The Ultimate Guide to the Finger Lakes, New York

November 23, 2020

Are you looking for the ultimate guide to visiting the Finger Lakes New York? If so – take a read below!


The Finger Lakes in New York encompass eleven long and narrow oriented lakes that sees swathes of visitors every year. If you’re looking for a guide to the best places in the Finger Lakes, and how to get there and enjoy your trip – then keep reading!

With stunning scenery, endless wineries, and unforgettable experiences on offer, it’s no surprise that the Finger Lakes remains one of the top U.S. vacation destinations.

Finger Lakes, New York

Located close enough to major cities to be a viable getaway spot but far enough to feel like an escape, the Finger Lakes is perhaps the perfect vacation spot. 

However, you may be wondering how to reach the Finger Lakes or what there is to do when you’ve reached them. If this is the case, then you needn’t fear, as we’ve created an ultimate guide to the Finger Lakes that should take the guesswork out of your itinerary.

So, whether you’re after a relaxed weekend away or a week-long blowout at the Finger Lakes, there’s sure to be a wealth of information in this guide that will get you started. 


Things to do in the Finger Lakes New York


If you’re visiting the Finger Lakes, then you may be wondering what activities you should undertake in the area. There are so many things to do in the Finger Lakes New York, you’ll be spoilt for choice!

So, to save you the trouble, we’ve compiled a concise list of things to do in the Finger Lakes so that you don’t have to!

Wine Tasting 

The Finger Lakes is home to over 100 wineries, so it is unsurprising that wine tasting has made it onto our list of things to do. We highly recommend the Keuka Wine Trail and the Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

As these are quite comprehensive and have a great visitor experience record, they’re our top choices if you’re looking to indulge in a sip or two whilst you’re visiting the lakes. 

guide to the Finger Lakes, New York

Ithaca

Though Ithaca has plenty of things to do, we thought we’d compress our list of things to do slightly and cover places that are worth visiting in a broader sense.

Whether you’re looking to visit one of the 150 waterfalls on offer in Ithaca or wish to visit some of the gorgeous restaurants and stores in the surrounding area, you’ll be blown away by this area’s beauty. We highly recommend checking out the Taughannock Waterfall; it’s massive and certainly rivals Niagara Falls for size!

ultimate guide to Finger Lakes, New York

Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen is another one of the best things to do in the Finger Lakes.

Located on the south tip of Seneca Lake, this is a quaint getaway spot that is packed with luscious restaurants and scenic views. There are loads of things to do in Watkins Glen, you’ll have so much to choose from!

Watkins Glen State Park is in Watkins Glen (as you might expect!), and the gorge trail here brings you past no fewer than 19 waterfalls! Be sure to bring your camera along if you choose to head out to Watkins Glen, as we can guarantee you’ll get some truly incredible shots.

ultimate guide to Finger Lakes, New York

Letchworth State Park

Another one of the great things to do in the Finger Lakes is a visit to Letchworth State Park. Another spot in the Finger Lakes that’s laden with waterfalls, you’re sure to find yourself swept away by the beauty and majesty of this area.

If you’re an active person, then this place should be your first port of call, as it’s got some of the best swimming, hiking, and biking opportunities available at the Finger Lakes.

Even if you’re not particularly outdoorsy, the scenery on offer at Letchworth State Park will be enough to win you over, we promise.

guide to Finger Lakes, New York

Hammondsport

Hammondsport is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in the Finger Lakes, and it’s easy to see why. With a handful of amazing wineries, a cracking Museum (Glenn H. Curtiss Museum) and some stunning scenery, it’s no surprise that Hammondsport is frequented by most visitors to the Finger Lakes.

If you’re a fan of Elon Musk, then you absolutely should pay a visit to the aforementioned Glenn H. Curtiss Museum. With some great information regarding his aircraft and aviation work, it’s sure to be an informative afternoon well spent.

If you’re not so much a fan of museums, you’ll find plenty of wonderful restaurants and boutique stores too – so there’s truly something for everyone!

Owego 

Owego is a fantastic place to visit if you’re new to the Finger Lakes. Full of historical small-town charm, Owego feels worlds away from New York’s hustle and bustle.

If you choose to visit Owego, be sure to head to Front Street; lined with unique stores that offer some truly wonderful souvenirs, you’re sure to walk away with a knick knack or two. 

The Rockwell Museum

The Rockwell Museum is a great display of art that is one of the more unique things to do in the Finger Lakes. With particular attention paid to Native American artwork in The Rockwell Museum, it’s an excellent place in which to learn about tradition and culture whilst you’re here.

Anyone under the age of 17 can head into this museum for free, so it’s an excellent cost-saver for families with children. 

Seneca Falls

Seneca Falls is located north of the Finger Lakes and it’s packed full of things to do.

If you want to spend your trip to the Finger Lakes in a town with plenty of entertainment options and food and drink choices, then Seneca Falls is a great idea. Here’s a list of things to do in Seneca Falls!

guide-to-Canandaigua-NY

Harris Hill

If you’re something of an adrenaline junkie, then why not go soaring at Harris Hill? For a fee, visitors can go on smooth glider rides above the region, and it’s an unparalleled way in which to see the area. If you’re not feeling a glide yourself, then you can check the gliders out from a vantage point on the ridgetop!

Find a local spa

There are plenty of spas in the Finger Lakes, so find one that matches your location and budget and book yourself in for a spa day and a couple of relaxing treatments!

Explore Canandaigua

If you’re road tripping around the Finger Lakes, NY – then you won’t want to miss visiting Canandaigua, NY. There are loads of things to do in Canandaigua, NY, and it’s a perfect place to spend a day or a couple of nights!

