It’s been awhile since I wrote about travel because, well, life sometimes gets in the way of our best laid plans. I’m back now and eager to tell you about our short vacation that was both magical and restorative. This review will be of particular interest to the disability community, but it certainly applies to everyone because Nature + Wine = Splendor for All.
Sometimes there are places in our own backyard that we never visit. For us one of them was the Finger Lakes, a group of eleven long and narrow lakes located in the west-central section of Upstate New York. A scenic area with sprawling farmland, rolling hills and wonderful wineries, the Finger Lakes is defined as a “bioregion.” (“An area bounded by natural rather than artificial borders that has characteristic flora and fauna and includes one ecosystem.” ~Wikipedia)
We hadn’t taken a vacation in a long time so we decided to pack up and head to the Finger Lakes before the start of our crazy summer schedules. After a three-hour drive from home we arrived at the Inn where we’d be staying.
Greek Peak Mountain Resort, located in Virgil, New York is nestled in the midst of picturesque mountains that, from a distance, looks like a beautiful painting. When we entered the Inn through their glass doors I was happy to read the signs that announced it is both energy and environmentally friendly, as well as an award-winning green leader.
Once inside the Inn it is both a gorgeous ski lodge and a summer vacation resort with its high vaulted cedar ceilings and A-frame door of glass that allows visitors to drink in the dazzling beauty of the outdoors.
We checked into our handicapped accessible room on the first floor. A beautiful, bright room, it is large enough to maneuver a wheelchair and the bathroom is fully accessible. There is also a kitchen for those who prefer to cook meals in their room. (We also saw non-accessible rooms that were equally spacious and well appointed.)
Then it was dinnertime!
We settled into the Acorn Grill, the Inn’s restaurant located on the first floor. It offered a beautiful vista on one side with a buffet area on the other. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of menu choices, so I was happy to be completely wrong. Their menu offered a wide array of entrees and we were not disappointed. Each dish was deliciously prepared with fresh ingredients and dessert? Let’s just say there was nothing left over.
After dinner we walked the grounds and to our delight found a lovely, flat walking path that loops around a sparkling lake just begging to be used for boating or swimming.
We were lucky to visit Greek Peak in between high seasons because we had the path all to ourselves.
If we stayed at the Inn longer I would have taken advantage of its full-service Waterfall Spa for a facial or massage. And I certainly should have used their state-of-the-art fitness center or taken a few laps in their pool…
A few other items you might be interested in:
Hope Lake Lodge Condominiums (part of Greek Peak): Hotel style condominiums are for sale and include concierge and bell service, 24 hour room service and daily housekeeping.
Cascades Indoor Waterpark: A 41,000 square foot indoor waterpark with over 500 feet of slides, 3 story tube slides, a toddler pool, outdoor pool, indoor/outdoor hot tub and modern wave pool looks like a lot of fun for families to enjoy.
Greek Peak Ski and Ride Center: There are thirty-two trails and six aerial lifts that make this a popular ski resort. The Ski Center also offers two surface lifts, a beginners slope, a full service Nordic Center with groomed cross country and snowshoe trails. (The area boasts an average snowfall of 122 plus inches!)
Outside of Virgil many tiny towns dot the area, and as we toured them we felt compelled to pull over and drink in the beauty of the area.
We stopped at a few places of note that I’d suggest to anyone planning a trip to this part of the Finger Lakes:
Cornell University and Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Botanical Gardens: After driving around the lovely campus of Cornell University in Ithaca our next stop was the beautiful Cornell Plantations, a part of the University that offers easily accessible pathways leading around beautifully landscaped gardens of herbs, vegetables, perennials, conifers, peonies and much more. It’s an enchanting region of Ithaca that’s made more lovely, I am sure, when the flowers are in full bloom. (NOTE: Most of the walkways are paved, flat and accessible. The path changes in a few areas where the walkway is made up of natural stone.)
Cascadilla Gorge: This site is idyllic in both sight and sound with eight waterfalls creating frothy cascades that slide down limestone and shale to create wide cascades that can reach 54 feet high. (NOTE: The gorge is only accessible on the grassy park off the parking lot where you can see the creek and possibly one waterfall.)
Lakewood Vineyards and Winery: The Finger Lakes is known for its award-winning wines found in many of the areas vineyards. We chose Lakewood Vineyards and Winery for our afternoon wine tasting and tour. I’ve visited many vineyards in Napa Valley and the Loire Valley in France and Lakewood is equally beautiful.
Located in Watkins Glen and situated off Seneca Lake, the views from the almost 80 acres of vineyards are breathtaking and, although they are best known for their whites, it also offers 14 varieties of grapes that include Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable and helped make our “tasting menu” interesting and fun.
We decided to try their semi-sweet and sweet Rieslings, although the bottle we purchased was a Long Stem White from a grape that was developed at Cornell. Thank you, Cornell!
(NOTE: There are a few steps to get into the winery from the parking lot and then onto the deck that overlooks the vineyard. A path leading visitors through the vineyard toward Seneca Lake is flat but unpaved. As you get closer to the lake there is a large gazebo to sit and view this magnificent property.)
If you’re looking to get away from it all for a few days I’d highly recommend losing yourself in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. There’s so much to do, and I know we’ll be going back to explore the area again and again.
NOTE: I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Jessica Robideau and Dan Stokes of the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance for their help and generosity in arranging our vacation. We needed to cancel our plans with them last year and they were both gracious and kind. Thank you both for your patience and assistance.
Disclosure: I received two free nights’ stay and a free dinner for three at Greek Peak Mountain Resort. All opinions expressed, as always, are completely my own.