When you think about your favorite childhood memory, where does your mind wander to? A trip with friends? Summers spent on the lake? The best meal you’ve ever tasted? One thing’s for sure: Favorite memories usually include some key ingredients, like location, timing and, most importantly, the people you shared them with.

Environmentally friendly

When I was a kid, my aunts and uncles would load up the car, and visit one of the many state parks in the Finger Lakes Region.
My siblings and I have continued this tradition, driving our own children to various state parks, where we continue to make lasting memories.

I can’t help but think of my niece, who, at the ripe old age of 4, once proclaimed with wonder while standing next to a lake in Syracuse: “This lake is colored GREEN!” It wasn’t long before one of my daughters, a few years older and able to read, said, “Wow! I bet that’s why they call this Green Lakes State Park.” It made us chuckle to see two young minds learning together, admiring a natural wonder that most adults would take for granted.

But once they grew into adults, they learned that Green Lakes is one of only two metamorphic lakes in the world, meaning the seemingly green color is a result of water that does not turn over. The sediment attached to the root structure of nearby trees creates marble-like visions, casting an emerald green hue across the water.

My children often reminisce about other outdoor adventures we’ve had – like the time I got stuck skiing backwards down the bunny slope at Greek Peak, a memory not soon to be forgotten.

Museum amusements

Not only did we try to encourage a love of the outdoors in all of our children, but also a passion for museums. And having the Strong Museum of Play within the Finger Lakes Region was a great introduction to all that museums have to offer. What young child wouldn’t love to shop like mommy in a child size Wegman’s store, or sit on the stoop of Sesame Street with Oscar the Grouch?

Such a positive experience makes it easy to find fun in other museums, like Brown’s Race in Rochester, which elaborates on why Rochester was once known as the “Flour City.” Even today, this museum stop makes for a wonderful winter day excursion.

Looking for a more interactive dive-in-and-play experience? The Corning Museum of Glass offers kids and adults alike the chance to make their own piece of glass to keep – a fun memento for years to come.

History in the making

There’s also, simply, a lot of history in the Finger Lakes. When my nieces and nephews first started reading stories, such as Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer, they were amazed that I could take them to Mark Twain’s study – located on the Elmira College Campus – to see where he wrote those novels. They were even more amazed that Mark Twain’s final resting place is in Elmira as well.

As of late, my older nieces and nephews have been begging us to visit the new Hope Lake Lodge for a little indoor/outdoor fun. I’m sure they just want a photo of me on the zip line at Greek Peak’s Adventure Center to post on Facebook. Let’s hope I’m not nearly as terrified as I was when they snapped a photo of me skiing backwards on that bunny slope.

by Jessica Robideau and Cindy Kimble, Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance

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