The last 12 months have seen a significant amount of growth in the Finger Lakes Region, with new businesses opening and attractions, accommodations, culinary options, and more being added to the popular vacation region. According to the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council (FLRTC) – the official tourism promotion agency of the Finger Lakes Region as recognized by I Love NY – visitor spending continues to remain high in New York State. As new offerings open, travelers to the region have more options than ever to relax, indulge, and experience the Finger Lakes – including the following new and expanding tourism assets:
Dream Home on Conesus Lake is a spectacular rental home on beautiful Conesus Lake with stunning sunset views. It provides a relaxing and fun gathering spot for friends and family looking for a Finger Lakes getaway, in a brand-new setting.
At The Olde Farmstead, enjoy a stay at a quiet, historic farmhouse. Get away from the hurried, hustle and bustle of city life to savor beautiful surroundings and a totally refurbished farmhouse while watching horses and cows graze. The property is located near Letchworth State Park.
In September 2017, Destiny USA introduced a brand-new luxury hotel, Embassy Suites by Hilton Syracuse Destiny USA. The new 209-room hotel features an onsite restaurant, an indoor pool, and is the go-to property for guests traveling to visit the internationally known Destiny USA. Especially thanks to those extra on-site perks, like an exclusive Destiny USA “Stay & Save” savings pass received at check-in, and shopping items delivered straight to their hotel room.
Hampton Inn & Suites Syracuse North Airport Area is located just three miles south of the Syracuse Hancock International Airport, and offers a free 24-hour airport shuttle. Conference space, a business center, and a heated pool accompany the modern guest rooms (100% non-smoking) and free on-site parking. Enjoy fresh baked cookies and popcorn in the dining area each evening, along with coffee, tea, and juice available 24 hours a day.
Burnap’s Bed & Breakfast and Beyond is found right in the heart of Lake Ontario’s fruit county, and had its grand opening in May 2017. The brick Victorian home (built in 1876) welcomes guests to stay at one of four grand bedrooms, each elegantly decorated and complimented by outdoor verandas, an authentic cupola, perennial gardens, and a romantic outdoor fireplace. Overlooking orchards and the great Lake Ontario, the accommodations are an experience on its own.
Gathering Hill Farm Vacation Rental is a large, gracious home on the Seneca Lake Scenic Bypass. It is a full house rental, making it perfect for groups, large or small, on an 8-acre estate with indoor and outdoor entertaining spaces and lovely views of Seneca Lake. There are private gardens, a deck with seating for outdoor meals, an outdoor fire pit, and proximity to several nearby wineries.
In addition to these new openings, the Hyatt Regency Rochester recently completed an $18.5 million renovation to its property, including updated guestrooms and suites. Sleek flooring, flat panel TVs, modern shower units, redesigned function space, new dining destinations, and a rooftop terrace are all among the changes guests will see at the hotel. In keeping with the spirit of the city of Rochester, Hyatt has also established a partnership with local business ARTISANworks to showcase pieces from renown artists such as Albert Paley, Gregory Johnson, Greg Gavin, Carl Chiarenza, Robert Farber, Renea Menzies Richard Quataert, Jefferey Bisallion, Stan Sobossek, and Ron Ketchum in the hotel’s main lobby.
The Finger Lakes continues to gain recognition for its existing sites as well. Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide presented the Marriott Syracuse Downtown with the Best City Center Historic Hotel of the Year. Just over a year since its highly anticipated opening, Marriott Syracuse Downtown also earned AAA’s prestigious Four Diamond rating. The distinction is shared by less than six percent of the nearly 28,000 AAA-approved properties nationwide.
Hook & Spoon is a new culinary asset located on the north shore of Conesus Lake in the western Finger Lakes Region. The restaurant offers meals made from scratch using locally grown and produced ingredients, and features both inside and outside dining, two full bars, a lakeside campfire pit, live entertainment, and 16 boat slips for dock-and-dine. Guests can enjoy an array of local and global beer, wine, and spirits and polished casual dining while admiring the stunning view of Conesus Lake.
Bleu Chick Restaurant & Lounge is a model of the sophisticated restaurant and lounge establishments of Harlem, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C. The reviews are in and this new dining spot in Syracuse, N.Y. satisfies with the service, atmosphere, and cuisine. Some are even calling it the new hotspot for the grown and sexy.
To say that Glazed and Confused doughnuts are delicious is definitely an understatement. Following the regional food trend of thinking out-of-the-box, the owners of the new location of Glazed & Confused are creating a sugar buzz in downtown Syracuse. With a new selection of Artisan doughnuts daily, you’ll find amazing flavors and unique combinations, including favorites like the Dizzy Pig – a maple glazed, bourbon sugared, candied and locally cured bacon doughnut. Glazed & Confused sold out on opening day in November 2017 and has had lines out the door ever since.
