story and photos by Libby Cook
Downtown Skaneateles was a bustling waterfront destination beneath the bright April sun over the weekend. It seems the early return of summer-like weather has already transformed this historic town into a popular warm-weather attraction for tourists and locals alike. The draw of the lake and the diverse range of shops and local restaurants that dot both sides of West Genesee Street give Skaneateles a charming beach town feel that reminds me of towns like Camden Hills and Castine that line the coast of my home state of Maine. I’ve wanted to explore Skaneateles for a while and today’s weather has granted me the perfect opportunity to enjoy every aspect of the village.
The glimmering blues of Skaneateles Lake immediately capture and hold my attention as I drive through downtown. I pass the shops and restaurants to park near Thayer Park in a more residential area of town. Compared to Clift Park in the heart of the village, Thayer Park is less crowded and offers a quiet and sunny spot to sit and enjoy the view of the water. I pause here briefly to snap a few photos of the lake before walking toward downtown. Along the way, I stop at Skaneateles Antique Center, a two-story antique shop, to browse a large selection of records, books, furniture, dishes and clothing. There is also an entire room dedicated just to vintage maps and guides of the Finger Lakes region. Next door, I pop into a clothing store called Roland’s to check out Skaneateles-themed merchandise. Then, I make my way to Jordan Street to get lunch at the Skaneateles Bakery.
The small cafe is inviting and offers a large menu of lunch options above a glass display of delectable-looking homemade sweets. I decide to go for the roast chicken sandwich. Takeout in hand, I cross the street to Clift Park, where people relax in the sun and shade as a warm breeze drifts across the lake. I find a place to sit on the right side of the park and dig into my sandwich, made with seasoned roasted chicken, grilled red peppers, a light, fresh basil pesto and cheese on crisp bakery bread toasted to perfection. The calm waves move in and out from the shoreline below, creating a serene picnic spot.
After lunch, I walk to Patisserie, a quaint, French-inspired bakery on Hannum Street. I order chocolate chip cookies from the takeout window then head to the pier boardwalk. Along the way, I pass the historic Sherwood Inn, which has been a centerpiece of Skaneateles history since 1807. The Blue Water Grill across the street serves visitors at a prime location next to the pier boardwalk. At the end of the boardwalk, I carefully avoid a fisherman’s tangled lines and turn to take in the fantastic view of downtown and the lake. This town is certainly a getaway I look forward to returning to during the summer months.