I have been wanting to visit the Farm Sanctuary in New York for some time. They rescue and house animals rescued from factory farming. Farm Sanctuary has a few locations, but this is the closest to us, and it happens to be close to Watkins Glen, which is on Seneca Lake, famous for its waterfalls and wineries. Bonus!
We stayed in the Harbor Hotel, on the water at the southern end of Seneca Lake. It’s a lovely place, beautiful large rooms that look out onto the water, and their restaurant has a vegan menu. We found it a bit overpriced and underspiced, but the service was good, and the convenience was unbeatable. As vegetarians who like to travel, we find ourselves doing a LOT of research before we go anywhere, just to be sure we don’t spend our vacation eating salad and pasta primavera.
After our first dinner in Watkins Glen, we strolled down the main drag, Franklin Street. There wasn’t very far to go before we reached the end of downtown. We enjoyed a stroll by the harbor as well; there’s a quaint pier that looks great in the sunset.
Harbor Hotel has a vegan breakfast menu, too. We ate lakeside and enjoyed the nice spring weather. (It was June, but in New York state, that’s spring.) Then we drove out to the Farm Sanctuary. It was a lovely drive to get there, over hills and past farms, then down a bit of a dirt road. Definitely use the directions from the sanctuary’s website so you don’t get lost.
There weren’t many other visitors when we went (weekday morning), but there were a few people staying in the cabins on site, and we shared our tour with a couple of families. The guide gave a quick introduction on the sanctuary founding and mission, then shared a video with a history of the sanctuary and some advocacy for animal rights and plant-based diets.
Finally, we were off to visit the animals! First, the cows, then the goats, chickens and turkeys, and finally the pigs. In addition, the sanctuary is home to sheep, a steer, a pair of alpacas, and some barn cats. Our tour guide pointed out the animals most open to interaction and let us know what not to do, and which animals we shouldn’t try to pet.
The whole farm was a delight to visit. Lots of caregivers taking care of the animals and keeping their spaces clean. All the animals are named and have definite personalities. It is clear how dedicated Farm Sanctuary is to giving the animals a comfortable home.
I was particularly moved by a goat whose back legs were weakened by poor nutrition. The team got her a wheel chair of sorts to help support her back legs while she recuperates, and they let her buddy goat stay close.
Sadly we eventually had to leave — I was really eyeing the tiny houses and cabins they have on property where you can stay.
The day was still young after our visit to the farm, so we headed out to see what we could find in the way of wineries. Well, there are wineries, breweries, and distilleries all the way around Seneca Lake, and nearly every one has a great view of the lake from their tasting room. Breweries are more our style, and we found one of those, Grist Iron, which also serves some really good pizza.
We walked down to Glen Mountain Market for breakfast bagels, coffee, and some lunch sandwiches to go. It is on Franklin Street, barely two blocks from our hotel. They offer a number of vegetarian and vegan sandwiches, and they had quite a few gluten free baked goods in their case, too. Great start to the day!
Our mission for the day was to conquer Watkins Glen State Park, a beautiful park full of waterfalls. It’s only a couple of miles but there are something over 600 stairs to get through the glen, so come prepared to move. You will also get very close to the falls, so be prepared to be splashed.
The upper entrance also features a pool, lots of picnic facilities, and a lily pond.
We did some shopping downtown that evening, and after dinner, there was a lighting of the harbor, which included art tents, food tents, and live music lakeside.
That was the end of our visit, but I do think we’ll go back. There are still dozens of wineries and breweries to visit, and opportunities to travel the lake by boat.