2 great getaways in Upstate NY – tips from a couples therapist

2 getaways in Upstate NY- tips from a couples therapist


As the pandemic goes on…and on….and on….you and your partner may be feeling burned out and ready for a vacation. You’re ready to spend some quality time together and explore someplace new. Travel abroad is still complicated so you’re looking for something closer to home. If you love nature like I do, consider a getaway in upstate NY. There’s forests, waterfalls, rivers, incredible beauty and lots of other things to do and see. (NYC is also amazing, but that’s a different kind of trip and subject for a different article!)

When I say upstate, I am not talking about just north of Westchester. I mean far upstate. There’s so many beautiful places, from the north country to the Hudson Valley to the Catskills to the Finger Lakes. But I’m going to tell you more about two places close to my heart: The Finger Lakes and Rochester, NY.

Before going on, I also need to respectfully acknowledge that the land I’m talking about is the ancestral territory of the Haudensaunee


  1. The Finger Lakes

A long time ago, receding glaciers left these beautiful lakes. Today there are cute little towns like Penn Yan and Hammondsport, and small cities like Ithaca and Canandaigua you can visit and enjoy. 

Wineries and breweries are everywhere (if that’s not your style, skip this paragraph). Abandon Brewery in Penn Yan is one of my favorites. People love Dr. Frank’s wine as well. In Naples, there’s Hollerhorn Distilling. Most of these places have live music all summer, too.

Where to stay?  You can rent a lakehouse, a cabin in the woods, or pitch a tent at one of several state parks offering camping sites. One of my favorite Finger Lakes cabin rentals is The Quiet Place. They offer beautiful cabins at affordable rates…and all of them have hot tubs.  Book in advance because they fill up quickly. If you camp, Buttermilk Falls State Park outside of Ithaca has beautiful waterfalls and swimming and is just minutes from the conveniences of the city. North of there is Cayuga Lake State Park, which also happens to be near historic Seneca Falls, the site of the first Women’s Rights convention and also the town that inspired Bedford Falls in the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

What else to do? Check out Ganandagan, site of a historic Seneca village, to learn more about the original inhabitants of this land. Go hiking at Watkins Glen, which has a magical vibe reminiscent of Rivendell. In winter, you can ski at Bristol Mountain.

The picture below is from a walk through a field outside of Penn Yan, NY.

finger lakes

  1. Rochester

Some people might question why I’d include Rochester as a spot for a getaway. When I visited Colorado for a Wilderness Therapy training this summer, one woman told me she had spent holidays as a kid at her uncle’s house in Rochester and it was “something out of a Charles Addams cartoon” (In other words, gloomy and dark!) I actually agree with this assessment, but it only applies for six months of the year: winter. 

In the summer and fall, Rochester is a beautiful city with a lot of greenspace, wonderful people, art and culture and great restaurants. I’m biased because I’m from here, but I truly love this place and think it’s worth visiting. The Strathallan is a lovely hotel close to downtown. Good Luck has the best food. And there’s great hiking and Lake Ontario a quick drive from the city. You can hike or bike along the Erie Canal Trail to the east and west; you’re also allowed to camp anywhere along the trail.

If you love art, check out the Memorial Art Gallery. You can take a tour of George Eastman’s mansion, The George Eastman House. For some absolutely incredible street art, look for the old water towers in Washington Grove. If you’re bringing the kids on this getaway, or you’re interested in classic toys, stop by the Strong National Museum of Play. And if you want to pay homage to activists like Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass, visit their graves at Mt. Hope Cemetery.

For more recommendations, feel free to contact me directly. (Below is a picture of Lake Ontario at sunset).

lake ontario sunset

Too many of the couples I’ve worked with during the pandemic have been stressed and overwhelmed by everything that’s happened the past 18 months. Please remember to take time for yourselves and to have fun together. I hope this article inspired you to take a trip to the Finger Lakes or to Rochester – or, honestly, anywhere fun and different. If you could benefit from therapy in addition to a getaway, feel free to book a free consult.