Located in upstate New York, the Finger Lakes region boasts eleven pristine lakes, each with its own allure. From wine trails and outdoor adventures to cultural explorations and scenic beauty, there are plenty of things to do in Finger Lakes for every traveler. Join us as we delve into the diverse experiences that make the Finger Lakes an unforgettable destination to explore.
Attend Local Events and Festivals
In the Finger Lakes region, you can immerse yourself in numerous local events and festivals that celebrate art, culture, and history. Don’t miss the annual Finger Lakes Wine Festival which showcases the region’s flourishing wine industry. For art enthusiasts, the Corn Hill Arts Festival features works from talented artists nationwide.
Visit Cultural and Heritage Sites
The Finger Lakes region is home to many significant cultural and heritage sites. Visit the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls or the Glenn H. Curtiss Aviation Museum in Hammondsport for a glimpse into the area’s rich history. Step back in time by exploring the historic Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua. Other historical sites worth visiting include the Harriet Tubman Home, Ganondagan State Historic Site, and the Seward House Museum.
Engage in Traditional Experiences
Discover the region’s culture by delving into traditional experiences. Sample exquisite wines at world-class wineries and vineyards spread across the Finger Lakes Wine Country. The Corning Museum of Glass offers interactive glass-making workshops where you can create your own masterpiece and learn about the area’s glassmaking history. Visit the Rockwell Museum, which exhibits American art with a focus on the works by Native American artists, providing a deeper insight into the region’s cultural influences.
Things to do in Finger Lakes: Outdoor and Nature Activities
Nature Trails and Hiking
There are plenty of things to do in Finger Lakes for outdoor and nature enthusiasts. There are numerous trails and parks for you to explore, such as Watkins Glen State Park and Letchworth State Park. Get your hiking boots on and admire the scenic landscapes and mesmerizing waterfalls along the famous Gorge Trail. Venture through the lush forests and see the incredible cascading waterfalls that make this region a must-visit for nature lovers.
In addition to hiking, the Finger Lakes region boasts several beautiful lakes, such as Seneca Lake, where you can indulge in various water activities. Whether you prefer kayaking, paddle boarding, or simply taking a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters, there’s something for everyone. You can also take a relaxing boat tour, or try your hand at fishing in one of the many well-stocked lakes in the area.
If you’re looking for adventurous things to do in Finger Lakes, there are plenty of adventure sports to satisfy your outdoor cravings. From mountain biking and rock climbing to zip-lining and whitewater rafting, there’s no shortage of thrilling experiences waiting for you. So go ahead, embrace your adventurous side and make the most of the stunning landscapes and exciting activities that the Finger Lakes have to offer.
Relaxation and Wellness
Spas and Wellness Centers
The Finger Lakes region offers a variety of spas and wellness centers to rejuvenate your body and mind. You can indulge in soothing massages, refreshing facials, and revitalizing treatments. Some popular spa destinations include Mirbeau Inn & Spa, Rasa Spa, and August Moon Spa. These centers also offer wellness workshops and yoga classes to enhance your overall well-being.
Beaches and Pools
Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters of Finger Lakes’ beaches and public pools. For a relaxing beach experience, visit the sandy shores of Kershaw Park on Canandaigua Lake or Taughannock Falls State Park on Cayuga Lake. Several public pools are also available throughout the region, such as Myers Park in Lansing. Remember to check local hours and guidelines for a stress-free visit.
Parks and Gardens
The Finger Lakes is home to various parks and enchanting gardens, providing a serene escape for you to unwind. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature at the Cornell Botanic Gardens, featuring diverse plant collections and picturesque walking trails. Another must-visit is the magnificent Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park, where you can admire a 19th-century Victorian mansion surrounded by lush gardens. For a peaceful stroll or a scenic picnic, consider visiting local parks like Watkins Glen State Park or Fillmore Glen State Park.
Food and Culinary Activities
The Finger Lakes region offers an array of food and culinary experiences you don’t want to miss. Indulge in local cuisine, flex your cooking skills, and explore markets providing homegrown delights.
Local Cuisine Tasting
One of the best things to do in Finger Lakes is to immerse yourself in the food scene by trying the diverse local cuisine. You will find an array of restaurants, farm-to-table eateries, and food trucks offering mouthwatering dishes. The region is famous for its vineyards and wineries, so make sure to taste the wines and enjoy pairings with food. You can also follow the Cheese Trail, where you’ll find artisanal cheese makers offering irresistible samples.
Put your cooking skills to the test by attending one of many fantastic cooking classes available in the Finger Lakes region. You’ll find classes that focus on farm-to-table cuisine or cooking with wine. It’s an excellent opportunity to learn new techniques, use local ingredients, and further enjoy your experience in the region. Several wineries, farms, and restaurants offer cooking workshops, making it easy to find one that suits your interests.
