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May 9, 2011 12:44 PM

Help me with basic Finger Lakes advice!

I am trying to decide on a 3-4 day road trip from Boston and the Finger Lakes area came up. I've never been and am somewhat embarassed to admit that I know nothing about this area. In looking at some basic touristy type info, I'm a little overwhelmed - what is the best area to go to if we are looking for good food and plenty of wine tasting, with a minimum of driving? Any recommendations are much appreciated!

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  1. The Finger Lakes is difficult for good food. Knapp's Vinyard on the West side of Cayuga Lake has a pleasant restaurant for lunch or dinner. The food is OK, and the patio is really nice to sit on and eat/drink.

    Moro's Table in Auburn is very good. They serve a lot of small plate dishes. There seems to be intelligent life in the kitchen.

    I'm not a big fan of any of the places in Skaneateles. Maybe a burger in the bar at Sherwood Inn, but stay out of the dining room.

    If you are passing through Syracuse and are looking for a good high-end meal, I really like Lemon Grass/Bistro Elephant in Armory Square. The two restaurants share the same kitchen. Lemon Grass is Pacific Rim type and Bistro Elephant is Bistro. Both very good. For more relaxed and less expensive dining in Syracuse, most people like Dinosaur BBQ. You may have to wait for a table (no reservations accepted), but it is a friendly bar to hang out in. Lots of motorcycle types, but absolutely safe.

    If you get to Penn Yan, try to find a diner or someplace that serves grape pie.

    The Finger Lakes is very pretty country. I'm not a big fan of the wines. I've tasted a few recently that were good $12 bottles, but unfortunately the price was more like $25.00. I like the California, France, Chile, even Ontario wines better for the price. Lots of people do enjoy the New York wines, I'm just not one of them. There are wine trails along most of the lakes, and there are lots of wineries along each of them. All easy driving on good roads with light traffic. Enjoy

    Sherwood Inn
    26 W Genesee St, Skaneateles, NY 13152

    Lemon Grass
    238 W Jefferson St Stop 1, Syracuse, NY 13202

    1. Where do you plan on staying? Ithaca? Watkins Glen? Geneva? At any rate, the wineries are beautiful and I really enjoy Finger Lakes wines. Many of the wines are between the $10-$20 range, with a couple of enjoyable ones even below $10. Seneca Lake's wines are a notch above Cayuga's, in my opinion, and Seneca Lake has more wineries. If you stay at the top or bottom of Seneca or Cayuga, you will be able to go to a bunch of wineries without too much driving, just up and down the sides of either lake. I would recommend staying in Ithaca at least a night or two because it has the highest number of good restaurants, and if you search for threads on Ithaca you can see all the recommendations. To get to the wineries on Seneca it's only about a 40 minute drive from Ithaca too.

      1. Might want to review these (and various other threads):

        After you have had a chance to look over some of these posts, you might have some further questions for us. IMO, there are several nice B&Bs in Trumansburg, which will put you very close to good wineries on both Seneca and Cayuga. It is a charming town with a few good places to eat and a branch of Gimme! coffee. Also, a quick hop to Ithaca, where you should have a look round and visit the farmer's market, if possible.

        1. If you're planning to come through Ithaca, I highly recommend doing so on a Saturday or Sunday so that you can visit the farmers' market. It's a foodie's paradise and all local. It does get chaotically busy sometimes, though, so the earlier you can get there, the better. I'll leave wine recommendations to others, but if you're a fan of hard cider, I recommend Bellwether. They have a stall at the market and have a great variety of ciders. I always thought I didn't care for hard cider because all of the mass-produced kinds are so sickeningly sweet, but they have a terrific, very dry cider that I enjoy.