These days, with experiences driven by data, reviews and all things internet, it’s easy to see how the information age has changed the way we vacation. With instant access to a world of research, your next relaxing getaway may require enough planning to make anybody’s brain freeze. But why dig so deep when a world of possibilities awaits with the help of a little throwback thinking? 

Ditch the cell phones for some swimming, replace the virtual world with nature’s reality and enjoy some time-tested, good old-fashioned disconnected fun. Picnics, campfires, conversations and more, there’s something special about spending time with your favorite people, experiencing the simple pleasures of yesteryear. It’s time for the return of the retro vacation!

Family Fun at Grimes Glen


One of the vibes of a retro vacation is digital distance. Say goodbye to your iPhones and laptops and hello to making your own fun. Back in the day, a game of catch or a dip in the lake were the highlights of vacation. That’s the vibe we’re going for.

Looking to burn off some energy? Try going for a run, hike or walk in the never-ending trails of the Finger Lakes. Level up your activity by grabbing a bike for some mountain trails or release your inner kid by playing a legit game of tag in the woods or on a beach.

Speaking of which, in a region named after its lakes, it should come as no surprise that water is the name of the game. It’s not unusual to sprawl out for an entire day or weekend at a nearby water oasis. As a shining gem of New York State, we strongly urge you to spend a day at the lake. Bring the snacks, bring the beach toys, settle in and unwind.

The final piece of this throwback trifecta is finding a nice park to hang out at. With plenty of greenspace and open areas, a kickball, kite or games with some friends and family could be exactly what you’re looking for. In an after-hours twist, the open spaces of the Finger Lakes provide an incredible stargazing experience away from the city lights. Believe us, they’re worth staying awake for.

Want some more? Try any of these activities. No internet required.

Modern twist: Try geocaching for a fun way to explore the area while looking for hidden treasures.



There’s no escaping it: Most of life’s best moments are spent with family (And friends!) and a fully retro-fied vacation is all about spending time together. For starters, jump into the station wagon (or minivan) and hit the streets for a new-age take on the road trip. Pit stops at overlooks and interesting mom-and-pop shops are a must.

Once you’ve reached your destination, hunker down for the night with a camping experience. An evening or two in a tent is sure to create memories that won’t soon be forgotten.

And we can’t forget about the timeless ritual of the late-night campfire—the primetime venue for family folklore and storytelling. It’s a stage where truths are told, secrets are revealed and laughs abound. Couple this with a few hotdogs, s’mores and anything else you can roast on a stick for a yummy hands-on activity that’s sure to stoke the conversation for years to come.

Modern twist: Music is a must, but ditch the streaming services. Only listen to CDs while on this vacation, or better yet, cassette tapes!

Fresh Grapes at Joseph's Wayside


With a bevy of fast food around any corner, selecting a value meal is always an option. But if experiencing the retro norms of decades gone by is the key, we suggest some farm-fresh alternatives.

The Finger Lakes is filled with locally sourced produce ready for purchase at any number of farmers markets. From tasty snacks to full-blown meals, a stop at one of these markets will allow you to stock up on enough ingredients to power a picnic for an entire week. While you’re at it, say hello to the friendly faces behind the food: the farmers. They’re a boatload of local knowledge and a fine source for interesting stories about the area.

For the days you’re not whipping up an evening menu of your own, stop by a diner for a 1950s neighborhood vibe. Chances are, no matter where you stay, you’re only a few minutes away from a delicious meal at a legendary establishment (although the “legendary” label may vary depending on hometown allegiance).

Modern twist: Grab an order to go and find a local park for a pre-made picnic.


Variety is the spice of life, and when it comes to travel, the principle holds true. With a little bit of ingenuity and some modern twists on age-old classics, the retro vacation is definitely a trip worth taking.