Best Things to Do in Watkins Glen (Family Weekend at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel)

Are you looking to get away for a family weekend in New York? We spent the weekend at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel and are sharing our best things to do in Watkins Glen for a family weekend getaway.

As a family who often has many trips planned every year, 2020 has been a big change. We have found ourselves spending more time at home and not planning as much as we usually do.

When the idea to travel to Watkins Glen for the weekend came up, we honestly weren’t sure if we would feel comfortable traveling. 2020 has brought COVID-19 and travel has come to a screeching halt.

We wanted to do what was safe for our family and our community by making the right choice. Making the right choice is difficult during such unpredictable times, but as we watched the cases in NY we felt comfortable traveling the 90 miles to spend the weekend at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

Things to Do in Watkins Glen for a Weekend Getaway

Most of the things to do in Watkins Glen are outdoors, which is perfect during the summer months. They are great for families, couples, or a girlfriend weekend away.

Where to Stay in Watkins Glen, NY

We were invited to stay at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel for the weekend and I have to stay I was very impressed. The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel is located a .5 mile from Watkins Glen State Park and overlooks Seneca Lake.

It is family friendly, has an on-site indoor pool, amazing dining options at the Blue Pointe Grill, and helpful and kind staff to make your stay in Watkins Glen the best.

Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel is a boutique hotel with 104 rooms. They offer standard rooms and suites, some overlooking Seneca Lake.

We stayed in adjoining rooms that had 1 King Bed and 2 queen beds with a balcony and lake view. The hotel rooms were clean and cozy. They offered ample space for our family of five.

rooms at watkins glen harbor hotel
King Bed Room at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel

Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel Amenities

Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel has an on-site restaurant the Blue Pointe Grille. There you can get breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When I looked online I wasn’t sure if it would be kid friendly but they had a kid friendly menu that I was so thankful for!

kids menu at Blue Pointe Grille
Kids Menu at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel: Blue Pointe Grille

The Harbor Hotel is offering indoor and outdoor dining and following all of the state requirements for a safe opening. Tables are located 8-10 feet apart and staff are wearing masks. Learn more about their safety measures here.

We dined at the Blue Pointe Grille for 2 breakfast and 2 dinners during our stay and all of our meals were excellent. I loved the salmon dinner on our first night and the kids menu options satisfied all three of my kids. The hotel was very accommodating to families and we were happy to enjoy a meal out.

dinner at blue pointe grille
Salmon Dinner at Blue Pointe Grille.

The hotel also has an indoor pool. There are new rules put in place and the pool area can only allow up to 10 people at a time. We had to sign in and sign out during our visit but didn’t experience a wait of any kind.

The location of the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel is one of the perks of staying there. Guests have an amazing view of Seneca Lake and have access to walking along the pier.

sunset at wakins glen harbor hotel balcony
Sunset view of Seneca Lake at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel.

Guests are also within half a mile to walk to Watkins Glen State Park, although we drove and used the parking lot at the park. You can also explore along the village streets shops and restaurants during your stay.

Overall we really enjoyed our stay at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel and felt that it was a great option for families looking to spend the weekend in Watkins Glen, NY. For more accommodations, click here.

Watkins Glen NY Attractions

Due to COVID-19 and our short time in Watkins Glen we were unable to do all the fun activities in Watkins Glen but we will be back! Here is a list of the Watkins Glen attractions that are great for a family weekend in Watkins Glen.

  • Watkins Glen State Park
  • Finger Lakes National Forest
  • Seneca Lake Kayak
  • Watkins Glen International Speedway-Drive the Glen
  • Farm Sanctuary
  • Keuka Candy Emporium
  • Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream
  • Seneca Lake Wine Trail

Watkins Glen is a peaceful and relaxed weekend getaway. You don’t need a lot of big attractions to keep you busy. We enjoyed the slower pace and focused on quality family time.

Related Post: 101 Things to do in Rochester, NY with Kids

Our Weekend in Watkins Glen

Friday: Drive to Watkins Glen from Rochester, NY

We packed our car and started the 81 mile drive from Rochester, NY to Watkins Glen. The drive is nice and you will drive through a lot of cute towns before you make your way along the lake to Watkins Glen.

We arrived at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel around 4:30pm. This allowed us time to check-in and get settled before our dinner reservation at 5:30pm.

We parked and put our masks on as we enter the lobby to the hotel. As soon as we entered we saw signs notifying guests to stay at least 6 ft. apart. The front desk had plexiglass covering and hand sanitizer on the counter. I checked us in and we made our way to the elevator.

lobby at watkins glen harbor hotel
Lobby at Harbor Hotel Watkins Glen.

