This is the summer of exploration. The make up summer to the one we all skipped last year. And although there’s still an air of uncertainty and we’re all trying to be safe and not contribute to a flare-up of the coronavirus, we have to move forward (safely) and return to normalcy.
Good, that’s out of the way.
Now let’s talk about how to capitalize on all of the food, drink, shopping, and exploring that our area has to offer. And, yes, we’re aware some of our more adventurous readers have been squirreling away some of our recommended “Hidden Gems” all to themselves for years. “That’s not ‘hidden,’” they might say. “That’s THE spot!” But we hope that all of you will find some NEW spots to enjoy. Perhaps an undiscovered hiking trail or waterfall or an ice cream shop off the beaten path. Maybe you’ll find your new summer tradition.
We want to show you a healthy handful of some noteworthy “Hidden Gems” between Buffalo and Corning, and from Ithaca to Rochester.
There are so many “Hidden Gems” in our region, we had a hard time narrowing them down to the 60+ in this book. We hope you’re able check at least a few of them out this summer.
You can find your own hard copy of 'Hidden Gems' in the June edition of CITY Magazine or by emailing email@example.com
CAN YOU FIND THE HIDDEN GEMS?
JOIN US ON A GEOCACHING ADVENTURE AND YOU COULD WIN TICKETS TO THE CORNING MUSEUM OF GLASS!
WE'VE HIDDEN FOUR UNIQUE GLASS GEMS, COURTESY OF CORNING MUSEUM OF GLASS, THROUGHOUT THE FINGER LAKES REGION.
USE THE CLUES AND COORDINATES FOR THE 4 LOCATIONS LISTED BELOW TO FIND THE GEOCACHES CONTAINING THE GEMS.
CLUE (N 42.5048 W 78.0853): These coordinates take you to the Wiscoy Falls parking lot. From there, you have two options. The north side of the falls offers an easy 0.6-mile trail. The trail on the south side of the falls involves a little more work and the possibility of getting soaked. This trail clocks in just under a mile. Once you get to the dam, have a “grate” time.
CLUE (N 42° 08.990 W 077° 03.311): These coordinates lead you to the common courtyard on the Corning of Museum of Glass campus. Look around and discover New York.
CLUE (N 42° 44.047 W 076° 45.225): The Van Riper & Whitlock Nature Preserves offer undeveloped shoreline, stunning wildflower arrays, and trails that are as pretty as the views you catch from the beach. Great spot to launch a canoe or kayak. This Cayuga Lake cache is hidden near the shoreline of the preserve’s pristine beach – accessible via a winding trail through the woods. The shoreline is somewhat rugged, so locating the cache requires light navigation of uncultivated land. Please watch for PI. You’ll pass some flotsam and jetsam on your search, and will likely know you’re nearing the cache because Mother Nature will have thrown down a barrier gate. Many thanks to our friends at the Finger Lakes Land Trust for granting us permission to hide this cache here.
CLUE (N 42° 44.378 W 077° 19.299): This is a relatively quick hike/find, but be prepared for steep inclines / stairs. (May not be a great adventure for those geocaching with little ones in tow.) The preserve is truly a hidden gem as its entrance is not particularly easy to spot without the proper GPS coordinates. When you reach the beach you’ll probably want to hang there for a bit. It’s lovely. This cache is hidden very close to the trail, and is tucked away in a small cavern protected by roots. Many thanks to our friends at the Finger Lakes Land Trust for granting us permission to hide this cache here.
Gourmet mushrooms, boozy fungi, and zero cowbell
BY SCOTT PUKOS | PHOTOS BY JACOB WALSH
Blue Oyster Cultivation, a gourmet mushroom farm in Ithaca, clearly has a name that rocks. Owners Joe and Wendy Rizzo say this is no mistake.
“[They were] Wendy’s favorite band in 6th grade,” Joe says of Blue Öyster Cult, a “’70s” rock band best known for the hit song “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” along with the “’90s” Saturday Night Live sketch where Christopher Walken begs Will Ferrell for “more cowbell.”
