Archive for December, 2013

Things to Do in Finger Lakes

Posted on: December 31st, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

The Finger Lakes Region has so many excellent activities to do in winter.  Wine and beer tasting are always a staple in the Finger Lakes Region, but winter offers a unique opportunity to try the region’s ice wines and tour the wineries while this year’s bottles are still fermenting.

On February 15th, Casa Larga Winery will be hosting the 6th Annual Ice Wine Festival. Come experience ice wines in winter, the season that makes them possible.  Sample local ice wines made from grapes grown in New York State, paired with delicious culinary masterpieces.  The festival gives you the opportunity to try wines from all over the state of New York, sample local foods, see culinary demonstrations, and so much more!

Owasco Lake is one of the Finger Lakes Regions best locations for ice fishing.  In winter it’s great for fishing panfish, northern pike, and trout.

Skiing and snowboarding at Greek Peak Mountain Resort is a favorite winter pastime of many in the Finger Lakes Region.  Offering 32 trails of varying terrain, Greek Peak is open for day and night skiing.  It also has a Nordic Center, offering 10 cross country trails.

There are also plenty of state parks in the Finger Lakes Region.  They’re wonderful places to visit for snowshoeing.  Snowmobiling is also a favorite pastime in New York state.  The state maintains an extensive trail system leading through state parks, forests, private lands, and quaint towns.
If you’re getting a bit tired of winter weather, visit Cascades Indoor WaterPark.  Take a break from the cold and step into summer weather! Cascades is 84° all year long, making it perfect swimming, water sliding, splashing, and whatever else you might get into at this great water park!

For more things to do in the Finger Lakes Region check out our previous posts here and here.



Winter in Finger Lakes

Posted on: December 30th, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

Sitting between the major cities of Rochester and Syracuse lies the under-appreciated gem of New York State known as the Finger Lakes Region.

While the tiny, finger like lakes that steak through the rolling hills of this region make it a great summer destination, the Finger Lakes Region is a wonderful place to visit at all times of the year.

Winter affords a wonderful opportunity to see those same gorgeous used for boating and fishing in summer, paved over with ice and frost.  The vineyards become a frozen wonderland perfect for providing one of the region’s delicacies – ice wines.

There are close to 100 wineries operating in the Finger Lakes Region, making it New York’s largest area of wine production.  Many of these wineries are open to the public, allowing anyone to come taste the wines produced in the area.  The Finger Lakes Region is especially known for Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Seyval blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and Videl blanc.  It’s also well known for ice wine, a sweet dessert wine produced from grapes which have been frozen while still on the vine.

The Finger Lakes Region isn’t just home to great wine.  It’s also filled with lots of great history waiting to be explored.  It was right in the middle of the Second Great Awakening, which swept over New England in the 19th century.  The Underground Railroad ran through the region, and it was the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement and the LDS Church.

In winter, Finger Lakes offers snowshoeing, skiing, ice fishing, and more! It’s the perfect place to experience any of your favorite winter activities, and it’s all in the heart of wine country!

Ski at Sugarloaf in Carrabassett Valley

Posted on: December 20th, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

800px-Sugarloaf_Mountain_seen_from_Maine_State_Route_27Carrabassett Valley is a beautiful small town at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, one of Maine’s most well known ski resorts.  It is perhaps best known for being the home of the Carrabassett Valley Academy which trains young adolescents in academics and winter sports and fostered many young Olympians and national champions.

Sugarloaf/USA was opened in the 1950s by the Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Club.  Within 20 years it had become one of the most popular destinations on the east coast, thanks in part to its hosting of several World Cup events in 1971.

Sugarloaf is the main event in this area, but there are plenty of things to do in Carrabassett Valley.  Ski the slopes, snowboard in one of their great terrain parks or visit the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center for cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating.  If you’ve had your fill of winter sports, visit nearby Kingfield where you’ll find lots of great museums and shops, as well as great Victorian charm.

