Road trips and Reunions: (mostly) A guide to Western New York and Maine

Part 1. 

August 9th. Sitting in the LAX airport with the lyrics to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA,” because seriously I hopped off the plane at LAX and it’s like I forgot to read a menu and function in US airports. Travel has messed me up. I’ll get into more of those ramblings later; but first, a recap on this summer of road trips and reunions.

At the end of July I flew out to see two of my bests from Korea. Reunited (all 3 of us) after 4 years was pretty much the best.ever. So much reminiscing, laughter, wine, and fun in the 716.

Western New York, if you’ve never been, looks a lot like Nebraska. If you’ve never been there either, let me tell you. Open skies, winding roads, fields of crops, orchards, wineries, and quaint towns right on Lake Ontario. Newfane, Olcott Beach, Lewiston, and Lockport boast quaint shops, bakeries, coffee houses, artisan ice-cream, and Eerie Canal history. Don’t forget the gorgeous summertime sunsets on the lake with Toronto flickering skyline and the CN Tower in the distance.

But first… our Traditional Wine Wednesday upon my arrival with this dear friend!


Our friendship started in Korea and has traveled with us across the world to Chile, Turkey, Taiwan, Mexico, Indonesia, Nebraska, New York, and China. Thank goodness for FaceTime. We could make a book of stories, plans, adventures, and memories!

Places to go:

Scripts Cafe: a hidden gem of quaintness…coffee, salads, sandwiches…a cafe’s dream.

Gust of Sun winery: this winery is along the Niagara County Wine Trail and offers wine and CHOCOLATE pairings. (two of my favorite things- together?! sold.) A lovely outdoor patio. If you’re lucky to get the bartender who plays reggae jams on a summer day you’re in for a jammin’ good time.

Schulze Winery: a lovely winery also along the Wine Trail. Go for live music most summer weekend afternoons.

Lake Effect: located in the newly restored downtown area of Lockport. This shop offers all kinds of artisan ice-cream, including local favorites like Paula’s glazed donuts, sponge candy, frozen hot chocolate, revolution coffee, and loganberry.

Orange Cat Coffee Co: located in historic downtown Lewiston just minutes from a Lake front view. They have a huge variety of bean flavors including German Chocolate Cake and Jamaican me crazy. Yum. And the smell of this place is heavenly.

Bye’s Popcorn: this popcorn stand is in a neighborhood just a few blocks from Olcott Beach. This family owned stand has been around for 93 years and counting. Get the caramel corn…or the plain! 🙂

Blackbird Cidar Works: Western New York’s Premier Craft Hard Cidery. Located in a big red barn in an orchard, a perfect quench for a hot summer day!

Singer Farm Naturals: Come in for tea and a sweet treat and browse their local food sections…cherry picking is available here too!

NYBP (New York Beer Project): A chill taproom and gastropub. You can’t miss this place! To order: Project sweet fries, forget the diets these are heaven in your mouth…sweet potato fries sprinkled with a bit of sugar dunked in brown sugar cream cheese…why I ordered anything else is beyond me. But I went on and ate a Breakfast at Tiffany’s burger and had a cold craft brew on the side.



that clear water sparkle
I could stare all day


Lakefront near Lewiston





sweet summer sun




morning yoga view on Lake Ontario


namaste friend, chingu, amiga











twinkling lights in the distance


More stunning sunsets at Olcott Beach



Buffalo, New York just underwent a major renovation to their downtown area. However, the city has various nooks, not only in the downtown, but in surrounding neighborhoods for cafes, bars, and a plethora of local eateries. The downtown offers a variety of hotels and it is very walkable to the lakefront area. Oh and go up in the Capitol building for a 360 view of the city on a clear day!

Really, I don’t know what I’d do without them.
From Korea, to Boracay, and now Buffalo…
Who knows our next meeting point?
“mini” road trip ready
Places to go:

Public Espresso and Coffee: like seriously? Lux and comfort at it’s finest. Enter the hotel lobby for an open concept cafe with couches and chairs. The coffee? Amazing. Different blends and a cool (or hot) twist on some great favorites. The baristas are pretty awesome too. Don’t forget to try the coffee flight (I mean, wine tastings, beer samplers, why not coffee?)

