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.


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?

Welcome to The Local Hostel!

Welcome to The Local hostel! We are proud to offer a new way to stay in the Finger Lakes for all travelers. We have designed The Local for your maximum comfort and fun, without breaking your travel budget. Relax knowing that we are local experts and we want to make your visit to Upstate New York the best.

Located in beautiful downtown Watkins Glen, The Local is one block south of the world famous Watkins Glen State Park Gorge. The southern tip of Seneca Lake is less than ten minutes north on foot. Take a quick walk to the entrance to the Catherine Valley hiking trail. Start your Finger Lakes Wine Trail excursion from Watkins Glen, when you are done for the day you can walk to shops, restaurants and bars.


  • Hand made bed frames with memory foam mattresses.
  • Two bunk rooms and two private rooms each named after a finger lake!
  • Three bathrooms, two with showers.
  • Two friendly dogs
  • Handicap accessible building, including bathroom and bunk room.
  • Small lockers available
  • Free towel rental
  • Free wireless internet
  • Air Conditioning in the rooms.
  • Easy walk to many favorite local businesses.
  • Bunk rooms range from 2-6 people
  • Luggage storage available before and after check out.
  • Beautiful kitchen for guest use with a fridge and a stove.
  • Kitchen stocked with cooking staples – oils, spices, vinegars, rice, beans or lentils.
  • Free coffee and tea. Light breakfast items provided between 7am and 11am for you to prepare for yourself like: eggs, fruit, bread.
  • Limited parking in our lot, free street parking is available just beside our building
  • 24-hour locked facility

Book your next getaway through our website by clicking here, Hostel World or call us today! We are now accepting reservations through December 2018. Truly experience the Finger Lakes and Watkins Glen while you stay at The Local.

Happy Travels


Let yourself
be silently drawn
by the strange pull
of what you really love.
It will not lead you astray.