A huge thank you to Scott, Alix, and the rest of the team at the Shirt Factory and the beautiful Hart Hotel for having us!
Just under an hour outside of the city is the perfect location for a cozy overnight getaway. I first learned about the small village of Medina when my friends and I decided to try apple picking at a new location, Lynoaken Farms, to avoid the massive crowds at other apple orchards. From there, we always head into the village for a bite to eat and some samples of mead. The main strip has plenty of other cute shops, bakeries, and bars and the village has its own growing traditions for locals. This includes the very popular Olde Tyme Christmas celebration (November 27, 2021) has been said to resemble “It’s a wonderful life”!
Each year during the Olde Tyme Christmas Festival, they celebrate the kickoff to Christmas with a fireworks show, street vendors, and a parade of lights. The surrounding bars blast Christmas music while hosting after parties and create special pop up cocktails for the season. Although this event only happens annually after Thanksgiving, the holiday themed cocktails live on throughout the season for locals and visitors to enjoy. It was the perfect excuse to come back for a visit and explore the area.
After just a short time in the village, you’ll begin to notice just how encouraging the community is. Everyone seems to know everyone and local businesses don’t compete, they support each other the way neighbors should!
Here’s how to spend an overnight staycation/getaway in Medina:
Checking in at Hart House Hotel
113 W Center St, Medina, NY 14103 / (585) 735-6031 / harthousehotel.com
The Hart House Hotel dates back to 1876 when the building was packed with 30 rooms to cater to the bustling Erie Canal stop point. The cozy hotel in Medina even has a connection to the Thousand Islands! The proprietor, Elizur Kirke Hart, decided to build a modest summer home filled with 80 rooms on an island. After he passed away, the island remained named after him (although, with the proper spelling of ‘heart’), but the cottage was torn apart and turned into the now famous Boldt Castle built for George C. Boldt on the St. Lawrence River.
The day of your check in, you’ll receive a text with a code for the keypad on your door. The simplicity of the check in is clutch because you can head right up to your room at your leisure to relax, not having to worry if someone will be at the desk.
During my visit (2018) I stayed in the 400 square ft MicroLoft on the 3rd floor with a comfy queen bed, high ceilings, exposed brick and rafters, and the original vintage paint that’s been preserved on the walls. The fireplace was lit when I arrived, making the room so warm and welcoming. There’s an espresso bar, plenty of channels to flip through before bed on the TV, and even a gym (you know, if that’s your thing) to workout in on the grounds just to name a few of the great amenities. Best of all, they’re just around the corner from the strip with shops and restaurants to explore!
Coffee and Shopping
First things first, grab a festive coffee from the Shirt Factory’s cafe menu – the seasonal section changes (obviously), but to give you an idea of waht you might expect, when I visited they offered a Peppermint Mocha sprinkled with candy cane pieces and a Gingerbread ‘Not My Gumdrop Buttons’ Coffee. Warm beverage in hand, head out to explore the village shops that come highly recommended from locals like Scott. If you love teas, fancy cups, and teapots you have to stop by the English Rose Tea Shoppe (527 Main St) for a new flavor.
Ellen J Goods (435 Main St) owned by JR and Lynne Brundage is a well-known vintage store in the village where you can find a truly unique piece to bring home. The Brundage’s find old, vintage, torn apart furniture or decor, and turn them into new treasures that will give your home character. Check it out for yourself the next time you’re in town!
Sift through the clothes at A Lily And A Sparrow (438 Main St) to find the perfect outfit to bring home or head over to Herbalty Cottage (415 Main St) for some new organic herbs, oils, vinegars, and gourmet ingredients to add to your kitchen pantry.
Thumb through the rows and rows of reads at the local book store, The Book Shoppe (519 Main St), to find something new to read. Then, end the day of shopping with a gorgeous bouquet of fragrant fresh flowers from Creekside Floral (509 Main St).
All that lifting of the wallet and walking will have you working up an appetite in no time, so you’ll need somewhere to fight the hangriness when it hits.
Mariachi De Oro
11417 Maple Ridge Rd, Medina, NY 14103 / (585) 798-8961 / mariachideoromexicangrill.com
After eating here on more than one occasion, I can safely say this is the best Mexican you will ever have. I fully understand that’s a bold statement, but everything from their drinks and guac to the chocolatey, slightly spiced mole sauce and sobes are authentic and full of flavor!
Avanti Pizza & Wood Fired Kitchen
500 Main St, Medina, NY 14103 / (585) 798-1100 / iloveavanti.com
If you’re starving, there’s nothing better than a gargantuan slice from Avanti. I needed a word bigger than giant or huge to use because seriously, one slice is a couple bucks and is pretty much an entire pizza. Hats off for their take on the Buffalo chicken slice. It was delicious!
