Day Trips to Enjoy This Season

There is plenty to see and do right in your ‘backyard’

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

The end of summer is the perfect time to day trip and enjoy the weather. Grab a friend or grandchildren and bring your enthusiasm for adventure for these local points of interest.

The Erie Canal stretches from Albany to Buffalo. Pick any part of the Erie Canal to enjoy the canal side trails or on the canal itself with one of the many tour boat companies traversing its waters, including tours originating in Camillus ( or Herkimer ( Wander into any of the small towns dotting the canal to try a new restaurant, buy ice cream cones or iced coffee and check out unique shops.

Beverage tours abound in the region. To safely sip, engage the services of a tour company, such Quality Wine Tours (, which covers Cayuga, Keuka and Seneca lakes. In addition to safety, guided tours take out the guesswork, as these adult-only tours are led by guides knowledgeable of the best stops in the region.

Ontario Orchards Farm ( in Sterling offers tours by appointment. Take the grandchildren to tour a working farm and, in season, pick your own apples and pumpkins. The market in Oswego offers year-round shopping for baked goods, seasonal produce, plant nursery items, home décor and more.

Sightsee with ease with rides offered by the Adirondack Railroad ( with departures from Utica and Thendara. In addition to riding the rails, the railroad offers railbike adventures, where you and up to three other riders pedal to provide the power. The ride features a few gentle grades and plenty of camera-worthy sites. 

Critz Farm in Cazenovia ( offers a brewery, you-pick produce summer and fall and year-round activities for all ages. Check the website for special events throughout the year.

Also in Cazenovia, Nelson Farm ( offers a local goods shopping extravaganza. The facility also offers tours so you can see how small-scale farm products go from field to FDA-inspected commercial kitchen to table. The 4 Corners Tap Room features local craft brews to imbibe.

Before leaving Cazenovia, visit Friends of Lorenzo Historic Site (, which includes a mansion, beautifully landscaped grounds and Rippleton Schoolhouse, to step into life in the early 1800s. Check the website for special events hosted at Lorenzo.

Get out of the heat at Howe Caverns ( in Howes Cave. Since the attraction is 156 feet below ground level, it remains cool year-round. Bring along your grandchildren for the educational tour and explore the Adventure Park on the grounds. The children will enjoy the zipline, high ropes course, climbing wall and air jumper. 

Just down the highway, Secret Caverns ( in Cobleskill includes a smaller tour, but a spectacular 100-foot underground waterfall. The Secret Caverns includes oodles of folk-art signs reminiscent of ‘50s and ‘60s roadside attractions.

Get back to nature at The Great Swamp Conservancy ( in Canastota. Bring along the grandchildren and the dog to enjoy seven miles of trails, including 900 feet of boardwalk. View birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat. Try your hand at angling at Simpson Park, which provides catch and release fishing opportunities. 

Also in Canastota, the Canal Town Museum ( displays artifacts about the establishment of Canastota and the Erie Canal.

Photo: Adirondack Scenic Railroad