Home » The Empire State Road Trip’s second Destination is Watkins Glen, NY

The Empire State Road Trip’s second Destination is Watkins Glen, NY

A few weeks ago I was invited on the Empire State Road trip. It travels through Chautauqua, NY to Watkins Glenn, NY and finishes off in the 1000 islands area. It’s a perfect collection of places, easily within driving distance, to visit. If you missed the first stop on this road trip, Chautauqua County, NY check it out here. Today, I will be sharing our experiences at the second location, Watkins Glen, NY.

Two years ago, I was lucky enough to uncover this little gem tucked in the heart of the Finger lake Wine Country. It was for another work trip that consisted of three other writers exploring the their wine trail. Ever since I have been absolutely taken by the rolling hills, breathtaking waterfalls, Antique hot rods and delicious wines! 

I received a free stay to help facilitate my review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Much like the first destination, our first stop was checking into our accommodations. The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel is located in the heart of Watkins Glen, NY along side the Seneca Lake. If you are looking to have a beautiful lake wedding or be in downtown Watkins Glen this is the hotel for you! We were extremely lucky to score a balcony view of the Seneca Lake. This is an upgrade I would HIGHLY recommend when booking!! The friendly staff will help you check in, unload your luggage and even schedule reservations for you if needed. They also have an indoor pool that my son thoroughly enjoyed while staying here because it opened so early (6 am)!

Since we had a set itinerary let’s begin with my favorite morning adventure! Just four simple words my friends, Watkins Glenn State Park. It houses 19 picturesque waterfalls through a hike/stair trail setting. My advise, right off the bat, arrive EARLY (when they open early). This place fills up fast, DAILY! Because of the staircase layout it can be rather crowded and also slippery. 

The park itself only costs around $8 (for parking) and everyone wants to enjoy it. I would also recommend bringing some water to stay hydrated, wear walking/hiking apparel and maybe bring a camera! They also have an Olympic sized swimming pool and picnic areas if you want to make a day of it. We hiked for about an hour but you can easily stay longer.

Have a need for Speed?? Did you know there is “Racing at the Glenn”? I had no idea you could race around the road course, during off season at Watkins Glen International speedway!! We reached 75 mph and it felt pretty darn FAST with the corner inclines. I could not imagine going 190 mph like the talented drivers in NASCAR 🏁. Especially with fans watching you from over 42,000+ permanent seats!

Not really into adventures this visit? Want to enjoy some of the liquid desserts they have homegrown on over 60 wineries surrounding Lake Seneca?? You have come to the right place! Just stop into the Watkins Glen Chamber for a map of the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. We hit Atwater Vineyards, Lakewood Vineyards and Finger Lakes Distilling this trip. All worth a stop if you are venturing on the Wine trail. Need some wine suggestions? Check out my Sweet wine list here.

If you do take a drive along the Wine trail stop and view some of the magnificent waterfalls along the way! I would recommend the Hector Falls and Montour falls depending on which direction you are headed.

I also have to mention you take a drive to the Eagle Cliff Falls. It hands down might be one of my favorite waterfalls in the Watkins Glen “area”. It’s located within a campground but easy to find! Each time I visit the area I make a point to stop and take some photos of it. 

(Outfit feature above was thanks to our friend at http://soojin.shop)

After a full two days of exploring the area it is nice to come back to our hotel and just relax. We enjoyed several walks on the Seneca Lake pier. We watched fisherman, local wildlife and also enjoyed the camp fire on the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel outdoor patio.

If you are following the Empire State Road trip the 1000 Islands is your next stop! I will be sharing our experiences while in the area so make sure to check it out!

Ever been to the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel??

What is your favorite memories of this area, let us know in the comments.



  1. Kara
    June 7, 2019 / 5:50 pm

    That hotel is beautiful, and I bet the view is amazing! And I am swooning over those waterfalls. So pretty!

  2. Anonymous
    June 7, 2019 / 6:07 pm

    This sounds like such an amazing trip! So beautiful!

  3. Unknown
    June 7, 2019 / 6:30 pm

    Such a beautiful place!! LOVE it!!

  4. Natasha of Natashaskitchen.com
    June 8, 2019 / 4:53 am

    What a fun and beautiful adventure!!