There are plenty of great places to eat in Carrabassett Valley and Kingfield.  You’ll find lots of places to partake in the “apres” culture, and lots of great places to stop for a drink after a long day on the mountain.  Restaurants here focus on simple Maine staples and favorites and great pub grub.   Many of the area’s restaurants are great places for enjoying a drink with friends, playing a game of billiards, or just relaxing by the fire after a long day out in the cold.

There are also a great range of places to Stay in Carrabassett Valley. Stay slope side, with ski-in ski-out options and the lifts just a few steps from the main entrance.  Stay in the alpine village in the heart of everything so you never miss what’s going on.  Or stay at one of the many condos close to the mountain, or in town at a great bed and breakfast that will offer fantastic personal service and small town charm.

Carrabassett Valley has great skiing, nightlife and culture.  It’s the perfect place for a quiet winter getaway for families, couples, or anyone who loves winter!


Places to Stay in Carrabassett Valley

Posted on: December 19th, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

Mountainside_CondosSugarloaf has lots of great lodging options.  Stay directly on the slopes just a few steps from the lifts, in the alpine village, or stay in town at one of the many condos, charming hotels or quaint bed and breakfasts.

Nestlewood Inn – A hidden gem in Carrabassett Valley, this newly constructed log cabin offers luxurious accommodations, each with a private bath and their own unique style.  Stay far enough away from the crowded base of the mountain that you avoid the noise and crowds, but close enough that Sugarloaf isn’t too far away. Start each day with a home cooked breakfast and come back from the slopes to enjoy fresh cookies and warm tea as you relax in the great room.

Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel –  Located in the Alpine Village, this full service is hotel is right in the heart of everything going on in Sugarloaf.  Surround yourself with Maine’s gorgeous mountains as you enjoy private baths, and luxurious guest rooms.

Three Stanley Avenue – This adorable bed and breakfast is located in the quaint Victorian town of Kingfield.  It was built by Baynard Stanley, youngest brother of the Stanley twins.  It houses six beautiful guest rooms, three with private baths, and is the perfect place to call your home away from home.

Herbert Grand Hotel – Located on the Carrabassett River, the Herbert Grand was built in 1918, and played host to wild parties for Maine politicians and the elite during the Prohibitian-era.  The parties are rumored to have been so wild that some guests never leave and haunt the site to this day.  Today the hotel continues to provide amazing service to those going out to enjoy Sugarloaf and Saddleback.

Sugarloaf Inn – Offering ski in/ski out access, Sugarloaf Inn’s main entrance is just feet from the lifts at Sugarloaf Mountain.  Never be far from the mountain or all that it has to offer at this great hotel.  Enjoy their on site restaurant for some great night life!

Mountain Village Farm Bed and Breakfast – This quaint farmhouse offers beautiful guest rooms with private baths, a living room with a fireplace, perfect for warming your hands and feet after a long day on the slopes, and a breakfast cafe.  Enjoy panoramic views of Maine’s high peaks, and make use of the on site cross country skiing and snowmobile trails.  Start each day with a fresh breakfast, including produce frosh from their farm!

Places to Eat in Carrabassett Valley

Posted on: December 18th, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

Sugarloaf offers lots of great places to eat, many of them focusing on great Maine favorites or tasty pub grub.

Shipyard Brew Haus – Located the Suglarloaf Inn, the Brewhaus is a casual pub that’s the perfect place to relax by the fireside, play a game of billiards, or catch the game with some friends while enjoying some traditional Maine seafood and a great brew.

45 North – The resort’s newest restaurant, 45 North is located in the Suglarloaf Mountain Hotel and is open for breakfast and dinner.  It offers a modern twist on Maine comfort food, with the comfortable decor for a classic Maine farmhouse.

Gepetto’s – Fresh seafood, steak, pasta, homemade soup and chowder are just the tip of the iceberg at Gepetto’s. A full bar, an excellent martini menu, and stellar service might just help make this one of your favorite places during your stay.  Enjoy live entertainment on Saturday nights, and don’t be afraid to bring your kids! There’s a mini-arcade downstairs they’re sure to love.

