New York City restaurants get all the attention, but there’s a whole crop of places throughout the state that are equally deserving. The state’s culinary “trails” offer easy, organized access to a variety of “experiences touring farms, orchards, vineyards, and breweries and sampling their ultra-fresh fare, often served by the folks who made it.
New York State is home to almost 1,500 family-owned vineyards. Most tastings are inexpensive (even free) and winemakers are accessible. Five areas (Long Island, Hudson Valley, Finger Lakes, the Lake Erie region, and Niagara) have formal wine trails. Passport programs offer discounts and free tastings. Get more information at www.newyorkwines.org.
Cheddars, goudas, and goat cheeses are just some of the varieties you’ll find along the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail. Many of the farms are kid-friendly, with peeks into barns to see cows and goats. Every member cheese-maker is a family-owned business, so days and times of operation change frequently.
New York State is poised to recover its title as the hops capital of the world. There are more than 240 breweries in the state, and more than a third of them are registered members of the New York State Brewery Trail, whose map and guide can help you plan a hoppy visit. Structured beer trails also exist in the Hudson Valley and Finger Lakes.
New York is the second-largest producer of maple syrup in the United States. Witnessing how syrup evolves from sap is a fun and tasty activity. The Adirondacks, the Capital-Saratoga region, and western New York all host special “sugaring” season events, ranging from tapping trees to pancake breakfasts. In recent years, warm weather has meant short sugaring seasons. Check I Love NY’s website for dates and special events.