Weekend Getaways: Camping at Fillmore Glen State Park

Weekend Getaways: Camping at Fillmore Glen State Park

For over a year I’ve been dying to go camping and in July my dream was finally fulfilled! We had a great weekend cooking over the fire, hiking and exposing our dog Kip to his first camping experience. To be honest, judging by the way he dove into the blankets on the air mattress on Saturday night, he wasn’t a huge fan of the whole laying on the ground part of camping. But I think he enjoyed the long hike we took him on and the frequent walks around the campground.

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This was our first time visiting Fillmore Glen State Park and I thought it was super cute and well-maintained. Fun fact, the park is about 5 miles from President Millard Fillmore’s birthplace and has a replica of the log cabin he grew up in, which was kinda cool to check out. Plus, I can now say my dog has peed on a President’s lawn 😉 The campground portion was small but we snagged a nice site in the shade and didn’t have to worry about the 90+ temps that weekend.

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On Saturday we did the South Rim trail hike along the gorge which was gorgeous. Although it was blazing hot out, the trail was shaded the entire way and made for a really pleasant hike. The trail has several bridges that criss cross over the gorge stream so you’ll find some great views and photo opportunities along the way.

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Once you’re finished with your hike the main part of the park has the perfect spring-fed natural swimming pool to take a dip in. It’s super cute and the fresh water is definitely a lot colder than a typical pool, but it felt great in the heat. The only downside was that dogs aren’t allowed in the pool, which was a bummer because I know Kip would’ve loved it! We did find a couple of spots by the stream for him to wade in, which he seemed to appreciate.

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Of course, the best part of camping is always the camp food! We went simple with Wegman’s subs for dinner on Friday night and then had bratwurst for lunch on Saturday and chicken and veggie kabobs for dinner. There’s just something about a meal cooked over the campfire and eaten outdoors that makes it taste that much better. Plus the thought of s’mores for dessert doesn’t hurt either.

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At only about an hour drive from Syracuse, Fillmore Glen was the perfect quick weekend getaway for us. Even if you’re not into camping I’d definitely recommend checking the state park out for the hiking and swimming. They had a huge pavilion where people were holding a family reunion and plenty of picnic tables and grills to have a quick cookout.

Do you have a favorite New York State Park we should visit? Let me know in the comments, we’re always on the lookout for new locations for adventures!

Upstate New York Guide | 24 Hours in Schoharie County

Upstate New York Guide | 24 Hours in Schoharie County

For the first installment in my Upstate New York Guide series I thought it was only right to start off with Schoharie County. While I wasn’t born in Schoharie, I did grow up there and it’s the only place that comes to mind when I hear the word “hometown”. I was even a senior survivor at good ol’ SCS, which my fellow alumni will know means I attended Schoharie Central School all the way from kindergarten to 12th grade. So it’s safe to say I know what I’m talking about when it comes to things going on in Schoharie.

If you’re from Schoharie, you’ve probably heard that there’s nothing to do in Schoharie a million times. Meanwhile, there are a lot of city transplants that try and make Schoharie into some sort of picturesque, artisan, small town dream. It’s true that we don’t have a mall or a Target within 30 minutes driving time. We also don’t have quaint coffee shops or bars that serve fancy mixed drinks. To be honest, Schoharie is a redneck town full of fun redneck things to do that I’d love to tell you about. Embracing that vibe is the key to truly enjoying Schoharie like a local. Here’s your guide to making the most of your 24 hours in Schoharie County.

Morning

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You’re going to need some fuel to start off your day and your best options for breakfast in Schoharie County come in the form of a diner. If you’re in the town of Schoharie you can pick from the Your Way Cafe or the Country Cafe. In Middleburgh I’d recommend M&J’s Cafe and in Cobleskill there’s nothing better than the Cobleskill Diner. Of course, if all else fails, you can never go wrong with the classic egg sandwich on a hard roll and Stewarts coffee combo. Breakfast from a gas station has never tasted so good.

After you’ve fueled up it’s time to work some of that breakfast off. Head over to Schoharie Valley Kayak Rentals (call to schedule your rental ahead of time) and enjoy a peaceful morning padding down the Schoharie Creek. If you’re really lucky you might catch a glimpse of some of the growing population of bald eagles that have been nesting along the creek. The nice part about renting kayaks is that you can arrange to have your rental picked up at the end of your trip so you don’t have to worry about having a truck to transport them.

