This highway leads to the shadowy tip of reality (or NY State->Philly)
July 26, 2019 12:08 PM   Subscribe

Thanks to the community I am all geared up for a road trip with my 8 and 13 year olds that includes a night each at Selkirk Shores State Park and Watkins Glen State Park before we move on to Philadelphia. (And we have tick-repellent clothing!) Please share your recommendations to see, do, and eat, as well as travel tips.

Here's what I know we are doing so far:

- visiting Ithaca NY, including the farmers' market, children's park, and potentially a pilgrimage to Moosewood as I toddled about on that food. Have not been to Ithaca since 1979 though.
- over to the Corning Museum of Glass
- checking out the carousels in Binghamton and paying homage to Rod Serling's gazebo

Do you have any recommendations for stops in the Thousand Island Seaway, Finger Lakes, or anywhere along those routes, particularly restaurants that will give them a real sense of having visited the US/upstate New York? We are kind of an Atlas Obscura-type tourism family, with an interest in art as well. My kids eat just about everything, although one is lactose-intolerant.

Also, is there anything you think I need to know about driving on toll roads, interstates, or twisty hilly roads around the Finger Lakes?

Our Philly itinerary is pretty full already (Mutter museum, Rodin museum, African-American museum and if we can, the Art Museum), but would cheerfully take recommendations for that too (we're staying in a hotel downtown there.) Thank you!
posted by warriorqueen to Travel & Transportation around New York (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
In Ithaca check out the Children's Garden. It's pretty wonderful. Also the Science Center, something for all ages. And the Johnson Museum. Yes really, if nothing else the architecture will make an impression on them. A few weeks ago I took one of my younger grandchildren there, age 4. His parents were skeptical but he had a really good time. Be sure to check out the quirky stores in the old school building that houses Moosewood.

Check out the Women's Rights Historical Park if you're in Seneca Falls. If you go to Auburn check out the Harriet Tubman House. It's maybe a mile down the road from Auburn Prison, one of the oldest still operating prisons in the US, 201 years of misery.
posted by mareli at 12:34 PM on July 26, 2019

One thing about driving on toll roads is that it is more of a hassle to get on and off at an exit than it does on a free road. (I'm not sure if you end up paying more this way.) Therefore some toll roads have service areas with fast food restaurants, gas, bathrooms built into the road itself. See for example the Northeast Extension of the PA Turnpike (I-476) which may feature on your itinerary. I grew up in New Jersey and when I left the Northeast it seemed strange to me that you would just get off the road at whatever random exit and there would be stuff there and the people in charge of the road had nothing to do with it.

Also, toll booths don't take credit cards. Get some (US) cash.

(I don't think your route will take you through New Jersey. But if it does, note that it is illegal to pump your own gas in New Jersey.)
posted by madcaptenor at 12:57 PM on July 26, 2019

Stop at Lupo's in Binghamton for a Spiedie-
posted by niicholas at 12:59 PM on July 26, 2019

The Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport is interesting if you like airplanes motorcycles and mechanical things.
posted by bdc34 at 1:04 PM on July 26, 2019

As a kid, I always love the Franklin Institute.

Depending on when your trip is, the Oval+ is open for the summer and has some good programming. It's worth checking the calendar for the dates you'll be in town and see if anything catches your eye.
posted by DoubleLune at 1:08 PM on July 26, 2019

I also loved the Franklin Institute when I was a kid but I feel like they've gone downhill. But take a look at their web site - you know what will interest your kids better than I will. Given the other museums you've mentioned you'll already be in the neighborhood.
posted by madcaptenor at 1:25 PM on July 26, 2019

One of the more interesting places in Ithaca is Press Bay Alley and surrounds. The loading docks for the Ithaca Journal have been converted into small storefronts. Notably, you can get coffee, the best ice cream in Ithaca (including dairy free options), delicious hand pies and beer, all while sitting outside.
posted by zamboni at 1:48 PM on July 26, 2019

the quirky stores in the old school building

The DeWitt Mall, including Buffalo Street Books, Ithaca Guitar Works, and Cat's Pajamas.
posted by zamboni at 2:09 PM on July 26, 2019

You may want to check out the stuff on Roadside America! Yes, it's corny, yes it's dumb - that's the beauty of it. Moosewood is one thing, but you're with an 8 year old and a 13 year old, and they may be into checking a collection of brains in jars or eat ice cream under a giant polar bear or visit the Chef Boyardee factory and pose with his statue or hit up the Three Stooges Museum.

They have an app, but they also have maps of individual states for you to plan with (NY map here, PA map here).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:28 PM on July 26, 2019

These are all great - love the app too! Thank you!
posted by warriorqueen at 6:19 PM on July 26, 2019

What's your route from NY to Philadelphia?

In Philly, there's free kayaking at Bartram's Garden, and I think also paid boat tours from Walnut St on the Schuylkill. The Wissahickon park is really scenic and also has an old inn you could have brunch or dinner at. You might see some of the urban cowboys while there. If you are going to the Rodan museum, the Barnes is next door and really unique.
posted by sepviva at 6:22 PM on July 26, 2019

Our route’s up in the air after Binghamton, but we need to be in Philly that night. I will def try for the Barnes and kayaking is awesome.
posted by warriorqueen at 4:27 AM on July 27, 2019

drive on state routes and back roads when possible - stop anywhere that looks interesting

at the Corning museum, be sure to take in the demonstrations - they're a lot of fun and the presenters are really into it
posted by kokaku at 4:49 AM on July 27, 2019

EcoVillage Ithaca - an intentional community that's pretty amazing - i think you can arrange a tour
posted by kokaku at 4:50 AM on July 27, 2019

I'm not sure how interested the kids will be in Ecovillage as a whole. That said, Gourdlandia might have some Roadside America-type potential.
posted by zamboni at 8:11 AM on July 27, 2019

Some additional Corning ideas: The Rockwell Museum is also worth a stop. They've opened an Art Lab for kids in a storefront on Market Street. Stop in at Old World Cafe for ice cream. It's had a few lives over the past few decades, but you don't get many opportunities to eat in a turn-of-the-century ice cream parlor. And if you're willing to eat the polar opposite of Moosewood, Jim's Texas Hots has hot dogs and milkshakes available from a unique sidewalk window.

If you're not pressed for time, drive the back roads between Corning and Elmira/Ithaca. DM me for some route suggestions if you're curious!
posted by knile at 9:37 PM on July 27, 2019

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