The Finger Lakes region is best known as the premier wine region of the East Coast, the Finger Lakes region is also marked by an abundance of beautiful views and enjoyable outdoor activities. The eleven glacial lakes–Seneca, Cayuga, Keuka, Skaneateles, Otisco, Owasco, Canandaigua, Honeoye, Canadice, Hemlock and Conesus–are all narrow and run roughly north-south, and when viewed aeriallly with Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes look like the fingers of a hand, giving the 9,000-acre region its name.
Summertime brings boating and fishing to the lakes. Larger lakes, like Seneca Lake, which sits between Watkins Glen at the south and Geneva at the north, is home to sail boats, motor boats and jet skis during the warm months. All of the lakes offer swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking galore.
Outdoorsmen can also enjoy the many state parks in the region, such as Watkins Glen State Park, known for its impressive gorges; Letchworth State Park, known as the “Grand Canyon of the East”; Taughannock Falls State Park, where Taughannock Falls plunges 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 feet above the gorge; and Chimney Bluffs State Park with its spectacular rock formations on the shores of Lake Ontario. The 16,212-acre Finger Lakes National Forest offers an additional venue for hiking, biking, bird watching, fishing and hunting in the summer, spring and fall, as well as cross country skiing, ice fishing and snow mobiling in the winter.
Visitors can enjoy the many quaint towns around the lakes year round, with shopping, antiquing, art trails, historic and cultural sites, great food and of course—some of the best white wines in the country! Known especially for the sweeter varieties, such as rieslings and gewurztraminers, the Finger Lakes Region also offers a good selection of locally grown and made chardonnays and even some dry reds, as well as breweries and distilleries. The lakes are surrounded by wineries, although the Keuka, Cayuga and Seneca Wine Trails are probably the most well known. Wine tours are popular and convenient—you can even sign up for bus tours so you don’t have to worry about driving after enjoying tastings at multiple wineries.
It’s not all about the lakes and wineries, though. Syracuse is home to the New York State Fair, Rochester has the Strong National Museum of Play and the George Eastman International Museum of Photography. Learn about the 3,500 years of glass making history at the Corning Museum of Glass. Elmira celebrates its ties to Mark Twain and nearby is the National Soaring Museum. Seneca Falls has the Women’s Rights National Historic Park. Hammondsport was named “America’s Coolest Small Town” for its picturesque streets. In Watkins Glen, you can check out Watkins Glen International and take in some Nascar.
Whatever interests you in the Finger Lakes Region, the Penn Wells is a great base from which to explore this wonderful region of the northeast.