Afternoon

Since you’re in Schoharie for lunch, try out El Taco Shack on Main Street in Schoharie. This restaurant recently opened and it’s become a literal bright spot on Schoharie’s otherwise bare main street. And when I say bright spot I mean it, you won’t be able to miss their bright teal and red storefront. They serve all sorts of Mexican food Moes-style and while I’ve only been once so far, I was pretty impressed. It’s really nice to see new businesses come into town and offer something different and I hope they’re able to succeed with this location.

After you’re full of delicious Mexican food, take a drive over to Vroman’s Nose just outside of the village of Middleburgh for a quick hike with amazing views of the valley. Vroman’s Nose is a classic attraction of Schoharie and every local has probably hiked it at least ten times and taken hundreds of Instagram-worthy pics perched on the edge of the overlook.

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The trail is basically straight uphill but it’s pretty short and totally worth it. Vroman’s Nose was created when a giant prehistoric glacier moved across New York and carved out the Schoharie Valley, leaving behind this nose shaped formation sticking out amidst the surrounding fields. At the top of the mountain you’ll find a giant flat slab called the dance floor with tons of carvings and initials from hikers over the years. Bonus points if you can find the oldest carving from the 1800’s or Ashley’s carved marriage proposal.

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After your hike it’s a requirement that you must experience the best ice cream Schoharie County has to offer: Amy’s Place. Amy’s is in Middleburgh and just a short drive from Vroman’s Nose so it’s an easy next stop. I’ve honestly been spoiled by Amy’s my whole life and have yet to find an ice cream place that compares in Central NY. But I do have a word of warning: you’re a fool if you order any size bigger than a small at Amy’s. Their smalls would probably be considered larges at other ice cream shops, but they’re not overpriced at Amy’s. If you order anything bigger, I promise you will end up with a ridiculous amount of ice cream. End of PSA.

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when you order a "small" at Amy's😳

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For a refreshing afternoon beverage look no further than Main Street, Middleburgh and the Green Wolf Brewing Co. taproom. You can try out one of their own local microbrews or a variety of other ales, ciders and wines from around the Capital Region. The atmosphere is very cozy and the people working there are knowledgeable about the brews they offer. It’s not a huge well-known beer destination, but it’s a great little gem Schoharie has to offer.

Evening

As if you haven’t done enough eating during your day, it’s time for dinner and that means we’re heading over to the bustling metropolis of Schoharie county: Cobleskill. Coby has a Wal-Mart and a small SUNY college, which basically is the only thing that differentiates it from the other tiny towns that make up Schoharie county. They also have Justine’s, home of the best garlic bread I’ve ever had. Honestly, forget the pizza or pasta, I’d gladly go to Justine’s and have a plate of garlic bread all to myself. If the weather’s nice you can sit outside and enjoy your pasta or one of their truly gigantic salads and unwind for your final meal in Schoharie county.

After a full day of outdoor activities, there’s no more perfect ending than catching a movie at Park Theater in Cobleskill. Watching a movie at Park is like being transported back in time. This classic venue has only one single screen, meaning you have only one single movie choice on Friday or Saturday nights. I still remember the excitement of lining up outside the theater before your showtime (7:30pm or 9pm are your only choices) and looking around to see who else was coming out to the movies that night. It was inevitable that you’d run into several classmates and at least one relative while you wanted for the doors to open. If you were going to the 9pm showing there was the added element of recognizing someone coming out of the 7:30 showing and calling them over to tell you if the movie was any good.

When I was growing up tickets were only $3, but I just checked the site and they’re $7 now. I guess that’s just the price of inflation, but it’s still a better deal than you’ll get at most movie theaters these days. There’s really nothing that screams Schoharie county to me more than a movie at Park Theater and I can’t imagine a better ending to your day.

So Schoharie might be small and rural, but to say there’s nothing to do there is certainly not true. In just 24 hours you can experience so many of the things that made up my childhood in Schoharie and hopefully you’ll leave with just as fond of memories.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the first installment of my Upstate New York Guides series! Keep checking back for the next one.

4 Unique Off The Strip Vegas Experiences

4 Unique Off The Strip Vegas Experiences

Now, I don’t consider myself a travel blogger by any means, but I couldn’t help but write this post after my recent Las Vegas trip. My husband and I visited my little brother in Vegas for an extended Memorial Day Weekend and had such an amazing time. As a local, my brother isn’t a huge fan of the strip so while we did get a room there for our last night to do some exploring, most of my favorite activities we did were located off the strip. If gambling and major crowds aren’t your thing, check out these suggestions to make the most of your time in Sin City.

