Sixteen Little-known Attractions in our Region
I thought I knew all about things to see and do in western New York and the Finger Lakes Region when I set out to write the first edition of my area travel guide a few years ago. However, in my travels I was surprised to find out how little I knew, especially when it came to some of the more obscure attractions in our area. Described below is a sampling of some of our area’s lesser-known destinations. Most are open year round; a few are only open seasonally.
Museums and historic sites
While we are all aware of the bigger, well-known museums in our area, such as the Corning Museum of Glass and the Museum of Play, there are many unique smaller museums and sites in our area just waiting to be explored.
BenjaminPattersonMuseum (Corning, SteubenCounty)
Located just down the street from the well-known Corning Museum of Glass, this museum depicts life in the 1800’s. The museum complex, which is operated by the Corning-Painted Post Historical Society, includes the Benjamin Patterson Inn (1796), a 1794 settler’s cabin, a 1787 one-room schoolhouse and a replica blacksmith shop. Benjamin Patterson was the first innkeeper in Corning and the inn sits on its original site; the others buildings were brought in from other locations.
Benjamin Patterson Inn Museum, 59 West Pulteney Street, Corning, 607-937-5281, www.pattersoninnmuseum.org. Open Monday-Friday 10:00 am-4:00 pm.
NiagaraScienceMuseum (Niagara Falls, NiagaraCounty)
This museum, which opened in 2009, is located in the original 1910 National Carbon Company office building. It has the distinction of being listed on listverse.com as “One of the top 10 museums for geeks.” Created by physicist, Nick Dalacu, the museum presents a collection of scientific instruments and demonstration apparatus in a series of laboratories as at the beginning of the 20th Century.
Niagara Science Museum, 3625 Highland Avenue, Niagara Falls, 525-4126, www.niagarasciencemuseum.org/ Open daily 12:00-5:00 pm.
1941 Historical AircraftGroupMuseum(Geneseo, LivingstonCounty)
The 1941 HAGMuseum, established in 1994 by a group of aviation enthusiasts, is dedicated to restoring and flying vintage aircraft and preserving aviation history. This museum hosts an annual airshow in mid-July.
1941 HAGMuseum, GeneseoAirport (off Route 63) Geneseo, 585-243-2100, www.1941hag.org Open Mon., Wed., Fri., and Sat. 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Lincoln Bedell Statues (Westfield, ChautauquaCounty)
These statues, sculpted by Westfield native, Don Sottile, depict the meeting between president-elect Abraham Lincoln and 12 year old Grace Bedell at the Westfield train station on February 16, 1861. Bedell had previously written to Lincoln suggesting that he grow a beard to improve his appearance. At the meeting, Lincoln shook Bedell’s hand, kissed her, and asked how she liked the whiskers.
Lincoln Bedell Statues, corner of Routes US 20 and NY 394, Westfield.
Religious and Memorial sites
Here are a few little-known places which focus on the spiritual side of life.
Abbey of the Genesee (Piffard, LivingstonCounty)
Okay, this place is probably better known than some of the other places mentioned in this article; however, many are still unaware of it. You’ve probably seen Monks Bread on grocery store shelves; that bread is actually made by monks at the Abbey of Genesee. The monks, who belong to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, better known as Trappists, sell the bread to support the abbey. Bread, other edible items, and religious books are available in their store. The church is open daily and the scenic grounds have many spots for peaceful meditations. Three retreat houses are available to both individuals and groups of any faith.
Abbey of the Genesee, 3258 River Road, Piffard (just west of Geneseo) 585-243-0660, www.geneseeabbey.org. The bread store is open Monday-Saturday 9:00 am-6:00 pm and Sunday from 8:30 to 9:30 am; it reopens after 9:45 Mass until 12:00 pm.
Garrett Memorial Chapel (Bluff Point, YatesCounty)
This unique stone chapel was built in 1931 by Mr. & Mrs. Paul Garrett, a wine magnate, as a memorial to their son Charles, who died at age 28 of tuberculosis. It is located in the woods overlooking Keuka Lake at scenic Bluff Point, near Pen Yan. The chapel is open seasonally July 4-Labor Day, Tuesday and Thursday 1:00-4:00 pm. Services are held in the chapel at 9:00 am on Sundays during the summer. The grounds are open daily dawn to dusk March to October. It is not handicap accessible and there are no rest rooms.
Garrett Memorial Chapel, 5251 Skyline Drive, Bluff Point. www.garrettchapel.org
Mt.AlbionCemetery (Albion, OrleansCounty)
Set on a hill just outside of Albion, this 100-acre garden-type cemetery, which opened in 1843, has 25 miles of paths winding through it. A designated National Historic Site, it has many outstanding monuments, including the Sailors Civil War Memorial Tower. A map to the cemetery can be picked up at the main gate or at the Orleans County Chamber of Commerce. The cemetery is open daily dawn to dusk.
