First Stop – Seneca Lake

Our first stop on the CALYgirl heads west road trip – Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate NY.

This part of the country is truly beautiful, relaxing and remote. Seneca Lake is the largest and longest of the Finger Lake region. They call it the Finger Lakes because the lakes look like fingers on a hand. Ithaca is about 20 miles away and home of the Corning Glass Museum which is great Fun for the kids!

Jim grew up coming here as a child and we’ve been visiting his family for over 15 years. It’s about a 4 1/2 hour drive from NYC/CT and the countryside and lake views are truly GORGEous! The area has a lot of great activities for families or an adults only vacation! There are various boating activities (although the lake is cold, the deepest part is over 600 feet deep), great hiking down at the Watkins Glen State Park with waterfalls, wineries and great little restaurants. Although you gotta know where to go. 
My in-laws are located on Peach Orchard Point, about 8 miles north of Watkins Glen on the right side of the lake. They built a beautiful lake house situated right on the lake with a million dollar view up the lake. It’s truly breath taking.

Where to Stay:

Glen Harbor Hotel is a fairly new hotel located in Watkins Glen “town” and is perfect. Great rooms with a lake view and an outdoor restaurant. I highly recommend for a weekend stay. Although you have to book in advance because it definitely books up!

Activities for the Family and Adults:

Boating, sailboat cruise, wineries, breweries, hiking and more! 


There are A LOT of activities to do while you’re here. In the Watkins Glen Marina there are boat and jet skis rentals and other tubing options. Jim’s parents have a boat and the kids LOVE to go tubing on Big Bertha


Every visit I make the big kids go hiking with me down at the falls. Up the glen and back is 3 miles with over 17 waterfalls. It’s beautiful and you don’t realize you are hiking straight up. Awesome workout! It’s mostly in the shade and can be slippery from the waterfalls so I keep the littles at home. Make sure you wear no-slip shoes. 


Schooner Excursions is a FAV of mine! I found this gem a few years back and book it every summer we come up. You can do an afternoon cruise or sunset cruise aboard TRUE LOVE and truly have an amazing experience. The crew are friendly and share the history of the 40-year-old restored classic motor sailboat. It’s a great way to experience the vast lake and the beautiful views! 


Grist Iron Brewing Co.

The BEST pizzas and beers on the lake! You can sit outside enjoying the vast views of the lake while the kids run around the lawn, play giant Jenna and listen to the local band that’s usually playing off to the side. 

Dano’s on Seneca is traditional Viennese food. Homemade and delicious food made with love in a beautiful outdoor setting. Even my picky kids love it! The great thing about all these restaurants are the big outdoor lawns and activities they leave outside for the kids to play with so the adults can enjoy their food and drinks without being rushed. The ideal summer setting. 

Tobey’s Donut Shop

Ohhhmmmggeee…probably the best donuts I have ever had! This little diner/donut shop is located right in town and is only open Friday-Sunday! There is usually a line out the door. They are $1 and are huge, fluffy and SO very sinful! 

Lamoreaux Winery

Jim and I found Lamoreaux Winery a few years back and really liked it. Nice Cabernets and Chardonnays. This region is mostly known for their dry Rieslings and Chardonnays (not my most fav but you can find some pretty good ones). The wineries and breweries have really increased tourism up here, making it a big tourist destination but not too overwhelming! 

Big Johnson’s Sports Bar

Just picture your college bar scene. Peanut shells on the ground, bumper stickers all over the bar, stamped license plates, sports playing on the tvs and all walks of life seated around you. If you went to U of Arizona just picture Dirtbag’s or better yet if you’ve seen Coyote Ugly just like that minus the beautiful ladies dancing on the bar. A total dive bar with a motorcycle gang usually passing through town, stopping for a beer or 3. You will usually find Big Johnson himself sitting at the bar, chatting up the ladies. It’s along route 414 and a must-see. 

I’m not sure when we will be passing through town again, unless you live on the east coast it’s not easy to get to. But if you are out here, make a point to stop by. There is SO much to see, enjoy and do with your family and friends. 

Until next time Seneca Lake ✌?


Posted in


Leave a Comment