Places to Visit »Magic Forest

Us Route 9  Lake George, NY

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Magic Forest is a magical place. Now that we have a baby to take – even more so.

A creepy awesome place that’s a must on any Lake George visit.

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on June 3, 2012

Places to Visit »Nettle Meadow Farm

Thurman, NY – Guest Written by Mike Stermer

Hidden away on a rural route in the Adirondacks, Nettle Meadow is an idealist goat farm.  Founded 5 years ago by a couple in the midst of mid life crisis, Nettle Meadow is farming at it’s best.  Not only do each of their 300 goats have names, but Lorraine, one of the co-owners who gave us a free tour, knows each and every one of their names.  The goats, along with their sheep neighbors, all lend their milk to their artisan cheeses made on the farm.  They make several varieties.  The flavored chevres that we tasted were only two days old, fresh from the goats.  They even have 3 varieties of ages cheeses, aged in the 200 year old stone basement of the farm house.  Their “Kunik” is a not to be missed semi-aged cheese with a super creamy texture.

It’s really nice to see a small family owned farm doing things with care, and worrying about quality and not quantity.  The goats are all treated quiet well.  Unlike many other farms they allow their goats to naturally grow their horns out. In the back of the farm they have 7 acres of free range roughage to roam through.  The largest and oldest of the barns they use as a sanctuary for rescue animals including a thoroughbred horse with an injured leg, cow calves, chickens, roosters, ducks and even a peacock. They even use llamas as sheep dogs to help the keep away the wilds.
Of course their cheeses can be found at local restaurants in the Lake George, but they also venture out much future than that.  NYC’s Murray’s cheese as well as many local eateries carry lines of their cheese as well.  So if you can’t make it up there for a Saturday or Sunday free tour at noon, be sure to search out some of their cheese and taste farm food done right.

Click here for the rest of Nettle Meadow Farm

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on August 8, 2010

Places to Visit »Clarence Fahnestock State Park

Rte 301, Carmel NY 10512

While Jim and I wimped out and only opted for day camping (a four month pregnant belly and ground sleeping don’t equal happiness), I must say the Clarence Fahnestock State Park is a lovely spot to get in tune with nature, build a comforting and perfect smelling wood fire, throw hot dogs (in this case, incredible ones from Schaller and Weber) on the grill, laugh with friends, and roast some mega sized marshmallows.

While eating and relaxing under a canopy of high trees plus a few games of bocce ball was about all we took part in, the nearby State Park (only about an hour and twenty minute drive in regular traffic) offers lots of hiking trails, and ponds for canoeing. Our camp mates even found some caves on a short hike nearby the camp site. Unlike the better known Bear Mountain across the river, here beer is welcome (of course so long as you are respectful and clean up after yourself). Once I am in more rugged mode, this would be a great place to return to for a couple nights of real, if not too tough (other campers are within shouting distance, the highway’s only a short ride away and running water bathrooms are available nearby) nights of roughing it in the kind-of wild.

Stop by Stew Leonards on the way up for provisions, make sure to bring along someone as handy with a tiny stove and a dutch oven as our friend Mike (who made a kicked up chicken chili verde and a blueberry cobbler with little more than a knife and ingredients) and make sure to pack some seats (which was the one of the only comforts we forgot).

Click here for the rest of Clarence Fahnestock State Park

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on May 23, 2010

Places to Visit »Rhinebeck

rhinebeckChristmasy Charm, Gourmet Food, and Poetic Walks

I know this weekend’s storm is the first snow fall for my fellow New Yorkers, but we witnessed inches of the powdery white stuff a few weeks back while in Rhinebeck. It was a beautiful storm, but it did cause us to miss the main purpose of our visit: the Sinterklaas Parade. Fortunately, Rhinebeck had so much to offer and our B&B was so inviting, we didn’t even mind missing the main event. Plus, it just means we have a reason to return next year.

We stayed at Hideaway Suites, one of the most comfortable and excellent B&B we’ve ever slept in. The Chateau Suite offered a private deck, a fireplace (so great for the wintry nights) and a two person jacuzzi tub. Our hostess was incredibly kind and accommodating and left hot tea for us in a magical thermal container that kept water hot for hours and hours. The place struck a great balance between modern amenities and bed and breakfast charm. I highly highly recommend it, even if it is a brief and winding drive from the main town. We’ve never been so eager to return to a hotel room on any vacation.

