Named one of the top-ten NewYork State towns for LGBT people, Ithaca is called the “empty-closet town” because of how large the community is here. And we immediately recognize this when we take a walk down the pedestrian-only Ithaca Commons. The Tompkins County Chamber, Ithaca Tompkins County CVB, Downtown Ithaca Alliance, and nonprofit group Ithaca is Love recently collaborated to distribute “Inclusive Space” decalsto local businesses. We enjoy a leisurely dinner at Coltivare (235 S. Cayuga St., Ithaca. Tel: 607-882-2333. www.coltivareithaca.com). This farm-to-table restaurant serves an assortment of local cheeses, a soul-warming French onion soup, and handmade linguini.
It is Friday night, but this college town is mainly indoors avoiding the negative temperatures and another incoming storm. But we still managed to venture up a hill to the hottest cocktail bar in town. Bar Argos (408 E. State St., Ithaca. Tel: 607-319-4437. www.argosinn.com) at the Argos Hotel is in a special place, and a haven that provides an environment so blessedly warm and inviting that we are disappointed when it closes at 10 P.M. This is, after all, a hotel, so they’re mindful of guests upstairs. The bartenders at this Prohibition-era bar take their time making the cocktails, and we sip them slowly in big comfy couches listening to the howling winds outside.
Grabbing a famous bagel from Collegtown Bagels (multiple locations), we hit the road again. The three-hour drive south is our longest drive of the trip, but after a very long stretch of highway, we’re happy to pull off the expressway and experience the rural mountainside roads. It also helps that the sun is shining, creating storybook spurts of sunshine through the forests. Tempting signs point to overlooks, waterfalls, and hiking trails, but we’re ready to hibernate at the historic gay-owned Fairlawn Inn (7872 Main St., Hunter. Tel: 518-263-5025. www.fairlawninn.com) located in Hunter, NY.
We’re a bit late for our check-in, but the owner Chuck is all smiles at his beautiful home. He walks us through the antique-filled house and waxes poetic about the process it took to restore it to her former glory. He also points out the free snacks and tells us about their sumptuous breakfast as he escorts us to our room. The corner suite has a huge bathroom with a soaking tub, and, best of all, a fireplace. Chuck organized a cheese platter, bottle of red wine, and chocolates for us, and we couldn’t be happier to relax and enjoy these treats after our long drive.
The following morning, we drive to the newest kid on the block, Scribner’s Lodge (13 Scribner Hollow Rd., Hunter. Tel: 518-628- 5130. www.scribnerslodge.com). This modern take on lodge chic is bursting with millennial cool, and we feel right at home at the hotel’s Prospect Restaurant. Here, once again, farm-to-table foods reign supreme. Mustachioed bartenders walk around enticing patrons with their favorite whiskeys. A gay-headed family sits behind us, and the husbands repeatedly kiss as their kids run back and forth into the lodge. We eat roasted chicken and tender steaks and wash them down with an old fashioned. Feeling particularly satiated, we walk the property and admire the huge pool and make plans to return when weather is warmer.
After a wonderful night’s sleep, we pull the curtains open and take a look at the behemoth known as Hunter Mountain directly across from us. Jason shovels blueberry pancakes in his mouth, but he is reluctant to get out of his comfy pajamas and pack up the car for our drive to Brooklyn. “Maybe we’ll go snowboarding again next year,” he says. “Really?!” I exclaim. “Let’s just remember to splurge on a car with four-wheel drive,” he says as we pull out of the driveway onto the snow-covered road