Visiting Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes

 

Made up of 11 lakes, the Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is around 4.5 hours north of the Bronx. Located at the base of Seneca Lake sits the village of  Watkins Glen. Home of the infamous Watkins Glen State Park and Watkins Glen International racetrack, it is a great place to start when exploring the region. We recently used the online booking platform Glamping Hub to book a rental and spend two days exploring this beautiful town. While it was a short visit, we tried to fit in a little of everything that the area has to offer.

 

Creameries

 

Before we checked in to our rental, we stopped first at Sunset View Creamery to take a self guided tour of the property and do some cheese tasting. The Finger Lakes region is not only home to a wine trail, but a cheese trail as well. If you’re only in town for a short time, be sure to fit in at least one creamery on your visit. Located in Odessa, Sunset View Creamery is just ten minutes from downtown Watkins Glen and offers dairy products that are never treated with hormones and are free of antibiotics.

After grabbing a map from the farm store, we walked around the creamery to learn more about the cheese and milk making process. We then returned to the store to sample several variations of cheeses made right on the farm- and purchased our faves to enjoy later.

 

Sunset View Creamery

4970 County Rt. 14

Odessa, NY 14869

www.sunsetviewcreamery.com

 

Wineries

 

We then headed to Lakewood Vineyards. Located high above Seneca Lake, this 80 acre vineyard is home to 14 grape varieties. For $4, we enjoyed a tasting of several red and white options. The lovely wine steward Kathe did an amazing job at identifying wines that we’d like, and we grabbed a bottle of Lemberger to enjoy with the Havarti and Bel Paese cheese that we purchased from the creamery.

 

 

Guided tours and tastings- including cellar room tastings are also available at Lakewood Vineyard. Whether you stop in to enjoy a tour, or just to grab a bottle of wine, be sure to walk through the vineyards and make your way down to the stunning view of Seneca Lake.

 

Lakewood Vineyard

4024 NY State Route 14
Watkins Glen, New York 14891

www.lakewoodvineyards.com

 

 

Glamping Hub

 

With our wine and cheese in tow, we were ready to head to our rental to check in. We opted for a house overlooking the valleys below, but Glamping Hub also has a unique selection of tents, yurts- even teepees and treehouses. There were quite a few bell tent options in nearby Ithaca, but being that we were only there overnight, we opted for a house right in town and five minutes from Watkins Glen State Park. To see all that Glamping Hub has to offer, visit www.glampinghub.com.

 

 

Seneca Lake

 

Before heading to dinner, we stopped by Seneca Harbor Station to enjoy the view of Seneca Lake. The main street of Watkins Glen is located right on the southern end of the lake- with crosswalks painted in a checkerboard pattern in homage to the raceway, and lined with gift shops, galleries, and other unique shops.

At Seneca Harbor, visitors can enjoy waterfront dining or take either a dinner or sightseeing cruise along the lake.

 

Seneca Harbor Station

1 North Franklin St.

Watkins Glen, NY 14891

www.senecaharborstation.com

 

 

Nickels Pit BBQ

 

For dinner, we opted for some smoked goodness at Nickel’s Pit BBQ. Inside a historic firehouse, this Watkins Glen staple serves up BBQ meals and craft beers with an outdoor patio area. We opted for the fried pickles for appetizer, which were cut thick and battered to perfection. We also tried the original pulled pork combo, tomato cuke salad, crazy corn, and peppadew mac and cheese. Everything was delicious, including their line up of signature BBQ sauces.

 

Nickel’s Pit BBQ

205-207 N Franklin St

Watkins Glen, NY

www.nickelspitbbq.com

 

 

Watkins Glen State Park

 

The next morning we woke up early and headed into town to explore the glen. It was drizzling- so we grabbed ponchos from the gift shop and began our hike up. A rainy morning was actually the perfect way to experience Watkins Glen, as we had it almost completely to ourselves as we made our way up.

Made up of 19 waterfalls, this 400 foot deep narrow gorge can be explored via three different trails- the Southern Rim, Indian, and Gorge trail. Visitors can either make their way up to the top by way of 800 steps, or take a shuttle to the top and make their way down. We opted to walk up and make our way back along the same Gorge trail. Be sure to stop in to the visitors center to grab a map and ask questions before you start your day.

The park is also home to camp sites, a swimming pool, and more.

 

Watkins Glen State Park

1009 N Franklin St
Watkins Glen, NY 14891

www.fingerlakes.org/attractions/watkins-glen-state-park

 

 

Seneca Sunrise Coffee

 

After seeing Seneca Sunrise Coffee sold around town, we decided to stop in to this local coffee shop after our morning hike in the glen. The only coffee shop in town who roasts their own coffee, this quaint shop offers a collection of artisanal coffees from around the globe.

We chatted for a bit with owner Mindi Beheydt and asked for her recommendation on a local spot to grab a bite to eat- as well as a place nearby to grab some delicious donuts.

 

Seneca Sunrise Coffee

806 N. Decatur Street,  Suite 2

Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Sold at various local locations also

www.senecasunrisecoffee.com

 

 

Tobey’s Donut Shop

 

 

For donuts, Mindi’s recommendation was at nearby Tobey’s Donut Shop. And it did not disappoint- we grabbed the sour cream and blueberry donuts as well as a few others and they were delicious- perfect for a treat on the way back home.

 

Tobey’s Donut Shop

137 E 4th St

Watkins Glen, NY 14891

www.facebook.com/Tobeysdonutshop/

 

 

Shop Local

 

When it comes to shopping local, Watkins Glen has no shortage of unique gift shops, boutiques, and antique shops. We stopped in a few before making our way to lunch. There’s even a visitor center with plenty of tourism materials to check out- if you want to make this your first visit while in town. Check out a list of local shoppertunities here.

 

 

Berta’s Cafe

 

Our last stop before making our way back to the Bronx was Berta’s Cafe. Located off of Hector Falls Creek, our visit gave us the chance to ride up the other side of Seneca Lake that we hadn’t yet explored. We even pulled over as we reached the top of the Main Street to take in the views of the lake and fog covered hills above.

The perfect place to stop off for comfort food on a rainy day, we ordered our food at the counter and took a seat in the country style dining room- with coffee and lemon water available for self serve. We opted for the biscuits and gravy and the mushroom omelet recommended by Mindi-complete with homemade butter aioli- which we happily dipped both the roll and homefries in. We checked out the small waterfall a few steps away on the property before heading back down the side of the lake to head back home.

 

Berta’s Cafe

3825 Main Street

Burdett, New York

www.bertascafe.com

 

 

To explore more of what Watkins Glen and the Finger Lakes region has to offer, visit  www.fingerlakes.org.

To find unique lodging for your visit, head to www.glampinghub.com.

 

 

 

We received credit via Glamping Hub to facilitate this post. As always, all opinions are our own.

 

 

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