Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail

Strawberries from Strawberry Fields Hydroponic Farm in Auburn, a member of the Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail.  

Provided by the Cayuga County Office of Tourism

The Finger Lakes region is getting recognized these days for more than its wine.

The Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail, launched by the Cayuga County Office of Tourism three years ago, received a shout out last week from USA Today Travel on a list of "America's most indulgent food trails." Three days later, the popular food website The Daily Meal mentioned the sweet treat trail as a "must-do" when in the Finger Lakes region.

In October, Yahoo Travel listed the trail as a top tasting trail in the U.S.

People have taken notice, according to Cayuga County Office of Tourism executive director Meg Vanek, as calls to the office about the trail have boosted since the ranking.

Vanek said when the trail was started three years ago she viewed it as a way to highlight some of the agriculture in the county, but in a way people could identify with.

"We found that sweets were something that would be a good hook to get people interested," Vanek said.

The 20 stops on the trail are diverse, ranging from bakeries and creameries to farms and co-op markets. Geographically, stops stretch from King Ferry Winery in the southern end of the county to the Fly By Night Cookie Company in Fair Haven.

In fact, the trail has three business in the northern part of the county, which are mostly left out of the popular wine tourism trails due to distance from any of the county's Finger Lakes.

"People on the trail get a chance to come up and see Fair Haven, and we're pretty beautiful up here with the state park," said Fly By Night Cookie Company owner Bonnie Bridson. 

Beyond encouraging people out to different parts of the county, Vanek also said the family-friendly nature of the tour helps families explore the region even if their children are too young for wine tours

"It's not completely unlike a wine trail," she said, "but you can still bring kids, whereas for wine trails that's not always appropriate."

The first year the trail was advertised, the tourism office kept track of the amount of people traveling it by counting the number of "Passports" people filled out. The passports, available from the tourism office or any of the sweet trail members, allow people on the trail to mark off each stop. Vanek estimates about 4,000 people used it the first year, but said the tourism office hasn't tracked it since.

Dorie's Bakery in Aurora has been on the trail for two years, which its manager Megan McDonald said has helped get the bakery's name out to people in new areas.

"It's kind of like being part of a wine trail, it puts you on the map," McDonald said. "If someone didn't know you were there, they can find you now."

New to the trail this year is Prison City Pub & Brewery, which Vanek said will serve up treats made from its locally brewed beer.  

The trail will officially launch for the summer on May 1 with an event at the Hilton Garden Inn. More information is available at TourCayuga.com

Staff writer Ryan Deffenbaugh can be reached at (315) 282-2237 or Ryan.Deffenbaugh@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @Citizen_Deff.

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