Everyone at the hotel was wearing masks, and we were happy to see that the Harbor Hotel was taking the NY state safety measures seriously.

We stepped into the elevator, using our elbows to press the buttons, and walked to our rooms. At this point we did not have all of our luggage, we had a back pack and planned to do an extra wipe down of the room before we made ourselves at home.

This is totally a personal preference and doesn’t reflect upon the upkeep of the hotel. We felt the hotel was very clean and the rooms looked good, but for piece of mind we wiped all the main surfaces down with disinfectant wipes and sprayed the air. I also opened the windows for air circulation.

Again, this may be totally unnecessary but it made us feel safer in traveling and going a little bit extra worked for us. As we let everything dry we headed back to our car to collect our luggage, properly get comfy in our room, and get ready for dinner.

We arrived at dinner and were seated outside. I felt very comfortable sitting outside and our waitress was wearing a mask during our dining experience. I was also really happy to see they had a kids menu!

After enjoying an excellent dinner, we decided to take an after dinner walk on the pier. This is when the crowds became a bit too much for us.

Many people along the pier were not wearing masks and didn’t appear to be socially distancing. We lasted a few minutes before calling it a night and heading back to our hotel room.

Saturday: A Rainy Start to Our Day

We had planned on getting up early and going to Watkins Glen State Park after breakfast but the rain clouds had rolled in and we decided we would switch our plans.

We slept in a bit and then headed downstairs for breakfast. Due to the rain we couldn’t dine outside and decided to sit at a table in the bar area. The tables are spaced apart for social distancing.

Breakfast was delicious and we all really enjoyed our meals at the Blue Pointe Grille. During breakfast we decided to go for a drive to Keuka Candy Emporium in Penn Yan. It is about a 30 minute drive from the hotel and gave us something to do on this rainy morning.

The candy store was cute and we stocked up on taffy and other bulk items to snack on back at the room. As we started our drive home the weather began to clear up and we drove directly to Watkins Glen State Park.

candy at keuka candy shop
Keuka Candy Emporium

I was really excited to visit Watkins Glen. The gorge trail boasts 19 waterfalls and it is a beautiful hike. We had last visited 4 years ago and I couldn’t wait to experience it again with the family.

I had done a little bit of research before I visited and new the trail was now one way, to encourage social distancing, and masks were required. This eased my worries a bit, until I arrived.

As soon as we arrived we stopped to use the restrooms and every person inside was not wearing a mask, except me and my daughter. There were signs posted requiring masks to enter but a lot of people disregarding them.

We started the hike and kept to ourselves. It really is a must visit in New York State. The Watkins Glen Gorge Trail is a 1.5 mile hike up stairs and around waterfalls. Hikers are stopped at the 1 mile mark and asked to use an alternative trail to hike back down.

After the hike we headed back to the hotel to relax. I sat on the balcony overlooking Seneca Lake while the kids relaxed and watched TV. It was a nice change of scenery.

In the afternoon we decided to take a swim in the hotel pool. We signed in and were allowed access. Currently, there is a 10 person max, and we already filled 5 spots. We were the only people swimming but after an hour or so people, started looking in so we gathered our things to allow other families to use the pool.

pool at watkins glen harbor hotel
Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel Pool

We returned to our room and got ready for dinner. Again we were seated outside and the food was delicious. When dining you can take your masks off during your meal and we felt comfortable outside eating. After dinner we got dessert to-go and relaxed in our room for the evening.

dessert at blue pointe grille
Dessert at Harbor Hotel Watkins Glen

Sunday: Check Out Day and the Seneca Lake Pier

On our last day we started off slowly. We went down for our last breakfast at the hotel and were seated inside due to weather. We would have preferred to eat outside for breakfast, but the weather is out of our control and the dining room was not busy.

After breakfast we decided to take a walk along the pier. I am so glad we waited until early morning to do this. There was no else on the pier with us. We could easily walk and enjoy our morning, without worrying about masks and social distancing.

Seneca Lake pier is so pretty and serene. We saw fish and seagulls, and took in the calm quietness of the lake. It was a perfect way to end our family weekend in Watkins Glen.

seneca lake pier at watkins glen harbor hotel
Seneca Lake Pier

As we made our way back to our room to pack and check out we all decided we were happy we had an opportunity to get away for the weekend together. We loved our stay at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel and it was an awesome family getaway.

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