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A Guide To The Finger Lakes, New York’s All Season Retreat

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The Finger Lakes are a group of 11 lakes in upstate New York. The lakes received their name from their unusual shape, which look like outstretch fingers. This region has so much to offer visitors year round. The Finger Lakes region is full of rich American history and culture. Read on to plan your next adventure in the Finger Lakes, New York’s all season retreat. 

A Guide To The Finger Lakes Region in Upstate New York

When to Go to the Finger Lakes Region

This region in upstate New York is a great place to come in every season. The spring, summer and early fall bring many opportunities for outdoor activities. Visitors to the region enjoy hiking, biking, and water sports at the many state parks and open spaces in this expansive 9,000 square mile area. In the autumn, the harvest time brings apples, pumpkins, and cider, plus amazing fall foliage. During the winter months, the region is a favorite for skiers and other winter sports, plus there are many holiday festivals occurring everywhere. 

How to Get To the Finger Lakes Region

By Air: The best airports to access this region are in Rochester and Syracuse. From either city you have convenient access to Amtrak, which has a route that roughly follows the New York Thruway from Albany to Buffalo and has several stops in the region.

By Car: Most visitors prefer to make the drive to the region to enjoy the scenery along the way. The drive from New York City takes approximately five hours and is mostly highway driving. To get to the Finger Lakes from New York City: Take Interstate 78 West to New Jersey 139 West. Then continue to Interstate 80 West to Interstate 81 North to Exit 8 for NY 26. From there you navigate smaller New York State Roads 79 and 89 to NY 96A North towards Sampson State Park

All About Each Finger Lakes Region

Seneca Falls, Northeast Region

Things to Do:

Seneca Falls is the place where the first official women’s convention, the Seneca Falls Convention, was held in 1848. Today,  there are several sites commemorating this event such as the National Women’s Hall of Fame, the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, and the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a national landmark. About 30 minutes east in Auburn, you will find the Harriet Tubman Home and National Historic Park. 

Where to Stay:

The area in and around Seneca Falls has many great hotels and quaint bed and breakfasts. The standouts include The Gould Hotel Seneca Falls, a modern boutique hotel, and the lovely circa 1855 Laura Hubbell House Bed & Breakfast.

Canandaigua and Geneva, Northwest Region

Things to Do:

Canandaigua is a beautiful and scenic lakefront town. City Pier is an active boat dock and prime tourist location. Be sure to explore the breathtaking Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park, a 50 acre estate which features one of America’s best preserved Victorian era homes. 

In the historic town of Geneva, you can get some information at the Finger Lakes Welcome Center to plan your itinerary. While in Geneva, guests can enjoy a four course meal at FLX Table, or a seasonal dish at Port’s Café.

Where to Stay:

If you want to pretend you are in a fairytale, you can lodge at the magnificent Belhurst Castle & Winery, an 1889 castle that has a spa and salon, two restaurants, plus much more. Other lodging options include Geneva on the Lake Boutique Resort Hotel, located on 10 acres overlooking Seneca Lake. 

Aurora, East Region

Things to Do:

Aurora is located on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake. This region contains the famous vineyards in New York State. Guests can take a tour of the wineries around the lake with Water To Wine Tours, where guests explore via small boats that depart from Long Point State Park dock. About an hour away, guests can explore nature at Robert Treman State Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park, and Taughannock Falls State Park

Where to Stay:

The Inns of Aurora has spectacular accommodations, a spa, and many activities and events at this hotel steeped in history. In East Aurora, the Roycroft Inn has old world charm and free breakfast. 

Watkins Glen & Hammondsport

Things to Do:

Watkin’s Glen is located on Seneca Lake’s south shore. This area has a number of wineries and breweries. This village is adjacent to the beautiful Watkins Glen State Park, which is a must do in the area. 

Hammondsport is at the south end of Keuka Lake. It is home to the Finger Lakes’ oldest winery, Pleasant Valley Wine Company, which dates back to 1860. Other sites of note here include the Finger Lakes Boating Museum, and the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, which showcases aviation and motorcycle history. 

Where to Stay:

If you wish to stay in a beautiful hotel suite, Snug Harbor has year round all suite options along with local curated wines. The Pleasant Valley Inn has peaceful lodging in a historic residence, along with a fine dining restaurant.


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