Watkins Glen is a town in New York State that that is known for the mesmerizing Watkins Glen State Park and the Watkins Glen International Race Track. The destination is full of small-town charm and has an array of natural attractions that will make for a memorable vacation whether you are a couple, family or even a solo traveller.
When to visit Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen is the most well known and most popular of all the Finger Lakes Parks. This means that if you visit during the holidays, peak season or even weekends, you will find yourself experiencing the best spots along with bustling crowds. For nice weather and fewer crowds, try visiting Watkins Glen State Park in either late May/early June or late September/October. You will still want to give weekends a miss if possible, otherwise get to the park early to admire the beauty with some tranquillity.
Planning your Trip to Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen (the town and the park) is about a 4-hour drive from New York City. This means you can take a flight to a New York City airport and then make a road trip out of it, or you can jump on a bus or arrange a flight to one of the smaller airports closer to your final destination.
If you are in international visitor headed to Watkins Glen, make sure you understand all the entry requirements that apply to you. You will need to pass through border security and customs on your way into the country, which is likely to be at a New York City airport. Do your research before your trip to see what entry requirements apply to you as travellers will be required to undertake a pre-check before entering the USA.
For many people, the pre-screening is likely to be obtaining us esta. This electronic check is available to certain citizens who come from countries that are exempt from a formal visa. Rather than get a visa, these travellers will need to fill out the online application to obtain an ESTA. It doesn’t mean you will be exempt from the standard processes upon arrival, however, it will make it quicker to process you upon entry as it will be clear that you already meet certain entry criteria.
It is definitely best to apply for an ESTA well before you leave for your trip. If it does not get approved for whatever reason, you will need to address the problems and you do not want to be doing this too close to your departure date. It is possible to check your esta status via the online portal. Without an ESTA, you will be denied entry to the country.
For those travellers not eligible for an ESTA, you will probably need to apply for a standard visa. Doing your research will ensure you understand the entry requirements that apply specifically to you.
Hotels Near Watkins Glen State Park
There is a range of accommodation options in the Watkins Glen region. If you are looking for one of the vicinities of the State Park, consider one of the following.
- Lakeside Resort
- Idlwilde Inn
- The Falls Motel
Watkins Glen Tour
For a convenient, memorable experience, consider joining a tour during your Watkins Glen stay. You can choose to enjoy the local attractions or travel a little further to see some of the best the state has to offer.
- Winery tour – The Finger Lakes area is home to a range of excellent wineries. Taking a tour will give you an opportunity to try all the local drops.
- Niagara Falls tour – See the iconic Niagara Falls with a trip to the popular attraction from Watkins Glen.
- Finger Lakes tour – Admire some of the other towns and parks in the Finger Lakes area by joining a tour of the region.
Watkins Glen Museum
Watkins Glen might be known for its natural attractions, but there is a range of other attractions for visitors to experience. Car enthusiasts, in particular, will delight at the Watkins Glen Motor Racing Research Center.
This museum archives the extensive history of motorsports, providing visitors with a range of informative and engaging exhibitions. Operating since 1999, the centre has an extensive collection featuring old race programs, photographs and even some old cars. The best part – admission is free!
Watkins Glen NY Upcoming Events
For those of you who have a trip to Watkins Glen planned, here are some annual events you can look forward to. Try to plan your visto one of these major events to have a truly memorable stay!
- Fire & Ice fundraising event – Each year, Glen Harbor Hotel holds a fundraising event at their Ice Bar. You will be helping charity and
- Finger Lakes Wine Festival – The region is known for their grapes so if you consider yourself a wine connoisseur or simply enjoy a good glass of red, make your way to Watkins Glen for the wine festival. You will not be disappointed.
- Grand Prix Festival – This motor racing festival is a popular event in Watkins Glen. It always draws a crowd so join in on the celebrations.
- Fingers Lakes Beer Festival – Another fun festival in Watkins Glen is the Beer Festival. Held in October each year, there is plenty of fun for beer-drinkers and everyone else.