The Finger Lakes are a must-visit destination for every outdoor enthusiast. Do you love hiking, or boating and fishing, or biking? The scenic outdoor beauty in the state parks will have you glued in jaw-dropping stares.
The Watkins Glen State Park has 19 waterfalls in the gorge trail, a must-see for hikers. See if you can experience the finger lakes when you visit the 11 water bodies in upstate New York. The Finger Lakes are only a short drive from the major cities of Toronto, New York City, Pittsburg, Washington DC, and Baltimore. Read along to see how to sample the destinations for all seasons.
1. Cliff Driving
One of the best ways to experience the Finger Lakes is by driving. You can take the Keuka Lake on the West Side, which has three roads: The Lower, Middle, and South Pultney Road. The Middle Road is a shorter road with spectacular views of Lake Keuka.
These roads also feature most winery, brewery, and distillery locations. Try driving the Hammondsport to Watkins Glen, called Route 23. It’s a winding, hilly farm route with an endless road that takes your eyes as far as Waneta Lake. The sunset views are awesome as you drive through Tyrone to get on to Route 23.
Another scenic drive is from East Seneca Lake towards Geneva, New York, on Route 414. The drive will take you past Hector Falls and many wineries, distilleries, and breweries. The ride begins with lush trees during summer and fall, with views of the lake from any eatery deck you stop at.
Drive along Route 21 to the Carolabarb Park. Enjoy taking in the views of Canandaigua Lake as you head to Naples, New York. You can grab a sandwich in any of the nearby cafes as you drive along Skaneateles Lake on Route 41A toward Carpenter Falls.
Beware of accidents while kayaking on the Skaneateles lakeshore. While your guide may do their best to keep you safe, accidents can happen. You could find yourself seeking a hospital for bone repair instead of enjoying your hike on the ridge trail.
2. Summer Camp
Your family can participate in numerous fun activities at the local summer camp. The New York Kitchen in Canandaigua can teach you a thing or two about new recipes and wines. They have classes during the summer for couples, adults, and cooking newbies.
Bring your children to experience cooking away from home. With a professional children’s trainer, they will learn the basics of kitchen hygiene, preparing food, and setting a dinner table. The kids’ junior chef program is filled with fun-theme recipes and cooking lessons to help them experience the finger lakes.
Learn art at the Pat Rini Rohrer Gallery. The classes are great for all categories of art enthusiasts. You’ll learn fundamentals of oil painting, mixed media, and acrylic painting, among other lessons with local artists.
Book your youth at the 4-H camp in Bristol Hills. They will be guided by positive role models and given fun outdoor experiences that promote positive social interaction, building skills, and environmental awareness. The camps include day and resident camps.
3. Bar Hopping
Wind down your day trips with gorgeous views, cold drinks, and a live music band as you experience the Finger Lakes nightlife. There are many places to choose from, such as rooftop bars and outdoor patios to spice your bar-hopping walk. The Two Goats Brewing, a restored barn from the 1800s, overlooks Seneca Lake. It offers live music four nights a week during the summer. The sunsets are pure magic, while expansive views can keep you engaged for hours, feeling like you’re atop a tree house.
Linden Street in downtown Geneva, New York, has various nightlife options. It has great eatery joints, such as Fry Bird and F.L.X Table. Sample their artisanal chicken dishes and sip their cocktails or wines.
The Genesee Brew House in Rochester, New York, is known for its brews and views. The beer destination is more than a century old and is one of the oldest breweries in the nation. Enjoy their Genny Light on the rooftop patio as you enjoy the colorful sunset. Avoid drunk driving; you may be slapped with costly fines and bail.
4. Scenic Drive
You want to experience the finger lakes and their beauty without considering how to reach various destinations. Some roads can be too busy, which is an ordeal for someone without expert driving skills. Hire professional automotive services to take care of this need.
You’re in good hands when you hire a professional driver from the locality. They are best versed with the routes and know local highway requirements. These drivers know the routes to take so that you enjoy scenic views and shortcuts that make the experience more personal.
If you have highway phobia, a professional driver will take away your fears by handling the driving. They’ll easily manage long-distance road trips and reduce your likelihood of getting into accidents. Their experience helps them manage driving distractions such as mobile phone calls and eating while driving.
A professional driver is cost-effective for your overall trip. You will save more money with a professional automotive service than with a cab. This way, you get to see all your desired destinations affordably.
5. Dog Walking
Your dog can accompany you as you experience the finger lakes; they make lovely hiking companions. Dogs are naturally adventurous and curious and will add joy to your hiking experience. There are outdoor trails for you and your canine friends on and off-leash.
Try the Wesley Hill Preserve, a 5.6-mile trail winding down several gullies and mature forests. This is a perfect trail for your dog to explore. Keep your dog under control all throughout your hike here. Obey the instructions given when entering the facility for an enjoyable trip.
Another spot is Morgan Hill, where your dog can explore without a leash. There are 22 miles of foot trail and public forest roads. The trails cross streams, go through forests and extend to another 4,600-mile trail over seven states. Of course, you’ll not walk that far!
