24 Hours in Family-Friendly Canandaigua, New York

By on August 1, 2014

You want me to do what?

Did I say that out loud? Or did I keep those words fearful words trapped inside my bubble of private thoughts? Regardless, it’s exactly what I was thinking as I stepped off the safe and stable platform that’s attached to a tree. I’m clipped only to an overhead cable strung many feet over the forest floor. At home, I get vertigo just from climbing a ladder. So what am I doing here?

I’m with my family at the newly opened Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures located at the top of Bristol Mountain. On a brutally hot an humid day, nature provides its own climate control; it’s cool and comfortable in the shady forest.

natural sunscreen with zinc oxide

Our adventure begins when we harness up and attend ground school where we’re given a safety briefing and instructed how to use the Smart Belay System that clips into the cables above each element. Then we have to pass a small test – crossing a bridge and traversing a zip line – to prove our readiness to progress to the first course. There are seven courses in all with varying degrees of difficulty from least to greatest: two yellow, two green, one blue and one black – not for the the faint of heart – and a course for children ages 4 to 7. I’m tempted to give the kids course a try – it looks adequately challenging to me! – but the course attendants are having none of this and it’s off to the first yellow course I go.

You must pass through each level in order to advance to the next level; it’s a “certification” of sorts. Each course has 12 to 15 elevated elements that you cross. It’s a maze of suspended logs, zip lines, wavy bridges, tightrope walks and floating beams. The more difficult courses feature the highest elements; heights range from 10 to 50 feet. Looking up, I spot a climber traversing an element an entire story above my head. It seems precarious but I’ve never felt safer.

Ground school Bristol Mountain Aerial AdventuresTo me, the yellow course offers plenty in the way of physical challenge. While it doesn’t require much upper body strength (the more progressive courses do), it challenges my non-existent balance more than I expected. My husband and son (12) zip through the yellow and green courses like high wire circus performers and make their way to blue. This is where things get a little hairy. Some of the elements require more upper body strength than my son, tired by now, can manage on his own. The choice: he can return to the starting platform, but then he’ll have to traverse the element from the beginning, or he can tough it out. From the ground, we hear the encouraging and supportive guidance of the ground crew. He made it!

Kids verdict on Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures? It was awesome! Maybe even more fun than a water park. (And from this water-loving kid, these words were not spoken lightly!)

9ae3afad0f2020a6df2a1d21cbd2b66aRoseland Water Park is our next stop and it’s such a refreshing reward after the adventure park. The location is unassuming along an access road that runs parallel to the busy Route 5 & 20 corridor. Roseland is an intimately-sized water park with just about every type of water attraction you need: A relaxing lazy river, the requisite terrifyingly fast water slides, a fun family raft, a kiddie area and three tube slides that offer just enough of an adrenaline rush for kids and are calm enough for a scaredy-cat mom. On the Tornado, riders instantly drop into pitch black darkness through a curtain of rushing water anxiously waiting for the first sliver of daylight. My favorite ride? The Mammoth family raft ride for its ability to send my husband down backwards every time. (He, he, he)

At the wave pool, swimmers enthusiastically count down the seconds until the next cycle of waves crash over them. It’s like New Year’s Eve six times every hour. Go mid-afternoon when the temperatures tend to be at their hottest and the day-tripping crowds have thinned out a bit. The park is open till 7pm or later most evenings.

Kids verdict on Roseland Water Park? Really fun!

"VFMLID=51670760"Stay – The Holiday Inn Express Canandaigua is a newly built contemporary-style hotel located about a two-minute drive from Roseland Water Park. Rooms are immaculately clean and comfortable, decorated in reds, grey and black hues. It’s the perfect location to use as a home base for all the Canandaigua area attractions and you can practically walk from the water park. And who can resist Holiday Inn Express’s signature breakfast item – the legendary cinnamon roll? Not me, for sure. If you’re eating healthy these days, you’ll be pleased that HI Express has stopped up their selections of healthier offering: turkey sausage and an enhanced selection of oatmeal with toppings.

Kids verdict on Holiday Inn Express Canandaigua – Great hotel. Love the cinnamon rolls.

EatThe New York Wine and Culinary Center (NYWCC). Turn your vacation into a learning opportunity by taking a cooking class in the drop dead gorgeous hands-on kitchen.

