New York’s Genesee River Valley is known for its incredible lakes and rivers. It’s where farmlands and waterfalls are protected, and where the beauty of the land inspires a silence when life becomes too amplified. It’s a place that honors the traditions of the past but also makes space for its future, creating an element of surprise and beauty around every corner. It’s easy to see why Livingston County, in the heart of the Genesee River Valley of New York, is a Place to Love.
For over 20 years, Samantha Brown has traversed continents, experienced culture, and tasted adventure applying her singular brand of warmth and inclusion along the way. Places to Love is all about seeking the little-known spots and haunts where innovators and disruptors are creating a brand new travel experience.
In the fifth season, Samantha visits the Genesee River Valley, New York to discover the wonder of waterfalls, taste authentic Puerto Rican food, and much more. Check out the episode preview below!
The Genesee River Valley is located in the western part of the Empire State, New York. Here, Samantha discovered one of the country’s most magnificent places: Letchworth State Park. The park offers many wonderful features, including one of the most impressive waterfalls in the state, lovingly called the “Grand Canyon Of The East.”
The historic completely restored Glen Iris Inn offers overnight accommodations. Some of its properties are seasonal, and others open year-round.
Another highlight at Letchworth State Park is its new Autism Nature Trail. The A.N.T. provides a safe and inclusive area for individuals with autism or other related disabilities. Autism advocate Temple Grandin served as an advisor on the project. She ensured her seven guiding principles, including that the trail has to be in deep nature, are featured in the design.
The trail features a “cut-through path,” designed so anyone can easily leave the trail once they’ve had enough of the experience. It’s an empowering element for those with sensory sensitivity.
Mount Morris, New York may be a long way from Puerto Rico. But a meal at Boriken will transport you there. Chef Melanie Alvarez Santiago specializes in traditional Puerto Rican dishes made the old-school way. Enjoy her take on chinchorro de Puerto Rico, a variety of small plates meant to be shared with friends.
Don’t skip the mofongo, mashed plantain stuffed with chicken, pork, skirt steak, shrimp, or sautéed veggies.
Samantha has lived in New York a long time, and didn’t realize we had our very own Trappist Monk Abbey in this state! The monks at the Abbey of the Genesee are cloistered, which means they stay in one place, focused on contemplation and the search for the union with God. On her visit, they were rolling out a new biscotti line. Learn about their baking traditions – and where to shop for them.
Looking for some solitude? They offer facilities for men or women wishing to make a quiet, monastic retreat. All faiths are welcome. More information here.
Shawn Dunwoody is an artist and mural painter who believes that to make strong public art, you should involve the public. Samantha joined Shawn in helping the Livonia community paint a brand new mural in what was a drab cinderblock alley. They teamed up with locals (and lots of kids) to bring his design to life.
The Pledge of Allegiance was written in 1892 by Francis Bellamy, who was born in Mount Morris. A mural in honor of this historical event can be found on Main Street in Mount Morris, also painted by Shawn Dunwoody.
Founded in Western New York in 1996, the Genesee Country Village is the largest living history museum in New York State. Here, you’ll find structures and exhibits ranging from pioneer cabins from the late 1700s to gaslit towns and homes from the early 20th Century. Join Samantha as she explores this museum and learns more about its collections.
A cooper is a person trained to make wooden casks, barrels, vats, buckets, tubs, troughs and other similar containers from timber staves that were usually heated or steamed to make them pliable.
Linwood Gardens, built in the 1900s, is a private residence that opens up to the public for events, like when the garden is coming into bloom. Samantha decided to meet up with her friend, travel writer Carol Cain, to explore this stunning property.
The gardens include a distinguished collection of Japanese and American tree peonies. Every May, they host the Tree Peony Festival of Flowers to celebrate these beautiful blooms.