Ashker’s Juice Bar and Bistro: Go here. Every morning. Juice bars? Only the perfect combination of fresh ingredients for a morning cleanse. And drinking out of a Mason jar makes it that much better. And the food? Scrumptious. Like I said, go here, every morning or brunch you can.

Pearl Street Grill and Brewery: outdoor patios and beer samples are a must in summertime. Overlooking the night streets provides a chill dinner atmosphere. Good food and drink.

La Cantina: a Mexican restaurant serving pitchers of margaritas, homemade chips and salsa…need I say more? The perfect start to our girls’ weekend!






William K’s: located on the Lakefront. Come here for a sweet sunset, specialty cocktails (the freshest spin on gin and tonic you’ll ever have), and wine. Their pizza is the perfect size to share (unless you’re super hungry like we were and ordered two). The perfect patio for stunning Lake Ontario views and summer sun vibes. There’s really nothing quite like a sailboat’s silhouette in the sinking sun…whether watching on a lake or on a beach in Boracay.










Niagara Falls: just a short drive from the city (check hotels and local bus schedules to use public transport) and definitely worth the brief trek to see these iconic Falls. We walked to Canada- kinda cool, eh? And continued our “two places at once” bucket list item. Definitely busy on a summer’s day, so go early and expect lines. Don’t forget your passport to see the touristy Canadian side. The US side has a nice nature walkway above the falls. The walking bridge offers great views of both Falls as well.








…And we got to meet up with my good friend, Enoch. The last time we saw each other was in 2007 when we were studying in Kenya, so wonderful he was able to drive down to spend the afternoon with us!








My reunion trip continued with a flight to Bangor, Maine. Never mind Delta cancelled my flight and I had to fly out the following day. Crazy flying troubles. That was after being delayed almost 9 hours on the way out to New York from Nebraska. I may be *slightly* hesitant to fly Delta on my next trip.

Back to the trip… Laura is a travel nurse out in Maine for the summer so I decided to make it a joint trip with New York. Bangor is a smaller airport in the Northern part of Maine, we drove from Bangor down to Bar Harbor for lunch along the coastal highway and detouring through Acadia National Park. Our final stop of the day was in Lincolnville. We stayed the night at a charming inn. The next day we hopped in the car and drove to Camden for lunch at the harbor and then continued our scenic drive to Portland where we spent the rest of the day tasting craft beer and exploring the quaint downtown. We concluded with dinner on a yacht. Exquisite crab crakes and chilled white wine to end this summer getaway with my dear friends!

Places along Bangor to Portland route…

Bar Harbor: explore this touristy town for good eats and drinks; right on the Harbor of course. Try Jalepenos Cantina and Mexican Grill for margaritas and lobster tacos.

Acadia National Park: gorgeous forested drive. Get off at stunning visit points of the ocean and lakes. Stop by Thunder Hole for a cool view and rocky coast.

Lincolnville: this fishing town is home to the Lobster Pound. Pick your own Lobster and fixings. Step outside and pick your patio spot to chill, eat, drink, and watch an oceanic sunset come down over the boats. This town hosts multiple bed and breakfasts and cozy inns. Summertime is busy though, so book early!

Camden: could these towns get any cuter? Grab a coffee and tour the shops and walk the streets before strolling down to the water for lunch at Peter Otts on the Water. Perfect patio spot to sip a cocktail and watch the boats and waves.

Portland: the bustling capital city boosts a brick laid downtown area booming with bars, restaurants, cafes, and local artists shops, but if you can walk along the water for more lobster dining and views. Go to DeMillo’s on the Water. It’s a Yacht anchored, but every now and then you feel the tilt of the waves underneath the surface. The second floor deck has a stellar harbor view at dusk.














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