Finger Lakes Travel Guide

Are you looking for a destination that will stimulate all of your senses? New York’s Finger Lakes have it all: thirst-quenching wineries, sparkling waterfalls, dramatic gorges, and historical attractions. Let tempt you with some options on how to reconnect with Mother Nature this year.

What to Do in Finger Lakes

finger lakes vacations

Outdoor Recreation

The long, slender lakes of this region are the perfect place to plan a playful summer vacation. Pack your bathing suit and get ready to dive into the refreshing lake, gaze down into rocky gorges, and take a horseback ride through the forest. The peaceful environment is sure to leave you feeling relaxed. Explore the scenery on foot with exciting hiking trails. In the winter, hit the slopes for a family skiing vacation. Once the snow has melted, many people pack their bicycles and cover a lot of scenic ground in one day.

Family Adventures

Once school is out, let your kids burn off all that extra energy with canoeing, hiking, biking, or horseback riding. Swimming under a waterfall or gazing over the edge of a gorge are sure to be natural highlights of your trip. Beyond nature though, there are many opportunities for family adventures. The Seabreeze Amusement Park will have your kids shrieking in delight on roller coasters. For kids who are interested in planes and cars, don’t miss the Wings of Eagles Discovery Center. Add some education to your trip with science attractions including the Rochester Museum and Science Center.

Visiting Finger Lakes is also a great opportunity for your kids to learn where their food comes from. Sign up for farm tours to learn about the agriculture of the region and let your kids get their hands dirty by picking their own produce. Complete the day by cooking a family dinner in the kitchen of your Finger Lakes vacation rental.

finger lakes wine

Fun for Grownups

Some visitors may be surprised to learn about the quality of the Finger Lakes wine region. With over 100 wineries, the Finger Lakes is home to one of the largest acreages of vineyards in the country. This means a lot of tasting, so get ready for a delicious wine tour or two! Take your pick from one of five wine trails, or give them all a try. Everyone loves an excuse for a road trip, so why not let wine encourage you to hit the road? Many family-owned wineries will be happy to invite you in for a taste and maybe even divulge a secret or two about their wine-making process.

Many local cafes and restaurants serve Finger Lakes wine, so if you don’t have the time to visit the wineries, try a glass over dinner. For foodies and those who love to cook, the New York Wine & Culinary Center is a must stop. For tours, classes, and lectures, this is one of the top attractions in the region for people with culinary interests.

Opportunities to Relax

Waking up in peaceful Finger Lakes vacation rentals will set the scene for relaxation, but you may also want to take this a step further with some pampering at the spa. The Finger Lakes region is known for its luxurious spas with scenic views, so go ahead and treat yourself!

Spas are spread across the Finger Lakes region but some of the most popular options include the Finger Lakes Wellness Center & Health Spa, the Waterfalls Spa at Hope Lake Lodge, Isabella Spa, and August Moon Spa. Whether you choose a relaxing massage or an invigorating facial, you will leave the spa feeling rejuvenated.

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What to See in Finger Lakes

finger lakes theater

Arts & Culture

Beyond stunning scenery and delicious local wines, the Finger Lakes region is also home to a variety of opportunities to enjoy arts and culture. Art lovers will want to check out the George Eastman House of Photography, the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, and Memorial Art Gallery. Plan a night on the town at the theater. Options include the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, the Bristol Valley Theater, the Hangar Theatre, and the Kitchen Theatre Company. Music fans will have choices as well including the Smith Opera House and the Cortland Country Music Park.

Historical Treasures

The history of the Finger Lakes region is varied and fascinating. From pioneer settlements to Civil War battles, important moments in history have taken place right in this region of New York. Historic homes and mansions are a favorite of many visitors, including the former home of governor William H. Seward.