“It’s funny, [the band is] aware of our farm. They mentioned us in an interview as ‘this mushroom farm from Ithaca, New York,’” Joe adds. “They seemed to have a good sense of humor about it, so they get free mushrooms for life if they ever come by the farmers market.”
When it comes to mushrooms, Blue Oyster Cultivation doesn’t just stick with the hits, they have the fan favorite deep cuts too.
“A lot of times when people think about buying mushrooms they think of the mushrooms you get in the supermarket such as cremini and portobello,” Joe says. “Our mushrooms are a little less common, such as the oyster, lion’s mane, shiitake, maitake, and others.”
The Rizzos say gourmet mushrooms are more versatile than their more common counterparts. They have different flavors and textures. Plus, while they tend to be used in more “sophisticated” dishes, the gourmet shrooms are easy to cook, Joe says.
When you’re mushroom people through-and-through, like Joe and Wendy, it’s common to fit fungi in spots where you may not expect them. Enter mushroom-infused vodka.
“We figured if anyone is going to make mushroom spirits, we’re the ones to do it,” Joe says of their other business, Mushroom Spirits Distillery. “We start with a clean neutral spirit produced from New York grown corn and infuse it with the mushrooms from our farm …Each spirit has its own character and flavor depending on the type of mushroom we use. Some spirits are a little more ‘mushroom forward’ and actually taste just like a mushroom, while some have taken on unique and unexpected flavors.”
You can find Blue Oyster Cultivation products at various New York markets. Visit blueoystercultivation.com for details.
Goat World: As adorable as it sounds
BY SCOTT PUKOS | PHOTOS BY JACOB WALSH
Cheese and goats. That's it. That's the article.
Pause to allow visions of baby goats prancing and dancing in adorably mischievous ways into your mind. Extend that thought to make room for images of biting down into perfectly creamy, and appropriately delicious, artisan cheese. This is the dream. You are now living it.
Lively Run Goat Dairy in Interlaken, Seneca County, is of course, more than just cheese and goats, but they sure are wonderful highlights. The farm began production in 1982, making it one of the longest operating commercial goat dairies in the United States. Lively Run is a family-owned business, helmed by Steve and Susanne Messmer, along with their two sons, Pete and Dave.
While just the mere sight of the farm’s affable goats can spark happiness, the four-legged friends can also offer a way to relax. Lively Run offers goat yoga sessions, which is exactly what you think – it’s yoga while goats roam the area and interact with yogis. It’s impossible to deny the joyful giggles during goat yoga. This is a fact.
Now, let’s talk cheese. Both cow and goat’s milk cheeses are available, including the rich, earthy Cayuga Blue, an award-winning goat’s milk blue cheese. Other popular cheeses include chèvre, Finger Lakes gold, lake effect cheddar, and gorge trail gouda.
You can visit Lively Run Goat Dairy at 8978 County Road 142 Interlaken or online at livelyrun.com.
ALL A-BOARD FOR ADVENTURE
BY JEN SALLY | ILLUSTRATION BY LAUREN BENTLEY
On any road trip, snacks and refreshments are critical. CITY’s quasi-charcuterie collection recognizes a handful of players in our region that are producing some serious palate pleasers. From the pickled beets to the vegan cheddar – from gluten-free options to elixirs that support gut health – these makers, growers and brewers offer something suited for any knapsack. Seek out and support these folks as you adventure on this summer.
Also! We'll be giving away this one-of-a-kind handcrafted board from the Rochester Folk Art Guild. Just follow us on Instagram at @roccitynews for more details.
1. Fire & Ice Pickles
3. Laxmi Kombucha
4. Cayuga Blue
5. Uncured Genoa Salami
6. Lemon Garlic Hummus
7. Spring Bloom Honey
8. Dried Figs & Olives
9. Sea Salt Crackers (GF)
10. Goat Cheese
11. Honey Ginger Beets
12. (The Old-Fashioned) CHEDDAR (VEGAN)
13. Vanilla Bergamot Kombucha
14. Strawberries (You-Pick)
15. Mushroom Pate (VEGAN)
GO WATERFALLING IN THE FINGER LAKES
Whether you crave the breathtaking force with which nature provides beauty or the idyllic sounds of rushing water, the Finger Lakes region’s waterfalls are not just a product of our glacially-created topography, they are also diverse, regionally significant, and awe-inducing.
