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.

You are never too old for a field trip

Friday, September 11, 2015 2:44 PM by Karen Miltner

Everyone who works at the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection just happens to live in different parts of Ontario County. So we have a lot of collective home turf expertise. 

Earlier this week, we spent the day in the “twin villages” of Manchester and Shortsville, as well as a mid-day stop in Clifton Springs. For those of us who live in other parts of the county, the day was filled with a lot of “I didn’t know that” moments. Here are my favorites.

The Finger Lakes-Wyoming Connections

Tuesday, September 8, 2015 9:36 AM by Karen Miltner

I love to travel because it lets me experience people and places that are new and different and invigorating in ways I could never have imagined.

Yet inevitably if I come across something that reminds me of home, it makes me feel all that more connected to this new destination.

Two weeks ago I took part in a press tour in and around Cody, Wyoming, joining our friends at the Midwest Travel Writers Association who held their fall conference there.

The Finger Lakes farm-to-supermarket connection

Saturday, August 15, 2015 5:26 PM by Karen Miltner

There are not many parts of the country where the local supermarket is a tourism destination, but a lot of us Finger Lakes lifers bring our out-of-town guests and family members to Wegmans Food Markets, an award-winning supermarket chain with deep roots in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region.

Staff is exceedingly friendly and helpful. The produce department always looks ready for a Martha Stewart photo shoot.  And in the Canandaigua store where I shop most frequently, there is a burger bar, sushi counter, coffee kiosk and an outdoor patio where I can eat all the food I'm too lazy to cook myself.

Several weeks after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the Voice of America made its debut on radios beyond our borders, broadcasting in German as a new strategy to counter Nazi propaganda and promote American democracy and other values to Americans in occupied territory as well as to overseas allies.

The original VOA relied on shortwave radio, a technology, which previously had only been used in private enterprise.

The Antique Wireless Museum, a mind-boggling collection of historic communications equipment and hardware, now brings a sizable piece of VOA history to Bloomfield.

When you open up a craft brewery in the sauerkraut capital of the world, at some point, the local sauerkraut cheerleading squad will come knocking at your door.

That is exactly what happened to Mike Darling last year, just two weeks before the annual Phelps Sauerkraut Weekend. This year's festival of fermented cabbage runs Friday, July 31 through Sunday, Aug. 2 in various locations in downtown Phelps.

Mike is the head brewmaster, keg washer and CMO (Chief Mop Operator) of Crafty Ales & Lagers, a nano-brewery that opened in 2013.

The Finger Lakes were made for bicycles!

Saturday, July 25, 2015 1:11 PM by Karen Miltner

This spring when I found out I would be working for Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, the official tourism promotion agency for Ontario County, I wanted to be able to see my county in a new way, a way that visitors see it, with fresh eyes, curiosity, and admiration.

So I created a challenge for myself. To explore all of Ontario County by bicycle. And by that, I mean riding every single street, alley, road and avenue on my bike. I started the project in late April and will probably take two or three years to complete.

The green drumlins along the northern border of Ontario County are pretty and quiet.

But for seven nights each summer, one hill in particular becomes the epicenter of a 77-year-old theater tradition that draws hundreds to a multi-level complex of 10 stages and thousands to the seats below.

Just because you’re on vacation does not mean you have to take a vacation from celebrating the country’s most patriotic of holidays, Independence Day, or Fourth of July.

Ontario County has several celebrations happening, ranging from a parade, a picnic and fireworks to a lakeside ring of fire.

The latter, Honeoye Lake’s ring of fire, is especially endearing to Finger Lakes residents. Flares are lit on shore all around the lake, encircling the water with beautiful brightness that ascends to the summer sky. The Ring of Fire is also a beloved end-of-summer ritual on Canandaigua Lake on the Saturday before Labor Day. 

Here is the schedule of events.

Geneva wins All-America City award

Friday, June 19, 2015 9:54 AM by Karen Miltner

As a newcomer to the tourism industry, my position at the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection makes me look at the community where I live through a different lens. As I do this, a new philosophy emerges. It essentially boils down to this:

A great place to visit must also be a great place to live. 

Residents will learn about and love their community even more when they explore their own back yard like a tourist. Meanwhile, visitors more and more want to experience the life of the locals when they travel.

It’s a win-win all around.

Whenever I travel, one of the first things on my to-do list is to see where the locals shop for food. Of course I like eating at restaurants, but I love exploring the home cooking of different destinations even more, and a cook is only as good as the fresh, high-quality ingredients she buys.

Grocery stores, bakeries and ethnic markets are a year-round find, but in summer, the farmers markets are an open-air sampler plate not only of a community’s culinary bounty and inclinations but also of its cultural character.