Widowmaker Lounge –  This great night spot is at the top of the Sugarloaf Base Lodge.  Enjoy life entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights, great pub fare, 16 draught beers.  The atmosphere, view, and friendly waitstaff make it a must stop on your visit!

Bullwinkle’s – Sugarloaf’s on mountain restaurant, Bullwinkle’s is at the top of Bucksaw Chair.  Stop by during your day and enjoy some lunch from their American Bistro menu or just grab a hot chocolate before heading back out onto the slopes.  At night Bullwinkle’s transforms into a secluded mountain restaurant.  Enjoy six course gourmet meal by candlelight.  It’s a great getaway for romantics or just the adventurous!

The Rack – Located at the base of the Access Road, the Rack is a great place to experience the post-ski day scene.  Enjoy a full menu including Maine favorites like seafood, and of course, given the name, BBQ ribs and steaks.

Things to Do in Carrabassett Valley

Posted on: December 17th, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

Carrabassett Valley largely grew up around the ski resort, therefore most of what is in the area has to do with Sugarloaf Mountain.  However, if skiing or snowboarding isn’t you’re thing, you’ll still be able to find plenty to do!

Sugarloaf Mountain is the main event here! The largest ski area east of the Rocky Mountains, offering 154 trails, and the second longest vertical drop in New England, it’s a very exciting mountain to ski.  It also has the only above treeline lift in the East, offering panoramic views of New Hampshire, Canada, Vermont, and Mount Katahdin.  They have terrain ranging from easy slopes for beginners to some of the steepest, most challenging terrain in New England, as well as some great terrain parks.

If you fancy skiing but not crowds, or simply want to get in some new scenery after skiing Sugarloaf, nearby Mount Abraham may be what you’re looking for.  Though significantly smaller than Sugarloaf Mountain, its 44 trails are well maintained and it’s a great mountain for beginners!

Sugarloaf is so well known for its downhill skiing and snowboarding that many people don’t consider the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center.  Tucked away in the backwoods of Sugarloaf Mountain lies fantastic snowshoeing and cross country skiing on their well groomed trails, and ice skating on their NHL sized rink.

Discover Maine’s extensive history with skiing at the Ski Museum of Maine.  Many may not realize what an important role the state of Maine played in the development of the sport.  Maine’s history of woodwork and producing leather goods helped them to create early ski and ski accessory companies in the 1930’s, when skis were made of wood, and boots were made of leather. Learn all about how this, and Maine’s ski areas developed over time, and see Maine’s Ski Hall of Fame!

For another piece of Maine’s history go to the Stanley Museum.  See the Stanley School, built in 1903 and named for the family responsible for the Stanley steam car – or “Stanley Steamer”  – which would go on to break the Land Speed Record in 1906. The Stanley twins are well remembered for their automobile invention, but their sister, Chansonetta, also made great contributions to photography with her depictions of rural American life at the turn of the century.  This museum celebrates the genius of the entire Stanley family.

Carrabassett Valley, ME

Posted on: December 16th, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

Sugarloaf_PanoramaCarrabassett Valley is a very small town with a population of under 1000.  It is known best for being home to Sugarloaf (formerly Sugarloaf/USA), a major ski resort as well as ski and snowboard academy where many of the USA’s winter Olympians have been trained.

The town was created in 1971 from what was then called the Jersalem Township.  It is called Carrabassett Valley after the Carrabassett River which runs nearby. The town has come to play a large role in the development of the mountain resort.


Sugarloaf is the largest ski resort east of the Mississippi.  It has 154 trails, 1,400 skiable acres, and a continuous vertical drop of 2,820 feet.  It has the second highest elevation in Maine.

It was first opened in 1950 by the Sugarloaf Mountain Ski Club and a local ski group called the Bigelow Boys.  The first trail was cut in the summer of 1950 with the help of club member Amos Winter, giving it the appropriate name “Winter’s Way.”

