Camping through Central New York

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While we spend a lot of time taking weekend trips, full-fledged, week long vacations usually only happen once a year. To make the most of these trips, they’re often road trips that allow us to visit several places during one vacation.

This year’s trip was a drive to Toronto – our end destination, with plenty of stops along the way. The first half of our trip was spent traveling through Central New York, camping our way to the Canadian border.

Day 1: Monson, MA

Our trip started on a Friday, after work, and a mad dash to make it to Massachusetts before Treehouse Brewery closed for the night. We arrived a minute before they shut down, secured some beer to bring home, and then made our way to the nearby Sunsetview Farm Camping Area for night #1.

Packed with RVs, we were lucky to get a semi-private tenting site and settled in for the evening. We prefer private, wooded sites at campgrounds – which I assume is true for most tenters. This was not the place for that, but it seemed like everyone there was having a good time. For us, it was a great stopping point that saved us a few hours of driving the following morning.

Where we ate: The Mug ‘N’ Muffin. Classic diner breakfast. Can’t beat it.


Day 2: Sharon Springs, NY

Two winters ago in Burlington, Vermont I purchased a jar of Beekman 1802 honey as a gift for my roommate and have followed the company online ever since. From housewares to kitchen staples, I fell in love with the lifestyle of the men behind the brand – especially their farm and the way they’ve grown their business in the former spa town of Sharon Springs.

As luck would have it, the town was hosting its annual Harvest Festival the weekend we planned to visit, and the streets were bustling, full of vendors and local business people boasting their wares. Mixed in with abandoned pools and buildings, the liveliness of the town was a glimpse of what it had been in years past.

We had a mission that night – to reach Doug’s Fish Fry for dinner – so we hit the road, stopping at the infamous Skaneateles fish fry before continuing on to that night’s resting point, Oak Orchard Campground in Savannah. The campground was similarly full of campers and RVs, but we were the only campers using their “primitive sites,” so we had plenty of privacy and settled in for the only rain of the trip – a thunderstorm that lasted through the early half of the night, creating a perfectly cozy bedtime setting.

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Where we ate: Doug’s Fish Fry. If you don’t know it, you need to. Go with the Fish Dinner, or as I’ve finally realized is plenty of food for one person, the “Fish Only,” a fried fish sandwich with the fish at least twice the size of the bun it’s set on. Skaneateles is the original location, but you can find them elsewhere in New York.


Day 3: Cayuga Lake & Ithaca

When in wine country it’s only natural to hit the first winery by 10AM, right? We drove down Cayuga, stopping at some of the wineries along the way, with a focus on the ones that offered cider or mead to keep things interesting, and, of course, the one place that was serving up beer in the middle of them all.

After a quick tour through Ithaca, home for the night was an incredible off-the-grid “village” of hand built super tiny houses in rural Ithaca. Dubbed “Karenville” for its builder and primary occupant, the incredible town of small houses included a cafe stocked with snacks, tiny houses she had personally lived in that fit little more than twin mattresses, and tons of surprises.

With no electricity or running water, Karenville was a step up from tent camping, while still retaining the rustic allure of spending the night in a field. This is one of the many wonderful experiences we’ve had with Airbnb. You can find Karen’s profile here, I would definitely recommend a visit. If you haven’t yet signed up for Airbnb, you can use this link and we’ll both get credit toward future travels.

Where we ate: Moosewood Vegetarian Restaurant. I remember first visiting Ithaca with my mom as a young vegetarian, and later in life finding a Moosewood cookbook in a “free stuff” bin at an old apartment. Wherever the connection stems from, this place holds a special spot in my heart.


Day 4: Corning and Watkins Glen, NY

I’m a big Pyrex geek, so when we planned a trip to New York, it was kind of a given that we’d stop at the Corning Museum of Glass to see their 100 year Pyrex anniversary exhibit. It didn’t disappoint – giving a full run down of Pyrex history, as well as a chance to glimpse some patterns I’d never seen in person before. The town of Corning was surprisingly charming, leaving me wishing we had more time to explore.

Growing up in Northeastern PA, Watkins Glen is a place I felt familiar with (Nascar races and waterfalls, right?), but in reality had never visited. The sleepy town was kind of unassuming – we arrived at the state park without much fanfare, questioning the hype based on the view from the road.

Once inside, any feelings that the experience might be lackluster quickly vanished. The trail through the park winds in and around (and under!) waterfalls, creating breathtaking views every step of the way.

Where we ate: Little Boomers’ Burrito Bar in Corning. Think Chipotle, on a more local level.

Read Part 2 of our road trip here – Letchworth State Park, Niagara Falls, Toronto, and Prescott, Ontario.

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