The Finger Lakes Region of New York State is a 9,000 square mile, four-season playground, set against a backdrop of Mother Nature’s best work: from waterfalls and gorges to rolling hills to miles of spectacular shoreline around 11 glacial lakes and one Great Lake.
As part of our New England road trip, we included a few days exploring the Finger Lakes Region in Upstate New York. We had a wonderful time and would definitely like to return to this area in the future.
Below is a list of 14 ideas for places to check out if you are thinking of visiting the area.
1. WATKINS GLEN STATE PARK
The small town of Watkins Glen is found in Upstate New York in the Finger Lakes Region. It lies at the southern tip of Senaca Lake, one of the larger ‘Finger Lakes’. Watkins Glen is not big, it has a permanent population of only 2000 and is made up primarily of one street. Yet it is a draw for tourists, due to its location in the popular Finger Lakes region and due to the Watkins Glen Internation race track, which regularly hosts NASCAR events.
One of the biggest draws to the town is the renowned Watkins Glen State Park, one of the most remarkable State Parks in the country. This is a relatively small park, but what makes it special are the 19 waterfalls in the glen that runs through the Park. They are close together, so walking upstream about 2-miles and you will see them all.
|Address:||1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY|
Watkins Glenn State Park is open every day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the fall, winter and spring. Memorial The park is open everyday from dawn to dusk. The gorge trail access is seasonable and closes for the winter months.
Entry to the Park is free but there is a $10.00 fee for parking
2. WINE TOUR
The Finger Lakes region is known for its award-winning wines. There are numerous vineyards and wineries that cover the hills that surround the lakes, taking advantage of the near perfect conditions for making excellent wine.
You can plan your own wine trail to visit the wineries or take an organized wine tour. Which ever way you decide to visit you are sure to have an amazing experience.
3. ROBERT TREMAN STATE PARK
Robert H. Treman State Park is an area of wild beauty, with the rugged gorge called Enfield Glen as its scenic highlight. Winding trails follow the gorge past 12 waterfalls, including the 115-foot Lucifer Falls, to where visitors can see a mile-and-a-half down the wooded gorge as it winds its way to the lower park.
|Address:||105 Enfield Falls Rd. Ithaca, NY|
|Telephone:||T: (607) 273-3440|
Park is open year round, dawn to dusk.
Vehicle entry fees collected from April to mid November. Car: $9
4. CORNING MUSEUM OF GLASS
The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York is one of the largest museums in the world dedicated to the art of glass making and design. As well as galleries of glass art there are also live demonstrations of glass blowing and classes where you can make your own glass.
|Address:||1 Museum Way, Corning, NY 14830|
|Telephone:||T: (607) 937-5371|
Adults $20, College students, age 62+, AAA, and military $17; Aged 17 & under – Free
You can get combo tickets with the Rockwell Museum that will save you money if you plan to visit both
5. THE ROCKWELL MUSEUM
The Rockwell Museum (nothing to do with Norman) in Corning, New York is an interesting and diverse collection gifted by local business owners Bob and Hertha Rockwell. The Rockwells had keen eyes for art and exquisite taste. They owned a department store in the area and used their store as a venue to display their remarkable collection of American art and artefacts, Carder Steuben glass, classic firearms, and antique toys. Today, the Rockwell Museum is a centre for the local community and has achieved prestigious status as a Smithsonian affiliate.
|Address:||111 Cedar St, Corning, NY 14830|
|Telephone:||T: (607) 937-5386|
The Rockwell is open every day 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the fall, winter and spring. Memorial Day through Labor Day (Summer), hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Museum is closed January 1, Thanksgiving Day, December 24 and 25.
$11.50 Adults (18-61)$10.50 62+, $10.50 AAA and Military*, $5.50 Students (with ID), Kids & Teens (17 & Under). You can get combo tickets with the Corning Museum of Glass that will save you money if you plan to visit both
6. PLAY ON THE WATER
Whether you are jumping in, gliding along, or sitting lakeside, enjoying the water is a Finger Lakes must! As to how you can enjoy the waters of the Finger Lakes? That is up to you!
You can opt for human-powered activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, and canoeing. Add a motor into the mix and rent a boat at different spots around the lake. Looking for a bit more pampering? Enjoy a lake cruise on a paddleboat or sail along the lakes, instead.
7. TAUGHANNOCK FALLS STATE PARK
Taughannock Falls State Park is located on Cayuga Lake, 10 miles north of Ithaca, in New York’s Finger Lakes Region. From the parking lot, it is a short and easy 3/4 mile walk along the Taughannock Creek Gorge to the falls which plunge 215 feet from the top of the gorge. This waterfall is 33 feet taller than Niagara Falls and is the tallest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountaions
|Address:||1740 Taughannock Blvd. Trumansburg, NY|
|Telephone:||T: (607) 937-5386|
Park is open year-round from dawn to dusk.
$9 per vehicle
8. WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL
Watkins Glen International, nicknamed “The Glen”, is an automobile race track located in the town of Dix just southwest of the village of Watkins Glen, New York, at the southern tip of Seneca Lake. It was long known around the world as the home of the Formula One United States Grand Prix, which it hosted for twenty consecutive years (1961–1980), but the site has also been home to road racing of nearly every class, including the World Sportscar Championship, Trans-Am, Can-Am, NASCAR Cup Series, the International Motor Sports Association and the IndyCar Series.
