In full disclosure, we were provided with meals in Downtown Cortland, as well as suggestions on locations to visit to make this post possible. We appreciate the support of the merchants in supporting Jersey Family Fun to find fun family travel locations. As always, opinions are my own.
Make Your Ski Trip to Cortland, New York More Than Just Skiing!
Before being invited to Greek Peak Mountain Resort for a stay, I had no idea where Cortland New York was. I didn’t know there was a SUNY campus there, that they were in the Finger Lakes region, or that the New York Jets train there (in addition to their Florham Park, NJ facility). The downtown of Cortland is about a 20 minute ride from the Greek Peak Mountain Resort, and while we had everything we needed at Greek Peak, we were up for an adventure to see a new town.
I traveled a lot through the US with my parents at a young age, but my children have been limited to the tristate area. New Jersey is great, but a lot of the small towns have been updated, expanded and homogenized. They aren’t familiar with a true rural area, or a true small town. Our drive to Cortland was surprising to them, as we drove through rural roads and up and down hills surrounded by farms. At one point, in the distance the town appeared just like a postcard!
We knew we weren’t in New Jersey anymore and we were immediately charmed by the town of Cortland. The architecture of some of the homes associated with the college were so impressive we had to pull over and take a closer look. Downtown Cortland looks like a movie set! I loved pointing out the names on some of the older buildings, and the kids were enchanted by the park bench that was shaped like an animal on the sides. The town is the type where you just want to stroll through it and soak it up, knowing that at least where we live, there’s nothing like it.
Enjoy great family friendly dining at these Cortland restaurants
The Downtown Cortland area offers a lot of food choices. We passed by RiLi Bubble Tea, a unique spot that highlights local artists, and the Finger Lakes Tasting Room, which offers wine and beer produced in the Finger Lakes region. We weren’t able to spend time at either establishment because it was dinner time! We were off to Central City Bar and Grill.
At 6:00 pm on Saturday Central City Cortland was busy! Upon entering you may think it’s just a bar, but there are plenty of tables inside and there were plenty of families dining. We had a table quickly, and the friendly staff remained available to us despite the crowd. Our children were given crayons (how can you get through a meal without them?) and a kids meal, and they felt right at home. Everything we ordered was delicious and our meal was timed so well, there were no frustrated kids. They enjoyed their chicken nuggets, and the adults were impressed with some more sophisticated dishes. The Rigatoni ala Vodka and Caprese Salad were delicious and we completely cleared our plates. There’s more than the traditional pub food at Central City AND, there are nightly specials. Check out their appealing menu! With bellies full we headed back to our room at Hope Lake Lodge.
The next day, before our trip home we returned downtown. It was quiet on a cloudy Sunday afternoon, but Hairy Tony’s was ready to serve us and we were welcomed and amused by the large wooden carving outside.
Like Central City Cortland, Hairy Tony’s has a bar down one side inside, but plenty of tables for dining. The atmosphere was calm and classy, and the hostess sat us right away. The owner greeted all patrons, and spent some time speaking with us while we visited. The Hairy Tony’s menu was more sophisticated than you might expect – but that’s not a bad thing! We were able to order from the regular menu or brunch and when I saw the Nutella crepes I couldn’t resist. There is no kids menu, but we were offered the option of pizza, mozzarella sticks or chicken fingers from their next door pizzeria. No need though, as they chose a hamburger and a flatbread pizza – and loved them both! We also tried the chicken wing dip and my husband found the quesadillas to be among the best he’d ever had. There’s so much to choose from though, from sandwiches to steaks and pastas and stir fry. We were very impressed by the food, the atmosphere and the service. If you visit, read “the legend” so you understand the decor! And if you visit in the warmer weather, enjoy some dining al fresco. Their menu changes seasonally, what a great reason to visit often!
You can also read about the Greek Peak Mountain & Hope Lake Lodge Dining options in this article.
Have some family fun playing at these Cortland locations
But there’s more than the downtown merchants. Don’t miss the Lime Hollow Nature Center and its 430 acres. While the visitors center was closed when we visited on Sunday, the trails are clearly marked. Cars in the parking lot indicated the trails were getting some use, and a runner or two passed us by. They offer plenty of events too, or will suggest trails for you based on your interest and skill level. Take some time to learn about the ecosystem of the Finger Lakes region at this picturesque spot not far from Downtown Cortland or Greek Peak Mountain Resort.
While we had a full vacation just at the Hope Lake Lodge and Greek Peak Mountain Resort it wouldn’t have been complete without a stop in Cortland. Next time we plan to spend extra days, and we’d love to see it in the warmer weather!
You can also read about the Greek Peak Mountain & Hope Lake Lodge activities in this article.
Make a visit to Cortland your family’s next vacation.
For more photos from our visit to Cortland, see our Facebook Album. Here’s a preview.
Click over to see the rest of our Family Travel to Cortland, New York series.
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