Foodie Day Trips / Along the Erie Canal
Farms and small town businesses
Photos by Nancy J. Parisi
Total Mileage: 129 mi. (round trip)
Total Drive Time: 2 hrs., 45 min.
17260 Ridge Rd.
55 Public Square
Main Street Thrift Store
131 South Main St.
The Uptown Browsery
118 North Main St.
The Downtown Browsery
14 East Bank St.
120 North Main St.
Mariachi de Oro
11417 Maple Ridge Rd.
408 Main St.
500 Main St.
A Lily & A Sparrow
438 Main St.
585- 798-6286, alilyandasparrow.com
Medina Railroad Museum
530 West Ave.
Lamp Lighter Gallery & Studios
16 Main St.
Mrs. Rib's House of BBQ
105 Telegraph Rd.
Spring Lake Winery
7373 Rochester Rd.
he Erie Canal, begun in 1817 and opened to traffic in 1825, is 363 miles long from Albany to Buffalo. Along its path are several small towns that prospered from early canal traffic; some have remained in solid financial shape, while others struggle in a global economy.
It takes a solid eight hours to spend time in each of these townships; additional stops along the shores of the canal—enjoy stretches of sublime empty landscape, disturbed at times by boats and kayaks gliding through the water—are also suggested.
Holley Canal Falls
The first destination is Hurd Orchards located on Route 104 in Holley. (Fun fact: Holley was named for Myron Holley, one of the commissioners of the Erie Canal.) Keep an eye out for historic cobblestone structures along the way. Hurd Orchards grows forty-nine apple varieties and offers DIY picking, starting in late summer through October. In the shop, many different flavors of applesauce, pickles, jarred fruits, and jams are available for purchase; the gift packaging is exceptional and these offerings are also available online. Check out the Hurd Orchards event link in advance for themed luncheons: reservations are necessary. Tastings, teas, workshops, and children's events are also listed on Hurd’s website.
From Hurd, take a three-mile drive to Holley’s tidy public square, the location of Sam's Diner, with a menu full of classic selections and hearty sandwiches. From Sam's, head down Frisbie Terrace to Holley Canal Falls. Here, there are places to walk near the water, have a picnic, and rest on well-stationed benches. Holley’s canalside park features a gazebo full of historical information and a visible section of the original canal.
Head west on Route 31 (parallel to the canal) and drive fifteen minutes or so to Albion. (Fun fact: the name Albion is the ancient Greek name for what is now Great Britain.)You will know you've arrived in Albion when church spires are visible from Route 31. Turn onto South Main Street and park the car to investigate some solid local businesses: Main Street Thrift Store, The Uptown Browsery, The Downtown Browsery, Pratt Works, and Flying Needle and Thread.
The Uptown Browsery
Both of the Browsery locations are cooperatives with vendors selling fairly priced antiques, home-knit alpaca mittens and gloves, homemade jams and jellies, and more. Pratt Works is full of lovely handmade housewares and other artisan products like hand-screened tea towels.
Again on Route 31, drive west toward the next Erie Canal town, Medina. Along the way, consider a stop at Nice Farms (on Knowlesville Road) or Fairview Farms for local produce and flowers. Medina’s church steeple is visible after about fifteen minutes.
Medina is home to some fine local shops, bars, and restaurants and should be considered for the day's dinner destination. Restaurants include Mariachi de Oro (on Maple Ridge Road), Zambistro, Avanti Pizza, and Fitzgibbons Public House (all on Main Street). A Lily & A Sparrow, a lovely women's clothing and accessories store, has a huge following from far and wide. Don't miss it, lady daytrippers. Possible stops also include ellen j goods, Della's Chocolates, Maggie Moo's Ice Cream Parlor, and The Bread Basket.
Medina features some lovely canalside paths, with a giant red apple as a well-known landmark. Time allowing, also plan a visit to Medina Railroad Museum on West Avenue.
Back on Route 31, look out for Roberts Farm Market if you still need fresh produce. Passing into Niagara County, the next stop is Middleport. Its Main Street leads across the canal, with a selection of modest shops. Alternative Grounds is a good stop for ice cream or coffee/tea and Lamp Lighter Gallery & Studios is open Thursday–Saturday and exhibits and sells art by local artists.
On the way out of Middleport, watch for the historical marker outside of Early House, one of many for the Underground Railroad. Across from this is Mrs. Rib’s House of BBQ, a regional favorite. Also keep an eye out for Schwab Farm Market near Royalton Center Road.
Spring Lake Winery
Back on Route 31 and heading west toward Lockport, a stop at picturesque, eight-acre Spring Lake Winery is suggested. There are trails to walk along their onsite spring-fed lake, a café serving light fare (including a cheese platter), and tasting counters to sip the winery’s award-winning offerings.
Nancy J. Parisi's inspiration for this trip was a New York State photography commission documenting canal towns from Holley to Buffalo.