Are Finger Lakes Worth Visiting? 13 Reasons Why We Say YES!

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As a born and raised New Yorker, I have to say that I was always a bit biased against the Finger Lakes. I thought they were just some tourist traps upstate that people would visit to take advantage of the lower prices of wine. 

Boy, was I wrong! After spending a weekend exploring the area and trying out some of the local wineries, I’ve quickly changed my tune! If you’re looking for a fun (and affordable) weekend getaway, the Finger Lakes are definitely worth checking out. 

Are Finger Lakes Worth Visiting? Here’s why…

The Skaneateles Lake

Skaneateles Lake

What better way to begin your trip to the Finger Lakes than visiting one of the finest Lakes itself?

Skaneateles Lake is considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the US and is certainly a must-see attraction on your visit to the Finger Lakes. The Lake is known for its crystal blue sparkling waters and a tranquil vibe with breathtaking scenery.

The splendid scenery and crystal blue waters of the Lake also make it an excellent place for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing.

The village of Skaneateles located on the northern shore of the Lake is a perfect place if you’re looking to completely immerse yourself in the history and culture of the Lake.

There are plenty of lodging options for families with kids to couples on a honeymoon looking for a room with a splendid view of the surroundings.

The town is easily walkable with plenty of restaurants, shops, boutique stores, museums, and cafes that make sure you leave with some fond memories of the place.

So, whether you’re looking for a tranquil place with mesmerizing scenery to spend some romantic time with your soulmate, or looking for a peaceful place to read a book or escape the summer heat to enjoy exciting adventures, Skaneateles Lake is the place to be.

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Enjoy Skiing

Skiing - Are Finger Lakes worth visiting

When most people think of skiing, they imagine heading out west to the Rocky Mountains. However, the Finger Lakes region of New York State is also home to a number of excellent ski resorts.

The area is known for its deep snowfalls, which provide ideal conditions for both downhill and cross-country skiing.

Some of the best places for downhill skiing include the Bristol Mountain Winter Resort with a 1200 feet vertical rise & 138 acres of skiable terrain parks and the Green Peak Mountain Resort with a 952 feet vertical drop & 220 skiable acres.

And if you are into cross-country skiing, there are plenty of places with scenic nature trails like the Hammond Hill State Forest and Letchworth State Park.

For those who are not into skiing, there are plenty of other things you can enjoy like snowshoeing and ice fishing.

Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park

This amazing park is sure to leave you spell bounded with its stunning natural beauty!

Watkins Glen State Park is hands down one of the most beautiful places on the earth and is home to several gorgeous waterfalls, gorges, and hiking trails and offers a stunning view of Seneca Lake.

The park features a total two-mile hike that takes you past 19 waterfalls and up over 800 stone steps. The main highlight of the 778 acres park is the 400-feet deep narrow gorge cut through rock by a stream- the Glen Creek.

There are several small trails leading off of the Gorge Trail, making it a great place to enjoy other activities like picnicking, swimming, and camping in the park with your family.

As a frequent visitor to the park, this park never fails to amaze me no matter how many times I visit, and if you are also visiting the Finger Lakes make sure to add Watkins Glen State Park to your list.

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Seneca Lake Wine Trail

Seneca Lake Wine Trail

Talking about wine what’s the first place that comes to your mind? I am sure it’s Napa Valley, and with its abundance of wineries and stunning scenery no wonder why it shouldn’t be.

But make no mistake, the Finger Lakes have their own share of wine legacy with scenic rolling hills dotted with spectacular wineries and talking about the best of them, the Seneca Lake is home to the largest wine-producing region in the world.

The Seneca Lake Wine Trail features a landscape that is absolutely breathtaking and is located at the backdrop of the gorgeous Seneca Lake with rolling hills and of course the amazing vineyards that serve the finest local-made wine.

The cold weather and high elevation make for ideal conditions to grow juicy grapes, and the wine makes here know how to make use of it.

You don’t just get to sample some of the finest wines in the world but you also get to learn about the process of making wine and the legacy of various vineyards through interactive guided tours.

These guided tours along with the stunning scenery are sure to captivate everyone, whether you’re a casual drinker or a seasoned connoisseur.

So whether you’re looking for breathtaking scenery, delicious wine, a fine dining experience, or a friendly face to chat all day about wine, you’ll find it on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls State Park

The Taughannock Falls State Park is home to the tallest free-falling waterfall (fall of 215 feet) east of the Rockies, and the views from the overlook are simply breathtaking.

The Falls aren’t the only thing that makes this place worth visiting. The gorge trail is perfect for a peaceful hike, and in the spring, the wildflowers are absolutely lovely. Picnicking and fishing are also popular activities, and along the way, you will come across a beautiful stream where you’ll find kids enjoying themselves in the natural pools.

The campsites cabins overlook Cayuga Lake offering spectacular views of the surrounding with a marina, boat launch, and a beach nearby.

The Strong National Museum of Play

Strong national museum of play
Image credit: Image by Sean X Liu on Wikimedia Commons

At Strong National Museum of Play, you can step into a world of make-believe and bring back your days of childhood.

The Strong National Museum of Play is a unique attraction that celebrates the power of play. With interactive exhibits, hands-on activities, and glimpses into the past, the museum offers something for everyone.

