3 Penn Yan Must-Dos that aren’t a Winery

I love Penn Yan, the small central New York town on the northeast branch of Keuka Lake. This is the town where I spend every Christmas and most Easters, but nothing is better than a warm summer weekend or crisp fall day here.

Penn Yan is known for the dozens of award-winning wineries in the hills around Keuka and Seneca Lakes, but there’s so much more to do in this gem of a village!

1. Publick Coffee Bar, 13 Main Street

Publick Coffee Bar | Penn Yan, NY Must Do

Publick opened last year and started serving local coffee and pastries, along with craft beer on tap and local wine by the glass. Paige and I stopped by on a rainy weekday morning this summer; we were greeted by cozy textures and CREMA pour overs. The exposed brick, comfy leather chairs and industrial lighting make this a must-visit before hitting the wine trail the next time you’re in the Finger Lakes.

2. Indian Pines Farm Market, 2406 State Route 54A

Indian Pines Farm Market | Penn Yan, NY Must Do

Stocking your cottage with local fruits and veggies is a must, and you’ll also find fresh pies, jellies and coffee here. If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the glass store across the street for some super cool old windows and frames.

3. Climbing Bines Hop Farm, 511 Hanson Point Rd

Climbing Bines Hop Farm | Penn Yan, NY Must Do

So this is a brewery, which is almost a winery, but not quite. Cody and I met here for a drink a few weeks ago on a beautiful summer Sunday. The staff is friendly, views are amazing and the beer is delicious. The combination of natural wood and stainless steel give this place a great vibe, bolstered by the cornhole boards, disk golf course, hop fields and picnic tables.

Do you have a favorite Penn Yan must-do? Let me know!

The Perfect Housewarming Gift for Friends who Have Everything

Cody’s brother Patrick and my college roommate Shannon recently moved into a beautiful house in a neighborhood outside Rochester. After spending quite possibly the hottest day of the summer moving them into their new home, they spent a month making their new digs *perfect* before inviting us all back for a housewarming party.

Between the two of them and their families, Patrick and Shannon had just about everything they needed to make their new house a home. And to be fair, they specifically asked party guests not to bring housewarming gifts. But that’s not really my style, so what do you get for friends who have everything?

Housewarming Gift Ideas | Gifts for Friends

Cody and I decided on getting Patrick and Shannon everything they would need to make Coronaritas (the delicious summertime drink that involves tipping a mini Corona into a maragarita). This is super easy to put together:

Housewarming Gift Ideas | Gifts for Friends

Wrapping a 6 pack of beer is surprisingly difficult, but other than that, this gift could not have been easier! Now we’re just waiting for an invite to a margarita night 😉

Lake Life: A Weekend in the Finger Lakes

I call Buffalo home, but my parents, who both grew up in the beautiful town of Penn Yan,  love the Finger Lakes region of New York. My sister and I were raised taking weekend trips to Central New York, and we both have an affinity for the endless lakes and rolling hills there that not everyone in Western New York really understands.

Last weekend was a collection of beautiful August days and I got to spend it on not 1, but 2 of the Finger Lakes.

Day 1: Canandaigua Lake

My college roommate totally gets the draw of lake life, because she grew up spending summers on the boat in Canandaigua. She (and her mom) are nice enough to let all of us experience the thrill of tubing and soak in some sunshine at least once a summer there.

We spent Saturday together on the boat with weather so much nicer than predicted. I’m more of a lay-in-the-tube-person than a let’s-go-tubing-person, but everyone else enjoyed themselves!

A Weekend in the Finger Lakes | Succulents and Sunnies

Day 2: Keuka Lake

My parents rented a cottage on Keuka Lake for the week at the last minute, completing my Finger Lakes weekend. I spent the morning on the dock after convincing Murphy he wasn’t going to fall through the wooden slats.

Cody met me at Climbing Bines Hop Farm in the afternoon. We’ve been dying to check out the brewery since it was named #1 in New York by a BuzzFeed article (and, apparently, Yelp). The location is amazing and so is the beer. Cody tried both the House and Pandemonium IPAs, while I liked the Tart Cherry and Honey Apricot brews, both from the Pandemonium line.

A Weekend in the Finger Lakes | Climbing Bines | Succulents and Sunnies

We had lunch in Penn Yan and I took advantage of being in town to stop by my grandma’s house, before heading back to the lake for dinner with my parents, sister, my grandpa and his girlfriend. We watched the sun set over the Bluff after homemade peach pie and ice cream for dessert. This was definitely a Sunday funday.

A Weekend in the Finger Lakes | Succulents and Sunnies

Day 3: A Solar Eclipse

Sunday fundays are even better when you take Monday off! And when that Monday happens to be the day of the first solar eclipse visible in the US since 1979 and there’s not a cloud in a sky – that’s a good day.

We were not prepared enough to have solar glasses, although our neighbor let us look through his for a few minutes. Instead, we watched with a cereal box/tin foil contraption and a Ritz cracker. No matter how you saw it, this was a super cool event.

A Weekend in the Finger Lakes | Solar Eclipse | Succulents and Sunnies

A Weekend in the Finger Lakes | Solar Eclipse | Succulents and Sunnies

A Weekend in the Finger Lakes | Solar Eclipse | Succulents and Sunnies

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end. I headed home Monday night, tired and happy in a way that only spending a weekend on the lake can do.

Cheers to the Weekend at 12 Gates Brewing Company

I’m not going to lie, when Google Maps told Cody and I we had arrived at 12 Gates Brewing Company, I thought Google was experiencing a glitch. That was the only reason I could think of that would explain why we were looking at the entrance of an industrial complex just minutes from the Buffalo Airport. After double checking the address with the brewery website, we turned into the parking lot and followed the signs to the back of the complex, where the brewery did in fact await us.

Cody and I were looking for a new brewery to try without driving to the Southtowns on a Friday afternoon (we still need to check out Hamburg and 42 North, but this wasn’t the day). 12 Gates fit the bill. It’s in Williamsville and serves a good variety of bar snacks that would tide us over until dinner with Cody’s family.

12 Gates Brewing Company | Succulents and Sunnies

After getting over our initial shock about the location and passing the door to a machine shop on our way to the tap room, we settled in with a flight and nachos inside. The bar was packed with a Friday afternoon happy hour crowd from surrounding businesses and everyone was happy to be there.

I tried the coffee porter, which was good in flight form but would likely get overwhelming in a pint. Instead, I went for the seasonal wheat, which was still the spring apricot variety. After polishing off our nachos we moved outside to enjoy the sunny day. The patio might just be a collection of picnic benches on a corner of the parking lot, but the tall wooden planters filled with hops and bright flowers help you forget that fact. There’s also corn hole and we saw four little bunnies hopping around behind the asphalt.

Because of the proximity the the airport, a plane approaches the runway every 15 minutes or so almost directly overhead. I rather enjoyed this added entertainment, but I can see it being a little bit anxiety-inducing for some.

The atmosphere, outdoor space and very nice bartender more than made up for the initial shock about the location. We thoroughly enjoyed our first trip to 12 Gates and we’ll definitely be back!