AAA Member Connection — Summer 2011
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Top 10 Hidden Gems Of WNY
Christine A. Smyczynski

Anyone familiar with Western New York knows about the big, must-see destinations, like Niagara Falls, the Strong Museum of Play and the Corning Museum of Glass. However, for every big destination, there are dozens of lesser-known attractions and destinations that are just as much fun to visit.

Consider this list of 10 hidden gems of Western New York that are off the beaten trail, but definitely worth the trip.

1 Griffis Sculpture Park This 400-acre park, located 45 miles south of Buffalo, was the first outdoor sculpture park in the country. There are more than 250 sculptures created by over 100 artists. What makes this park different from other art venues is that visitors are actually encouraged to touch and climb on the sculptures. The park is open May through October.

Griffis sculpture Park, 6902 Mill valley rd, East ottony .

GEM 2 Cobblestone Museum Complex There are more cobblestone structures along NY 104 than any other route in America. One of the more interesting places to stop along this route is the Cobblestone Museum Complex, about 30 miles west of Rochester. This museum complex has seven historic buildings, including three of cobblestone construction, which have been designated National Historic Landmarks. The museum is open late June through Labor Day.

Cobblestone Museum complex, ny 104 and 98, childs, ny 585-589-9013 .

3 Village of Findley Lake Located a mile from the Pennsylvania border, this Chautauqua County village is referred to by some people as the “bestkept secret in New York state,” and it offers recreational activities, shopping and dining. The Blue Heron Inn Bed & Breakfast overlooks the lake, a fisherman’s paradise for catching bass, walleye, muskie and panfish. Nearby Peek ‘n Peak Resort has golf in the spring, summer and fall and snow sports in the winter.

4 Village of Angelica The Village of Angelica in Allegany County is so quaint that Readers Digest chose it as the setting of the 1997 holiday video, “An Old Fashioned Christmas.” Many of the buildings in the community, which has been dubbed the “town where history lives,” are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In fact, there has been little new construction in the town since the 1900s, so most homes are Greek Revival or Victorian style.

Christine a. Smyczynski is the author of Western New York, An Explorer’s Guide: From Niagara Falls and Southern Ontario to the Western Edge of the Finger Lakes.

5 Abbey of the Genesee About 35 miles south of Rochester, the Abbey of the Genesee is a community of contemplative monks belonging to the order of Cistercians of Strict Observance.When it was first established in 1951, one of the abbey’s founders began baking bread for the monks and visitors, and today a large modern bakery supports the abbey. A porter is available throughout the day to provide assistance to visitors.

Abbey of the genesee, 3258 river rd, Piffard, ny 585-243-0660 .

6 Springdale Farm Springdale Farm is a 200-acre working demonstration farm located within Northampton Park, part of the Monroe County park system. Originally established as a private farm in the early 1800s, one of its more unique features is the Riedman robotic milking parlor, where cows are milked without the farmer’s assistance. It is the first robotic milking parlor in the Northeast to be open to the public. The milk is collected and distributed by Upstate Farms.

Springdale farm, 700 colby st., ogden, ny 585-349-2090 .

7 Rock City Park Rock City Park, a 23-acre rock park hidden in the woods about 6 miles south of Olean, is the largest formation of quartz conglomerate in the world. During its early days, the park featured a luxury hotel, dance pavilion and amusement park. Today, things are a bit more natural, with only a gift shop and museum as amenities.However, be warned: Visiting Rock City Park is no walk in the park; wear comfortable clothing and sturdy shoes.

Rock city Park, 505 route 16 south, olean, ny 866-404-rock .

8 Country Barn Quilt Trail Take a drive through rural Orleans County and experience country charm when you follow the Country Barn Quilt Trail, which features large painted wooden quilt squares displayed on barns and other structures. One night in 2006, Lora Partyka had trouble sleeping and saw a magazine article about a similar project in Iowa. She organized this project to draw visitors to her community, and now there are more than 40 participating barns and other buildings throughout the county.

Country barn Quilt trail, Maps at Partyka farms 1420 county Line rd, route 272, kendall, ny 585-659-9131 .

9 National Soaring Museum The National Soaring Museum in Elmira is the only U.S. museum that focuses on motorless flight, and it is home to the largest collection of gliders and sailplanes in the world. Visitors can experience flight in a soaring simulator, or if you’d like to experience real motorless flight, sailplane rides are offered at the adjacent Harris Hill Soaring Corporation. Rides last 15 to 20 minutes, but the experience will stay with you for a lifetime.

51 soaring Hill Dr, Elmira, ny 607-734-3128 .

10 Vineyard Express The Vineyard Express departs from Lockport, with stops at the Medina Railroad Museum and Spring Lake Winery, before it makes its return trip to Lockport.Two vintage New York Central E-8 diesel locomotives pull the five passenger coaches on the excursion train. Riders get to tour the railroad museum for an hour, then stop for lunch, wine tasting and live music at the winery. The Vineyard Express runs on limited dates in August through October.

Reservations for the vineyard Express can be made by calling spring Lake Winery 716-439-LAkE .