The FLX <3 Music

Can we just talk about the music scene in the Finger Lakes? How did we get so lucky?

The Finger Lakes are bursting with musicians, writers, artists, producers, and singers. It might have something to do with Ithaca College and all their music students. Having so many well trained musicians in one small region, it is no surprise that Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region have become a destination for music and entertainment. Below I am sharing a list of some festival-style events that make the region truly unique.

Let’s start with the newest festival in the line up: Finger Lakes Thaw. Where the city of Ithaca is the venue, and the listener gets to seek out their entertainment by hopping in and out of local bars, restaurants and night clubs.  This city-is-the-venue-style is the same at Trad Fest in Dublin and Virginia Key Grassroots in the City of Miami. Very popular and promotes a change of scenery, as well as keeps festival goers exploring the local businesses, instead of being fenced in at one specific venue.

Then you have some off the cuff “festivals” like Wintersquabee at Stonecat Cafe. It’s 3 days of food, music, and flannel-clad hector-ites looking to brush off the winter dust.

One of my favorites is the Old Time Fiddlers Gathering and Folk Arts Festival at Lakewood Vineyards. The festival celebrates the tradition of music, dancing, fiddling, and social gatherings in New York State. It is an educational and entertaining event, and started back in 1989!


Probably the largest annual gathering here is the Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance in Trumansburg, NY. I cannot put into words how special this festival is, you just have to experience it. (special tip: bring some friends and a tent)


Grassroots Photo by Dave Burbank

It does not happen often, but sometimes we get lucky and Phish comes to Watkins Glen International. We are expecting them to return this August.


One small region in New York with a big love for music and dance.

TBEX is coming to the FLX

Yesterday I had the chance to attend a TBEX 2018 planning session for local businesses. What is TBEX you may be asking. TBEX stands for Travel Blogger Exchange and they hold 1-2 conferences all over the world each year, and the Finger Lakes will be hosting their 2018 conference in September, in Corning NY.  WHAT?!?!?! The Finger Lakes! This is such an amazing opportunity to share our hidden gems and secrets here.

In september 500-600 travel bloggers, sponsors, program partners will converge on our region to learn from each other, but to also experience our region in one of the most beautiful months of the year.  I hope they take a few extra days to pay attention to the beautiful Seneca Lake.

In preparation I want to point out some of what I think are our best attributes of this region.

1. Women own businesses in abundance here and they are contributing to the growth of the region in a HUGE way! We have women inventing new forms of flour. Female chefs are on the rise and opening their own restaurants, cafes, and shops, almost too many to all be named right here. Artists, creators, and producers supporting each other with in-store features. We also have women making wine, managing vineyards, and owning wineries. Let’s not forget, I am also a female business owner at The Local Hostel 🙂

2. We have an abundance of farms that open their arms and welcome avid travelers to come and work with them. The first that comes to mind is Six Circles, a beautiful and certified natural garlic and vegetable farm. You can also work trade at Spice of Life. Both are educational opportunities, and you will be surrounded by community.

3. Live Music. Do I really need to say more?!?! You can find live music ALL YEAR LONG in Ithaca and Hector, at breweries, wineries, on the Ithaca Commons, or the infamous State Theater. In the summer months you can find music every day of the week. To make this point even better, it’s original music. We don’t just see cover band’s galore. We have an abundance of local musicians who create their own music. I cant begin to express how much that adds to the quality of life here. We also have music festivals here!
These are just a few of my favorite aspects of life in the Finger Lakes, but there are so many more that I have not even begun to touch on! Welcome to our region TBEXers, we can’t wait to share the FLX with you.


The Local Hostel Wins 2016 Guest Review Award

We are so excited to announce that The Local Hostel has received the 2016 Guest Review Award from

This means that in 2016 we received exceptionally high guest review scores, as a result of our cleanliness, high quality customer service, available facilities, comfort, superb location, and value for money. We are so grateful to share out hostel with visitors coming to the Finger Lakes, and look forward to continuing to do so, while improving The Local experience.

We receive reviews from guests who book their reservations through If you would like to stay with us, you can book through our website and leave reviews on our Google Business page or Facebook. We are also featured on Hostel World.
Thank you to everyone who has supported us in our first your of business, we could not be successful with out you!


Emily & Ian

Our favorite places to shop on Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is November 26. We want to share with you some of our FAVORITE places to shop in Watkins Glen on Small Business Saturday.

According to the American Independent Business Alliance, 48% of each purchase at a local independent business was recirculated locally.Through the multiplier effect, the impact of shopping locally snowballs. Maybe this means a business owner can…

  • Put a child through dance or martial arts class (at another local business)
  • Hire more people (creating jobs and infusing more money into the local economy)
  • Provide health insurance to employees (providing better quality of life and improving the local community)


Our day would look something like this:

9am: Wake up at The Local Hostel.

10am: Ian and I would go to Glen Mountain Market for a bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich and 2 cups of locally roasted coffee.

11am: Why not get a tattoo or a piercing by Rich at G & R Tattoo and Piercing? Small Business Saturday is the perfect reason to spice things up and live on the wild side.

1pm: We would stop into the Colonial Creamery for a delicious double scoop of homemade ice cream. I would get one scoop of Pistachio and one scoop of Rocky Mountain Raspberry. Ian would probably get one scoop of cookie dough, and one scoop of Biscoff.

While still there restocking on Wixson Honey and pottery by Earth and Autumn is a must.

2pm: We would make our way slowly down Franklin Street, and eventually end up at Rooster Fish Brewing to taste a few beers, and maybe drink a pint or two.

5pm: Time for dinner! Graft Wine & Cider Bar is the perfect ending to another locally inspired day.

Who am I kidding that’s an ideal day, for any time! I visit most of these places weekly, if not daily (except for the tattoo shop, or I would be covered by now.) Where will you be spending Small Business Saturday? Have you made a game plan yet for where you will shop? Share your ideal Small Business Saturday and encourage your friends to support local businesses.

5 Reasons to Visit the Finger Lakes in the Winter

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?

Our Finger Lakes Fall Favorites

An unusually warm fall has prolonged the leaves from completely changing colors and falling off the branches. This means you can still get your chance to peep the leaves and experience our favorite Finger Lakes Fall activities.

#1 Visit Reisinger’s Apple Country in Watkins Glen, NY. Their u-pick is over for the season, but they still have an amazing assortment of apples available, apple cider donuts, jams & jellies, and maple syrup from their trees.

#2 Take a drive on one of the many scenic routes in the Finger Lakes. Our personal favorite is to drive all the way around Seneca Lake, but you could drive along any of the Finger Lakes and be satisfied. Cayuga Lake, Keuka Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Honeyoye Lake, etc. Added bonus, there will be wineries on most of these routes.

#3 Eat a seasonally inspired meal at some amazing local restaurants. Our favorites are Stonecat Cafe, Hazelnut Kitchen, and Just a Taste.

#4 Plan a wine tour with friends. The Finger Lakes winery and brewery business is constantly expanding and gaining prominence among the wine producing regions of the world. Hire a driver and go explore some of the best wineries in the Finger Lakes. Our favorites are in Hector, NY, including Hector Wine Company, Ryan Williams Vineyard, Damiani Wine Cellars, and Two Goats Brewing.

Now take these suggestions and plan your weekend getaway soon!

Have you been to the Finger Lakes before? Where did you visit and what did you love?