The Thrifty Traveler: Lake Ontario Wine Trail offers affordable romance


With plenty of period architecture, Great Lake access and more, New York's Wayne County offers a winning weekend getaway. The fact it's also home to the Lake Ontario Wine Trail is just icing on the cake. Technically more of a tasting and tourism trail featuring local farms, artisan shops and access to area scenery, it's definitely worth the trip for those with a little time on their hands. Here are a number of activities to consider for your travel itinerary.

Snacks: Captain Jack's offers waterfront fun food in a casual blue-jean-appropriate atmosphere perfect for those touring the area by motorcycle. Penny-pinching options available for less than 10 bucks include their grilled portobello sandwiches, veggie wraps and hearty chicken burgers. They also offer fresh perch items, which are particularly popular with locals.

For more of a plug-and-play snack option, head to Lagoner Farms. This year-round market is a family business that's been in operation for more than 100 years. They offer homemade take-and-bake fruit pies starting at $10, and decadent pastries for just $7 a pair. Other fun options include their wide selection of local produce items, apple salsa and Amish popcorn toppings.

Sipping: With a wine trail built into the tourism experience, the destination has no shortage of bottled beverages to pick up and take home with you. One of the more unique is the apple port produced by Young Sommer Winery. At roughly $15, it's a great drink to have on hand when you want to serve your guests something besides coffee to go with those after-dinner sweets. If the fruit wines at this particular establishment aren't your cup of tea, there are plenty of traditional grape-based wines available throughout the area as well.

Perhaps the most unexpected sipping option along the Lake Ontario Wine Trail is Apple Country Spirits. This four-generation apple farm has been a fixture in the community for generations, but only recently have they added distilling to their list of agricultural projects. The venue produces Tree Vodka, and offers $1 tastings in a mod show room with a sipping loft, stylish bar and viewing window allowing visitors a peek into how the vodka is actually made. Those with a sweet tooth may want to pick up a piece of their alcohol-infused fudge for the road.

Sights: The area is known for its picture potential, from Lake Ontario itself to Wayne County's more than 150 historic cobblestone structures. When you're ready to work off some calories from all that snacking and sipping, check out Chimney Bluffs State Park. Free to the public, its main draw is the picturesque group of large clay formations along the shoreline. The waterfront isn't the only place to hike in the 597-acre park, however. Additional trails allow visitors to meander through fields and forests at their leisure. This photo-friendly vacation stop is open throughout the year from dawn to dusk.

Another interesting stop is the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum. It offers $4 tours to vacationers on Tuesday through Sunday of each week, providing a peek into the area's rich marine heritage. The venue also boasts a free summer concert series on Sundays with complimentary parking and shuttle access.

Sleeping: There are a number of intimate bed and breakfasts in the area. One of note is the Maxwell Creek Inn. Located on the south shore of Lake Ontario, the 1846 cobblestone structure was part of the Underground Railroad. Breakfast provides a sense of this, as it is served in the daylight basement in front of the original stone fireplace.

The morning menu regularly features elegant home-cooked comfort foods such as peaches and cream French toast, apple and cheddar omelets, and fresh-baked English muffin toast with gooey local jams. The picturesque grounds are fairly extensive and available to guests for activities like fishing or simply curling up with a good book. Room rates start at $135.

Another fun venue is Vintage Gardens. Situated on more than two acres of secluded woodlands and formal floral layouts, this 1846 structure offers fireside reading, easy access to local sites and a full gourmet breakfast each morning. They also include evening treats such as fresh-baked cookies, regional cheeses and spiced cider. Entry-level accommodations begin at $115.

With its historic buildings, farm-fresh local treats and authentic area charm, the Lake Ontario wine trail is a nice choice for couples who like to work in a little agritourism while they stock their cellar. offers further details to help you plan your visit.

Myscha Theriault is a best-selling author, avid traveler and a veteran in the field of international teaching. Her recent book entitled "Teach Anywhere," advises new and experienced educators about overseas employment, international evacuation tips, and inexpensive lessons which can be implemented anywhere from refugee camps to regular classrooms.
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