You have got to visit the super charming village of Owego if you’re planning a trip around New York and the Finger Lakes! Here’s a little guide on what to expect.
So, if you’ve ever attended TBEX, a big travel blogger conference held a few times each year, then you already know there are pre-tour options open to anyone who can sign up quickly enough. There are a lot of different ones, and at TBEX Finger Lakes, there was everything from making glass at the Corning Museum to goat yoga to day trips out to towns nearby.
Visiting Owego was one of those tours, and after seeing how pretty it looked in photos, my friend, Sher, and I managed to join last minute! I’m glad we did because Owego is incredibly picturesque. I wound up stopping by again and staying overnight on my way back from my wintry weekend trip to Niagara Falls.
It’s a nice, sleepy town that I could see New Yorkers and Pennsylvanians flocking to for a quiet weekend away. Everyone was also super friendly, and it’s teeming with history.
For More New York Travel
- A Weekend Trip to Niagara Falls
- Where to Stay in New York City
- Watkins Glen State Park: A Hiking Guide
The Village of Owego: A Travel Guide
Where is it?
So there’s a town of Owego and a village of Owego — the village is within the town. It’s in Tioga County, which sits close to the NY-PA border. If you’re coming from NYC, it’ll be about a 4-5 hour drive depending on the weather and traffic, and it’s 3 hours straight from Philly.
What does Owego mean?
Owego comes from Ahwaga which means “valley widens” in Iroquois.
Where to Stay in Owego
While there are a few different hotels in Owego, I’d highly, highly recommend staying at the Belva Lockwood Inn. They just opened this year, and were, in fact, still under construction when we visited for TBEX! On my way back from Niagara, I stayed with them to see the inn in all its finished glory, and it’s beautiful.
The owners, Ike and Julie, are absolutely lovely. They renovated a historic building that Belva Lockwood bought in 1863 to be the Owego Female Seminary. Throughout, there are homages to Lockwood, who’s probably one of the best glass-ceiling breakers we’ve never heard of. To get you started:
- In 1880, she became the first woman lawyer to argue a case before the US Supreme Court
- She’s one of the first women to run for president as part of the National Equal Rights Party. She ran twice in 1884 and 1888.
In addition, to this important historical tie, the inn, is, of course, cozy and beautiful. The downstairs area is perfect for mingling and includes a bar while the rooms are each uniquely decorated. I stayed in the Tioga Room and played Netflix’s fireplace on my TV to make it feel even cozier! Each morning you stay, you’ll get a lovely picnic basket breakfast too. There are also complimentary snacks and drinks in the hallway.
Location wise, it’s less than a five minute walk from the main downtown area of the village of Owego.
What to Do + See in Owego
The biggest thing I can recommend is to come here to relax! This isn’t a place where you have a ton of landmarks to tick off or things to do. Just wander around, enjoy the village. Since it’s so small, you can walk around easily. If you stay at Belva, just about everything on this list is within walking distance.
Catch a movie at Tioga Theatre
You can see their movie listings here. If you’re in town for a relaxing getaway, then what better than a little movie night?
Walk around the houses
Owego’s houses are so cute! We were lucky that we got a chance to ride around in an antique car as I don’t think the owner does tours regularly. After we finished our mini-car tour, we got out and walked around ourselves, retracing most of where he took us and snapping photos of pretty houses.
This is where all but one of the restaurants I went to are located, and it’s just a really cute downtown area. Experience Tioga actually has a self-guided walking tour of Owego on their site, and you can call 607-354-4080 for an audio tour.
Check out the Early Owego Antique Center to do some serious antique shopping. You just know in a historic town in one of the country’s oldest states, there are a lot of treasures to find.
See the Town from Afar
If you walk towards the main road, across the bridge, you can get a nice view of the town from afar. There’s a sidewalk on one side and little nooks to sit and enjoy the scenery.
Visit the Used Bookshop
It was closed when we visited, but right in the main part of town, there’s a big yellow building that houses a used bookshop. I’m currently on a mission to find an old copy of John Donne poetry and anything Louisa May Alcott, LM Montgomery, or Jane Austen-related. Plus I just love old and used bookstores!
Walk along the Susquehanna
You can head towards the waterfront and walk along the Susquehanna if you want to get out and enjoy the area even more. It’s nice in September, but the photos I’ve seen of it during the peak of fall foliage really look stunning!
Learn More about Owego at the Tioga County Historical Society
If you want to learn a bit more about Owego’s history, head over to the Tioga County Historical Society. They change out their exhibits a few times a year, but when we visited, it was about how war affected Owego and Tioga through the years.
Where to Eat + Drink in Owego
Cellar Restaurant hosted us while we were visiting with a bunch of delicious food! It’s owned by husband and wife team, Bob and Sandy Layman, who purchased the restaurant back in 2003. I don’t remember meeting Bob on our trip, but Sandy handled the food and the party and was lovely. Also, it’s right on the Susquehanna River, so you can dine with some pretty views.
MJ’s Bar and Restaurant
Sher and I stopped by here on our way from NYC to Corning. It’s not in the village of Owego like my other restaurants, but it’s still in the town if you need somewhere on your way. I can’t remember what we ate now, but I know it was good (also we were starving). The restaurant’s owned by a local who went away to San Francisco and brought back what she learned!
The Owego Kitchen
I didn’t get a chance to actually eat at the Owego Kitchen, but they catered Belva Lockwood’s gathering for us, and I may have overstuffed myself on the food. *Cough*
Original Italian Pizza
When I stopped by Owego later, Ike recommended popping over to Original for dinner. He didn’t warn me how much food I’d get! I only ordered the lasagna, but you get a whole thing of bread, salad, and dessert with your one meal! It’s beyond good, and I was half rolling out when I left.