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The Finger Lakes is a vast region covering about 9,000 square miles, stretching across the State of New York from Syracuse to Rochester in the north and nearly as far south as the Pennsylvania border.
Map: Michael J at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Traveling by car may be the most convenient and efficient way to explore the Finger Lakes. Visitors from many cities in the Northeast can reach the heart of the Finger Lakes region in less than a day's drive, though distances may vary, depending which lake and town you plan to visit. For example, New York City is approximately 295 miles from the center of the Finger Lakes, but if you plan to visit the town of Canadaigua, it is a good bit further. See the chart below for a list of approximate distances and driving times to Ithaca (on the south end of Cayuga Lake) and Geneva (north of Seneca Lake), New York:
As an alternative to driving to the Finger Lakes, you can take an Amtrak train to Rochester or Syracuse, where you can pick up a rental car to explore the region as you make your way to your destination.
Greater Rochester International Airport:
Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, United, and US Airways
Syracuse Hancock International Airport:
Air Canada, Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, United, and US Airways
Elmira Corning Regional Airport:
Delta, US Airways, and Allegiant Air
Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport:
Delta, US Airways, and United
No matter how you get to the Finger Lakes, you will need a car once you get there, if you plan to explore. Keep in mind, the Finger Lakes are narrow, but many are quite long. A sight-seeing trip that runs around an entire lake will add miles and time to your travels. It is generally more efficient to plan your trips so that you visit locations at roughly the same latitude. For example, an east-west trip from Seneca Falls (on Cayuga Lake) to Geneva (on Seneca Lake) is a short drive and a great way to explore both lakes while minimizing travel time between the lakes.