Visit Local Markets
Discover the bounty of the Finger Lakes by visiting local markets that showcase fresh produce, artisanal products, and crafts. You’ll find a variety of farmers’ markets, specialty food stores, and farm stands overflowing with fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and more. Don’t forget to visit the region’s renowned wineries, breweries, and cideries to sample their unique beverages. Your palate will thank you for the tour of Finger Lakes’ flavors.
Entertainment and Nightlife
Live Shows and Performances
If you’re looking for live shows and performances, the Finger Lakes region has plenty to offer. Keep an eye on local event calendars and check out the Smith Opera House, a historic venue in Geneva, where you can catch concerts, plays, and other live shows. If you enjoy live music, be sure to visit the wineries and breweries that frequently host local musicians.
Bars and Nightclubs
As for bars and nightclubs, the Finger Lakes has a vibrant scene to explore. Head to Ithaca, where you’ll find a lively college town vibe, with numerous bars and nightclubs offering a range of music genres, from rock to electronic. Local favorites include The Range, a popular spot that features live performances, and Lot 10, a stylish two-level venue hosting live acts and local DJs. Smaller towns around the region also offer bars and pubs with a distinct charm, where you can grab a drink and engage in conversations with the locals.
Evening Cruises or Tours
To enjoy the Finger Lakes region from a different perspective, consider booking an evening boat cruise. Companies such as Seneca Lake Reel Tours offer relaxing sunset cruises, where you can appreciate the beauty of the lakes while sipping on local wines. For a more interactive experience, look for dinner cruises or events aboard the boats that let you indulge in the area’s culinary scene while taking in the spectacular views.
Shopping and Souvenirs
Local Artisan Shops
While visiting the Finger Lakes region, make sure to stop by some local artisan shops to find unique, handmade items that reflect the area’s rich culture and history. Many of these shops offer beautiful pottery, glass, woodworking, and other crafts, giving you the opportunity to support local artisans while finding distinctive souvenirs.
Popular Shopping Districts
For a more extensive shopping experience, you’ll find several shopping districts throughout the Finger Lakes area. Consider a trip to the Waterloo Premium Outlets for a variety of brand-name stores at discounted prices. If you prefer a more upscale shopping experience, head to The Windmill Farm & Craft Market. Here, you’ll find a collection of specialty shops selling everything from clothing and accessories to local wines and gourmet foods.
As you explore the region, keep an eye out for speciality museums and art galleries that showcase the diverse talents of local artists. For instance, the Corning Museum of Glass offers a rich insight into the history of glassmaking and even allows you to create your own glass souvenir. Additionally, the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art houses an impressive collection of artwork from various time periods and cultures. Make sure to visit these unique spots for remarkable shopping experiences that you can’t find anywhere else.
Children’s Museums and Attractions
There are plenty of family-friendly things to do in Finger Lakes. The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester is a must-visit destination for families, home to the world’s largest collection of toys, dolls, and games. Your kids will love exploring the interactive exhibits and play stations, as well as taking a trip down memory lane in the Toy Hall of Fame.
Another attraction that will excite both kids and adults is Seabreeze Amusement Park. Located near Lake Ontario, this classic park offers a mix of thrilling rides, water attractions, and games for all ages. Plus, it’s a great spot to take a break and enjoy some delicious park food between rides.
Parks and Play Areas
Nature lovers will be pleased with the Finger Lakes region’s abundant selection of parks. One of the most beautiful parks to explore is Watkins Glen State Park, which boasts picturesque waterfalls and easy hiking trails suitable for the whole family.
For a more leisurely outdoor experience, head to one of the many lakeside beaches, such as Keuka Lake State Park, where you can swim, picnic and soak up the scenic beauty of the region.
The Finger Lakes region also hosts a variety of interactive workshops for families to enjoy. There are opportunities to learn new crafts, including glassblowing at Corning Museum of Glass. These hands-on experiences offer fun ways to create memorable souvenirs while spending quality time with your loved ones.
While visiting the Finger Lakes, it’s essential to be aware of local customs and etiquette to make your trip more enjoyable. Always be polite and respectful to locals. Tipping is appreciated in restaurants, with an average of 15-20% of the bill.
Safety should be your priority during your trip. Public transportation, such as buses, is generally safe, but keep an eye on your belongings to avoid theft. Make sure to follow any guidelines provided by local authorities and attractions.
The Finger Lakes region offers a range of activities and attractions at various price points. To manage your budget effectively, make a list of your must-visit places and allocate funds accordingly. Dining and shopping can range from budget-friendly to high-end options; hence, plan your expenses wisely.