptop outside and worked in one of the cozy Adirondack chairs!
We really enjoyed sitting on the boardwalk outside of our hotel – it had amazing views of the harbor!
Watkins Glen is a darling town and has a lovely downtown with shops and restaurants.
It also has a beautiful marina if you have a boat to launch or like to take photos of boats like I do! 🙂
Things to do
About 5 minutes from the hotel is the beautiful, Reisingers Apple Country. This orchard opened its doors in 2002 and it truly serves as the perfect backdrop for your apple picking adventure! You will find the open countryside, pumpkins, a country store, Apple Cider donuts, and fresh flowers to pick and of course, lots and lots of variations of, apples!
They also have tours and educational classes as well. This was genuinely one of the prettiest orchards I have been too!
Another fun outing and a must if in the Finger Lakes is wine tasting! A short drive away from the hotel was Lakewood Vineyards . This winery has been owned and operated by the Stamp Family since 1951! In fact when the vineyard opened in the 50’s, they sold their grapes to Welches Grape Juice. How cool is this?!
They have 80 acres of vineyards and it is located right near the shore of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes. They have a lovely tasting room and outdoor area for you to enjoy wine tasting and cheeses, They also have a really sweet pup who you will see wandering around the store – I love vineyard dogs (brings me back to my California days!).
My personal favorites were the Long Stem Red and the Riesling. Bring a blanket for the cooler nights and enjoy! I love this green Chappy Wrap that they just released in their fall collection!
“WOW!”, is what I have to say about the hiking in Watkins Glen! About 10 minutes from the hotel you will find Watkin’s Glen State Park which has amazing trails that lead you through 19 waterfalls, 200 foot cliffs and large gorges. It’s truly some of the best hiking I’ve seen and done on the east coast.
Be sure and pack a lunch and a water bottle in your backpack for a little break along your hike and enjoy the view of a relaxing waterfall.
Climb aboard the Seneca Legacy with Captain Bill and his crew to get a lovely sightseeing tour of Seneca Lake! Enjoy an hour tour as you listen and learn about the history of the area and enjoy the breeze and views of the beautiful countryside around you.
Seneca Lake is so big, it’s hard to believe that it’s not a bay that leads into the ocean! There is just something about seeing a town from the water – a different experience that will for sure leave a lasting impression.
Until next time, Watkins Glen! I can’t wait to come back here again – it truly is the perfect relaxing countryside getaway!