Mt.AlbionCemetery, 14925 NY 31 East, Albion, 585-589-5416.
Lewiston Mound and LewistonPortage Landing Site. (Lewiston, NiagaraCounty)
This Native American Hopewell-style burial mound which dates to 160 AD, is located just off the lower parking lot at ArtparkState Park by the Lewiston Portage Landing Site, a National Historic Landmark site. This site marks the spot where Native Americans and European fur traders would land their vessels to portage their boats and goods to the upper landing above Niagara Falls, avoiding the lower rapids and the falls.
There are numerous beautiful scenic sites throughout our area. Here are just a few of them that you might want to check out.
HolleyFalls (Holley, OrleansCounty)
HolleyFalls is well-hidden; you would never know this picturesque waterfall was there if you weren’t looking for it. It is located in a small park which is accessed by a service road next to the Public Works Garage in Holley. The waterfall actually flows from the Erie Canal into the East Branch of Sandy Creek. Park amenities include a picnic shelter and a nature trail. To get to the falls, take Frisbee Terrace from the village square until you reach the service road.
The “Secret Sidewalk” (Rochester, MonroeCounty)
This public walkway, located along LakeOntario near OntarioBeachPark offers a great view of the lake. It actually takes you through the backyards of the well-manicured homes that overlook the lake. During the summer months you can enjoy their flower gardens. The walk way can be accessed between the driveways of 490 and 510 Beach Avenue from one end, and next to 720 Beach Avenue on the other end. Bicycles are not allowed, but you can bring leashed pets, provided you clean up after them.
Mount Morris Dam (MountMorris, LivingstonCounty)
The Mount Morris Dam, located in the Genesee River Gorge by LetchworthState Park, is the largest dam of its type east of the Mississippi. The 790 foot high dam, which is operated by the Army Corps of Engineers, was constructed between 1948 and 1952 to prevent the major floods that ravaged the area prior to the construction of the dam. Information about the dam’s history and operation can be found in the state-of-the-art, 5,400 square foot visitor’s center, which is open April to October. Tours of the dam are also offered April to October at various times.
Mount Morris Dam, 1 MountMorris Dam, Mount Morris NY 585-658-4790 www.lrb.usace.army.mil/MMD/index.htm The visitor’s center is open April to October 10:00 am-4:30 pm
South Bristol Scenic Overlook (South Bristol, Ontario County)
The South Bristol Scenic Overlook, also known as CarolabarbPark, has one of the most breathtaking views in the Finger Lakes Region. Located at the southern end of Canandaigua Lake near Naples, the overlook, which was dedicated in 2005, has a wonderful view of the lake and surrounding hills. The 38-acre site was a gift to the town of South Bristol from the late Odell Scott and named in honor of Mr. Scott’s first wife, the late Carol Scott, and his second wife, Barbara. There is a small parking lot, a few benches, and a picnic table. It is located along County Road 12, off Route 21 south, in South Bristol.
Shopping and Dining
Here are a few interesting places to shop and eat in our region that folks in the Buffalo area might not be familiar with.
The Windmill Farm & Craft Market (Penn Yan, YatesCounty)
While people in the Finger Lakes Region flock to this popular farm market, it’s relatively unknown in the Buffalo area. This market, which opened in 1987, has over 250 vendors that carry an assortment of goods from fresh produce, to Amish and Mennonite crafts, baked goods, furniture, and more. About 8,000-10,000 people visit each week. It is open 8:00 am-4:30 pm Saturdays only from the last Saturday in April to the second Saturday in December.
Windmill Farm and Craft Market, 3900 NY 14A, Penn Yan, 315-536-3032, www.thewindmill.com
Weaver View Farms Country Store (Penn Yan, YatesCounty)
This shop, which is run by a Mennonite family, is filled with all sorts of country décor items, including hundreds of hand-stitched Amish quilts, jams, baskets, pottery, fabrics, furniture, and more. Located in a working dairy farm overlooking Seneca Lake, it is open year-round, Monday-Saturday 9:00 am-6:00 pm.
Weaver View Farms Country Store, 1190 Earls Hill Road, Penn Yan, 315-781-2571, www.weaverviewfarms.com
Village of Angelica (Angelica, AlleganyCounty)
This quaint little village has many buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The town’s historic district centers around Park Circle, which has a gazebo (the site of summer concerts) and a playground. There are many antique and gift shops in the town. www.angelica-ny.net or www.visitangelica.com
Tom Wahl’s (Avon, LivingstonCounty)
Started in 1955, this Avon-based restaurant is best known for its hand-crafted root beer served in frosty mugs, which is well worth the trip. The menu has items like hot dogs, hamburgers, and chicken fingers. There are eight locations throughout the Finger Lakes Region.
Tom Wahl’s, 283 East Main Street, Avon, 585-226-2420 www.tomwahls.com. Open Sunday-Thursday 10:30 am-9:00 pm; Friday & Saturday 10:30 am to 10:00 pm.