The Fish Friar is downtown Syracuse’s newest seafood restaurant. Locally owned and operated, and located right in Hanover Square, it offers an elevated and elegant spin on fish fry that brings culinary experience to a simple concept without sacrificing quality. The Fish Friar boasts of fresh fish with no additives, from the net to their doorstep in under 24 hours.
Now open at Destiny USA, Poke Time (pronounced ‘po-kay’) ties back to that traditional Hawaiian food made with fresh Ahi Tuna, Salmon or Albacore sliced into pieces and marinated with soy sauce, green onion, and sesame oil. Poke Time features menu options that range from traditional poke bowls to traditional ramen noodle soups and a unique take on sushi burritos. Keeping health-conscious and vegetarian diners in mind, Poke Time offers dishes with rice, tofu, greens, and noodles, as well.
Syracuse locals might get a little twinge of recognition at one of the city’s “new” offerings – The Stoop is back! In the 90s it was a neighborhood hangout, then it took a little hiatus. Now “The Stoop” returns as an expanded version of itself with three floors, each focusing on different themes; including exotic spirits, peak freshness, bakery and fresh locally sourced seasonal menus. As they say, “It’s like The Stoop took a semester abroad and grew up a little.” Grown-up or not, it is still a hip and homey place to hang out.
In the Marriott Syracuse Downtown, an Irish pub with a spin on classic bar food is the newest restaurant to open. Shaughnessy’s (named after the owner’s dog) is a classic sports pub with a killer draft beer selection and all of the major sports television programs – 21 large televisions for sports fans. The interior is highlighted by the original Syracuse Nationals’ basketball court, moved from the Onondaga County War Memorial to serve as the pub’s floor.
Fabio’s Antica Cucina is an authentic Italian restaurant with a cocktail lounge, located in downtown Syracuse. It also shares a building with The Icon Tower. With key ingredients straight from Italy and a first-generation Italian chef, their handmade gnocchi, pasta, and bread are a taste of Italy right in Syracuse. With elegant décor and enough seating for 155 people, Fabio’s is a must-see.
In Lyons, there is a new fine-dining establishment found in an old classic. Maitre D’ at Trombino’s opened its doors in September, bringing American bistro fare made from some of New York’s finest and freshest ingredients. The building that it’s housed in was once home to a 1940s opera house, but you won’t find a dark and smoky space inside. Instead, diners are met with vintage lighting, hardwood floors, rich colors, and textures that bring the space – and the menu – to life.
Copper Ale House opened in Williamson in late November 2017, bringing the first bar since prohibition to the area. Housed in an 1800 building transformed into a cozy modern ale house, the bar/restaurant combination serves up a delicious menu and plenty of beer on tap.
401 Espresso brings world-class coffee, gourmet espresso drinks, and delicious pastries to Montour Falls, NY. Newly opened, the café invites visitors to enjoy a treat by the fireplace, while taking in the stunning views of the falls and local scenery. VB Sandwich Shop (formerly Village Bakery) is also new to the town and owned by the same company, serving up soups, salads, and sandwiches to enjoy in-house or to go.
The Spirit Room adds to Rochester’s growing food and drink scene with a southern and soul food inspired restaurant and literary lounge. Taking its historical theme and visual impact from the notorious sisters, Maggie and Kate Fox, The Spirit Room showcases Rochester’s literary culture through dynamic poetry readings, book releases, and micro-theater while providing beautiful craft cocktails and food in a unique environment.
Monroe County also has a brand new urban winery, Living Roots Wine & Co., in downtown Rochester. Owned by a husband and wife team from the Finger Lakes and Australia, the business features wines from the two vastly different regions – hopping between the warm and cool climate wines and sharing them with locals and visitors alike.
Rounding out our list of new culinary and craft beverage offerings are two regional favorites that have gained special recognition in 2017. Beak & Skiff was once again awarded Best American Apple Orchard by USA Today readers, while Al’s Wine & Whiskey Lounge was awarded the America’s Best Bourbon Bars: Northeast Region – 2017 by The Bourbon Review.
TRAILS AND TOURS
The ROC/FLX Craft Beverage Trail formed this year as a combination of breweries, cideries, and distilleries across Rochester and the Finger Lakes, coupled with the 41-mile long Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail. With 17 breweries, cideries and distilleries on the map, and more popping up every day, the Rochester/Finger Lakes craft beverage culture is in full force. Paired with Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail’s collection of unique award-winning wineries, tasting rooms, breweries, restaurants, shops, art galleries, outdoor adventures, and more, there will be something to satisfy every taste. The trail will fully launch in January 2018, so keep an eye on this one.
