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5 Unique Trails to Explore in Upstate New York

The best way to get from point A to point B is a straight line - unless there is a trail loaded with interesting and delicious stops to explore. From the great outdoors to food and drink, Upstate New York has a trail for everyone - literally. I’ve narrowed the list down to five of my favorites – for this journey, you’re going to need your sneakers, thinking cap and an empty belly.

The best time to visit the #1 apple-producing county in New York State is in October! That’s when Wayne County (located on the southern edge of Lake Ontario) hosts its annual Apple Tasting Tour – a journey that takes you to local farms, farm markets, and wineries that celebrate the apple harvest. Pick up some of your fall favorites – yummy baked goods, local produce, cider, and even apple wine (it’s reaaaallly good) and get your tour passport stamped along the way to enter for a grand prize (download here ). Spend the day learning the difference of apple varieties in taste, texture, and even scent – or spend an hour getting lost and then found in Long Acre Farm’s Amazing Maize Maze. If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, what do you think a carful of apples gets me…?

If I’m not out getting lost in a maze, I like to take a scenic walk, run, or bike along the Genesee Riverway Trail (GRT), an off-road path that runs parallel to the Genesee River. The 38.6-meter long multi-use trail leads to the Genesee River’s scenic gorge, three waterfalls, eight bridges, and eleven parks – including four historic parks designed by Frederick Law Olmstead. The trail extends through the scenic, cultural and historic heart of Rochester, N.Y. (the city I now call home), linking nine historic districts and individual landmarks.

Calling all chocolate lovers! Follow the Chocolate Trail to discover decadent chocolatey delights (say that 3 times fast) at every stop. From mouthwatering candy and chocolate martinis, to cocoa bean-flavored lip liner and carob-flavored dog treats (I admit, I haven’t tried these personally), there is something for every self-proclaimed chocolate addict. Located throughout Corning’s historic Gaffer District, the self-guided Chocolate Trail Tour is just a short walk away from the world famous Corning Museum of Glass as well as exceptional shopping, dining and arts options.

The only way to break out of a chocolate coma is to put your noggin to work. The family-friendly Discovery Trail features eight brainy attractions such as the Cayuga Nature Center, the Sciencenter, The Museum of the Earth and the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. Visit these brain-stimulating stops around Ithaca, the home of Cornell University, to learn about the environment, art, birds, and the mastodon that roamed the glaciers (which formed the hundreds of gorges in the area).

Speaking of the past… over a century ago, Central New York was known as the hop capital of the world. But lucky for you, the region is once again experiencing a renaissance of craft brewing! You’re invited to taste your way through the state’s best craft beverages – whether tipping back a pint at a brewpub, sampling some moonshine, or enjoying a sip of vino. New York Brew Central brings together the stories, traditions, and tastes behind the craft beer, hard cider, spirits, and wine we adore so much.