When friends visit from out of town, they often comment on the great restaurants we have right here in Binghamton and surrounding towns and villages. Binghamton area restaurants, especially the locally owned ones, do it right.

But sometimes it's nice to take in something new a short drive away.  Even a short drive away for an afternoon or evening can seem like a mini vacation and when you pair that with good cuisine, you have the perfect little getaway experience.

Here are 5 favorite restaurants that are an hour away or less from Binghamton city limits. Some of these may be new to you and others you may have heard of or even tried yourself:

  1. The Boatyard Grill -  My trainer at the gym has repeatedly told me how good this place is. He would often say it was one of his favorites when he was attending Ithaca College and I can see why. First, the setting is amazing -- right on Cayuga Lake. The steaks are hand cut, all the produce is as fresh as can be and the seafood is some of the freshest I've experienced.
  2. Brooks House of Bar-B-Q - One of my favorite stops on my way to the Baseball Hall of Fame or visiting my sister in Albany. It is the best bbq this side of Texas. The presentation is homestyle and friendly all the way and this place really packs them in. This has to be my favorite chicken.  If you don't want to wait for a table, their takeout window is super quick.
  3. The Old Mill -- My family has been going to the Old Mill in Mt. Upton since I was a little boy. Do dinner at the Old Mill and I promise you will not leave hungry. Everyone receives a crock of cheese with crackers, an extensive fresh relish tray, and home baked breads and rolls. The atmosphere is super relaxing and if you sit by the window, you can see the ducks floating by. A family friendly choice.
  4. Blue Mingo Grill - If you really need an excuse to visit Cooperstown, this would be it. Everything is prepared fresh and so pleasing on the eyes. Baseball lovers and waterfront scenery seekers alike will love this restaurant that features everything from steaks, chops, and fresh seafood -- all grilled to perfection.
  5. The Cellar Restaurant -- Owego has a great choice for casual dining and some nice daily specials that are always exciting and delicious. This is one of my favorite places close by to sit outside on the scenic deck that sits on the river. They just added an extensive happy hour with great drink and appetizer specials.

So what are your favorite restaurants that are a close drive away?  Make sure you share your choices in the comments section below. Bon appetit!