Three Weekend Escape Ideas for Watkins Glen NY

Watkins Glen, New York is one of the top weekend escape destinations in New York State – it features many activities for families, groups, and couples. Three of the top ideas for weekend escapes in the Watkins Glen area are auto racing, hiking in the area’s many parks, and wine tours.

Auto racing – Watkins Glen International, a 2.45-mile road course, hosts a number of different racing series each year, including the NASCAR Sprint Cup and IZOD IndyCar Series. Sports car racing invades the Glen June 4th through 6th, 2010 for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, and again July 9th through 11th, 2010 for the SCCA Glen Double Nationals. The IZOD IndyCar series takes to the track on Independence Day weekend, July 2nd through 4, 2010, and NASCAR takes over August 5th through 8th, 2010. Camping at the track starts at $75 for the IndyCar series, $65 for NASCAR, and $40 for the Sahlen’s Six Hours for the weekend. Ticket prices for the main NASCAR and IndyCar races start at $45 (general admission).

Take in nature at the parks – the Watkins Glen area features miles of trails, waterways, gorges, and beautiful views. Nature lovers and hikers will be impressed with Watkins Glen State Park, which has 19 waterfalls and 800 stone steps traversing through the gorge. The park features RV and tent camping sites, an Olympic-sized pool, and picnic areas by the North and South entrances. The Watkins Glen area is also home to New York’s only national forest, the Finger Lakes National Forest. The forest is over 16,000 acres between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, features over 30 miles of interconnecting trails, and hosts cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.

Finger Lakes Wine Country – the Seneca Lake Wine Trail features over 50 wineries to visit, and Schuyler County now also has two micro-breweries and a distillery. Most wineries are open every weekend, and the region has a number of festivals and wine tasting weekends each month. Watkins Glen International will host the Finger Lakes Wine Festival July 16th through 18th, 2010. More than 80 wineries will be represented, and there will be live music, artisans, and culinary classes; there is also a “Brewer’s Garden” for beer connoisseurs. The event kicks off with the Friday night “Launch of the Lakes” ($15), followed by the Tasters Banquet ($60) Saturday night; both Saturday and Sunday mornings feature Champagne brunches ($20 each day). One day Tasters passes are $30 (Saturday or Sunday), and two day passes are $40 – must be over 21; designated driver passes are $15 each day, minors passes (ages 6 to 20) are $15 each day, and children under 6 are free. Camping is available at the track, starting at $45.

For those who are not interested in camping – Watkins Glen also has a number of hotels, inns, vacation rentals, and bed and breakfasts available. Most vacation homes are available for weekly rentals, but a few will rent for weekends. Many of the hotels are locally run, but Budget Inn and Holiday Inn also have a presence. Bed and breakfasts are common-place in the area since it is such a frequented weekend destination. For a list of accommodations in the area, visit the Watkins Glen Chamber of Commerce website.