Ten years later, 5 T-bars had been installed over the mountain, and Whiffletree and King Pine Bowl portions of the mountain were opened.  

In 1965 the name was changed to Suglarloaf/USA at the suggestion of Walt Ernst, a copywriter working for Ad-Media, who thought it would imply size and international stature. The resort continued to grow with several chairlifts being added in the late 60’s and 70’s.

During the 1970-71 season there was little snowfall in Europe, forcing World Cup races to be held elsewhere.  North America was the best choice.  Suglarloaf was already scheduled to host a World Cup Downhill and Giant Slalom and it was the only mountain large enough to host it, the Arlberg Kahndaharone – one of the most high profile races – was moved to Sugarloaf.  It was, and still is, the only time that the race has been held outside of Europe.  A total of 6 World Cup events were held at Sugarloaf that year, bringing thousands of spectators putting Suglarloaf/USA on the international stage.

The early 1970s saw a shortage in snow not only in Europe, but also on the east coast.  Sugarloaf installed snowmaking machines, allowing it to increase the number of ski days.  With the incorporation of Carrabassett Valley and the increase in ski days there was a large increase in real estate development around the mountain.

In the 1980s the Carrabassett Valley Academy was founded offering ski and snowboard training to middle and high school students along with the rest of their academic studies.

During the 90s and early 2000s Sugarloaf played host to the U.S Nationals on multiple occasions.

In 2007, Sugarloaf changed hands, dropping the “/USA” from its name and undergoing a major renovation.  New trails have been added as well as new lifts and there are plans for a new Gondola.

Today Sugarloaf offers fantastic skiing and snowboarding while the town and mountain offer great restaurants, shops, and more!

Quiet Ski Vacation in Ludlow

Posted on: December 13th, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

240px-Okemo-2005-0316aLudlow, Vermont is a beautiful, quiet town next to Okemo Mountain Resort.  Unlike many resort-side towns on the east coast, it has not become overrun with ski huts, chalets and boutique shops, instead keeping truer to its Victorian Vermont charm.  It’s the perfect place to go when you’re looking for a great ski vacation with quiet surroundings.

Though Ludlow is relatively quiet, there are plenty of things to do.  Okemo Mountain has the largest vertical drop in southern Vermont, and with over 100 trails covering the mountain, there’s plenty to explore! There’s also plenty of local history to explore, including some of Calvin Coolidge’s former haunts.

Okemo Valley has a great amount of arts, crafts and antique shops including Fletcher Farm in Ludlow. Take classes on everything from drawing to pottery!

There are many great places to eat in Ludlow.  You’ll find anything from casual pubs to delicious fine dining.  Many focus on farm to table dining, utilizing the freshest, finest ingredients that the Okemo Valley can provide.

Most of the places to stay in Ludlow are charming bed and breakfasts and inns, though there are some larger hotels in the area.  However, it’s really the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a small boutique hotel or bed and breakfast with very personalized service.   Stay in beautiful, romantic Victorian homes that are just a short walk from Okemo, or stay right at the base of the mountain, practically right in front of the chairlift!

Ludlow is really the perfect destination if you’re looking for a quiet getaway that still has lots of fun.  Ski, snowboard, or spend lots of time out in the snow, then come down the mountain for drinks at a quiet restaurant or just relax by the fireside and sip hot chocolate.

Places to Stay in Ludlow

Posted on: December 12th, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

Unlike many resort adjacent towns, Ludlow has not become overpopulated with chalets and ski huts.  Instead you’ll find many quaint, charming bed and breakfasts and inns that offer great Vermont style hospitality.

Okemo Inn – This gorgeous 1810 inn has been painstakingly restored.  Located at the northern edge of Ludlow, Okemo is practically in your backyard! Each guest room features a private bath and temperature control and each is uniquely decorated and furnished.  Public rooms offer a great place to relax, curl up by the fireside and read a book, do a puzzle, play the piano, or just contemplate your navel.  Start each morning with a hearty country breakfast that will keep you going on the slopes!

