Hello from Corning, New York, home of the Corning Museum of Glass and gateway to our favorite region in the state – the Finger Lakes!
We visited the Finger Lakes to speak at a conference last year but didn’t have time to actually get out and see the sights. Now that we’ve had a chance to have a mini Finger Lakes road trip on a return visit, we know what a big mistake that was! The Finger Lakes is one of the most beautiful, friendly, tasty places we’ve ever visited. And now you get to come along and explore with us in the latest episode of The Jet Sisters.
The Finger Lakes region is probably best known for more than 100 wineries and award-winning wines, but there’s so much more to the area. Did you know there are more than 26 state parks, 135 museums, 80 art galleries, 400 registered historic sites, 1,063 waterfalls and gorges, 650 miles of shoreline, 100 waterfront restaurants, 50 farmers markets and 160 golf courses?
Things to Do in the Finger Lakes, NY
From world-class raceways and cutting edge glass technology to breathtaking waterfalls and some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States, the Finger Lakes is wine country and so much more. We’re spilling the tea… errr, the wine, on the Finger Lakes, so grab your glass and get ready.
Where are the Finger Lakes?
The Finger Lakes region is in central New York, covering 9,000 square miles of the Northern Allegheny Plateau and the Ontario Lowlands. There are 11 long, narrow glacier formed lakes in the region. Cayuga and Seneca are two of the deepest lakes in the US. From east to west, the lakes are Otisco, Skaneateles, Owasco, Cayuga, Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Honeoye, Canadice, Hemlock and Conesus. The bad news is it’ll likely take more than one visit to see them all. (And to get the hang of those names!) The good news is the same: it takes more than one visit to see it all. You’ll definitely want to come back.
How to Get to the Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes are within easy driving distance of many major cities on the Eastern Seaboard. New York City, Toronto, Washington DC and Pittsburgh are within a five hour drive.
Flying to the Finger Lakes? Elmira Corning (ELM), Syracuse (SYR), Rochester (ROC) and Ithaca (ITH) are all options to consider depending on where you’re most likely to explore. We stayed within the Keuka and Seneca Lakes area, so Elmira worked great for our purposes. Note there are Amtrak stations in both Syracuse and Rochester. Bus options in the region can be found here.
With so much to see and do in the Finger Lakes – a weekend certainly doesn’t give you enough time to cover all the ground you’d want to. But our Finger Lakes itinerary was designed, much like a wine tasting, to give you a preview and leave you wanting more.
Finger Lakes Weekend Getaway – The Jet Sisters Way
The Finger Lakes is a great place for any size wallet or appetite. If you’re popping vintage bottles all night long or on a glass-at-a-time budget, we’ve got an itinerary for you. Since we’re sisters on either end of the Millennial spectrum, we designed our weekend Finger Lakes itinerary on what we would like to see, do and eat. If you like doing, seeing and eating, this episode from New York is just for you.
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Want to recreate our trip? Just decide on your budget and choose what works for you! We’re happy to help you decide where to splurge and where to save when you visit the Finger Lakes.
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Angie’s itineraries feature upscale accommodations, unique experiential dining opportunities and breathtaking activities. Expect to spend anywhere from $500-$1,500 for an Angie-designed day.
Rachel designs itineraries with budget friendly, photogenic accommodations, fun and tasty eateries and activities that provide excellent value. Expect to spend anywhere from $100-$500 for a Rachel-planned itinerary.
Rachel’s Budget Friendly Finger Lakes Itinerary
Best Finger Lakes Hotels
The Finger Lakes region covers a ton of ground, so finding a central home base that’s close to attractions and restaurants you want to visit is a great idea. We loved peaceful and purple Plum Point Lodge on the shore of Seneca Lake.
TIP: Plum Point’s on-site restaurant Sapalta, named for a tasty variety of plum grown on property, sources 90% of ingredients locally. Don’t sleep on the plum pizza – it’s delightful!
Intimate and serene, the property features a variety of lakefront accommodations, from traditional hotel rooms to a gorgeous farmhouse suite to glamping yurts with all the comforts of home. When you visit the Finger Lakes, it goes without saying that you’ll want to spend time on the water, and Plum Point is an ideal spot to do it. The property has recently been renovated and best of all, there are rooms starting at just $169/night. A steal for these views!
Check pricing and availability at Plum Point Lodge
3482 Plum Point Rd S, Himrod, NY 14842
What to Do in Finger Lakes
Do not come to this area and miss the gorgeous gorges of Watkins Glen State Park! This spectacular hike is one of the most photographed areas in the region and a crown jewel of the Finger Lakes. Within two miles, the stream drops 400 feet, generating 19 breathtaking waterfalls along the way. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls, through spray and past rainbows catching light in every direction. There are places in the gorge that get misty and drizzly, so you might get wet. Wear appropriate shoes and bring something to cover camera gear if necessary.
TIP: The hike from the bottom to the top of the gorge takes about an hour, but if you’re not feeling that uphill battle, you can park at the top, walk down and take a shuttle back to your car.
Admission to the state park is free, but parking is $8. An absolutely bargain for one of the prettiest hikes in New York.
