Resembling the fingers of a hand, eleven linear lakes make up the Finger Lakes region of west central New York State, ranging from 40-mile long Cayuga Lake to 3-mile long Canadice Lake. Varying from small, undeveloped natural preserves ideal for kayaking and relaxation to bustling and boat-filled tourist havens full of summer cottages and recreation, you can find your ideal vacation in the Finger Lakes. The region is situated between the cities of Syracuse and Rochester, running 75 miles from east to west and 50 miles from north to south.
There is no such thing as “out-of-season” in the Finger Lakes. Every season brings reasons to embrace the region’s heritage and beauty—from cascading waterfalls and gorgeous lakes in the warm summer months to crisp temperatures, brilliant colors, and grape harvesting in the fall. A wonderland of winter sports in the snowy season is followed by a mild and verdant spring bursting with color as waterfalls thaw and buds bloom across the region. Its unique climate coupled with its rolling topography mottled with streams and gorges have made the Finger Lakes region famous for being a prime wine-making and tasting destination.
If you’re like most visitors to the Finger Lakes, the first item on your agenda will be wine-tasting. The region’s wine industry is based around Cayuga, Seneca and Keuka lakes, though vineyards can be found throughout the region. Thanks to the moderating influence of the lakes’ waters and the unique texture of the area’s loose, shale-filled soil, grapes like Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc are cultivated to perfection. It is no wonder Finger Lakes Riesling is one of the nation’s most famous varietals. Join a wine tour or follow one of the designated wine trails along the lakes to get a taste of Finger Lakes wine country.
THINGS TO DO
Whether you’re looking to climb cliffs or taste wine, catch a symphony or head to the racetrack, the Finger Lakes has something for everyone. Wine and food are the area’s trademarks, but equally well-renowned are its stunning natural landscapes and opportunities for outdoor adventures. Some of the country’s most astonishing waterfalls are located here, including Taughannock Falls, one of the largest single-drop waterfalls east of the Rocky Mountains. Museums of history, art, and science can be found throughout the region, and the many small towns offer a wide array of shopping and entertainment. The country’s auto racing mecca is nestled alongside Seneca Lake, while hundreds of campgrounds offer the chance to enjoy the quiet of the outdoors.
Experience the diversity of the region’s landscape via the 560-mile Finger Lakes Trail, a haven for outdoor enthusiasts—from visitors looking for a casual stroll to backpackers looking for a strenuous hike. Camp out on the trail for a multi-day hike, or trek the trail end-to-end one section at a time. The gorges of Ithaca and Watkins Glen also offer beautiful hiking trails and feature some of the region’s most awe-inspiring natural scenery. If you prefer the water, set sail on one of the region’s sparkling lakes—cruise, kayak, canoe, or cast your line, as salmon and trout abound in the waters of the Finger Lakes.
WHERE TO STAY
Whether you prefer an upscale resort & spa or a quaint bed & breakfast, are looking for the peace and quiet of a private lakeside cottage or cabin or want the familiarity of a well-known hotel, there’s a place to accommodate your stay in the Finger Lakes. Consider staying in one of the smaller villages in the region, such as Seneca Falls, Hammondsport, Skaneateles or Penn Yan, if you prefer an intimate visit with a Main Street atmosphere. Auburn, Ithaca, Watkins Glen, and Corning are notorious centers for industry, education, and culture and may be more your speed if you are looking for an eclectic experience with city characteristics and the option for nightlife. Regardless of where you choose to spend your nights, most cities, towns, and villages in the region are a short driving distance from one another, so you can experience a little of everything.
Learn more about the region’s history and climate, or check out the Finger Lakes blog for the latest news and happenings.
FingerLakes.com is your complete guide to the entire Finger Lakes region of New York State--from wine trails to hiking trails and fishing to skiing.
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