If you’ve ever seen the bumper sticker, “Ithaca is Gorges,” it’s true. Home to a number of notable waterfalls, the steady rush of water carving gorges created a hot spot to go hiking, take in the views, and cool off from the mist of numerous waterfalls. The main attraction at Ithaca’s Buttermilk Falls State Park is the park’s namesake. The foaming Buttermilk Falls can be seen from the entrance of the park and is just one of 10 waterfalls to be found there. It derives its name from the frothy waters that are fed from Buttermilk Creek as it drops and flows down to Cayuga Lake.
Cascadilla Gorge Trail
Cascadilla Gorge Trail is no exception when it comes to magnificent views, and it offers a corridor-style park and trail that connects to downtown Ithaca and runs three-quarters of a mile long. The trail features eight waterfalls, six of which are considered major.
Fillmore Glen State Park
Surrounded by tall trees, Fillmore Glen State Park is home to five waterfalls that can be viewed while trekking the long gorge trail across numerous foot bridges and within the shade of dense foliage, making for fantastic wilderness views. The Glen itself was created and enhanced by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. While visiting, check out the stream-fed swimming pool.
Grimes Glen Park
In Naples, Grimes Glen is host to three waterfalls, all of which are roughly 60 feet high. A one-mile meander along the creek will bring visitors to two of the waterfalls. Near the second waterfall there are ropes available to help hikers make the trek to the third waterfall, but it is a precarious climb best left to more experienced hikers.
High Tor Wildlife Area
For hiking enthusiasts up for a challenge, Conklin Gully in High Tor, a 6,100-acre Fish and Wildlife Management area near Naples, offers a number of scenic waterfall views. This trek is not recommended for young children, as there are steep cliffs and climbing on the trail. But don’t worry, High Tor offers easier, flat hikes for waterfall viewing with the family.
A waterfall seeking excursion wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Letchworth Park, or as it’s also known, the “Grand Canyon of the East,” where waterfalls abound amidst this enormous spectacle of nature. While there are many waterfalls within the park, the Genesee River winds and crashes its way over three main falls — the Lower Falls, Middle Falls, and Upper Falls, all of which have identifying characteristics that make them unique.
Lick Brook Glen
Also located in Ithaca, Lick Brook Glen is situated in the forest-rich woods of Sweedler Preserve. The 128-acre sanctuary is home to three waterfalls that all flow to Cayuga Lake. Along the trail, smaller waterfall cascades make for scenic views. There are, however, occasional steep inclines, so parts of the trail may not be suitable for children.
Follow the craggy glory of the Enfield Glen within Robert H. Treman Park to take in the 12 waterfalls that grace the landscape. The main waterfall attraction is Lucifer Falls, which cascades 115 feet down. Along the nine miles of hiking available, you can even take a dip and enjoy the wonder of swimming beneath a waterfall in a stream-fed pool.
The picturesque historic town of Montour Falls, situated just south of Seneca Lake, derives its name from Shequaga Falls, a 156-foot waterfall that is easily visible from the road. The location of the falls offers visitors accessibility for quick trips and long, deep breaths to take it all in.
Seekers of majestic sites should head to Taughannock Falls State Park in Trumansburg, where they will find nature at her finest carving a 400-foot gorge. Plunging 215 feet over rocky cliffs, the Taughannock Falls is the highest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains, making it higher than even Niagara Falls. The gorge is accessible by a number of trails.
EXPLORE | NAPLES
Ontario County Park at Gannett Hill
6475 Gannett Hill Park Dr. | co.ontario.ny.us
Well-trafficked, but its lookout reveals the beauty of lesser-explored Finger Lakes hills. Offers accessible trails, family-friendly romps, and “very difficult” treks.
