National Travel and Tourism Week kicks off May 6-12, 2018 celebrating the value of travel and its impact on the economy, local businesses, and personal well-being. This year’s theme, “Travel Then and Now,” focuses on the contributions and accomplishments of the U.S. Travel Community – a $2.4 trillion-dollar industry in the United States.
The Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council (FLRTC), the official 14-county tourism promotion agency as recognized by I Love NY, is a significant driver of tourism in New York State – contributing $3 billion in traveler spending to the industry based on reports pulled in 2016 – amounting to 18% of traveler spending in Upstate New York and 5% of all traveler spending in the entire State.
The organization, responsible for the promotion of the 9,000 square mile Finger Lakes region, is a leader in the creation of travel products for new and returning visitors to the area. The creation of tourism trails is just one example of this innovative approach – bringing together similar businesses to create a single or multi-day experience that appeals to travelers visiting the Finger Lakes.
This year, during the 35th annual National Travel and Tourism Week, the FLRTC is encouraging travelers and the community to support local businesses and entrepreneurs via one of these 14 trails:
Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail
Opening for the season on May 5, 2018, the family-friendly Sweet Treat Trail is all about the unique sweets and treats that Cayuga County has to offer. Honey, jam, homemade cookies and desserts made with locally grown and produced products can be found at any of the 19 stops along the trail. Local businesses, including farmers markets, bakeries, farm stands, stores, ice cream stands, u-picks and cafes benefit from being a part of the tourism trail – a key tourism driver in the Cayuga County area.
ROC/FLX Craft Beverage Trail
The ROC/FLX Craft Beverage Trail is combination of Rochester and Finger Lakes breweries, cideries and distilleries along with the 41-mile long Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail. With more than 40 wineries, breweries, cideries and distilleries on the map, and new assets popping up every day, the Rochester/Finger Lakes craft beverage culture is in full force. The trail was originally formed by Jason Barrett of Black Button Distilling in 2014 as the Rochester Craft Beverage Trail, after seeing the success of these types of trails in other communities. Partnering with the Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, the trail relaunched this year with a broader geographic focus, stretching into the Finger Lakes Region.
Livingston Libation Loop
The newly created Livingston Libation Loop is a craft beverage trail initiative spearheaded by OSB Ciderworks. The trail highlights the growing craft beverage scene in the Western Finger Lakes and features eight producers all within 30 miles – businesses like Dublin Corners Farm Brewery, Deer Run Winery, Eagle Crest Vineyards, and Battle Street Brewery. New offerings like Mortalis Brewing Company, Rising Storm Brewing Co. and No BS Brew Company are also included on the map. All three have plans to open in Summer 2018.
Finger Lakes Cheese Trail
Twelve “cheeseries” make up the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail – six of which are destination farms that welcome visitors during operating hours. The cheese trail offers an insider’s look at dairy production within the region – get some face time with cows, see how cheese is made, and taste the best in local products – on the farm or in one of the many retail stores that carry these cheeses. Visitors don’t just have to “travel the trail” to get this experience. The Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance hosts an annual Cheese Festival each year in July.
Craft Your Adventure Trail
Craft Your Adventure is a gathering of over 30 craft beverage producers (that’s the “Craft” part), and an attempt to showcase the remarkable outdoor experiences that set the Finger Lakes Region apart (the “Adventure”). Think – hundreds of miles of footpaths for hiking or snowshoeing on the Finger Lakes Trail, with several branch trails in proximity to excellent breweries. Visitors can take a morning hike, then quench their thirst with some tasty brews. Explore waterfalls and scenic hikes at state parks like Watkins Glen and Stony Brook, then cool their heels at nearby craft beverage producers. Visit New York State’s only National Forest on a horseback ride, just minutes from exceptional breweries and distilleries. On the trail’s newest brochure, each producer has a list of suggested outdoor adventure pairings nearby, giving visitors the tools to create a cool experience all their own.
Tiffany & Treasures Trail
A self-guided adventure in the fire arts treasures of yesterday and today, the Tiffany & Treasures Trail highlights local art mixed with local history. The trail features twenty-eight sites throughout Steuben, Chemung and Schuyler counties – each of which are open to the public and/or offer tours of their galleries or studios. Those traveling the trail can marvel at the beautiful Tiffany stained glass designed by American Artist Louis C. Tiffany, then get an in-depth look or hands-on experience making their own pottery or glass treasures.
Apple Tasting Tour
The #1 apple-producing county in New York State, Wayne County, has hosted an annual Apple Tasting Tour every October for the last 21 years! A tasting passport takes visitors on a journey to local farms, farm markets, cider, liquor and wine producers that celebrate the apple harvest. The tour encourages the purchase of local products – baked goods, local produce, cider, and even apple wine and family bonding as visitors pick apples, learn the difference of apple varieties in taste, texture, and scent, and spend an hour getting lost in Long Acre Farm’s Amazing Maize Maze.
The Chocolate Trail encourages visitors to indulge in all those decadent chocolatey delights located throughout Corning’s historic Gaffer District. From mouthwatering candy and chocolate martinis, to cocoa bean-flavored lip liner and carob-flavored dog treats there is something for every self-proclaimed chocolate addict. The trail also acts as a driver to other local hotspots – like the world-famous Corning Museum of Glass – just a short walk away – along with exceptional shopping, dining and arts options.
Twain Country Tours
The Mark Twain Country driving trail in Elmira includes 20 historic sites related to Mark Twain, the Civil War, the Underground Railroad and more. During the months of July and August, visitors can hop out of the car and onto a Trolley for a one-hour guided experience past some of history’s most notable sites. In “Twain Country” they will see Mark Twain’s writing study where his greatest classics including Tom Sawyer & Huck Finn were first written, the burial site of Mark Twain & family, the former Elmira Civil War Prison Camp site, Woodlawn National Cemetery where nearly 3,000 Confederate soldiers were laid to rest and some of the upscale districts and quaint avenues where Elmira’s most prominent figures lived.
The Finger Lakes also has an abundance of wine trails along Seneca, Cayuga, and Keuka Lakes and on Lake Ontario, along with the full Finger Lakes Beer Trail.
For more information on where to travel during National Travel and Tourism Week, how the Finger Lakes is celebrating, or on the Finger Lakes Regional Tourism Council, visit www.fingerlakestravelny.com.