Category Archives: New York State

EscapeMaker Opens Farm Escape Pop Up Shop



Have you heard of the term “agritourism”? Find out more by heading to South Street Seaport in Lower Manhattan. EscapeMaker, a company that offers ideas for local and regional trips, has opened a pop-up shop promoting agri-tourism (travel inspired by working farms or other agricultural sties) now until April 24 inside the seaport’s historic Fulton Stall Market on 207A Front Street.

Presented by Amtrak, the EscapeMaker Pop Up Shop will be open to the public Thursdays and Fridays, from noon to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors will find information for planning vacays that will get them out into countryside areas. Details will include ideas for farm escapes, wine and craft beer trails, apple picking locations, and local getaway packages.

Along with the shop, EscapeMaker will hold three Sunday tastings of various food and wine samples inside the market and onto Front Street. They are free and run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The schedule includes:

April 10th – Local Craft Beer, Cider & More
April 17th – Local Wine, Cheese & More
April 24th – Local Farms & Family Getaways

For more info, visit this link.

Where to Eat in Lake Placid

As I enjoyed taking in the Winter Olympic sites around Lake Placid, plus spending time around the surrounding Adirondacks’ Whiteface region, I have to say that my dining options were good too. Each place I went to is locally owned and stood out in character, through its menu selections, settings, or backstory.

Here is a round up of restaurants in Lake Placid that I highly recommend:

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‘dack Shack
This place on Saranac Avenue is fun and imaginative with a chalkboard wall featuring cool drawings and a counter top seating area that lets you do a little doodling of your own. Candle holders wrapped in birch bark – birch trees are quite common in the Adirondack area – offer a nice touch. Dishes are also inventive. With menus, ‘dack Shack has breakfast, lunch, and dinner choices plus a kids menu and an intriguing theme night menu that lists topnotch orders at a good price point like a confit duck leg at 20 dollars. I was at ‘dack Shack for dinner and ordered the ‘dack Burger, which was stacked with Maple Glazed Bacon, sautéed onions, cheddar and the house specialty secret Shack Sauce (not even my server was told what the ingredients were). To accompany a side of fries, fry dips give ketchup and mayo a step up with flavors like Herb or Truffle Mayo and Dr. Pepper or Habanero Ketchup. Starters are also not your ordinary apps, like breaded mac ‘n cheese balls, and a roast beet, cauliflower and kale dip with crostinis.

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Lake Placid Pub & Brewery
On a side road near Main Street, this three-floor pub and restaurant serves up about seven microbrews and holds brewery tours of its facility from the top level. The Downstairs bar that you first enter into is an Irish pub setting, while second level is more of a micropub with wall art featuring college sports team banners that would make any fan want to sit in here. Also on the third floor, there is seasonal outdoor deck seating overlooking Lake Mirror. As for the beers, its suds extend to English ales likes its popular fruity and malty dark Ubu Ale, to German wheat brews such as the light German Kristalweizen. With food, it’s bar-style selections but with some nice standouts like craft sandwiches, soups, salads, and an assortment of apps. I had the Maple Melt, a charbroiled chicken sandwich with a New York-sourced cheddar that’s nicely melded together.

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the breakfast club, etc.
This Main Street eatery also has lunch and dinner picks, but its name totally reflects breakfast in all capacities. A full service bar and restaurant, this venue has an all-day breakfast menu, so if you’re craving a morning-style meal in the afternoon, you’re good. Known as BC originals, breakfast lovers will find multiple versions of faves like Eggs Benedict such as ones paired with a basil pesto hollandaise sauce or smoked salmon and spinach with a caper dill hollandaise sauce. Fans of home fries should see the röstis, which are seasoned skillet potatoes topped with a choice of anything from corned beef and cheddar to veggies. Perhaps the most eye-catching option is French Toast Fondue, a twofer serving with cinnamon nutmeg French toast sticks, pretzel sticks, and fruit to be dipped in a warm maple-cinnamon sauce. Plus, they have a separate list for 10 different versions of Bloody Marys and Mimosas!

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The Good Bite Kitchen
For vegetarians, this small-sized, lunch-only restaurant is big on flavor with inventive dishes. Also on Main Street, The Good Bite Kitchen is able to hold about six counter sit-in diners, as its location was once a storage hallway until opening in July 2012. The menu rotates, but all lunchtime options are cooked there. Find salads and soup, gluten-free optional and vegan bowls such as chickpea and rice stew or green curry broth, and sandwiches served on toasted focaccia, plus a smoothie of the day. For drinks, if it’s there, try the ginger and allspice hot apple cider.