Mini Golf and Movies at High Noon
BY SCOTT PUKOS
You’re greeted by a cowboy. He’s wooden, literally, but his glare is unmistakably steely. He towers over you, but that could just be because of his hat. You don’t survive the Wild West without a 10-gallon hat massive enough to fit a foal. His mustache is art. It’s as majestic as a crescent moon — even Sam Elliott would be impressed. This cowboy can’t be conquered by a quick draw though. No, there’s only one way to earn respect here. You must master the art of miniature golf.
If you haven’t realized by now, your location is the Charcoal Corral in Perry, Wyoming County. While the 18-hole mini golf course is teeming with fictional rogue bandits and enough booby traps that you’ll want a few mulligans up your sleeve, Charcoal Corral is also a place of whimsical wonder.
On the same property, and owned by the same family, is The Silver Lake Drive-In. The outdoor cinema was established in 1949, and added a second screen in 2000 (the main Charcoal Corral building opened in 1977). Silver Lake’s double features include blockbuster summer movies, family flicks, and, occasionally, throwback genre films.
Charcoal Corral also includes an ice cream parlor, pizzeria, and an arcade. It’s one place that can legitimately claim to “have it all.” But there is one question you just can’t shake: How do you earn the Charcoal Cowboy’s respect? The answer to this is on the 18th hole.
The 18th hole is where the final showdown takes place. You’ve battled through windmills, bested mysterious pipes that can transport your ball to glory or defeat, and your daring escape from the course’s corral jail will become the stuff of legend. Now your skill is truly put to the test. Here are your options, conquer the course with a hole-in-one and win a free game, or face the cruel, bitter taste of defeat. As you unholster your club, and line up your ball, you don’t know what hand fate will deal you. But you do know one thing with 100-percent certainty: win-or-lose, you’re going to end your day with ice cream. It’s your destiny.
You can visit Charcoal Corral and Silver Lake Twin Drive-In at 7037 Chapman Ave., Perry, NY
EXPLORE | NAPLES
4259 Parish Hill Rd. | gowaterfalling.com waterfalls/conklingully.shtml
For fans of Grimes Glen seeking greater aerobic challenge via elevation gain. Located in the High Tor Wildlife Management Area. Grimes and Tannery glens are just 6 mi. away.
COW CUDDLING IN THE FINGER LAKES
BY SCOTT PUKOS
Bella and Bonnie started living at Mountain Horse Farm — located in Naples, Ontario County — in 2018. The main thing you need to know about the duo is that they’re cuddling superstars. The second important fact is that they’re cows.
“Cows are very similar to dogs in the way they like to interact with people,” says Suzanne Vullers, who is one of the owners and founders of Mountain Horse Farm, along with her husband Rudi. “Cows love to be brushed and petted, they know their names and come when you call for them. They are very curious and they love to see what you are doing.”
A cow cuddling session begins with an introduction. Staff inform guests about the cows, including what they like and dislike, their personalities, how to approach them, and how to sit with the gentle animals. Suzanne says the cows are out in a field, walking freely, during the interactions.
“It’s very important to us that the choice to connect is just as much their choice as it is our choice,” she says. “Being with the cows is very peaceful and relaxing. It’s the perfect exercise in mindfulness.”
The Vullers first heard about the art of cuddling cows while visiting family in the Netherlands. The pair moved to the United States in 2007, but grew up in a Dutch town called Reuver, close to the Belgium and German borders. Suzanne was familiar with a similar wellness program with horses, and was especially intrigued by this idea.
“Cows are similar to horses in many ways, but a distinct difference is that cows like to lay down when they chew their cud,” Vullers says. “Those moments create wonderful opportunities for people to sit with them and cuddle up.”
Cow cuddling is one of the many ways to relax on the 33-acre farm. Mountain Horse Farm — which opened in 2010 — also offers horse clinics (they have six horses, to go along with the two cows), wellness retreats, couples and companion massages, along with yoga opportunities and hot tub availability.
Find out more online at mountainhorsefarm.com
EXPLORE | VICTOR
7929 Main St., Fishers | victorny.org
Winding trails through mixed terrain with a little of everything: wildflowers, babbling brooks, a dreamy forest, and sloping pastures.
