Is Schenevus nice? I really don't know.
July 17, 2011 12:37 PM   Subscribe

It's time for our annual road trip! Please help us make it even better? We'll be heading from Buffalo, through the Fingerlakes, to don't really know.

For our family vacations, we like to take our time along the two-lane blacktop through small towns with neat and/or retro things to do along the way. We will pull over to take our picture with bizarre sculptures, visit kazoo museums and will detour for must-have foods. If, along the way, we can pick up flea market or quirky shop items, eat at diners, find vintage clothing, pet rescued farm animals, or see the world's largest anything, we're all happy.

We've got it pretty well down, but we must be missing things, even with all the looking around on sites like Roadside America that I'm doing. And, with a kid in tow, some of the mom-and-pop motels that were fine as a romantic young couple now have me shrieking "Don't touch the bedspread!" and reaching for the Lysol (though our daughter was actually conceived in one, to revisit at this age is another matter...) so we've stayed in boring Hampton Inns because they have pools and breakfasts and fewer obvious sanitation issues.

So, we're looking for suggestions for great places to stay as well as off-the map attractions as well as something to do beyond the Catskills. Especially within less than, say, four or five hours of Phoenicia/NYC, if it has to do with the ocean?

In the past, after a few days in the Catskills (where we want to re-visit the Mystery Spot, hike a trail or two and eat Grandmere Yvonne's pot pies and such) and a day or two in NYC for museums/food/shopping, we've enjoyed things the rinky-dink boardwalk stuff of Wildwood, NJ for the fantastic neon, retro amusement rides, cheesy boardwalk aquarium and stuff, for example. Then, we've taken the ferry from Cape May to continue on to Chincoteague the last few years (and yes, that was because of Misty of Chincoteague - and for similar reasons, we've stopped in Delhi because of My Side of the Mountain), but don't feel quite like going that far this year. We've also travelled back from Chincoteague through Baltimore (where I absolutely adored the American Visionary Art Museum and Dangerously Delicious Pies
and see - Terri Joyce is playing there on the 18th and we love her! and poking around Hampden...or Philadelphia (where we'd grab a beer or go to the Magic Gardens or Mütter Museum and such) in the past, but don't really feel like those options either this year.

A friend just last week on a similar trip scooted up to Old Orchard Beach in Maine for a similar beachfront/amusement park/road trip experience, and said she loved Cobleskill, NY - but what else is fun to do along that way, or along another way? You can look up towns you see on the map and find things like bakeries in Schenevus, but you don't really know, and you could easily miss the better one around the corner if someone doesn't tell you. We think the Hudson Valley is gorgeous, but staying at places like Mohonk Mountain House (found in another thread here) isn't in our budget.

Please help me spend more time researching our road trip than we'll actually spend on it! I also love travel articles such as this one, which helped us to find the best pies I've ever had in my life - so links to more of the same pertaining to the area we're exploring would be great, because those are what I use to convince the co-pilot to detour. We have three or four days to spend exploring, and then the long drive back home (um, and let's just say it's within the next month or so, and our house will be guarded by vicious pets and a violent hobo while we're away) - please help me, and I'll send you the tackiest postcard I can find.
posted by peagood to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
So, to be clear, you're looking for a further 3-ish day trip that involves things within about 4 hours of Phoenicia NY?

Have you been to Western Massachusetts? There's lots of good stuff there; the Berkshires (natural beauty and quiet), the Pioneer Valley (with small artsy towns, good food and art, etc), more.

A bit out of your way but possibly of interest would be a trip to Cooperstown, where there's the baseball hall of fame and other historical small town stuff (eg James Fenimore Cooper's house).
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:51 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'll just quickly recommend two things.

The Pennsylvania Grand Cannon. (if fracking hasn't fricked it up)

And this book.