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Saranac Sourdough
On Saranac Avenue, this good breakfast/deli location offers various counter orders like sandwiches, bagels, lunch plates, and salads, plus breads. As a bagel eater, I also found a neat discovery at Saranac Sourdough: a sourdough bagel. I didn’t think that this type of bread could become an oval option. And as far as I know, I’ve never seen a bagel like this before. So of course I had to try it. I did and it was good.

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Swedish Hill Winery Lake Placid
A mile east of Lake Placid’s downtown area, this tasting room has many assortments of Swedish Hill Winery whites and reds produced by Swedish Hill Winery, which is based in New York State’s Finger Lakes region. Along with chardonnays, Rieslings, and cabernet francs, finds include Glögg, a spicy red wine with a Swedish influence that features flavors of cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and ginger. Swedish Hill Winery has a sister winery called Goose Watch Winery that has a tasting room, the Goose Watch Lake Placid, on Main Street.

Learn about the Winter Olympics at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum


Those who follow the Winter Olympics know that Lake Placid, New York was the host location for the 1932 and 1980 games. Today, Lake Placid still keeps its Olympic legacy to winter sports thriving, and one of the best ways to see this history up close is at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum.

The Lake Placid Olympic Museum has a collection of artifacts, memorabilia, and photographs relating to these games plus the Olympians whose names are still recognized today. Of course, Lake Placid’s place in these chapters is acknowledged as well.

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Olympic memorabilia on display runs from athletic gear to clothing, and, of course, medals. Objects include a selection of attire worn by Team USA during the opening ceremonies, torches, helmets, and equipment. Within this area, the museum will also be ushering in permanent exhibit fixtures. One of them will be focusing on speed skating, a sport that Lake Placid knows well (the village has a speed skating club). Another planned new exhibit involves the Miracle on Ice, the 1980 medal-round match in which the U.S. Men’s hockey team defeated the Soviets.

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Another noted athlete featured in the museum is Sonja Henie, a Norwegian figure skater who won her second gold medal in Lake Placid. Henie, who became a three-time Olympian, retired from her sport and went on to pursue a film career in Hollywood and appeared in a number of films. She also was a smart businesswoman in that she implemented what we now call “branding” in that her image appeared on various merchandise like dolls. She also appeared on a Wheaties box.

Here’s a fact: Did you know that ever since the first Winter Olympics, held in 1924 in Chamonix, France, has competed in each game, to date? Plus Lake Placid native Charles Jewtraw holds the distinction of winning the first gold medal at Chamonix. You’ll see his picture too. Notability also extends to the Shea family. Its three generations participated in the Winter Olympics: the late Jack Shea, the family patriarch who won gold twice for speedskating in the 1932 games; his son, Jim Shea, who competed in the Nordic combined and two cross-country ski races at the 1964 Innsbruck Games; and his grandson, Jim, a 2002 Olympian in skeleton.

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The Lake Placid Olympic Museum is housed inside the Olympic Center, which also contains the ice rink where the Miracle on Ice occurred. It’s now named the Herb Brooks Arena, after the team’s late coach. It also holds the 1932 Jack Shea Arena and the USA Rink. The building itself overlooks the Olympic Skating Oval, where speed skater Eric Heiden won five gold medals in 1980, and where visitors can pay to skate on today. The museum is open on most days, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Iron Man Sunday, a triathlon event.

Another symbol from 1980 Winter Games still standing is the Olympic torch. Or more formally called “1980 Olympic Flame Cauldron.” It’s located at North Elba Show Grounds on Cascade Road, where now horse shows are held at the end of June and the start of July.

High Falls George and the Adirondacks’ Whiteface Region

2016-02-23 16.27.23Last week, I headed up to Lake Placid, a village in upstate New York. While seeing much of Lake Placid, I also spent some time exploring the Whiteface Region of the New York State’s Adirondack Mountains.