The Erwin Wildlife Management Area has over 2,490 acres and 10 miles of trails. Your dogs will freely roam the gullies and jump over the small ponds. You’ll be required to keep your dog under control while in the facility. Ensure that your dog vaccines are up-to-date.
Walk your dog in the Sampson State Park. The three-and-a-half-mile lake trail is along the shores of Seneca Lake. The access road between Willard and the state park follows the deep lake. Keep your dog on a leash throughout.
Your trip is incomplete until you experience the Finger Lakes fishing adventure. Each of the finger lakes is well-stocked with a variety of fish. Become an angler for a day and enjoy the freshly cooked fish you caught.
The Seneca Lake is known far and wide for its trout fish. Keuka Lake is home to rainbow trout, brown trout, and landlocked salmon. The 11 lakes also have smallmouth and largemouth bass, yellow perch, and northern pike fish.
You can engage in fishing throughout the year, with the summer weather ideal for spending a day on the lake. Ice fishing is quite popular in the winter, and Seneca Lake doesn’t freeze. Most of the lakes have both cold water and warm water fish species. You’ll catch your preferred fish depending on the lake you choose to go fishing.
Ensure you know the fishing regulations before you head out to fish. Pay for a fishing license early for those traveling from out of state, and have a yacht surveyor inspect your vessel. You can also take advantage of the days visitors can fish without a license. They are called free fishing days.
A camping adventure is the ultimate way to experience the Finger Lakes. Camping in nature in the outdoors opens you to new experiences. The good news is you can camp for free in Finger Lakes National Forest.
The forest offers dispersed camping to camping enthusiasts. You can pitch your tents outside the designated camping grounds. However, no amenities like water, restrooms, or trash services exist, so plan accordingly.
You should hire shower trailers for your use during the trip. Consult with the forest offices for advice on how to go about this. They’re likely to have contacts of reliable hire services within the locality. Pay for services that include cleaning up after your camping trip, so you’ll leave no trace of your waste.
Pack your camping utilities on time for a wholesome experience. Buy or hire sleeping bags, cooking stoves, and foldable furniture. Ask about the safety regulations on bonfires so you don’t cause hazards at the campsite.
For the golfing enthusiast, plan to experience the Finger Lakes world-class golf courses. There are record-breaking courses such as Bristol Harbor. There’s a good blend of views of the lakes, challenging holes, and other sceneries.
Turning Stone Resort is another world-class golf course that enjoys daily visitors from out of state. It has an 18-course hole with over 70 golfers, most of whom are professionals. You’ll need to rent a golf cart to enjoy golfing alongside PGA-rated players on the five golf courses at Turning Stone.
The courses feature well-manicured designer tracks with expansive clubhouses and perhaps close enough to a dairy farm. Others have deep bunkers and water in some holes. Enjoy the Robert Trent Jones golf course design on one of the courses.
If you love driving offroad, experience the finger lakes on a suitable vehicle. Before embarking on the trails, have your car serviced and replace its brake parts. Ask for car hire services within the locality and sample those with all licenses up to date.
The 15.1-kilometer trail near Avoca, New York, gives you a moderately challenging route. This would be suited for those who have gone offroad before. It will take, on average, three and a half hours to complete this route. The trail is generally good for biking as it’s not crowded.
The 17.5-kilometer trail near Eden, New York, is moderately challenging. It will take, on average, four hours to complete it. It’s also not crowded; the best times to visit are from October to April.
Avoid speeding when driving offroad, as it may not end well. Your safety should come first. Remember that you may not easily access the places your eyes can see. Before driving on that particular terrain, walk it first to understand what to expect. Follow the map and stick to the trail route at all times.
Walk on challenging hiking routes to experience the finger lakes best. Get the right hiking gear, including light clothing, safe hiking shoes, a hat, and snacks. If you’re a beginner hiker, go in a group of other hikes so that in case you’re lost, you have someone with you.
As a beginner hiker, start with shorter trips leading to scenic sites such as waterfalls. You may not have enough time to try all trails, so estimate how long it takes to traverse a particular trail. Bear in mind that some hikes start from a point in a different location from its finish point. Plan with that in mind, and choose one that will challenge you but will be enjoyable.
Longer hiking trails need higher fitness levels and more time to conquer them. The steeper the hike, the tougher the difficulty level. Before starting out, add an extra hour when planning your trip.
There are some hikes only open during warmer weather. You need to go in the summer for longer trails to have enough time to cover it. Spring and Fall seasons have shorter days, so plan accordingly and avoid being on the trail after dark.
Finger Lakes is a beloved gem for outdoor enthusiasts. With more than 9,000 square miles of clear lakes, hills, waterfalls, and quiet villages, your options for this trip are inexhaustible. Planning in advance, considering financial, time, and logistical costs, is vital to a wholesome experience.
Although any month of the year will still give you a memorable experience, plan your trip between May and September to have the time and good weather for all adventures. Get a good company of friends and family to create your memories together. However, there are solo trips for those who want time away and alone. Make your pick and enjoy your trip.