Hundreds of thousands of tourists pass through Watkins Glen, April through October every year. During those months they swim, camp, hike the Watkins Glen Gorge (standing room only), crowd wineries, make traffic a nightmare, cushion the pockets of bartenders and servers, and promptly leave to return to their homes. We love tourists, they bring an outside perspective to our town, and are usually very appreciative for our hospitality. Once the leaves fall off the trees, the tourists disappear until next April. Then, the locals come out to play. For those of you looking for the true local experience, the winter is time to visit the Finger Lakes, I am here to tell you why.
1. Live Music – For such a remote and rural area, we are incredibly FORTUNATE to have an abundance of local bands, and live music hot spots. Two Goats Brewing features original artists ONLY, no cover bands. A quick drive to Ithaca and you have the choice of The Haunt or The Dock for regularly scheduled concerts. In Ithaca you can find local artists as well as more notorious bands such as Rubblebucket, Lake Street Dive, Old Crow Medicine Show, Big Mean Sound Machine, John Brown’s Body and many more. Every wednesday at The Dock is Reggae night, featuring a rotating line up of local/regional musicians coming together to make magic happen.
2 Frozen Waterfalls – Have you ever seen a frozen waterfall? NO!?! It’s majestic, put that on your bucket list.
3 Low Lodging Rates – The hotels, hostels, motels, inns, B&B’s owners really rely on their income from rentals, and tend to maximize their earning potential in the summer by inflating their prices. That is their prerogative. It is also their prerogative to drop their prices to as low as they want in the winter just to make a buck. If you have been waiting to plan a weekend getaway because your budget is tight, Winter in the Finger Lakes is definitely a good time to negotiate or barter with the lodging establishment owners. At The Local Hostel we rent beds for $25/per person all winter, this includes access to 2.5 bathrooms, a kitchen, wi-fi, and walking distance to every point in Watkins Glen.
4 Nearly Empty Wineries – The winter is a great time to get the all star treatment and a private winery tour and tasting. Wineries are overrun with visitors during the summer and fall months tasting room employees and vintners are unable to give their undivided attention to one group of customers. In the winter on the other hand you are likely to find at least one winery where you can meet the owner, the wine maker, and tour the facility with a glass of wine in hand.
5 The Locals come out of hiding – This should not come as a surprise but the locals work like crazy during the busy tourist season, they are the life blood of the industries that draw the visitors in. Most locals work multiple jobs and over 60 hours a week April through October. November is when the majority of locals come out of hiding and start to play. You will find them drinking at Hector Wine Company and Two Goats Brewing in Hector. They will catch live music at The Dock in Ithaca or The Rongovian Embassy in Trumansburg. They eat breakfast at The Harvest Cafe, Glen Mountain Market, or Toni’s Diner.
The Finger Lakes have so much to offer in the Winter months, don’t let the cold keep you away.
Are you planning any winter trips? Where are you going?