Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

Name: AJ Shear

Age: 23

Hometown: Canandaigua, NY

Occupation: Communications Manager, Finger Lakes Visitors Connection

Status: Available

Diva Minds Want to Know…

1. Where do you like to flirt?

The best place to flirt in the Finger Lakes is the north shore of Canandaiuga Lake right by the boat launch. Once it gets warmer out, a lot of kayakers, bikers, runners and people just having a good time are out and about. It’s a great place to meet friendly and fun people. And if you succeed in your flirting, there are great ice cream places nearby like The Muar House Cafe where the sweets are plentiful.

2. Where is your favorite table for two?

As someone that works in the tourism and travel industry, I have had the opportunity to experience many of the great restaurants in the area, but I have two that I hold in especially high regard. Ports Cafe in Geneva is an eclectic restaurant that offers the freshest and finest local ingredients. Their wine list is fantastic and includes a wide variety from not only the Finger Lakes, but all over the world. It’s just a great place to go, knowing you are supporting a local business that really cares about the Finger Lakes. Another wonderful place is the New York Wine and Culinary Center in Canandaigua. They also pride themselves by using local ingredients and working with local farmers to bring the freshest food to the table. They have a unique and varied wine and beer list and each food item on the menu comes with a suggested wine and beer selection. It’s also a great place to go with a group of friends and enjoy a wine or beer tasting.

3. Where should we stay when we visit?

I think it depends on what you are looking for. We have a really great selection of bed and breakfasts and hotels. I am personally partial to hotels and I really don’t think you can go wrong with Belhurst Castle in Geneva. It’s a beautiful castle overlooking Seneca Lake and has top-notch dining at Edgar’s Restaurant. I think you may certainly also want to know that Belhurst Castle was voted “One of the Most Beautiful Places in New York State.”

4. What qualities do you find irresistible in a woman?

A woman needs to be confident in herself. She can be the most gorgeous girl in the world, but if she lacks self-confidence her attractiveness goes way down. There is simply nothing more irresistible than a woman that exudes self-confidence and knows exactly what she wants.

5. Where can we find you on a free Sunday afternoon?

While there is certainly a lot to enjoy in the Finger Lakes, my favorite thing to do when I have time is hike in the great wilderness we have in the area. I love taking a nice hike through Hi-Tor or Grimes Glen in Naples or the great trails in Victor. The hiking trails in the Finger Lakes are endless. I really don’t go a weekend without discovering something I have never seen before.

6. What do you love most about your hometown (besides our arrival)?

I love living in a place that people escape to. I feel lucky to have grown up and live in a “destination spot.” It’s like being on vacation every day, and who wouldn’t love that!?

7. What should we bring when we visit? What should we leave with?

You should definitely bring your appetite and taste buds when you come to the Finger Lakes. The wine and culinary opportunities are endless. If you come visit in the summer or fall, the Naples Grape Festival and Phelp’s Sauerkraut Festival are sure to be of interest to any “foodie.” And any season is great to enjoy the wide variety of Finger Lakes wines, and a lot of the wineries also make great cheeses and other products like jellies, juices and spreads. With that being said, I can’t think of anything more special to leave with than a great bottle of wine to take back home and share with your friends.

8. What do we absolutely have to see while we’re there?

Well, obviously the lakes! There are 11 Finger Lakes and the county I live in includes five of them. Whether you are boating around or swimming in Canandaiuga or Seneca lakes in the summer or driving around the lakes in the fall to see the beautiful foliage, there are few places on earth that are as breath-taking. If you ever come to the region, you absolutely have to spend some quality time near the lakes—you won’t regret it and you’ll always remember it.

9. Any areas of town we should avoid?

No. There really is no “wrong side of the tracks” here. Everyone is friendly and I can’t think of any places where someone would feel unsafe. I mean, anywhere can be dangerous at certain times, but there really is no area a visitor should be weary of.

10. Any local secrets you want to share?

We are home to a lot of amazing foods, but one thing we seem to have that is a secret is grape pies. While the region is known for its grapes and wines, Naples is noted for its amazing pies using grapes. Somehow the rest of the world hasn’t figured it out yet, but that’s ok because we are more than happy to let everyone in on this amazing treat that seems to only be found in the Finger Lakes.

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