Escape to the Empire State

A Girls Road Trip to the Finger Lakes

Between virtual learning and working from home, we all deserve an escape this fall. As a life-long Connecticut girl, I’ve never had to look far for gorgeous fall foliage. Previously, my autumn adventures always led me further north in New England. It wasn’t until this year that I ventured to New York’s northern country.

Early in September, I embarked on a four-day Empire State Road Trip with two of my friends, Kristy and Mindy. After months of hunkering down at home, this road trip was a much-needed treat; we were all thankful to experience this trip together while being safe!                                                                     

Watkins Glen, NY is only a four and a half hour trip from Westport and the trip boasts scenic fall foliage vistas. (If you’re looking for even more of an adventure, consider Clayton, NY, a river-front town that boarders Canada.) Insider Tip: along your route in Middletown, NY, you’ll find the best restaurant in the area, Oak & Reed. It’s the perfect way to break up the drive while also enjoying delicious cuisine (they do takeout too). 


The Finger Lakes region is brimming with safe, socially-distant fall activities. We kicked off our first full day by exploring Watkins Glen State Park, which recently underwent a $6.5 million renovation. The park has 19 waterfalls and miles of hiking trails. Make sure you wear a good pair of boots!

A winery or two has to be on your Finger Lakes itinerary. We had the opportunity to tour Lakewood Vineyard. Afterwards we enjoyed tasting their award-winning wines while soaking in the vineyard’s stunning countryside views. 

Apple-picking is another must while you’re there. The Finger Lakes are known for their orchards and Reisinger’s Apple Country did not disappoint. Only a 10-minute drive from downtown, Reisinger’s is the perfect place to pick your own apples. Make sure you grab some of their fresh made apple cider donuts before you leave. 


Spend an hour or two exploring Watkins Glen’s charming downtown. As you stroll down main street you’ll find beautiful murals on the sides of buildings that highlight the town’s ties to racing.

Perhaps the most well-known spot on Seneca Lake is the Seneca Lake pier with its iconic red harbor station. You might even see some wildlife -- one morning I’m sure I spotted an otter! 


We stayed at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, a four-diamond property right on Seneca Lake. The property’s central location to everything made our time in Watkins Glen effortless. The hotel’s staff were extremely attentive, friendly, and took all necessary safety measure. 

We enjoyed our meals outdoors at the hotel’s lake-front restaurant, the Blue Pointe Grille (indoor seating is an option). If you’re looking for some good lunch places around town, we enjoyed our sandwiches and wraps from Holy Cow Deli. Additionally, some suites at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel have kitchens if you’re more comfortable cooking your own meals. 

If you decide to stay at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel like we did, I’d recommend a lake-view room with a balcony to get the full Finger Lakes experience. Our rooms had huge Jacuzzi tubs, which we thoroughly enjoyed after a day of outdoor activities.


One of the many perks of a road-trip is having the freedom to pack more than you typically would. Knowing I would be spending plenty of time outdoors on this trip, I packed many layers to stay warm. I also packed my trusted ChappyWrap blanket. It kept me nice and warm throughout the entire trip! 

For outerwear, my Barbour quilted jacket was perfect and for footwear, I packed my Bean boots along with sneakers and some stylish booties for dinner. 




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