In the tasting room, I enjoyed the semi-sweet and dessert wine flight while the husband preferred sampling a flight of New York beer. Offerings change periodically but always have one commonality – every beverage served is produced in the Great New York State. They even offer a non-alcoholic tasting and kids are welcome, although I’d probably think twice about bringing young children when the small tasting room is filled with imbibing adults. We caught it on a slow evening and our son felt quite welcome.

Our tasting complete, we headed to the Upstairs Bistro for dinner on the deck overlooking Canandaigua Lake. The menu offers a range of salads, sandwiches, small plates and main entrees. Many dishes feature items that are locally-sourced and a chalk board identifies the local ingredients used in each dish. We opted for a simple meal of the bistro burger for me and a BBQ pulled pork sandwich for the husband. Both sandwiches were served with crispy, addictive waffle cut house chips. Kids have a full menu of their own. A french fry or two swiped from my son revealed some of the best fries I’ve ever tasted – piping hot, crispy outside, tender inside.

Kids verdict on NYWCC? The soda tasting was fun!

Oreo crepeSimply Crepes on Main Street is where it’s at for anything you can think of to stuff into a crepe. Philadelphia cheesesteak crepes, chicken cordon blue crepes and other savory delights are offered at breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Simply Breakfast Crêpe is scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese and your choice of thick cut smoked apple wood bacon, ham or grilled spicy andouille sausage tucked inside a light and airy crepe; breakfast is served all day. California Benedict is a twist on eggs Benedict: Turkey and avocado sub in for Canadian bacon and tops two poached eggs before being smothered in a rich, smoked apple wood-bacon cream sauce and served on a crêpe. The dessert crepes are positively sinful.

Kids verdict on Simply Crepes – The pizza crepe was pretty good. The Oreo® Cookie Crumble Crêpe? Awesome! (Oreo® cookie crumbles, sweet vanilla cream, homemade double chocolate sauce, whipped cream & vanilla bean ice cream.)

PlaySonnenberg Gardens & Mansion Historic Park does a fantastic job engaging kids – young and old. For the techologically inclined and those who can’t put down their mobile devices, download the FLIP for History App (Finger Lakes Interactive Play) on an iPhone or IOS device. It’s a mobile scavenger hunt you can play when visiting 12 historic sites in New York’s Finger Lakes region including Sonnenberg Gardens. We played “spot the differences”, learned exciting facts and then tested our knowledge with a game of trivia and discover augmented reality experiences during our walking tour of the mansion and gardens.

Sonnenberg GardensSonnenberg Gardens Cell Phone Tour allows guests to experience a narrated tour of the grounds straight from their cell phones. Small signs are posted around the grounds indicating tour locations; guests may access the tour stops in any order The cell phone tour is free except for charges you would normally incur for voice minutes through your mobile carrier. To access the tour, dial (585) 797-6304, followed by the stop number on each sign to learn about Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park at your own pace.

Children 12 and under can request a free “I Spy” Kid’s Trail adventure map at the Admissions Booth. The map will lead children through a trail of clues along garden paths to hidden signs that provide clues to an answer that the children will note on their map. Once they have collected all the answers from all the stops on their adventure map, they can turn the completed map in at the Admissions Booth to win a prize.

For a lower tech option, we took a guided walking tour of the 19th century estate formerly owned by the Thompson family. Everyone had a different opinion of their favorite garden: mine was the blue and white garden whole the boys liked the rock garden and Japanese gardens.

Canandiagua is the perfect destination for an overnight or a weekend. Add some winery tours and a boat tour of the lake to fill your schedule and extend your visit. A summertime visit gives you access to the water park but it’s also an ideal four season destination. Skiers love Bristol Mountain in the winter. I hope to make it back there myself when the snow flies as part of my winter survival plan!


Originally posted on The Examiner.

About Michele McIntyre

Michele McIntyre is a freelance writer who covers spas, travel, fitness, wellness, beauty and healthy living/eating. She is happiest when lying face up on the treatment table, writing about her spa and travel experiences or testing new products to share with her readers. She lives near Syracuse, NY with her husband and son. Michele is a regular travel contributor to LivingBetterat50+ and has written for Today’s Central New York Woman Magazine and online at Tripology, TripAtlas, and Splash Magazines Worldwide. Michele blogs about the spa and travel industry, and anything else she can think of, at everythingspa.wordpress.com. When she isn't writing about or visiting spas, Michele loves traveling, hiking, skiing, camping, yoga and reading. If any of these pursuits can be combined with a visit to the spa, even better! Michele can be reached at [email protected]

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24 Hours in Family-Friendly Canandaigua, New York