After long Northeast winters, there’s nothing like watching your surroundings come to life again every spring. And if you’re like most New Yorkers I know, you’re ready to make the most of the all too fleeting summer months while you can.
Here are six places to stop and smell the flowers in upstate New York this summer.
Cornell Botanic Gardens | Ithaca, NY
You’ll be spoiled for choice at the Cornell Botanic Gardens with more than two dozen gardens and plant collections to explore. Given the variety of flowers and trees, there’s something in peak season year-round, from the Mullestein Winter Garden to the Robison Herb Garden, the Young Flower Garden, and the Comstock Knoll and Rhododendron Collection (to name just a few!).
With more than 150 waterfalls and half a dozen state parks in and around Ithaca, the possibilities are truly endless. Grab a coffee at Gimme!, walk the Cascadilla Gorge Trail, visit Cayuga Lake, or treat yourself at Purity Ice Cream, an Ithaca institution for almost 100 years.
Hillcrest Lavender Farm | Sherburne, NY
This beautiful hilltop field in Sherburne is open for u-pick lavender in July and August. They have a small gift shop that’s open outside of lavender season as well. Visit them on Facebook and Instagram for more detailed harvest times.
Have lunch or dinner at Gilligan’s with homemade ice cream for dessert. Disclaimer: I used to work here and they are now a client, but I would recommend them regardless!
North Star Orchards | Westmoreland, NY
North Star Orchards farm market and bakery is a multi-generation family business. Beginning in 1986 selling homegrown sweet corn, apples, and pumpkins, North Star is now open nine months a year and offers u-pick options for blueberries, apples, pumpkins, and tulips as well as cut-your-own Christmas trees in November and December.
Tulips cost $1 per stem and are also available for sale in bouquets. Peak season is mid to late May and you can find harvest updates on their Facebook page. If you miss the tulips, consider one of their other u-pick options or stop by their bakery, greenhouses, and farm market for fresh cut flower bouquets and seasonal treats.
If you’re there in June or July, head right around the corner to Tassleberry Farm for u-pick strawberries.
Root Glen | Clinton, NY
Home to dozens of tree, shrub, and flower species, this peaceful trail on the Hamilton College campus opens onto a landscaped garden with flower beds, benches, and stonework. The A.P. Saunders Peonies are a garden highlight, named in honor of former dean and chemistry professor Arthur Percy Saunders.
During the early to mid 1900s, Saunders cultivated hundreds of new peony species through hybridization, becoming renown around the world to botanists and gardening enthusiasts alike. His legacy is still celebrated today and this living collection of his hard work is a must for peony lovers. Visit from mid May to early June for peak bloom.
Visit the Wellin Museum of Art, also right on campus, or head to downtown Clinton to visit the Village Green, shop along Park Row, enjoy gelato at The Cremeria, or pop into Utica Coffee.
Sharon’s Flower Stand | Deansboro, NY
You can find this lovingly maintained flower stand on Peck Road in Deansboro just off of Route 12B. I love to just pull over and see what’s available when I’m in the area, but the owner often shares what’s in season on Instagram, from tulips and lilacs to daffodils, allium, zinnias, dahlias and more.
From mid-July to September, it’s u-pick season at Blueberry Hill Farms and Nursery, a quick two-minute drive from the flower stand.
Wagner Farms | Rome, NY
Thousands of sunflowers burst into bloom every August at this farm in Rome, painting eight acres bright yellow. This is not a u-pick location, but you can buy stems to take home as well as other local produce and treats at their farm stand.
Find more details here.
Unwind at Skana Spa at Turning Stone Resort Casino or stop by #3 on this list: North Star Orchards.
What are you excited to spend time doing this summer? Let me know in the Comments!
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