Or is it Upstate New York?

As a Pennsylvanian, I’ve long puzzled over what “upstate” means. Yes, I know I could Google the answer, but I’d rather hear from my NY friends what term is correct.

At any rate, I traveled to the region with my husband on his business trip. I stayed out of the way, contenting myself with hanging out in the local library or the hotel lobby, writing to my heart’s content. Both locations provide me with fodder for blogs or conversations between characters in a novel.

This trip took us as far east as the small town of Cazenovia, which was cold, fog-encased, drizzly and absolutely adorable. Stop at Dave’s Diner for a treat, great cappuccino or sandwich served with a smile.

It’s a lovely drive

On our two-hour drive from there west to spend a couple of nights in Perinton, we were struck time and again by the number of cupolas on a variety of buildings. From homes to courthouses, to the Hilton Garden Inn where we stayed, cupolas sat atop structure after structure.

I’m on a quest to discern when and why these tiny or large windowed squares came to be such a large part of construction in this area. An internet search didn’t yield much. Had I realized it when I was in the library I’d have been in the history books of the area instead of working on my novel.

Other cities

We spent three nights in Auburn, a city block from the famous prison. While the people were nice and friendly, the atmosphere of this county seat was sad, with a main street containing many empty store fronts. After our unexpected discovery of Greenville, South Carolina, I will, unfairly I know, be judging small towns in America by its standard.

Skaneateles (Skinny Atlas) was another surprise. At just over seven thousand people, the town is quaint, sits right on the long (skinny) lake Skaneateles and boasts a number of restaurants and shops. We had a fish lunch at the Bluewater Grill, brought to us by a friendly server who laughed when I asked how to pronounce the town name.

Driving on Route 34, we passed through Genoa and Venice, which might explain why we found such good Italian food in the area. In Auburn, we dined twice at Osteria Salina. Don’t miss it and be sure to follow dinner with a sip of the Giordi Limoncello.

Genoa, New York

Genoa, New York

Venice, New York

Venice, New York

Ithaca

We enjoyed a walk through Ithaca—the Commons is a quaint setup of shops and restaurants—and a drive through the Cornell Campus. They have a plantation array there that would take days to explore. While I didn’t see a mansion tucked away anywhere, we did take time to walk through part of the F.R. Newman Arboretum. We’d like to come back in the summer and see everything in bloom.

Cornell University

Buttermilk Falls State Park is a must see in the Ithaca area. We hiked up the Rim Trail, crossed over and came down the Gorge Trail. It is steep and very slick in places, so take your time and use caution. It’s quite lovely and swimming is permitted in certain spots, when there’s a lifeguard on site. Restrooms and showers are available but cart your own amenities along.

Don’t skip a tour around Cayuga Lake. We went north on 90, west on 20 and south on 89 and enjoyed views at every bend in the road. If you like New York wine, you’ll have multiple vineyards to choose from.

I’m already looking forward to a summer trip to further explore the Finger Lakes area, eat well and further visit with the genial and ever-smiling residents.

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Read: Pennsylvania Forests