Echo Lake Inn – Built in 1840 as a summer hotel, this romantic bed and breakfast, has played host to Cavlin Coolidge, Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford.  It is located just outside Ludlow and only a 5 minute drive from Okemo.  Find rooms with fireplaces, or a private Jacuzzi, or stay in one of their 7 condos.   Their onsite restaurant has been hailed by Vermont Magazine has “positively enchanting” and offers unique taste of Vermont.

Inn at Water’s Edge – This 150 year old Victorian inn offers a fabulous romantic getaway.  Imagine relaxing in your private whirlpool tub, sipping a drink by the fireside as you enjoy views of the Black River, or having a drink as you play a game of billiards in the pub.  It’s all possible at this beautiful inn.

The Governor’s Inn – A luxurious, romantic getaway, the Governor’s Inn was once the home of Vermont Governor William W Stickney.  Allow yourself to be transported back to another time, as you take afternoon tea in the parlor by the fireplace, or relax into your fluffy down comforter, or bite into your sumptuous country breakfast.  The Governor’s Inn is just 1 mile from Okemo Mountain Resort, meaning skiing and snowboarding are just a short distance away!

Andrie Rose Inn –  Built in 1829, this cozy b&b sits at the base of Okemo Mountain and is just 1 mile from the mountain resort.  At the Andrie Rose, they hope you’ll feel like you’re at your home away from home.  Escape the stresses of everyday and relax with delicious homemade meals, gorgeous views, and the privacy afforded by staying in a small b&b.

Okemo Mountain Lodge – If you’re looking to walk straight onto the slopes from your lodging, then this is the place to go! All units are equipped with fireplaces, and a fully equipped kitchen, high speed Wi-Fi, television and DVD player, ski lockers, and towel service.


Places to Eat in Ludlow

Posted on: December 11th, 2013 by Erin Weir No Comments

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While many resort towns have bloomed up with overpriced restaurants and fancy cooking you won’t find much of that in Ludlow.  This town is stayed true to its down-to-earth Vermont charm, and much of what’s available in Ludlow is good, simple, old fashioned cooking served with a smile.

Tom’s Loft Tavern – This great local tavern has a cozy feel and offers traditional bar fare.  Nachos, wings and burgers are what you’ll find here, along with great craft beer, including regional brews like Long Trail and Harpoon on tap.  Come for a drink and stay all night for the delicious food and great atmosphere!

Mr Darcy’s Bar and Grill – Specializing in gourmet burgers, Mr Darcy’s offers a fun, modern environment with quality food and service.  Compliment your meal with a local craft beer or a glass of wine from their extensive wine list.  Don’t forget to finish off your meal with one of their homemade apple tarts!

Sam’s Steakhouse – Sam’s Steakhouse serves prime steaks and comfort food.  Sit in the lounge for a lighter menu and a trendy, romantic atmosphere, or sit in the dining room for the full menu and experience the atmosphere of a cozy country inn. Their extensive wine list has been carefully chosen to pair perfectly with every meal, and they offer an array of regional craft beers and hand crafted cocktails.

The Downtown Grocery –  A quirky, lively bistro, offers creative, eclectic food prepared by Chef Rogan Lechthaler.  Lechthaler focuses on using seasonal, local ingredients and products, and aims to deliver his guests the freshest meals possible, hand crafting his pastas and curing meats in the cellar below the restaurant himself.   His cooking has been recognized by The Wall Street Journal, Yankee Magazine, and GQ.

The Killarney – This family owned and operated pub has one saying: “At the Killarney there are no strangers – only friends who haven’t met yet!” Providing a friendly, cozy, authetically Irish atmosphere, the Killarney is the perfect place to meet with friends or make new ones.  With 15 rotating taps, and over 30 bottles, there is no shortage of great beers to try.  They have the most extensive selection of Scotch and Irish whiskey in the area.   Food is prepared with fresh, local ingredients and made with quality in mind.