Red Rock Canyon

This is far and away my favorite thing we did in Vegas. Coming from Upstate New York, the landscape in Nevada is so radically different from anything I’ve ever seen before and Red Rock provided us with some amazing desert views.

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First we did a short 2-mile hike that started near the visitors center and looped around to a limestone ridge with a nice view. The weather was not too hot so the hike was pretty easy and it was amazing to walk around right in the middle of the desert with the mountains looming all around.

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After that we drove the scenic route around the park and stopped at a few areas for photos. I also wanted to check out another super short hiking trail to see some petroglyphs carved on the mountain and after a short detour (we got lost) we found the carvings. The trail to the petroglyphs is literally right next to the Willow Springs parking lot so don’t continue down the road like we did. The trail marker might be blocked by parked cars so be on the lookout for that.

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Even just driving around the park was amazing and I had my phone out snapping photos the whole time. If you’re from someplace that isn’t a desert, this is the perfect way to experience Nevada’s landscape. The entry fee for the park is $15 (or free if you’re with a military member, like I was) which is worth every penny.

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Hoover Dam

If you’re a history buff you’ll probably get the most out of the Hoover Dam, which was the largest dam in the world when it was completed in 1935. It’s pretty neat to walk around the dam and get some pictures of the surrounding mountains and the Colorado River, but I enjoyed the drive to the dam almost as much as the actual attraction.

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Instead of taking Route 515 through Boulder City to get to the dam, try taking the scenic route through Lake Mead National Recreation Area. You’ll have to pay a fee to drive this route, but it will be worth it to weave through the mountains and see some great views of the lakes nestled in between. Lake Las Vegas literally looks like a gorgeous desert oasis and if I had known about it earlier I would’ve loved to spend some time there. Next time!

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When you get to the dam you can pay $10 to go through some exhibits, watch a movie on the history of the dam, get a cheesy green screen pic taken (extra $ if you want to buy the pic) and go up to the overlook. I’d say this is not necessary unless you’re really into dam history or you’re trying to find some air conditioning.

7 Magic Mountains

The 7 Magic Mountains are an art installation I had heard about months before my trip and was super curious to visit. They’re located about 20 miles south of the strip and, again, the drive is half the fun of visiting this attraction. Are you sensing a theme here? I was obsessed with driving through the desert and checking out the landscape.

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The exhibition by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone was installed in 2016 and although it was originally a 2 year project, its popularity has led to a possible extension plan. Currently the extension plan hasn’t been completed, so if you definitely want to visit this attraction make sure you get there before the end of 2018.

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Although my travel companions didn’t really appreciate me dragging them out to the desert to see some colorful rocks, I thought it was worth it! Plus, this place is an Instagrammer’s dream, so make sure to wear a cute outfit and come with your phone battery charged.

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Fremont Street

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If you’re looking for the Vegas nightlife experience without the $20 cover fee, Fremont Street is for you. Most people know Fremont Street as the covered street with an overhead zipline and plenty of…unique street performers and while it’s fun to stroll around that area (known as the Fremont Street Experience), there are tons of unique bars farther down the street. Some of my favorites ones we checked out were:

  • The Container Park: This funky shopping center created out of huge shipping containers had a few cool bars and eateries along with live acoustic music on an outdoor stage. Definitely more of a chill vibe here.

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  • Downtown Cocktail Room: If you’re into unique, gourmet cocktails and a cozy lounge vibe, make sure to put this place on your list. The staff was super friendly and service was excellent here so don’t be afraid to ask them for more seating or drink suggestions. Plus I’m 99.9% sure I saw Lil Dicky here but was too embarrassed to talk to him.
  • Corduroy: This was my favorite bar we visited! From their perfectly lit selfie room in the back, to the delicious Moscow Mules on tap, to the early-2000’s pop punk music everyone was scream-singing along to, everything about this place was right up my alley.

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  • Gold Spike: Part club, part hotel, part adult playground, this place has almost everything. Admittedly, this was our last stop of the night so I didn’t get to fully experience everything Gold Spike has to offer. They have just about every lawn game you could ask for in the “backyard” area and a restaurant on site called Fiddlestix which is open 24 hrs so you can get your nachos fix at 3 am.

Hope this gave you some ideas for a Vegas experience a little different from the ordinary! Vegas ended up being one of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken, and I don’t consider myself much of a gambler or partier. If you’re looking for a trip packed with a lot of action, fun and gorgeous landscapes, consider giving Vegas a try.