Aside from romantic hideaway B&B’s, Rhinebeck also boasts some truly excellent food thanks to its proximity to the Culiary Institute. The first night we tried Arielle, the new kid on the block, that came with strong endorsements from two of our most picky friends. Everything was excellent – from the grilled and smoky octopus, to the expertly mixed dirty martini, from the veal scallopini to the lamb so bucco. A lemon tart finished the meal off perfectly.

The next day we ventured into the area’s most well known restaurant Terrapin, housed in a gorgeous craftsman church in the middle of town. We went during the day to the Bistro which offered great sandwiches (Jim had a sliced steak one) and small plates. We shared crispy artichokes, goat cheese wontons, garlic soup and lemongrass mussels. They also offered a drink after my own heart: a hot and dirty martini made with pickle juice and sriracha. It was heaven to drink it while watching the snow fall.

Though we missed the main parade, we still saw a few of the local celebrations for Sinterklaas (the Dutch Christmas) including street performers, street musicians, decorated windows, a cookie tree, and an illuminated book. It was a happy and quaint winter experience to be there.

Just so you don’t spend the entire time eating, drinking, and lazying around the fire, not too far from town there is the Poet’s Walk trail, a beautiful spot with gazebos, wooden and brick bridges, and lovely views of the Hudson. it was intensely blustery and freezing when we walked it, but so beautiful and peaceful, the rosy cheeks and ice cube toes were worth it.

I am sure I’ll be back to Rhinebeck sooner than later as the town offers all sorts of neat events like antique and sheep shows.

Click here for the rest of Rhinebeck

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on December 20, 2009

Places to Visit »Saratoga Harness Track and Gaming (Worst Place to Visit)

Over all, I had a wonderful time in Saratoga Springs but, despite winning three dollars from the fabulous Glitter Princess slot machine, next time I'll skip out on the carpeted depression that the Harness Gaming Track wallows in. Instead I'll plan my visit around the limited dates of the far classier official racing season.

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on November 9, 2009

Places to Visit »Saratoga Springs

Saratoga Springs has so much to offer: gambling! Spas! Bottles! We began with the gambling, made super depressing because the high class horse racing track was not yet open (we missed the very brief season opening by a week); instead we went to the carpeted harness track where aisles of either very heavy or very thin people fed slot machines. Even all the freshly-planted flowers outside couldn't improve the nicotine-stained atmosphere, but just as I was about to leave (after half heartedly losing five bucks), I saw Kitty Glitter. On her, I won eight bucks. I was up and I was out of there!

We were looking forward to some pampered relaxation in nearby Ballston Spa, where the Medberry Inn and Day Spa offers a half hour private mineral bath for two for $30. It's the best deal we found in the area and even we, who rarely truly relax, were able to totally chill out in the calm, dimly lit room with complimentary fresh fruit and cranberry juice. The staff is super nice and they even gave us a pass when we over stayed our allotted time by about fifteen minutes.

If you have some time to kill before your spa treatment, I highly recommend the National Bottle Museum just down the street. It's quaint and actually quite interesting. I posted a few favorite photos here.

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on August 24, 2009

Places to Visit »Insider’s Tips for Lake George

I've recommended several Lake George area attractions, but the region is not terribly well known for excellent cuisine, so I thought I'd help out visitors with a food choice eating selections.

Breakfast is pretty standard fair, but we most enjoy the log cabin and taxidermy setting of the Tamarack Inn. The service is always super friendly and the fried eggs and ham are less greasy than other local spots. Plus I love that you can order some silver dollar pancakes if you really want to fill up on breakfast.

A new local delicacy that was brought to my attention on my latest trip is the dirty john dog. Well, I should say that this pint sized, dry chili encrusted goodness is only new to me. It's been a favorite in the area for over fifty years. You'll find the taste sensation at the New Way Lunch diner in Queensbury (there's also an original location in a seedy part of Glens Falls). where the only tune on the juke box is Kim Carnes' Betty Davis Eyes and the staff is made up of very polite teenagers.

