Growing up, the phrase, “We don’t have the money…” was probably our family mantra, or close to it. It was true; we really didn’t have money. But in my adulthood, I have learned that not having money is simply not an excuse for boredom. Nothing on our adventures to date has cost us more than $40. Granted, a vehicle is a must, but having fun doesn’t require big bank. It does require some imagination, a little effort, and a little research. And the research is as simple as listening to what the locals have to say.
For instance, if you want a kickin’ restaurant, look for a place with a packed parking lot and local license plates–no brainer, right? But most community gems aren’t as transparent. You almost have to “pay your dues” by living in a place for a while to get the gouge.
There are some nuggets that I almost want to keep secret; I’m selfish that way. I don’t care for large crowds and I like things to remain special. But at the risk of turning this gem into a hot spot, I’m going to give it up…not that I could keep a state park a secret anyway: Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville. As a fresh water kind of gal, I fell in love yesterday. When I turned onto the park’s main roadway and saw slivers of emerald green water sparkling through the trees on the left, and lush fairways on the right, I knew I’d found a big, local secret. People, it is breathtakingly beautiful!
Green Lakes State Park is an easy 40-minute drive from Utica. It’s $8 to get into the park to enjoy the beach, hiking, bicycling, picnicking, and a very well-designed playground that’s even suitable for kids under 5— Moms, you know that’s a sweet bonus. It’s very challenging to find playgrounds that are safe for the real little guys.
There are several lifeguards on duty in the beach area, which I always appreciate with two little people. I found the bathrooms neat and clean, even toward the end of a sunny day. There’s a snack bar that serves hot food, and a first aid station. As for golf, well, I have never played the game. But I have heard the name Robert Trent Jones and Green Lakes was one of his first golf course designs. And I am an expert in beauty. The golf course is stunning.
If I had a magic genie, I’d have the park provide nice beach chairs so beachgoers wouldn’t have to lug quite as much stuff (especially with kids in tow). Also, as a warning: the water is COLD! June is still early in these parts, so I’m anxious to feel the water temps as summer heats up.
Okay Central New York…I get it! It’s beautiful here…you just have to know where to go. Summer comes, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to enjoy it. Observe, do a little research, and listen to the locals. Finding something special and fun, and dang near FREE, is that simple.