With no shortage of ways to work beer into the mix – the Finger Lakes is also home to the Craft Your Adventure Trail – 29 craft beverage producers in Steuben, Schuyler, Yates, and Chemung counties. The self-guided beverage trail is getting even bigger in Spring 2018, by adding a handful of new breweries, and at least one new distillery.
To round out the visitor experience, new attractions are springing up constantly, offering exciting and unique opportunities for guests who come to the Finger Lakes. Recently opened attractions include:
A family owned and operated business on Conesus Lake, Tropical Creations Boat Rentals offers daily cruises, private charters, and historical audio tours, as well as rentals for a 22-foot pontoon boat, kayaks, stand up paddle boards and paddle boats. Free delivery is available [by boat] to any Conesus Lake park, dock, or cottage.
Destiny USA keeps growing, and recently added the Museum of Intrigue to its entertainment offerings. An all-new immersive, interactive theatre experience with a game component, the museum is for all ages and features seven unique stories varying in difficulty, theme, and length of time needed to solve. Play individually, in pairs, or with a group.
At Seneca Signature Scents in Watkins Glen, perfume is alive and evolving, every second and for every person. Scents communicate at the deepest and most intimate levels. Seneca Signature Scents invites people to create their own signature scent, or shop from a line of perfumes and essential oils. Also new to the Finger Lakes shopping scene is Country Home & Gifts (located at 213 N. Franklin Street), offering an array of primitive home décor and unique gifts in downtown Watkins Glen.
In Ontario County, Finger Lakes Forest Therapy is all the rage. Shinrin-yoku, also known as forest bathing, is a wellness trend gaining popularity in the United States, with 30 years of research in Japan. The practice shows the powerful emotional and physical benefits of being in the forest. (It just may be the new yoga.)
In their Victor location since August 2017, Prima Pop is a retail gourmet popcorn shop. They currently offer 28 delicious flavors made fresh daily, with new flavors added monthly. They coat and infuse flavor into their popcorn to create a truly incredible product. From flavors that include Hot Wing and Ranch, Kettle, Salt and Vinegar and Blue Raspberry, customers are encouraged to sample all their flavors to help them find the one that is just right for them.
Mountain Horse Farm in Naples is a very special place run by Suzanne and Rudi Vullers, originally from the Netherlands. At Mountain Horse Farm, they have two Nomadic tipis for glamping, a Carriage House and Lodge, an expansive wellness center, as well as a horse farm where they offer a “Horse Experience Session” for destressing. Keep an eye out for this business to keep expanding – they plan to add to their wellness offerings in 2018 with inspirational retreats filled with horses, nature, mindfulness, and rejuvenation.
In Rochester, Radio Social is the newest hotspot on the block. Part bowling alley, part restaurant and bar, music venue, and social club, Radio Social is located in Rochester’s historical Stromberg-Carlson warehouse. The 42,000-square foot facility features 34 bowling lanes, lounge areas, a variety of indoor and outdoor games (seasonally on the back lawn), and Mediterranean inspired small- and large-plate offerings on their order-in menu.
In the same series of buildings is the new Comedy @ the Carlson – a club hosting new performances and big names in its two show rooms (350 and 100 seats each). As the laughs roll in, patrons can enjoy the bar, seating area, and small stage for bands or variety acts. The menu includes offbeat options such as “pie in a pint,” (apple, pecan, or a seasonal offering) and the usual treats like nachos, pretzels, and a hummus plate.
Saying hello to new offerings can sometimes mean saying goodbye to old ones, and that’s the case at Song Mountain Resort.Song Mountain has replaced its Thunderbird T-bar with a new Triple Chairlift, which was relocated from Northern Minnesota and is from the Riblit Tramway Company. The T-bar, installed around 1965, had seen many years of dependable service, but the addition of this new triple chairlift is expected to provide a smoother, faster ride and dramatically improves the downhill ski and snowboard traffic on the mountain.
FIND OUT MORE
“Every year we welcome new businesses and tourism attractions into our region,” says Rebecca Maffei, Chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council and Director of Tioga County Tourism. “The growth of this industry is exciting to us as professionals, but also exciting to our visitors, who find new reasons to visit the Finger Lakes and experience all we have to offer as a vacation destination.”
To learn more about the Finger Lakes Region, visit www.fingerlakestravelny.com.