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An Insider’s Guide to the Top 5 Things to do in the Finger Lakes

With its rolling hills, scenic lakes, and reputation for growing and making award-winning wines, the Finger Lakes has serious cred for being a desirable destination. Our region has a lot to offer all throughout the year, but having an inside track makes the experience that more fulfilling. While these are just some of the adventures that make the Finger Lakes an exciting journey to embark on, they’re definitely a good place to begin.

5. Step into Nature

It doesn’t matter whether the sun is shining and the air a balmy 80 degrees, or if the ground is covered in mounds of white, exploring nature in the Finger Lakes should be a top priority when you venture our way. During spring and summer, the 11 lakes that resemble fingers offer all sorts of recreation, including swimming, boating, kayaking, and relief from the heat, while in the colder months, there are winter recreation opportunities for ice fishing, ice skating, and snowmobiling. Regardless of the season, these bodies of water offer unmatched views any time, whether during a simple walk along the shore with your family or pet, from the porch of a quaint bed and breakfast or historically significant hotel, or while sipping a glass of vino from a nearby winery.

Of course, the Finger Lakes abounds in wild spaces and spots that will allow you to breathe deep of the open air. Visit the National Forest or one of the many New York State Parks that calls the region their home, and take a hike, bike ride, go snowshoeing, or just meander.

Meanwhile, a day spent Waterfalling is never a day wasted. These breathtaking forces of nature provide spectators a glimpse of the way our glacially-created topography has manifested into exquisite sights to delight the senses.

4. Hit the Slopes

While there are a variety of activities to pursue in the winter, our region is home to a number of ski and snowboard destinations perfect for snow lovers as well as the uninitiated. Man-made and natural snow allow ski enthusiasts of all skill levels to enjoy the valleys and hills that make up our region’s landscape. Even if skiing isn’t in your repertoire, you can still enjoy the snow, as several resorts offer snow tubing, which people of all ages can enjoy. “Slopes” don’t always have to mean mountain. Trek your way on cross-country skis at any of the number of parks in our region and feel the burn. For those looking for higher speed recreation by way of snowmobile, find a trail and off you go.

3. Cultural & Historical Encounters

Step back in time at the Genesee Country Museum or learn about the Underground Railroad and abolitionist Harriet Tubman, who came to live in the area, when you visit the Finger Lakes. We are a region with a rich historical heritage, where the secrets to glass making can be revealed and where you can spend a day taking in history, art, and photography—all pieces of what make up the area’s cultural makeup. If interested in history that’s a little more spooky, check out our listing of haunted locations in the Finger Lakes region.

2. Celebrate with Us

All year long the Finger Lakes is host to events, concerts, and festivals to partake in, where often you can experience local foods, drink, artisans, and of course, entertainment. From featured events like the GlassFest in Corning’s Gaffer District to the Finger Lakes Wine Festival, you will learn more about the region and get to explore the different communities that make up the area, many quaint and steeped in history. In the fall, we are host to many fun-filled activities that celebrate the season including road side stands filled with local fruits and vegetables and harvest festival are perfect for the entire family, or as the days turn even colder, don’t miss the holiday happenings leading up to New Years. As the turn of the year begins and winter heads into spring, there is always a host of new events everyone is welcome to join.

1. Wine, Spirits & Brews

Come for the views, stay for the wine. Or vice versa - there’s really no chicken or egg scenario here, but when you do visit the Finger Lakes it’s a good idea to spend a day, or two, discovering our lush and expansive wine country. As the largest wine producing region in the state, we offer more than 120 wineries and four main wine trails - and were named the top wine region by a USA Today national reader poll in both 2018 and 2019. What’s even better is you can explore nature while tasting a select vintage. Many of our wineries overlook the lakes that give our region its name, allowing visitors to experience a healthy slice of what we have to offer. Of course, if you’re not a wine drinker, you can still enjoy a good stiff drink or tasty craft brew by spending a day exploring our distilleries, breweries, and cideries or handmade grape juice and other grape-flavored treats. Just like our wineries, if you’re craving scenic views you won’t be left wanting.