The Whiteface Region is a delight for nature lovers and outdoor sports fans. Whether a summer, winter, or even fall trip is planned , the region has a network of trails that alternate from hiking and mountain biking, to snowshoeing and skiing. Even fishing, particularly for trout, is big here during its season. Yet for those that prefer more of a walking place, consider starting off High Falls Gorge. Located off of NY-86E in Wilmington, about 10 minutes from Lake Placid, High Falls Gorge has self-guided trails at its 22-acre nature park that brings visitors in viewing distance of waterfalls or Adirondack forestry.

Located off of NY-86 E in Wilmington, about 10 minutes from Lake Placid, High Falls Gorge runs along the Ausable River. One of the gorge’s three trails coincides with the direction of the river, where you can walk along maintained routes, bridges, and pathways to view waterfalls (in winter, their frozen look is pretty spectacular). The other two trails involve one that is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs, while the other is steeper and a bit uneven. I walked along the yellow, which leads through various steps for viewing four waterfalls and surrounding trees.

Before and after going on these trails, head inside the Gorge’s Welcome Center for a bite to eat at the River View Café. This American-style restaurant serves lunch and dinner with five styles of wings, a ton of apps, salads, lunchtime sandwiches and dinner entrees and burgers.

Also in the Whiteface Region, serious hikers can make their mark in completing certain ranges hat are like being initiated into special clubs: the 46ers and 6ers. The 46ers refers to the 46 Adirondack High Peaks, which is this amount of mountains that with elevations ranging higher or lower than 4,000 feet. To get a good start, it’s probably best to consider the 6ers. They consist of six Adirondack peaks found at Saranac Lake, which is west of Lake Placid. Plus if you have climbed all six – and provide the dates of each climb and the approximate time of reaching the summit – you’ll get an official member number, patch and sticker.

In my next post, I’ll be listing more about my jaunts around Lake Placid. Stay tuned!


Editor’s note: Lake Placid CVB invited me as a guest to Lake Placid and Adironacks region. However, my posts are entirely based on my personal opinion.

Day Tripping at EscapeMaker’s Local Food & Travel Expo

This past Saturday, EscapeMaker, a travel website for day tripping, presented its third annual Local Food & Travel Expo inside Brooklyn Borough Hall. In keep with its focus on getaways, the expo showcased attractions in or connected to New York State, Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, and Pennsylvania. And Brooklyn also had a big part.

photoHosted by Brooklyn Tourism, Brooklyn’s rising locavore scene took center stage at this year’s expo. In also celebrating the rebirth of the city’s agricultural past, a “best of” cornucopia of companies offered samples to visitors.

Stinky Bklyn in Carroll Gardens had soft and hard cheeses on display. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que celebrated the opening of its Park Slope location with pulled pork. Kelso Beer Company in Clinton Hill served up two choices of brews while Williamsburg-based Brooklyn Winery poured tastings of its red and white labels. Right outside of Borough Hall, a small farmer’s market offered additional edibles for sale.

photo-9 photo-8 photo-7 photo-5Other Brooklyn-based outlets on hand included Edible Brooklyn, Allan’s Bakery, Coney Island’s Luna Park, Cacao Pietro, Urban Oyster Tours, and Brooklyn Museum.

While Brooklyn has much to offer visitors, EscapeMaker’s expo also recognized destinations within a day’s drive or train ride.

In heading upstate, the second level at Borough Hall centered on destinations outside of the city. New York State’s “Country Byways” encompasses a number of natural and historical attractions found in this region such as in the Finger Lakes and Greater Niagara. Howe Caverns Adventure Park offers hands-on activity, while town of LeRoy is known as the birthplace for Jell-O, invented there in 1897.

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From Pennsylvania, Brandywine Country Cooking School featured dishes from its classes. To further go on about food-related trips, Vermont is a good place to go for good eats, and not just maple or cheese. Visit Vermont tourism board featured the state’s “Dig In Vermont” campaign is flavored with specialty foods, wines, and microbrews. Outdoor pursuits and places to stay were also represented.


Apples are New York State staple, and, at the expo, the New York Apple Association had plenty to give away. Informational materials on apple picking and different varieties were also available. Of course, we need transportation to get to places. So, in keeping with that portion of travel, ZipCar, Metro-North and Amtrak handed out materials on promotions. For those who like to going on foot, the Appalachian Mountain Club gave presentations on backpacking and hiking.

Overall, the EscapeMaker Local Food & Travel Expo had good resources to encourage exploring – culinary pursuits, especially.

