Want to really impress friends and family when talking about your plans for a mid-winter getaway? Tell ‘em you’re going east to do some skiing, then heading down to Naples to take it easy for a day or two. Now, before you start worrying how expensive a trip like this could be, be assured you can do it rather affordably, without waiting in lines at airports or even leaving New York State!
Confused? Don’t be; a trip to the Bristol Hills and Naples in southwest Ontario County in the Finger Lakes Region is a perfect getaway spot that’s close to home. The area, about a 1 ½ hour drive from Buffalo, offers skiing, wineries, great views and much more. A good web site to check out about this area is www.naplesvalleyny.com .
First, let’s talk about the skiing. Bristol Mountain Ski Resort (585-374-6000, www.bristolmt.com) 5662 NY 64, Canandaigua, boast the highest vertical rise (1,200 feet) of any ski resort between the Catskills and the Rockies. With a summit elevation of 2,200 feet, it offers a spectacular view of the surrounding Bristol Hills.
However, if you are a beginner, don’t be scared away by the elevation. Bristol Mountain devotes 35% of the mountain to trails for beginner skiers and snowboarders, along with 45% of the trails intermediate and 20% expert. The resort has 32 slopes and trails, along with two terrain parks and one half pipe.
They’re open Monday-Friday 9 am-10 pm and Sat.-Sun. 8 am-10 pm until March 12; from March 13 to April 3 they’re open 8 am-4 pm daily, all weather permitting, of course.
The nearby Lodge at Bristol Harbour (585-396-2200, www.bristolharbour.com) 5410 Seneca Point Rd., an Adirondack-style inn, offers ski and stay packages, as does the Canandaigua Inn on the Lake (585-394-7800, visitinnonthelake.com) 770 S. Main St., Canandaigua. There are also numerous bed & breakfast inns throughout the area.
If you’re not into downhill skiing, but like the great outdoors, stop by the Cummings Nature Preserve (585-374-6160, www.rmsc.org) 6472 Gulick Rd., Naples. The center, which is run by the Rochester Museum and Science Center, is open weekends only, 9 am-5 pm. It has six miles of trails and, in the winter, 15 miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails and a two mile snowshoeing loop. The visitor’s center has restrooms, vending machines and equipment rentals. (skis/poles/shoes $12/day, snowshoes $5/day.)
February events at Cumming Nature Preserve include a Moonlight Ski on February 11, starting at 5:45 pm, with guided tours provided by the Genesee Valley Nordic Ski Patrol. Call the center for reservations. $10/person includes a buffet dinner of chili, sandwiches and finger foods. On February 18-19, enjoy Nordic Hot Dog Days, a sale of hot dogs, chili and other goodies, with proceeds benefiting the Genesee Valley Nordic Ski Patrol. Maple Sugaring Weekends will take place March 25-26 and April 1-2, with sugaring demonstrating from 10 am-3 pm each day. Pancake meals will be available from 9 am-2 pm.
If you are into more leisurely activities, take a winery tour at Widmer Wine Cellars (585-374-6311, 800-836-LAKE, www.widmerwine.com) in Naples. Widmer’s, the largest winery on the east coast, produces over 50 different wines, including Manischewitz wines. They are the world’s largest producer of Kosher wines. The winery was founded in the 1800’s by Swiss winemaker John Jacob Widmer. They’re open year-round, 12-4 daily, with tours at 1, 2, and 3 pm. The tours take you from the fields (dress accordingly for the weather) to the wine cellars. After the tour, sample wines in the tasting room; kids get to sample the grape juice.
If you visit on either February 12 or 19, you and your family can take a free Valentine’s Day sleigh ride through the vineyards between 1-4 pm; wagon rides will be provided if there is no snow. Another local winery, Arbor Hill Grapery & Winery (585-374-5817,800-554-2406, www.thegrapery.com) 6461 Bristol Springs Rd. (NY 64), Naples, just down the road from Bristol Mountain Ski Resort, offers a selection of their award-winning wines, along with jams, jellies, sauces, mustards, dressings and gift items. They are open weekends only January-May, daily the rest of the year.
Every area has a food it’s famous for; Buffalo has its wings, San Francisco has Rice-a-Roni and Naples, NY has grape pie. It is estimated that over 70,000 grape pies are sold annually in Naples. Numerous places sell the pies, including Monica’s Pies (585-374-2139, www.monicaspies.com) 7599 NY 21, Naples. Grape pies are available year-round, along with a variety of other fruit pies, jams, jellies, relishes, grape pie filling and gift baskets. They’re open daily 9-5; many products can be mail ordered through their website.
On you way back to Buffalo, travel down Route 20A and stop at the Wizard of Clay Pottery (585-229-2980, www.wizardofclay.com) 7851 US 20A, Honeoye. This is a really unique place to visit and I’m sure you’ll want to purchase a piece of their pottery as a remembrance of your trip to the Bristol Hills. The “Wizards,” father-son team of Jim and Jamie Kozlowski, work their pottery magic inside a geodesic dome. They go through over 100,000 pounds of clay each year, creating their distinctive pottery. Their signature Bristoleaf pottery is decorated with impressions of real leaves. The potters are also known for their crystalline glazed pieces, which have a jewel-like shimmer. Open 9-5 daily, year-round.
Direction to the Bristol/Naples area from Buffalo:
Take the NYS Thruway to either exit 44 and head south on NY 332, or exit 43 and south on NY 21 into Canandaigua. From there, take Routes 5 & 20 west. For Naples, take NY 21 south; for Bristol, take NY 64 south and for Honeoye, take NY 64 south to US 20A.