1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
More attractions in the Finger Lakes
- Book tickets to the incredible Corning Museum of Glass
- Check out one of the wine trails
Finger Lakes Restaurants
This is wine country, so the area is filled to the brim with dozens of award-winning wineries — but there’s only one wienery! The FLX Wienery specializes in artisanal, high-quality, locally sourced food, including house made brats, hand-ground burgers, chorizo, sausages and gourmet sides. And did we mention the spiked milkshakes? It’s fast, it’s casual, it’s budget friendly — but my goodness is it a delicious treat and a perfect stop in between winery visits on State Route 14.
The tag line, “High Quality, Low Brow” will make sense once you step inside and see all manner of hot dog jokes emblazoned on T-shirts and swag. It’s a tasty hoot and one of our favorite spots.
5090 State Route 14, Dundee, NY 23188
Total Cost for Rachel’s Finger Lakes Itinerary: $198
Angie’s Upscale Finger Lakes Itinerary
Places to Stay in the Finger Lakes
In a region filled with expansive views of beautiful lakes, the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel on Seneca Lake has one of the best. The AAA Four Diamond property features roomy suites overlooking the lake and the waterfront park. There are spacious balconies perfect for sipping local wine and watching the sun set behind the hills.
Fun fact: Seneca is one of the deepest lakes in the US and about half of the area’s wineries can be found around Seneca and Keuka.
And the location can’t be beat as a headquarters for fun in the area. It’s less than five minutes from Watkins Glen State Park and world famous Watkins Glen International Speedway, and all the wine trails, craft breweries, watersports, boat charters and more. You can book a sunset cruise on “True Love” schooner, used in the film, A Philadelphia Story starring Cary Grant and Katherine Hepburn. It’s probably 60 seconds from your room to the dock!
Check pricing and availability at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel
16 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891
Things to Do in Finger Lakes
In a place like the Finger Lakes, where the topography is so interesting and the lakes so massive, getting way up high for a bird’s eye view is the only way to appreciate the vastness of the region. Y-shaped Keuka Lake is the birthplace of seaplane aviation, so flying in a 1950s Cessna with Finger Lakes Seaplanes is a must-do activity.
Finger Lakes Seaplanes runs multiple tours a day during the season out of Harbor Lights Marina. You can choose a 30-minute experience around Keuka Lake or splash out on a 60-minute jaunt to Seneca or Canandaigua. From the air, you’ll see the adorable small town of Hammondsport, wineries like Heron Hill, green farms, red barns and kids swimming in the lake. It’s fun to splash around on the shore of the lake, but there’s nothing like seeing it from way up high to appreciate it from a different perspective.
13760 W Lake Rd, Hammondsport, NY 14840
Finger Lakes Wineries & Eateries
Along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, you’ll find the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars and its onsite restaurant Veraisons. Menus change seasonally and Executive Chef Orlando Rodriguez factors in sustainability and ingredient proximity into his cuisine. Meats, cheeses and produce come from 30 local farms and they pickle and preserve local fruits and veggies in addition to making condiments, sauces and dressings from scratch.
Fun fact: Veraison is a French word meaning “the moment the grape ripens.”
You can pick a table indoors cathedral ceilings or outside on the terrace overlooking the vineyards. I recommend trying the various Glenora wines while at Veraisons. After all, you can practically see the grapes growing as you dine. It doesn’t get more local than that! My favorite was the Jamming Red.
5435 NY-14, Dundee, NY 14837
Total cost for Angie’s Finger Lakes Itinerary: $750
But wait, there’s more! If you’re searching for more things to do in Finger Lakes, check out:
- Wine tasting at Heron Hill Winery
- A glass class at the Corning Museum of Glass
- Mark Twain’s Octagonal Study in Elmira
- Goat yoga at the Ziegenvine Homestead
Don’t sleep on the Finger Lakes, y’all. This region is underrated and under-appreciated at the moment, but with all the awards and recognition it’s been receiving, it won’t be long before everyone is spending summers on the shores of Keuka, Seneca and the rest. Go now!
WANT TO WIN A LONG WEEKEND IN THE FINGER LAKES?
If you loved our episode in the Finger Lakes, we have amazing news! We’re sending one winner and a guest to do, see and stay in the places we visited during our trip.
The Jet Sisters and Finger Lakes Wine Country are partnering to give one lucky prizewinner and a guest a fun 3-night, 4-day experience in the fab Finger Lakes. The prize includes:
- 2 night stay at Plum Point Lodge
- 1 night stay at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel
- 1 sailing for two with Schooner Excursions aboard the True Love
- 1 flight for two with Finger Lakes Seaplanes
- 2 tickets to The Corning Museum of Glass
- $100 gift certificate for Veraisons Restaurant at the Inn at Glenora
- $25 gift certificate for the FLX Wienery
- $50 gift certificate for Jerlando’s Ristorante & Pizza Co.
- $100 Visa Gift Card
Official terms and conditions are included in the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!
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Thank you to Finger Lakes Wine Country, the Corning Museum of Glass, Heron Hill Winery, Plum Point Lodge, Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, FLX Wienery, Veraisons, Finger Lakes Seaplanes, Watkins Glen CVB and all the partners for supporting independent content creators like us! And thank you, readers, for supporting the partners and travel providers that keep Angie Away and The Jet Sisters a free travel resource. Please note, AngieAway.com contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.