Maple Heaven: the sweetest ways to celebrate maple season
Genesee Valley winters may be beautiful but they sure can be long. Come March, locals keep our eyes peeled for the first signs of spring: maple syrup. When the trees are tapped and the sap is boiled, it's time for pancake breakfasts, maple milkshakes and dreams of warm spring days ahead.
Wondering where to get your maple fix this year? Here's a roundup of the best events and sweetest spots for celebrating some of the best maple syrup in the country--right in New York's Genesee Valley.
Sugarshacks, restaurants and festivals provide ample opportunities to sample New York Maple in early spring.
Maple Weekends at Letchworth State Park
Learn about syrup surrounded by the prettiest views around. The last two weekends of March, Letchworth Park's Humphrey Nature Center plays host to an annual celebration of all things maple.
Experts lead interactive workshops on different approaches to processing sap, from Iroquois methods to the modern evaporator. After working up an appetite on the trail, enjoy a to-go pancake breakfast on the picnic tables outside the Humphrey Nature Center.
This year, due to COVID-19, timed tickets are required to minimize crowds. Face coverings are required for attendees over 2 years old.
- Location: Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth State Park
- 2021 Dates: March 20 - 21, March 27 - 28, 10am-2pm each day
- Cost: Free with park admission ($10 per vehicle). Make sure to bring cash or checks if you want a pancake breakfast!
Merle Maple Open House
Pioneers in Western NY maple syrup production, Merle Maple in Attica holds nothing back when it comes to their annual open house.
Visitors are invited to tour the farm, see how Merle's famous pure maple syrup gets made and sample all variety of maple products. Don't forget to try the maple fudge--and pick up a bottle of Maple BBQ sauce for all your summer grilling needs.
This year, masks will be required and there will be socially distanced tours and wagon rides.
- Location: Merle Maple, 1884 State Route 98, Attica NY
- 2021 Dates: March 20th-21st, March 27th - 28th
- Time: 10:00am to 4:00pm
- Cost: Free
Cartwright's Maple Tree Inn
For locals, New York Maple season hasn't arrived until the opening weekend of Cartwright's Maple Tree Inn. Located off the beaten path between the towns of Angelica and Fillmore a short drive from Letchworth, this family operated maple farm and restaurant has been producing award winning maple syrup since the 1850s. But this sugar shack really earned its spot in New York maple history in 1963, when the Cartwright family decided to open a restaurant on-site.
Cartwright's limited menu focuses on their famous buckwheat pancakes served with all the pure maple syrup you could ever want--freshly tapped from the trees out back and processed just steps from your table. For just a few dollars, visitors enjoy unlimited pancakes during their stay--and locals enjoy boasting about who's eaten the most flapjacks in one sitting. Visitors flock from all over to eat their fill of pancakes, syrup and maple milkshakes every year, but hurry; the restaurant is only open from February to April.
This year, masks and social distancing are required on the property. You can sit in the restaurant or take your pancakes to-go.
- Location: 4321 County Road 15A, Angelica, NY 14709
- 2021 Dates: February 15 - April 11 (closed Mondays and Easter Sunday)
Maple Sugar Festival at Genesee Country Village
Step back in time this Maple Weekend! At Genesee Country Village and Museum in Mumford, NY, you'll learn all about this history of maple sugar production across New York state and see how early settlers produced syrup.
During the museum's Maple Weekends you'll get hands on with the tools used to tap trees throughout history and hear retellings of Native American legends surrounding maple trees, sugar and syrup. Step into the sugarshack to see for yourself how sap gets transformed from runny liquid into thick amber syrup. Of course, no maple celebration is complete without a pancake breakfast or a bag of maple cotton candy to bring home. Maple Weekend events at Genesee Country Village and Museum are especially fun for families!
Please keep in mind that tickets for the festival and breakfast are sold separately. Reservations are required for both the festival and pancake breakfast. Breakfast seatings run every 45 minutes from 9:30am-12:30 pm. Visitors are encouraged to dress warmly for outdoor conditions; depending on weather, handicap accessibility may be limited.
- Location: 1410 Flint Hill Road, Mumford, NY 14511
- 2021 Dates: March 19-21 and March 26-28
- Festival Cost: $12 for ages 13 and up, $10 for kids 3-12, children under 2 free
Where will you celebrate maple season this year?