Author: Karen Miltner

Karen Miltner is the chief content officer and public relations manager at the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection. She has spent most of her adult life collecting upstate New York zip codes but is now settled in 14456 (Geneva) with her farmer-husband and their three crazy cats.

Karen will bike, hike or snowshoe just about anywhere for a pretty picture, and finds these activities to be the best way to alleviate guilt when ordering a second Finger Lakes beer.. After dark, she craves live music, theater and literary events. On rainy days, look for her in antique shops, thrift stores and libraries. She has ridden her bike around all 11 Finger Lakes twice (that's close to 1,100 miles), and is in the process of cycling every street and road in Ontario County.

Traveling on a budget? Or simply want to give your wallet a break? Ontario County has plenty of groovy things to do that are free (or pretty darn close). From art demonstrations and live music to yoga on a farm and Pilates in a castle, here are ten super-fun Finger Lakes freebies. 

4 famous women who made Ontario County history

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 8:00 AM by Karen Miltner

Women make history every day, but we Americans tend to save the celebration for March, thanks to proclamations signed by President Jimmy Carter and President Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1987, respectively. Carter created a National Women’s History Week from March 2-8, and Reagan extended it to the entire month.

Living in Ontario County, I am reminded about some of our lady history makers every day with the architecture I see, the artwork I admire and the stories I hear on a regular basis.

Perhaps you have come to the Finger Lakes to explore our world-famous Rieslings and our award-winning farm-to-table fare. That’s all well and good, but let’s face it, sometimes a cold beer and a hefty burger are exactly what the vacation doctor calls for, with a big side of local culture. From re-purposed shotgun shells turned into lighting fixtures to free legal advice from town supervisors, here are some of the best off-the-beaten-path watering holes, dive bars and neighbor joints in the Finger Lakes where you can easily feel like a regular.

Sometimes you go to a bar or restaurant for a drink and try something new and wonder, where did that come from? That happened to me recently when I was at Lake Drum Brewing in Geneva, trying a flight of hard ciders from the region. One in particular stood out. It was a pleasantly spicy and alluring ginger cider, sweet but not cloying, and it tasted great with the popcorn I was eating. I could imagine it tasting even better with some Chinese food. I was thrilled when I discovered that the producer, Star Cider, is just a few miles away in Clifton Springs.

With purple fire hydrants dotting the downtown streets and vineyards defining its hills and valley, the village of Naples takes its grapes, and grape pies, very seriously. These inky purple pies are the unofficial mascot of the community, sold at roadside stands and at farm markets during harvest season and at small retail shops throughout the year. There's even a local pizzeria that has a grape pie pizza on its dessert menu.

After a long, hot summer that saw very little rain, I assumed that the late September afternoon I would be hosting a travel writer from Nashville, Tennessee, would follow suit, and I would be able to show her the splendor of Indian summer in the Finger Lakes.

I had plans to take Alex, an editor at an online women’s lifestyle publication in the Southeast, kayaking on Canadice Lake, and John Kenney, owner of Canadice Lake Outfitters, was going to be our guide.

You have to be 21 to legally be served wine, beer or some other fine Finger Lakes libations.

But kids (and designated drivers) can still taste delicious non-alcoholic potables and enjoy other fun amusements at some Finger Lakes wineries and breweries, making a stop along the wine trails and beer trails a lot more family-friendly than you think. Here is how some of our wineries and breweries are welcoming younger visitors.

Farmers markets are a great way to really experience local flavor in the Finger Lakes. Not only can you find fresh, locally grown and produced fruits, vegetables, eggs, meats, grains and dairy products, but at many markets you  can also purchase fresh-cut flowers and plants, crafts, baked goods, maple syrup, honey and homemade jams and other exclusive Finger Lakes treats.