For me as an early 90’s kid, the highlight of the museum was the Nintendo World Championships exhibit. It took me back to my childhood when I would spend hours playing Super Mario Bros. on my Nintendo Entertainment System.

Seeing the replica of the championship trophy and wallpaper from the 1990 event brought back some of the fondest memories of my childhood.

And how about playing some classic video games? The museum also features an arcade where you can play all your favorites from yesteryear.

For me as an early 90’s kid, the highlight of the museum was the Nintendo World Championships exhibit. It took me back to my childhood when I would spend hours playing Super Mario Bros. on my Nintendo Entertainment System.

Seeing the replica of the championship trophy and wallpaper from the 1990 event brought back some of the fondest memories of my childhood.

And how about playing some classic video games? The museum also features an arcade where you can play all your favorites from yesteryear.

If you’re an adult a visit to the museum is like taking a trip down memory lane and as for kids, they are sure to create some of the happiest memories that they will cherish as they grow up.

George Eastman Museum

George Eastman
Image credit: Image by Dmadeo on Wikimedia Commons

A must-visit place if you are a film and photography aficionado. The George Eastman Museum is one of the most unique and fascinating museums in the world.

The museum is dedicated to the history of photography and film and features an extensive collection of over 400,000 artifacts, from the earliest cameras and pieces of equipment to the most modern photographs and films.

The fantastic art galleries transport back into the past providing great insights into the history of film and photography. There are a variety of special events and programs throughout the year, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in photography or film.

Cayuga Lake

Cayuga Lake

The Cayuga Lake, like all the other Finger Lakes, is no exception when it comes to offering breathtaking natural scenery, crystal-clear waters, laid-back old village charm, great food, and fine wine.

This beautiful lake is 22 miles long and 436 feet deep and is an excellent place for wildlife spotting and birdwatching, where you can encounter bald eagles, ospreys, and herons, as also some rare plant species.

The surrounding village and small towns with a quaint vibe and colonial-era architecture make for amazing places to explore the history of the region. There are several restaurants, shops, cafes, and gift shops that line the village where you can treat yourself to delicious food or indulge yourself in souvenir shopping.

Harriet Tubman National Historic Park

Harriet Tubman National Historical Park
Image credit: Image by National park Service on Wikimedia Commons

The Harriet Tubman National Historic Park takes in the footsteps of an American Heroine.

This courageous woman who was born into slavery led 70 enslaved people to freedom along the Underground Railroad.

The Park preserves her legacy and pays homage to her courageous spirit by telling her incredible story and offering visitors a glimpse into her life during times of slavery.

The park also features a beautiful hiking trail with plenty of wildlife which makes it perfect to spend a day relaxing in nature with your family.

Keuka Lake

Keuka Lake

The Finger Lakes region is known for its picturesque scenery, and Keuka Lake is no exception. From the rolling hills to the crystal-clear water to its uniquely Y-shaped landscape, Keuka Lake is a photographer’s dream come true.

But it’s not just the pretty views that make Keuka Lake worth visiting – it’s also a great place to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

The lake offers plenty of hiking, camping sites, and kayaking excursions for outdoor enthusiasts, and as for the lake itself, you can enjoy swimming, fishing, or just floating around enjoying the views on a hot summer day.

Keuka Lake is a great place to visit if you’re looking for a relaxing place to spend your summer weekend in the midst of magnificent nature or if you want to take some Insta-worthy photos to brag about your summer adventures to your friends.

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes region, Buttermilks Falls State Park is a hidden gem. The park offers a wide variety of activities for visitors to enjoy, from hiking and picnicking to fishing and camping.

Perhaps the most popular attraction at Buttermilks Falls is the stunning waterfall for which the park is named. The falls are over 100 feet tall and offer a magnificent view of the surrounding countryside.

Visitors can also take advantage of the park’s many miles of trails, which wind through wooded areas and offer stunning views of Seneca Lake.

Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a weekend getaway, Buttermilks Falls State Park is sure to please.

Amazing Wine Tasting Boat Tours

Wine tasting boat tour

The Finger Lakes has become synonymous with world-class wine and wine tours in the US and what’s better than to experience them both by taking an amazing wine-tasting boat tour that takes you through one of most beautiful landscapes in New York?

What makes these boat tours worth it, apart from the diverse palette of wines are the exceptionally knowledgeable and dedicated tour guides that take you through the history of the area and its wine industry through interactive and fun anecdotes.

If your looking for a quintessential Finger Lakes experience, then taking a wine-tasting boat tour should be definitely on your list!

A Hot-Air Ballon Ride over Letchworth State Park

Hot air balloon ride over Letchworth State park

I vividly remember the first time I took a balloon ride over the mesmerizingly beautiful Letchworth State Park. It was early in the morning, and the sun was just starting to peek over the horizon. The colors were absolutely stunning, and I felt like I could reach out and touch the clouds.

As you float over the treetops, you get a bird’s eye view of the majestic waterfall that drops from a height of 600 feet into the Genessee River.

The Park is also home to amazing wildlife and you can also spot some wildlife along the way, including deer and rabbits.

The breathtaking views of the sky and the park below as a sight to behold and this is something that you should definitely experience on your trip to the Finger Lakes.

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About the author
James Williams
James has been travel lover since childhood. Reading and traveling have been spiritual experiences for him. Learning about new places, cultures, and ways of life and sharing his own experiences and learnings has always been his passion.

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