New York Travel Festival Breaks Consumer Show Mold


Bohemian National Hall was the venue for Saturday’s portion of the New York Travel Festival.

I got involved in helping with the promotions for the New York Travel Festival, and I’m glad I did. The inaugural event, held last weekend (April 20 and 21), ushered in travel experts and explorers from New York City and beyond.

Produced by RW Social, this new festival was to redesign the concept of the consumer travel show with an innovative program. Focusing on tech-savvy travelers already seeing the world, the event catered to them by inviting travel media’s elite to share insights and perspectives on why we travel, and how we should.

Attendees came out for the festival’s first day at the Bohemian National Hall on the Upper East Side. Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s Digital Nomad, began the morning with his keynote, “Why Your Bucket List Sucks & I’m Gonna Tell You Why.”

Evans isn’t fond of the idea of bucket lists because they sound as though “we’re setting specific travel goals” and not leaving ourselves open to other potential opportunities.

“If we only travel on our bucket lists, we will never get out of our comfort zone,” he said.


Andrew Evans, National Geographic’s “Digital Nomad,” talks to a show attendee.

Evans had a similar scenario happen after having to stay in Tennessee when the plane he was on had an emergency landing. The next day, Evans decided to go see Graceland, a place he admitted he never wanted to see at first. After spending a few hours there, and seeing Elvis’ personal items like clothes and learning more about him, Evans said he “gained this deep appreciation for who Elvis was, and I started liking Elvis.”

Evans also changed up his talk to reflect on the recent tragedy in Boston, which fit in understandably, and how travel has been impacted by terror in many ways such as with TSA policies that bewilder us all.

Breakout sessions on niche travel along with local/regional topics highlight specific scenarios for women, families, LGBT, and those seeking other alternatives. Here are some highlights:

–  A great talk on women’s travel, led by Go! Girl Guides Founder Kelly Lewis and Christine Maxfield, a former editor at Budget Travel magazine. The ladies offered common-sense safety measures all girls can take. Here’s one: buy a doorstop to securely lock your hotel door in place.


From left, Rainer Jenss, Charu Suri and Carol Cain share their advice and experiences on traveling with children.

– Yes, it’s possible to successfully navigate family travel. A session on this topic offered solid proof from speakers that were parents of children ranging in age from months old to teens. They were: Carol Cain, travel writer and blogger of; Charu Suri of Butterfly Diary; and Rainer Jenss, founder of Smart Family Travel, Inc. and a 13-year veteran of National Geographic.

– Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to have visited every country, was a contestant in a travel trivia “show,” and got stumped a bit by the audience. He was a good sport.

– Jason Cochrane, now the soon-to-be the editor of, warned his audience about current travel scams such someone “spilling” mustard on you and shared important tips on how to dodge them.


AnneLise Sorensen throws travel questions at Lee Abbamonte, and takes some from the audience.

It was also nice to see and listen to bloggers and experts whom I’ve met virtually, through social media, in person. Plus, as travel circles go, I got to catch up with friends and meet fellow writers that I already followed via Twitter or through Facebook Groups.

With a visit to the Mexico tourism area, I enjoyed samplings of authentic dishes provided by the restaurants, El Mitote and Café Frida. Translated as “drowned sandwiches,” tortas ahogadas are a Guadalajara favorite, in which a sandwich is submerged in a sauce made of a dried chili pepper or tomato sauce. Mini tortas and ceviche tostadas were also on the tasting menu.

Beverages were included, with agua fresca (watermelon water) and tastings of several kinds of Mezcal, a liquor made from the heart of the maguey plant, the piña. La comida Mexicana es deliciosa!


Guests savored flavors from Mexico and New York’s Hudson Valley Saturday afternoon.

With New York State, a “Taste of the Hudson Valley” showcased the culinary and cultural offerings in this attractive region.  Taking up one of the show floors, the area hosted a restaurant grouping of The Artist’s Plate, Madava Farms, Gigi Hudson Valley, and Zitoune. Dishes of pasta, cheese and duck highlighted regional fare. Wine and spirits samplings from Millbrook Vineyards & Winery and soon-to-open Dutch’s Spirits were also offered. And on the first floor, a range of New York beers from Shmaltz Brewing were available to sip.

Sunday’s schedule focused on food with guided tours around NYC’s five boroughs. In all, the inaugural New York Travel Festival was off to a good start. See you next year!