If you make it down to Centre County, drop us a line.
posted by Toekneesan at 1:01 PM on July 17, 2011

This may be a side trip that's earlier than you want, but if you're going through the Fingerlakes, do you stop near/in Corning? The town's rather nice and the Glass Museum is a lot of fun. I believe Sorge's just won back the record for longest egg noodle in the world. ;)
posted by wiskunde at 1:43 PM on July 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thank you LobsterMitten! Yes - I'd never have thought of the Berkshires. That's it. We have been through Cooperstown - if that's on the agenda this year, we want to try the Howe Caverns or the Secret Caverns.

And Toekneesan, that book is PERFECT. We could build a whole trip out of that. We've been to places like Reptileland, and our only rule about Pennsylvania is that we've been caught needing to call it a night in the Scranton area too many times, so we hope to avoid that portion of it.

Wiskunde - we haven't been to the glass museum in a couple of years, and I was holding off until our seven-year old would be able to get more out of it. I went yearly as a child from about that age - and I really love the Rockwell Museum there (I cried when I saw this painting and hope to see it again before I die). Maybe it is time for our kid to see a glass pig blown in front of her and to play in the science area and become "Master of the Light Refractor"... I haven't been to Sorges in a dozen years...

So, you're all on the right track. We've been making variations on this trip for about fifteen years now, and while we've done a lot, I've never thought of certain places or national parks and we would be happy not to have to eat even one meal in a chain restaurant.
posted by peagood at 2:25 PM on July 17, 2011

Response by poster: Ah! And, not to threadsit, and because I only just remembered other things in this category as I looked through some past photos - but County Fairs are great! We love vegetable displays, unusual chickens and human cannonballs! We are not ones for giant amusement parks, but if there's a carnival, in a parking lot with some "I Got It", we want to know about it.
posted by peagood at 2:36 PM on July 17, 2011

How about the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton, NY?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 4:26 PM on July 17, 2011

Best answer: If you drive through Oneonta, get the chicken at Brooks.

Here be Corning thoughts!
Also, Sorge's is fine and all, but when I'm downtown I get pizza from Aniello's on East Market Street. Try the chicken wing pizza, if you eat birds. Smother it in blue cheese dressing. Yes, really. Since I moved away 10 years ago, I've eaten at Sorge's maybe twice, and Aniello's dozens of times. (Recent local history: Sorge's had a terrible fire a few holiday seasons back, and took a while to re-open so they may have changed a bit. Aniello Ruocco died a year ago; things still seem to be the same there, thankfully.) Jim's Texas Hots is open for lunch only. Get a Texas hot or two and a chocolate milkshake. For a slightly rougher joint, go to the R&M for a burger. For diner breakfasts, try Donna's or go over to Anne's Pancakes in Elmira.

Antiques/flea markets can be likely had between Owego and Elmira on Route 17/86, though I find no web presence for them. For more fascinating clothing digging, the Bath Salvation Army store is allegedly the best in the area.
posted by knile at 4:04 AM on July 18, 2011

Best answer: Taughannock Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the US. (taller than Niagra! Though less volume.) If you park in the lower falls area, it's a lovely, relatively flat one-hour hike to the falls, with lots of opportunities for splashing. Cayuga Creamery is a few miles farther north on 89 and is our traditional after-hike treat. Not too far from Corning if you're in that area.

The NYS Fair starts August 25th just outside of Syracuse; not sure exactly when you're coming up but that's an option.
posted by tchemgrrl at 6:33 AM on July 18, 2011

Best answer: Taughannock Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the US. (taller than Niag[a]ra! Though less volume.) If you park in the lower falls area, it's a lovely, relatively flat one-hour hike to the falls, with lots of opportunities for splashing. Cayuga Creamery is a few miles farther north on 89 and is our traditional after-hike treat. Not too far from Corning if you're in that area.

