The Hotel Clarence In The News
Top 10 Value Travel Destinations in 2011
Elissa Richard / www.shermanstravel.com
Finger Lakes, New York
Within an economical 4- to 6- hour drive of many of the Northeast’s major U.S. cities (NYC, DC, Philadelphia, Boston, etc.) – or a short sprint from New York State’s Rochester and Syracuse airports (serviced by budget carriers like JetBlue and AirTran) – the pastoral Finger Lakes region boasts more than 100 wineries on the vineyard-coated banks of its 11 parallel, finger-shaped lakes. With a somewhat off-path-locale that places it largely off the mass-tourism radar, visiting oenophiles to the 9,000-square-mile area – the largest wine-producing region east of California – can expect roads and tasting rooms blissfully free of congestion, while reaping the bounty of one of the most affordable wine country destinations in the country.
Much of the activity is centered on Seneca, Cayuga, Keuka, and Canandaigua lakes (each tout their own organized wine trails – Seneca Lake Wine Trail will be celebrating its 25th anniversary with special events and deals throughout 2011; www.senecalakewine.com), where tasting fees, if not free, rarely spike above $5 (many are refundable when you purchase a bottle). The lake region’s unique microclimates have consistently turned out award-winning Rieslings and Gewürztraminers (Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard’s Dry Riesling Reserve 2008 was just recognized in Wine Spectator’s "Top 100 Wines of 2010"; www.wiemer.com); look as well for consistent offerings of some rarified, high-quality ice wines. Best of all, don’t be surprised to find many bottles practically flinging themselves off the shelves, with pricing commonly starting under $10, and rarely rising above $25.
While wine-tasting remains the main draw here, foodies won’t miss a beat with the cornucopia of chef-driven, farm-fresh eateries, while outdoor enthusiasts will find haven with abundant lake-driven activities and several state parks anchored on scenic gorges and waterfalls. Bunk down in quaint country towns in affordable B&Bs, well-priced mid-range chains, or burgeoning upscale inns (relative newcomers like the Watkins Glen Hotel or the boutique Hotel Clarence run from just $89 to $269/night; www.watkinsglenharborhotel.com,www.hotelclarence.com– try finding that kind of deal in Napa!). Round out a palette-pleasing vacation with some highlights from the arts and cultural scene: Pop by Corning for special events during the 60th anniversary celebrations for the Corning Museum of Glass (www.cmog.org) or to catch the Rockwell Museum of Western Art’s free First Friday events (debuted January 2010; www.rockwellmuseum.org), replete with hors d’oeuvres and locally-sourced wines. Also look to the Watkins Glen International racetrack (host to the NASCAR Winston Cup; www.theglen.com) to emerge fresh from a $3 million face-lift this summer.