9. WINGS OF EAGLES DISCOVERY CENTRE
The Wings of Eagles Discovery Centre in Horseheads, New York is a small aerospace museum and education centre. If you love aircraft and science then this is a great place to spend and hours two. It is family-friendly, especially if your children are a little older.
|Address:||339 Daniel Zenker Dr, Horseheads, NY|
|Telephone:||T: (607) 358-4247|
Summer Hours: From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Open Thurs-Fri-Sat-Sun 10:00am-3:00pm
Adult – $7.00
10. NATIONAL SOARING MUSEUM
Located atop Harris Hill in Elmira, NY, the soaring museum is open year ‘round. Here you can explore the history of soaring where soaring in America began, with one of the largest collections of historical and vintage gliders and sailplanes in the world.
In addition to the museum, there is a large playground, amusement park, swimming pool and picnic area on the Harris Hill campus, including the Harris Hill Soaring Corporation Flight Center, where visitors can purchase a 20-minute sailplane flight over the Chemung Valley. Flights are available during the spring, summer and fall, weather permitting.
The museum itself houses not only a significant collection of sailplanes but also presents a vast array of soaring trophies, memorabilia, photography and special exhibits.
|Address:||51 Soaring Hill Dr, Elmira, NY|
|Telephone:||T: (607) 734-3128|
Open 7-days a week. May 1-October 31 open 10:00 am – 5:00 pm / November 1-April 30 open 10:00 am – 4:00 pm.
Adult – $9.00
11. SHEQUAGA FALLS IN MONTOUR, NY
Montour Falls is a quaint community located a few minutes drive from the popular destination of Watkins Glen. While it might be easy to overlook, that would be a big mistake if you love New York’s waterfalls.
In fact, Montour Falls might be home to the most impressive roadside waterfall in the Finger Lakes: Shequaga Falls.
Shequaga Falls (pronounced She-qua-ga) is a 165-foot tall waterfall located right in the heart of Montour Falls, New York. In fact, you can even see it while driving down Main Street as it towers over this otherwise flat community.
The waterfall is also known as Montour Falls, which is likely where the town got its name instead of the other way around. Today, it is now known by a name in the Seneca language which means “Tumbling Waters.”
12. NEWFIELD COVERED BRIDGE – NEWFIELD, NEW YORK
The Newfield Covered Bridge was built in 1851-1853 at a total cost of $800. The bridge crosses the West branch of the Cayuga Inlet and was dedicated to Elijah Moore, who was the son of an early settler. It’s 115 feet long and 16 feet wide. The bridge was covered to protect it from natural elements because it’s cheaper to replace the roof than to rebuild a new bridge every 20 years.
The Newfield Bridge is the longest covered bridge in New York State still in daily use.
If you are in the Finger Lakes Region near Ithaca then you might want to check out Gourdlandia. This is the storefront and workshop of Graham Ottoson, a former mid-wife turned gourd artist. She takes gourds grown in her garden, dries them out and turns them into beautifully carved lamps, bowls and other gourd oddities.
14. WOMEN’S RIGHTS NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK, SENECA FALLS
In July 1848 a group of 300 people gathered in the city of Seneca Falls, New York for a convention on women’s rights. At the end of this convention 100 people; 68 women and 32 men signed the Declaration of Sentiments which laid out how society, in particular men, subjugated women and what the reformists would like to see change. Unfortunately, it took another 70 years for American women to get suffrage with the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 2020. This Historical Park celebrates the convention and its role in shaping the women’s rights movement in America
Best time to visit Finger Lakes
The best time to visit the Finger Lakes region is from May to September, when there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the area’s outdoor pursuits. Expect higher accommodation rates in the peak months of June to August and longer lines at attractions and wineries.
Where to stay
Seneca Falls – Geneva area
1. GENEVA ON THE LAKE – BOUTIQUE HOTEL
2. BARRISTERS BED & BREAKFAST
3. THE GRIDLEY INN
The Gridley Inn – Right in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region. Our charming Victorian home can be the perfect setting for your special occasion. We are minutes away from Hobart William Smith College and the New York Chiropractic College, del Lago Resort and Casino, the Women’s Rights Museum and the Cayuga and Seneca Lakes Wine Trails, as well as the Waterloo Premium Outlets. Choose The Gridley Inn for your Bridal Shower, Wedding, Baby Shower, Child Birthday Party, Girl’s Weekend, Family Reunions, please contact us for details and availability.
Ithaca – Trumansburg Area
1. THE INN AT TAUGHANNOCK FALLS
2. WILLIAM HENRY MILLER INN
3. THE INN AT GOTHIC EVES
Set within the picturesque countryside of Trumansburg, The Inn at Gothic Eves offers comfortable accommodation and a full range of facilities, including free Wi-Fi and a lift. It is ideally positioned for those wanting to visit local attractions. There are 8 charming rooms at the bed & breakfast, each providing all the necessities to ensure a comfortable stay. Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport is less than a 25-minute drive from The Inn at Gothic Eves. It is also a short drive from Ithaca and Watkins Glen.
Where to stay near Corning / Elmira area
1. THE BLACK SHEEP INN AND SPA
2. TAYLOR FARM BED & BREAKFAST
3. GAFFER INN
Lodging at the Gaffer Inn (formerly named The Inn at the Gaffer Grille), opened in 2010, offers charming, boutique accommodations featuring the city’s history of glass creation and design. The Inn is located on historical Market Street in downtown Corning, New York. Corning’s Gaffer District is a unique area with many shops, the widely known Corning Museum of Glass and The Rockwell Museum, along with many other activities. Located above Burgers and Beer of Corning, you are only a few steps away from a relaxing meal or social gathering.
The Inn rooms include many features and amenities to maximize relaxation and comfort during your stay. In each room you will find new wall to wall carpet throughout, pillow-top mattress, plush leather couch in front of a fireplace, desk, smart TV’s, wet bar and small dining area.