On the way to dirty johns, you'll pass through the outlets, which I would like to note houses an Oshkosh B'gosh. Stop in, my fall stuff is just hitting the stores and it's downright adorable. And while we're on the subject of shopping, I'd also like to recommend Fawn Ridge Pottery. I've never been to the actual show room, but I have a hand thrown wedding gift pitcher that I adore.

On the opposite spectrum from the ultra cheap ($1) hot dogs, lies the hoighty toighty Friends Lake Inn. Reservations here can be made online at opentable, but are not necessary if you eat like an old person at 6 or so like we do. The meal was pricey and very good, but their foie gras and pineapple flan appetizer and creamy coconut and pineapple sorbet were particularly memorable.

If you want to grill your own food, and of course, it's a must if you're with friends in the outdoors, there's no better spot to get the fixings than Ham's Bacon – or as it is properly and more boringly called Oscar's Smokehouse. Their hot dogs are phenomenal, but they really blew my mind with their smoked trout and salmon, both of which i have been indulging in for dinner for the past week.

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on August 3, 2009

Places to Visit »Whiteface Mountain and The North Pole

On my first foray into the beautiful Lake Placid region of the high peaks of the Adirondacks we made two stops. The first was the regionally well advertised North Pole. In retrospect, to avoid seeming like creeps with a video camera, I'd save the excursion for when I have a child.

They'd appreciate the three little piggies in the petting zoo, the pole made out of real ice, the dismal little train ride, and the teenage productions of the first Christmas a bit more than an adult might. We did however make the teen's day that as in charge of speaking as “Tennenbaum” the talking tree and the wishing well gnome. He got lots of chances to riff on Jim's beard.

Just further along the road you can drive up to the summit of Whiteface Mountain. Even on a foggy day like the one we went offered spectacular views at various stopping points. At the top you can either climb or take a cave elevator to the castle at the very top. We opted for the easy way out.

Our summer vacations seem to be haunted by fog and consequently we again (just like in Block Island) experienced nature in a unique way. The mountain top seemed eerie and otherworldly with ghost like wisps of cloud traveling across them.

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on July 27, 2009

Places to Visit »Saugerties Lighthouse

saugerties lighthouse

&nbsp Why do I mention it now?

Because considering the next available reservation is in 2010, I thought you'd like a heads up. If you can't plan that far ahead, the grounds are open during the day. Plus I have been craving the farm fresh bahn mi at Miss Lucy's Kitchen since last April.

Here's what I said back on 4/28/08:

The Saugerties Lighthouse, originally built in 1869 fell into disrepair in the fifties until locals raised money for a massive rebuilding. Now the upkeep is funded by donations and the bed and breakfast.

There are only two rooms in the house and this exclusivity (and a major Times article that fortunately came out a few days after I booked) have made this an extremely popular spot. In fact, they are booked for the entire year of 2008. Which means, quite possibly, you will miss out on the steep stairs that lead to the top of the lighthouse, which you can walk around and enjoy a stunning view. You also won't be seeing the Victrola in the sitting room, or sleep in the quaint rooms, or enjoy homemade pancakes in the kitchen from hunky, hippie keeper, Patrick.

But no need to get sad, anyone, with a reservation or not, can walk the half mile trail to the lighthouse and enjoy one of many sitting spots on the water. These spots are tranquil and idyllic. Make sure to wear shoes that can go though sand as you will be right on the water at times. In wetter months (we got lucky with perfect weather) the path can even become waist high in water. The rustic trail, dotted with bridges,?is scenic and your first glimpse of the beautiful lighthouse is exciting.

After leaving this paradise, be sure to visit the town of Saugerties for amazing food at Miss Lucy's Kitchen (get their fantastic bahn mi if they have it) and if you head a bit north, grab world cuisine at the funky New World Home Cooking.

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on June 15, 2009

Places to Visit »Atateka Lodges

Atateka Lodges The Boggias, who run this place, are wonderful people.
Eat at the Deer Crossing in town.
Play arcade games at nearby Lake George
Then visit the most messed up crazy amusement park ever: The Magic Forest.
For more info, visit

See more: Places to Visit

Be the first to leave a comment →
Posted on November 14, 2005