Canandaigua is right on Canandaigua Lake (one of the Finger Lakes) and it’s a perfect spot for fishing, hiking, kayaking, etc.

Entertainment in the Finger Lakes

Another great thing to do in the Finger Lakes is to check out some of the great entertainment on offer. With casinos, musical performances, and some top-notch performing arts, there’s always something to do in the Finger Lakes for those that love a good night out. 

Del Lago Resort & Casino is one of the top casino resorts in the area – I’d recommend it if you’re around that area.

Women’s Rights National Hall of Fame

Women’s Rights Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls is a really amazing choice for things to do in the Finger Lakes. The Women’s Rights Hall of Fame is located in the heart of Seneca Falls and it’s full of history and important stories from the women’s right movements.

Take a ride on the Canandaigua lady

The Canandaigua lady is a vintage-style boat, that will take you on a gorgeous sail through Canandaigua Lake to enjoy the amazing views. It’s a 19th century replica double-decker paddle wheel boat, and it’s so cute!

Canandaigua

Best places to stay in the Finger Lakes, New York


There are loads of brilliant accommodation options in the Finger Lakes, New York! Here are some of my favorite places to stay in The Finger Lakes, New York – for a variety of budgets.

Radisson Hotel Corning

If you’ve got a bit of spare cash and you’re staying in Corning, then we highly recommend checking out the Radisson Hotel in Corning.

It’s walking distance to many crucial attractions in the area and feels like a luxurious getaway for those that are looking for a true escape at the Finger Lakes. 

Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen

If you’re looking to stay near Watkins Glen, then be sure to investigate the Harbor Hotel. Watkins Glen is quite close to Ithaca and Hammondsport, so it’s an excellent base if you’re looking for a comprehensive trip to the lakes.

Some rooms have excellent views of the lake, but you may have to pay the premium for these ones! However, the Harbor Hotel is an extremely cozy choice for any visitors to the Finger Lakes. 

The Hotel Ithaca

Ithaca is an excellent pick for a central spot to stay in the Finger Lakes, as it’s located close to many of the area’s best attractions. Only a short drive from the best waterfalls, you would be extremely well-placed if you selected Ithaca as your base.

The Hotel Ithaca is a great hotel pick as it’s right in the centre of town and has free parking! Win-win. 

Belva Lockwood Inn

If you’re near the Owega area, then we highly recommend the Belva Lockwood Inn as your base. This is the place to visit if you want to feel at home whilst you’re away.

Though there are only five rooms here, each has a unique decoration, so you’ll feel as though you’re being treated to a new experience each time you book!


Best restaurants in the Finger Lakes, New York


Whilst you’re visiting the Finger Lakes, New York you’ll want to make sure you’re stopping by some delicious places to eat to stay fuelled up! Here are some of my favourite places to eat in the Finger Lakes, New York, to keep your belly full!

The Waterfront Restaurant 

If you’re looking for a front-row seat to the Finger Lakes, then be sure to check out The Waterfront Restaurant. Offering exactly what the name suggests, this restaurant is located on Keuka Lake and offers some truly stunning views. With a varied menu that offers everything from seasonal bites to larger meals, you’re sure to find something here to whet your appetite. 

The Lakeside Tavern and Restaurant 

Another great option on Keuka Lake is the Lakeside Tavern and Restaurant. This place is quite old (it was established in 1936) and therefore is a firm favourite amongst locals and visitors alike. This restaurant has some great terrace space, so it’s a wonderful choice for dining during the summer months. 

F.L.X Table/F.L.X Fry Bird

If you’re looking for options in the Finger Lakes, then we highly recommend checking out F.L.X Table and the adjacent F.L.X Fry Bird. F.L.X Table is definitely a premier experience, and there are only fourteen seats on offer, so you’ll want to book! The food here is based entirely on seasonal local ingredients, so you can expect both a varied and fresh menu. If you’re after something less refined, then F.L.X Fry Bird is an excellent choice. Offering what you might expect based on its name, this place is THE place to visit in the Finger Lakes for fried chicken.

We hope that this ultimate guide to the Finger Lakes has been useful. As you can see, there is a plethora of things to do in the area even if you don’t consider yourself a nature-lover or particularly outdoorsy. So, put on your planning cap and get started on that perfect trip!


How to get to the Finger Lakes, New York


If you’re not sure how to get to the beautiful Finger Lakes, then you needn’t worry, for we’ve compiled the easiest ways to get to the lakes.

Getting to the Finger Lakes by Plane

If you’re looking to get to the Finger Lakes by plane, then you’ll want to fly into Greater Rochester International Airport or Syracuse’s Hancock International Airport. Both are served by most major airlines, so will be the easiest locations from which to reach the lakes. 

Getting to the Finger Lakes by Car

If you’re looking to reach the Finger Lakes region by car, you’ll be set to reach them within a day from most northeastern U.S areas. Seneca Lake is approximately 300 miles from NYC, 400 miles from Boston, 230 miles from Toronto and 275 miles from Philadelphia. So, you’ll want to be near one of these areas if you’re after a manageable drive. 

The New York State Thruway travels across the top of the region from Albany to Rochester, and the I-81 travels north to Syracuse should you be looking to use these routes. 

Getting to the Finger Lakes by Train

Amtrak services the Finger Lakes Region, so you’ll easily be able to get a train that heads to Syracuse and Rochester from large cities such as New York and Boston. 

Getting to the Finger Lakes by Bus

Greyhound Bus Lines service the Finger Lakes, with stations available in Ithaca, Syracuse, Geneva, and Rochester.

Finger Lakes, New York.

Hopefully this guide to the Finger Lakes, New York has been helpful and given you plenty of ideas and inspiration!

There’s so many things to do in Finger Lakes New York, so the best thing to do is get out there and start exploring!

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