Author: Courtney Kless

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Courtney Kless is the Editor in Chief of Family Times. Courtney is originally from Maryland. She earned her Master’s degree in Magazine, Newspaper and Online Journalism from Syracuse University. Courtney began her career as a sports journalist, then spent several years working in higher education, before joining the company in August 2019. She enjoys traveling, reading and hiking, and recently adopted a Labrador Retriever, Bailey.

If you’re a frequent Family Times reader, you likely know that hiking is among my favorite ways to spend my spare time. Green Lakes State Park has some great trails that can be enjoyed all year round. Located in Fayetteville, the state park is a popular swimming spot (it is also where I had my first date with my husband 11 years ago), but there are plenty of other ways to explore its grounds during Central New York’s coldest days. Green Lakes State Park’s 18-hole golf course remains open to snowshoers, and there are 15 miles of trails for cross-country…

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“Ignite Your Happy Place.” That is one of the quotes that Camp Candle Bar, a DIY experience in Armory Square, follows. Ashley Naum started the business with her sister, Lauren. “We really wanted to create a new experience within the downtown area that it never had before, especially in a town of eating and drinking,” said Naum. “The idea of camp is nostalgic to us as a family. We all grew up in Upstate New York and were always in the Adirondack Mountains, and the whole essence of camp is gathering around the campfire. It is the heartbeat of anything…

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With the holidays right around the corner, are you still searching for the perfect gift for a friend or family member? You’ll find something for all ages – and interests – in our annual gift guide. Cathy’s Cookie Kitchen Would it be the holiday season without cookies? This year, skip the baking and head to Armory Square instead. Cathy Pemberton started Cathy’s Cookie Kitchen a decade ago. “I was working part time with the Syracuse City School District, and I wanted to move out of that into my own business,” she said. “I thought about what I was good at,…

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The first Festival of Trees was held on Dec. 4, 1985.It started as (and continues to be) a fundraiser for the Everson Museum of Art. That first year, there were 47 decorated trees and $27,000 was raised. It was so successful, the museum decided to turn it into an annual tradition.This year’s festival will be held from Dec. 2-16.“It’s always been a popular event in the city because of the displays,” said Liz Herrick, the Members Council chair. “You can spend time with a best friend, you can spend time with your family, or you can enjoy being there by…

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Families from around Central New York – and beyond – will soon head to Liverpool for Lights on the Lake. Here are some things you can do while you’re in town. Parks Onondaga Lake Park Dubbed “The Central Park of Central New York,” Onondaga Lake Park just may be Liverpool’s most popular attraction. And there’s a lot for families to do there: walking trails, pickleball courts, a skate park, and a boundless playground, to name a few. The park is also home to the Salt Museum, which chronicles Syracuse’s rich salt mining history (it is open seasonally from May to…

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The holiday season is almost here! And there are plenty of ways to celebrate around Central New York. One event you won’t want to miss is Dickens Christmas, which is marking a milestone this year. It was created three decades ago by some of the merchants in downtown Skaneateles. “We’ve always been a big summer destination, and they were essentially also trying to sell us as a winter and holiday destination,” said Hilary Fenner, executive director of the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce. “After they did it for a year or two, they were kind of overwhelmed because it was…

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Known as “Adirondack Base Camp,” Old Forge offers family-friendly activities year-round, but fall is one of the best times to visit. Museums and Arts Centers Goodsell Museum Start with a stop at the Goodsell Museum. The Victorian house dates back to the 19th Century and includes six rooms of exhibits about local history – plus a carriage barn and a restored ice house. Where: 2993 Main St. More information: webbhistory.org. View Arts Center If you like art, you won’t want to miss View. Several exhibits will be on display this fall, including SAQA presents byCONTRAST and Who, What, Wear – Conceptual…

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Please Note: You or your photographer will need to contact some of these places ahead of time. Beak and Skiff Apple Orchards: Nothing says fall quite like a visit to an apple orchard. Take some photos amongst Beak & Skiff’s 300,000 trees, then stick around to pick your own. Where: 2708 Lords Hill Road, Lafayette. More information: beakandskiff.com. Beaver Lake Nature Center: Beaver Lake Nature Center’s nine trails wind through wetlands, forests, meadows, a bog, and more – the photo opportunities are endless! Where: 8477 E. Mud Lake Road, Baldwinsville. More information: beaverlakenaturecenter.org. Franklin Square Park: If you’re looking for a more urban setting,…

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Would you like to see a Broadway show right here in Central New York?Well, you’re in luck! The 2023/24 Broadway in Syracuse season will feature Tony Award-winning musicals, movie adaptations, and more – all touring from New York City.“There’s nothing like seeing something live in the theatre,” said Tina Niles, NAC Entertainment/Famous Artists Broadway in Syracuse. “You’re sharing that experience with 2,000 other people, watching something come to life on stage.”The Famous Artists Broadway Theater Series was founded by Murray Bernthal more than six decades ago. For 20 years, he partnered with Tony Award-winning producer Albert Nocciolino, bringing productions like…

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Central New York is home to many festivals – and one of them is marking a milestone this month. Festa Italiana returns to downtown Syracuse from Sept. 15-17. “I would like to thank your readers who have supported us during our 25 years,” said President Ginnie Lostumbo. “We couldn’t do it without them.” Held in front of Syracuse City Hall, at the corner of Washington and Montgomery Streets, Festa Italiana is exactly what it sounds like – a celebration of Italian culture. And there is a variety of things to do there: live music, demonstrations, Italian lessons, a bocce tournament,…

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