Hitting the Road in New York State Without Breaking the Bank

One way to control family vacation costs is with the time-honored road trip. Explore New York State on a leisurely trip from Watkins Glen in the Finger Lakes to the 1000 Islands region, stopping at castles, a zoo and the Rockwell Museum along the way.

To make the journey easier, there are two family-friendly, AAA Four-Diamond properties in waterfront locations, about three hours apart by car, that will bookend your scenic road trip. For added convenience, both properties offer spacious guestrooms with such family-friendly amenities as connecting rooms, cribs, kitchenettes, refrigerators, laundry, on-site dining, an indoor swimming pool and free WiFi.

Seneca Lake Wine Trail

Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Photo: Jess Lynn Photography

At the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, for example, located on the shores of Seneca Lake, you and the kids will be within walking distance of the town and Watkins Glen State Park, with its hiking trails and waterfalls. Take your time to swim, fish, take a boat tour on the lake and, for mom and dad, sample the local vintages at a few of the 34 wineries on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

Watkins Glen State Park Bridge.

Watkins Glen State Park Bridge. Photo: Watkins Glen State Park

The 104-room hotel is also situated about a half hour away from the Rockwell Museum, located in the historic former city hall in Corning, and the Corning Museum of Glass, with its eye-popping colorful exhibitions.

At the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, located on seven acres of parkland in the village of Clayton, guestrooms overlook the St. Lawrence River. On property, families can take advantage of an indoor swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, state-of-the-art fitness center and the services of a professional concierge to help you make the most of your stay.

1,000 Islands Harbor Hotel

1000 Islands Harbor Hotel

Amenities include The Seaway Grille, the 1000 Islands Bar and, in summer, the Riverside Patio. Other options include alfresco dining by the river and nightly star gazing by on-site fire pits.

The hotel is located within walking distance of Frink Park, the town of Clayton and the Antique Boat Museum, where you can check out some 300 boats and artifacts, and take 45-minute speedboat rides on the river. Families can also take a boat to Boldt Castle, built in 1900 by a wealthy hotelier, and Singer Castle on the river, named for the founders of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.

Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle

Between the two hotels, families can stop at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, and the Waterloo Designer Outlets.

Boldt Castle

Boldt Castle