FOOD | ROCHESTER
Asia Food Market
1885 Brighton Henrietta Town Line Rd. | asiafoodmkt.com
Spot for freshly baked red bean mooncakes, cleverly packaged candies (suckers in Moomin tins?! Yes, please!), and your future pantry staples.
EXPLORE | ROCHESTER
Maplewood Rose Garden
250 Maplewood Ave. | cityofrochester.gov/maplewoodpark
Blooms are at their peak in June. The fragrances of 250+ varieties saturate the park, making it a transcendent place for a stroll.
A World of Words: The Origin Story of The Secondhand Librarian
Taylor Ellis’s world is full of magic. It has mystery, suspense, unlikely heroes, and diabolical villains. Her universe includes plenty of bookworms, and even a pair of bookcats with deliciously fun names.
“Miso is an excellent employee and has been an employee of the month a few times now,” says Ellis, the owner of The Secondhand Librarian, an online bookstore. “Mochi has been fired after chewing on an entire order of books that I then had to replace.”
Mochi couldn’t be reached for comment, but dealing with a rascal cat is just one of the many unpredictable daily events for Ellis. The Secondhand Librarian opened virtually in July 2020 with a simple goal: to transport books full of magic, mystery, and suspense into the hands of fellow passionate readers.
“I have a very extensive book collection and I was always lending them out to friends or giving recommendations,” Ellis says. “I quickly realized that most came to me to borrow books because a hardcover could be up to $32 and not everyone had the privilege of dropping that kind of money on the newest popular book. I barely did myself. Buying a brand-new book was a treat for me and I would instead thrift for books all the time. So, I had the idea of selling off my own collection at an affordable rate. This could include brand new books or ones that I have absolutely loved. I just wanted to get them out there.”
This origin story went from idea to reality in a hurry. Ellis created a website, took pictures of every book she owned, and created an Instagram account (@thesecondhandlibrarian). She started following fellow Rochester businesses, as well as influencers who are aptly known as “bookstagrammers.” The account became a hit and quickly garnered thousands of followers.
“I’ve met so many people from my Instagram both locally and out of state that have genuinely become my friends,” she says. “It’s amazing the power of social media when used correctly. It’s the only way I’ve been able to ship books to over 25 different states and two different countries.”
While the feline duo Mochi and Miso aren’t officially on the payroll, Ellis does have one employee, Sammy Zalewska (@sammysshelflove) who assists with administrative work. The goal for the next chapter in The Secondhand Librarian’s story is evolving from an online store to a brick-and-mortar business.
“I’m a nut about aesthetics and perfection when it comes to my ideas, though, so I think it might take some time for me to find the perfect place,” Ellis says. “I want something charming and cozy, and I want to be able to go about affording that vision.”
Find out more online at thesecondhandlibrarian.com
SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM
No road trip is complete without “screaming for ice cream.”
Here are some sweet spots to end your adventure.
HAMMONDSPORT | STEUBEN COUNTY
The Keuka Creamery
8471 State Route 54 | @keuka_creamery
Crooked Lake Ice Cream Company
CORNING | STEUBEN COUNTY
Dippity Do Dahs Homemade Ice Cream
45 E Market Street | @dippitydodahs
PENN YAN | YATES COUNTY
Killer fried chicken + creamy ice cream = winning combo. Bonus: drive-thru.
Spotted Duck Creamery
Gourmet frozen custard made with Anacona duck eggs. Bonus: partnering with the Pizza Posto food truck this summer.
ITHACA | TOMPKINS COUNTY
Sweet Melissa’s Ice Cream
200 West Seneca St. | @ithacaicecream
NAPLES | ONTARIO COUNTY
Lynnie Lou’s Ice Cream
Hike Grimes Glen, stop here afterwards. Be prepared: cash only. Bonus: drive-thru.
CANANDAIGUA | ONTARIO COUNTY
Cheshire Farms Creamery
EAST AURORA | ERIE COUNTY
Rosie’s Handcrafted Ice Cream
Debuts this summer. Vegan options on the menu.
ROCHESTER | MONROE COUNTY
Pittsford Farms Dairy
Hedonist Artisan Ice Cream
672 South Ave. | @hedonisticecream