In March, local producers open their sugar bush and sugar shacks to the community to celebrate the innovative process of turning sap into syrup during Maple Syrup Weekend. The best way to fully appreciate maple syrup is with a full stack of pancakes dripping with liquid gold!
Commercial farms, nature centers, and restaurants create a fun atmosphere offering maple-flavored cotton candy, ice cream, BBQ sauce, milkshakes, mustard, scones, cheesecake, popcorn, hot chocolate, baked beans, or sugar on snow. This is also a prime opportunity for them to sell products including maple syrup, candy, butter, and cream.
Head out to one of these locations during Maple Syrup Weekend
For 2018, Maple Syrup Weekend is March 17 & 18 and March 24 & 25—technically, 2 weekends. The places below have a similar agenda of activities that likely include:
- Walking through the sugar bush to see maple trees tapped with spiles, using buckets or bags for collection.
- Learn to identify maple trees suitable for tapping (species and age are significant!)
- Learn about the logistics for getting sap to the sugar shack.
- Watch the sap boil, and water evaporate. Learn what temperature it needs to be heated to.
- Learn about old-fashioned techniques and modern technological advances in food & tree safety and quality (reverse osmosis, vacuum pumps, UV lights, tubing systems).
1. Helmer Nature Center Irondequoit
On Sunday, March 18, stop by the nature center’s open house for trail demonstrations. On Sunday, March 25 enjoy pancake breakfast in the Senior Center.
2. Genesee Country Nature Center Mumford
Admission fees for programs and breakfast are separate. Unlimited pancakes & sausage served with maple syrup, milk, juice, coffee, tea & cocoa from 9 am-1 pm. Take a self-guided walk around the nature center’s sugar bush along the Maple History Trail, with dozens of other activities in the historic village.
3. Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village Amherst
Admission fees for programs and breakfast are separate. March 24 & 25 only. Lumberjack breakfast (2 seating times each day at 9:30 am & 11 am). Pancakes, maple syrup, sausage, eggs, fruit cocktail, hot and cold beverages. Reservations are highly recommended. Pancake Breakfast seatings sell out fast! Featuring maple science demonstrations and a tour covering the history of maple sugaring, with activities throughout the historic village.
4. Cumming Nature Center Naples
Admission fee includes both program and breakfast. Pancake breakfast 9am–1pm (Gluten-free pancakes available) with Trail Demonstrations open 10am–2pm.
5. Kettle Ridge Farm Victor
Fresh maple syrup samples in the tasting room, tours of the sugar house and farm, plus pancakes in the barn 10am to 4pm. Group hikes in the sugar bush start every hour, including stops at the shiitake mushroom log yard, honeybee apiary, and chicken coop.
6. Schoff’s Sugar Shack Victor
Open house from 10 am – 4 pm both weekends. Pancake breakfast at the Thirsty Turtle on Route 96 in Victor on Sunday, March 25 from 9 am – 11 am.
7. Packard Valley Farms Macedon
All-you-can-eat pancake breakfasts are served next door at the Log Cabin Restaurant. Enjoy horse-drawn and tractor wagon rides, a tour of the sap house. birds eye view of the sugar bush, with free samples of syrup and other maple products.
8. Shadow Hill Maple Syrup Ontario
Enjoy a half mile of gravel hiking trails through the sugar bush, including a three-acre pond, running waterfalls, and a pond with an arched bridge. All-you-can-eat pancakes.
9. Wohlschlegel’s Naples Maple Farm Naples
Guided walks to the sugar bush, sugar house tours, with great views from atop the Naples Hills. All-you-can-eat pancakes plus 2 sausage and beverages.
10. Gaeta Family Farm Lockport
No pancake breakfast here, but the owners are excited to show you around the property and thrill you with the chemistry of maple syrup production–Tony Gaeta is a retired research scientist.
11 Wolf Maple Products Middleport
See, smell, and taste your way through the maple sugaring process. Take a tram ride out to the sugar bush. Enjoy pancake breakfast on Sunday, March 18 at Middleport Firehall.
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12. Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn Angelica
Open only during maple syrup season, it’s never too early to start planning a trip to Cartwright’s Maple Tree Inn! After a beautiful 90 minute drive south to Angelica, you will be enjoying the most celebrated all-you-can-eat buckwheat pancakes, topped with maple syrup drawn from 8,000 of the family’s trees.
Because they are only open February 13 – April 14, 2018, Cartwright’s draws thousands of people from hundreds of miles around. Weekends get pretty busy, especially during Maple Syrup Weekend, and parking in the lot and along the road gets a little crazy, though it doesn’t usually take more than a 1/2 hour to get in. And it may be cold lining up outside, but it’s toasty warm (sometimes hot!) inside where they cook the pancakes on a very large griddle which can handle 700 pancakes an hour, so service is quick.
Hopefully you have to opportunity to request a day off from work (any day but Monday, or Easter Sunday) and take a leisurely day trip during the week when it may not be as busy. It’s cash only so hit the ATM on the way (there is also one on site). Be sure to check their website for the hours once the season begins.
On the way home, take a drive through Letchworth State Park. It’s free off-season and the iced-over falls are beautiful to see. If it’s been cold enough you’ll likely see the ice volcano at the Glen Iris Inn.
13. Moore’s Maple Shack and Pancake House Freedom
Like Cartwright’s, they are open for breakfast during the season only, roughly March 1-April 15 each year, except Mondays and Easter Sunday, but also open Sundays in January and February. No need to wait for Maple Syrup Weekend! They share a similar story with Cartwright’s with multi-generational sugarmakers, and all-you-can-eat buttermilk pancakes drawing crowds from across the state.
Did you know that Maple Syrup is entirely a North American product?
New York, Vermont, and Ontario, Canada are the prime commercial locations able to harvest maple tree sap to produce syrup, along with a few other locations around the Great Lakes and New England. Maple Syrup Weekend is sponsored by the New York State Maple Producers Association (NYSMPA).
Images in this post from pixabay.