Other historical attractions are significant to the Underground Railroad and Civil Rights including the Harriet Tubman House. To learn about Women’s Rights visit the former home of Susan B. Anthony. Aviation is also a central part of the history of the region and can be explored by visiting the Glenn Curtis Museum or the National Soaring Museum.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Finger Lakes

finger lakes shopping

A Range of Shopping Options

You will be glad to have all the extra space of Finger Lakes vacation rentals when you discover the diverse local shopping choices. Antique lovers will be in heaven with shops such as Antique Revival, Cleaveland’s Antiques, and Boerman’s Furniture Farm.

If you prefer fashion to antiques, the Finger Lakes has plenty to offer. Start your shopping at the Waterloo Premium Outlets, where you will find discounts on many recognizable brands. Other local malls include The Shops at Ithaca Mall, Eastview Mall, and Carousel Center. Unique and specialty shops are found in the small towns as well.

Fine Dining in Finger Lakes

While Finger Lakes is better known for its wine, you are sure to discover that many innovative chefs are creating dishes that are perfectly paired with local wines. At the heart of Finger Lakes cuisine is local produce, and chefs prepare seasonal cuisine year-round. Bring the family or make a reservation for a romantic table for two to sample for yourself!

While the cuisine is one star of the dining experience in Finger Lakes, many visitors are also surprised by the stunning scenery. What could be better than a delicious meal, lovely wine, and gorgeous views? From restaurants overlooking lakes and vineyards to a dinner cruise on a steamboat, culinary options are everywhere! You must get out of cozy Finger Lakes vacation rentals to see what local chefs have to offer. Some of the most popular fine-dining restaurants include Doc’s Lakeside Seafood Restaurant, Suzanne Fine Regional Cuisine, and Abigail’s Restaurant.

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When to Visit Finger Lakes

The most popular time of the year for Finger Lakes vacation rentals is the summer months. During the time when kids are off from school, families head for Finger Lakes to enjoy the outdoor activities, amusement parks, and great restaurants. However, there are many reasons to plan trips outside of the summer season as well. Winter is attracting more visitors for skiing, autumn is drawing wine lovers for the harvest, and the fresh spring air lures outdoor enthusiasts to the trails and lakes.

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What to Bring to Finger Lakes

A few key items will help you to fully enjoy your trip to the Finger Lakes. If you plan on enjoying outdoor activities, remember a sturdy pair of shoes, insect repellent, and a rainproof jacket. For summer fun, bring along your swimsuit and sunscreen. None of the restaurants on the Finger Lakes are too formal, but do bring along a couple dressier outfits for the fine dining restaurants or the theater. Bringing some entertainment for the kids might help you to relax as well, so pack along board games, DVDs, and a deck of cards.

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Local Services in Finger Lakes

Visitors will find all the local services they need in the Finger Lakes region. Services are at their peak during the summer months, so if you’re traveling outside of this peak season, check for opening hours on certain shops and restaurants. Banks, post offices, and grocery stores will all meet your basic needs year-round.

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What to Know About Finger Lakes

There are many strategies towards planning an affordable trip to the Finger Lakes. If you plan on enjoying various adventure activities, look into a package deal. Some tour companies lump together the price for different activities, and some even include a guide. Annual events are another fun thing for families to do, so check the local calendar for up-to-date listings.

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Getting to Finger Lakes

Many visitors choose to arrive to the Finger Lakes by car. The freedom of a car will help you to explore the region at your own pace. The Finger Lakes are 215 miles from Albany, 400 miles from Boston, and 300 miles from New York City. If you choose to arrive by air, you can rent a car at the airport. Local airport choices include Rochester International and Syracuse International.

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Why Finger Lakes vacation rentals?

Choosing Finger Lakes vacation rentals means choosing a peaceful retreat. The stunning scenery of the lakes will be enhanced by the extra space and privacy of a vacation rental. If you’re traveling with a large family or group, choosing rentals will undoubtedly save you money over hotels. Don’t leave any room for error in your trip to the Finger Lakes—with vacation rentals you can relax as if you’re at home.

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