Essential CNY: Eastbound For Fun
Our second LivableCNY day trip starts in the picturesque village of Cazenovia, and takes you to two famous art centers. You’ll sample some of the best baking in CNY as well as some wonderful beer. Your day finishes in NBT Stadium watching the Washington Nationals AAA farm team, the Syracuse Chiefs.
8:00 am Breakfast at Dave’s Diner in Cazenovia. Take the time to linger. Dave’s is a community center. On our trip we counted three “breakfast meetings,” groups of friends who pushed tables together and had lively conversation over the most important meal of the day. We recommend the eggs Benedict, or the yoghurt with granola. when your bowl of granola comes, you might think they accidentally gave you half a box—but then you taste it and realize it’s home made and better than any granola available from a supermarket cereal aisle, and this is just the way they serve things at Dave’s. Bring the extra home.
9:00 am Stroll the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park. This is a real CNY gem. The renowned Sculpture garden has well groomed trails that guide you to art placed on over 100 acres of carefully managed land. The free trail (they ask for a $5 per car donation at the entrance) meanders among some of the most beautiful environmental art in the country. In the collection are several pieces by Rodger Mack, one of the most famous artists to have worked at Syracuse University, and a sculptor who worked metal in the tradition of David Smith.
10:00 Drive to Utica via routes 20 and 12B. This is another leisurely drive through the countryside. You’ll pass through small towns like Morrisville, home to a leading SUNY College, and Clinton, NY, a mysteriously well-to-do little village that is home to Hamilton College and a destination in it’s own right.
11:30 Visit the Florentine Bakery, 667 Bleecker Street, Utica, NY. This bakery is a Utica institution that reflects the Italian immigrant roots of this canal city. The Florentine makes Italian style pastry specializing in single-serving size custard filled pies they call ‘pusties’ (the Utica term for pasticciotti). Aficionados are particularly fond of the cannoli. Buy yourself some of both pastries but in separate boxes just so that when you get home you can very generously say to your fellow travelers to “leave the pusties, take the cannoli.”
12:30 Have lunch at the Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute. The center of this day is beautiful and easy. You can park in the lot for the Munson Williams Proctor Museum, and spend a few hours here having lunch in the Terrace cafe and wandering amongst the art and furnishings of the Munson Williams, and Proctor families. The museum is attached to Fountain Elms, the mansion that was their home. These families were the late 18th and early 19th century equivalent of Warren Buffet and Bill & Melinda Gates, but with better clothes and nicer art.
After making their fortunes in several manufacturing and transportation businesses, the family gave it all to the city of Utica. They set the tandard for what a great philanthropic family could do for a region. Astonishingly, their endowment is still funding the operations of their museum.
You can pay a nominal fee to tour the art collections, or walk through the mansion for free. The dining room is straight out of Downton Abbey and you can see family artifacts like the dollhouse the Munson-Williams sisters played with, or the pen used to deed Proctor Park to the city of Utica.
2:30 Tour the Saranac Brewery. The F.X. Matt company’s Saranac Brewery is a working factory for a working class town, and the tour definitely reflects this. This isn’t a Disney-style tour with a super slick narrative in a sealed corridor. You walk through the working spaces including a freezing cold aging room and an incredibly loud bottling line. We loved it. You smell the yeast and the hops and whatever else they’re using to make craft brew that day. A $5 ticket gets you two drinks at the end of the tour. Go in a big enough group and you’ll have the chance to sample almost everything on tap. Enjoy responsibly, and make sure your driver only samples the root beer and ginger beer. You can buy packaged brew in the gift shop before you leave. Tours are conducted at 1 pm and 3 pm, but be there 30 minutes prior to buy your ticket.
5:30 Drive to Syracuse, freshen up, then at 6:30 pm head to NBT Stadium to see the Chiefs. This is one of those temples to baseball that Susan Sarandon talks about in the opening narration of the movie Bull Durham. The stadium is intimate and comfortable, and the evening is pure minor league. Mascots entertain you between innings, people shoot t-shirts at you with air-guns, box seats are cheap, and if you and the team are there on a Friday, you can stay for fireworks. Ask for box seats on the 3rd base line to avoid the setting sun.
As of this writing, the Syracuse Chiefs are in first place in their division, so get out and root for the home team when they’re in town.
Summer is speeding along, so be sure to take at least one of our day trips to get out and see all that makes CNY such a livable region. let us know if you enjoy it, and share your ideas for other day trips at firstname.lastname@example.org