If you're at Taughannock Falls then you're near both Trumansburg and Ithaca, NY. If you want a full meal near Taughannock rather than just the yummy ice cream mentioned, there are great burgers at Glenwood Pines just down Rt 89 (south, toward Ithaca). If you end up in Ithaca itself, there's lots of cool stuff to do and eat, including more Thai, Korean, Japanese, and Indian food (among other stuff) than you can imagine for a town this size, as well as the funky State Diner, the Moosewood Restaurant (yes, as in the famous vegetarian cookbook, sometimes has a long wait), the pedestrian Commons in the middle of town with lots of shops and restaurants, a coop bookstore, a huge used bookstore, beautiful gardens and arboretum on the Cornell Univ. campus, a bird sanctuary with scenic woods walks, a paleontological museum, a children's science museum, and a farmers' market if you're here on Sat or Sun morning. Among other things.
posted by aught at 7:59 AM on July 18, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks so much! These are all great answers that round out the trip nicely! As a native Buffalonian, I am always willing to sample the local wings. I have taken Route 17 before, and it's always a good drive. We do plan to leave Buffalo on a Sunday, so will be hitting Clarence, of course - but also, hopefully, the one in East Avon which used to have a country band and hot sugared nuts the last few times we were there. With a seven-year old, its pretty much requisite that we stop for many, many ice creams (all healthy eating rules are suspended on vacation). Used bookstores are fantastic, and Taughannock Falls would be a lovely stop. We are hoping some day to do a long weekend in Letchworth State Park, and Hawk Mountain is on the horizon too - but for other trips because this is the wrong season for those. But I can nicely work many of these suggestions into our trip, and I'm grateful for them.

I've also found out that one of our usual stops in NYC (good enough food that we all like, good drinks, good prices, good experiences, close to a park our kid loves) has closed since our last visit - if there are any suggestions for restaurants with a similar menu/price range in that area, we'd be grateful.
posted by peagood at 10:16 AM on July 18, 2011

We are hoping some day to do a long weekend in Letchworth State Park, and Hawk Mountain is on the horizon too -

As additional data points, I enjoyed side trips to both of those (Hawk Mt even despite the fact I was a little ill from a meal I'd had earlier in Harrisburg). Letchworth is particularly nice during fall leaf season. Have a fun trip.
posted by aught at 11:29 AM on July 18, 2011

Best answer: Yes, you should go to the Chief Schenevus! There is an antique store on Main Street. Drive down Route 7 to Colliersville and take that right and go to Cooperstown, which you will love! Carnival has passed; you won't be able to see the historic Schenevus carousel at Borst Field. It was a dynamic community up til the early 1960s and even hung in there in the early 1970s. Now, well ... Its neighbor to the east is Worcester, a very nice town with beautiful homes.

From there drive along Route 20. CNN had a guide to that drive; I'll try to find it. Here's this for now:

You **must** go to Brooks for chicken! You might want to check this site: for stuff to do. Oneonta is rich in Native American history and artifacts. The paper there is Also check

Andes in Delaware County might be more what you are looking for in a cute little artsy town. Pick up a copy of Kaatskill Life at a supermarket; that should help you find stuff.

I cannot believe I missed this when it first posted! I'll send you a memail before I go too wild with self-identification.
posted by jgirl at 6:06 PM on August 5, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks, we're back and did a lot of this neat stuff, though forgetting my camera in Auburn and having to go back for it altered our route home. But we did take Rt. 20 almost the whole way, so next time we'll take the routes south of the Finger Lakes. We picked up every brochure and every newspaper at every stop, and will be planning further trips too, just because there are a lot of great spots for a long weekend. We have another week off coming up, and are hoping for time in the fall to go poking about small towns. Andes was nice, for sure - but Steinway Books in Delhi has become one of our favourite stops now, and it's always good to plan lots of time for used bookstores. The Schoharie County Fair was great fun, and we do need more references for not-to-miss food. I mean, a BBQ place called "Rubbin Butts" could be great...or a grave mistake. You just never know! But I had a BBQ sandwich at a little place next to the Bird's Nest Motel in Skaneateles that was so good that I had to get another one the next day.
posted by peagood at 10:07 PM on August 6, 2011

Hope you managed to pick up a copy of Edible Finger Lakes, of which I think even one page would provide hours of exploration and delicious fun.
posted by knile at 9:44 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

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