Drinks at Shirt Factory
115 W Center St, Medina, NY 14103 / (585) 798-2633 / shirtfactorymedina.com
The Shirt Factory opened up inside the same historical building as the Hart Hotel. Curious about the name? After the Hart House closed down in the early 1900s, the property was snatched up by Robert H. Newell, a business guru that owned a growing high-end shirt business. He established his business over 86 years inside the historical building throughout the spacious 3 floors where he made custom fit PJs, shirts, and event undergarments for customers. Some of his clientele included big names like John Jacob Astor, Bob Hope, and Winston Churchill. The newly established version of the Hart House Hotel paid tribute to some of the shirt factory visitors and the buildings history by naming the rooms after some of the famous names that got clothing from the building!
So if you were heading there to get a shirt, don’t. If you’re heading there to have great conversation, food, cocktails, and local to WNY beers, now you’re on the right track!
A couple of local power couples came together to create the sun filled coffee cafe by day turned premium cocktail bar by night known as of the Shirt Factory, and its the perfect addition to this quaint town.
If you’re a sucker for Instagramable drinks and Christmas movie-esque vibes, you’ll love the esthetic and cocktail offerings here. Plus, Scott Robinson, cocktail curator and mixologist for the Shirt Factory, definitely did his research when making the names of his creations.
While the menu has undoubtably changed since 2018, these creative cocktail concoctions I tried on my visit should give you a great idea of what to expect, including “Letters to Santa” made with spiced cranberries and finished with Aperol, a little splash of ginger bitters, bubbly, and Lillet, as well as “Zuzu’s Petals”, a frothy gin based drink polished off with sour lemon, cinnamon, sweet vermouth, and blackberry liqueur
The Shirt Factory has a selection of sandwiches, veggies, and toasts perfect for picking at while you enjoy a drink. On my visit in 2018, I chose to try the Brie and Bacon Toast with, you guessed it, creamy mild brie, crispy chopped up bacon bites, and caramelized onions on thick toasted Italian bread. Delicious!
Drinks at Mile 303
416 Main St, Medina, NY 14103 / (585) 206-1407 / mile303.com
What looks like a bar actually doubles as an art museum, paying tribute to one of the main reasons the village was successful in the past. Medina was a prime stopover point on the Erie Canal, so the unusual seating at Mile 303 is actually a replica of the Erie Canal, adding a touch of art and history to the restaurant.
With a stunning backdrop to admire, this stop is a must before the end of the night. On the menu you’ll find a rotating selection of beer, wine, and amaro. Plus don’t forget the intriguing list of cocktails like “nobody calls me chicken” with mezcal, corn milk cordial, mole bitters, sweet salted chipotle, chili, and cumin antojito fairy dust, and “alright then, future boy” made with ipa beer, genepi, walnut oil, lemon, caramelized birch, torched birch bark.
Boozy Brunch at Shirt Factory
115 W Center St, Medina, NY 14103 / (585) 798-2633 / shirtfactorymedina.com
On Sundays, Shirt Factory offers a boozy brunch from 10am – 2pm, which is nice because you wont have to go far from your overnight accommodations to fill that belly. The menu is seasonal and consists of options like breakfast sandwiches, tacos, toast, salads, and more.
Mead Tasting at 810 Meadworks
113 W Center St, Medina, NY 14103 / (585) 542-9810 / 810meadworks.com
Before you head out of town, visit the meadery (alcohol made with honey) located in the same building at the Shirt Factory and the Hart House Hotel. The owners Bryan & Larissa DeGraw moved back from NJ to WNY for family and to bless us with their meads and tasting bar. They opened 810 Meadworks in 2014 and they’re consistently creating fun flavors like PB&J, Kremsickle, and mead cocktails.
The refreshing Liquid Sunshine with hints of lemon and lavender is a great place to start. Sweet Devotion, another popular bottle, has flavors of black currants, rose, wildflower, and black tea. They suggest pairing it with red meat or pouring a drizzle over ice cream! Grab a few bottles to keep in your home bar for those chilly winter nights when you want a special drink, but you don’t want to leave your house.
If you’re looking to make the most of Day 2 and Day 2 happens to be a Friday or Saturday, try your hand at ax-throwing at 810 Axes in the Beegarten behind 810 Meadworks. The range can be reserved for groups of 4 to 16 people.
A huge thank you to Scott, Alix, and the rest of the team at the Shirt Factory and the beautiful Hart Hotel for making me feel so welcome! As always, all opinions are my own.
This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated.