Boating, Beauty, And Wine In New York’s Finger Lakes
Published: Friday, April 13, 2018
The Finger Lakes region is known for producing excellent wine, being enveloped in fantastic greenery and lakes, and boasting some of the most historical sites in all of the country. With whimsical museums like The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester and boaters’ favorite Finger Lakes Boating Museum located in the 2012 “Coolest Small Town” award winner Hammondsport, there is plenty for avid water enthusiasts and their families to enjoy.
History is around every corner, as Auburn is home to the Harriet Tubman House and nearby Seneca Falls is the site of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park and Hall of Fame. USA Today’s Reader’s Choice Number #1-rated Letchworth State Park and it’s southeast partner, #3-rated Watkins Glen State Park, provide miles of hiking, camping, and relaxation with plenty of opportunities to splash in the cool waters of the falls. With a booming wine industry, it is not uncommon to look out your car window while you’re driving lakeside to see the vineyards, dotted with the green and purple hues of the grapes. Open the window and the smell of the grapes will lead you to some of the best wine the country has to offer. Rivers, lakes, and canals make the boating life easy, and if you don’t have a boat, you can rent one at one of many marinas in the area. It’s easy to enjoy time on both the water and the land with all that the region has to offer. There truly is something for everyone in the lovely land of the Finger Lakes.
The Finger Lakes region has been on the winery map for several decades, producing some of the tastiest and well-known wines in the country. The natural settings of the cold winters and pleasant summers make wine in the Finger Lakes some of the best. With reds and whites to please every palate, the region boasts three established wine trails, Canandaigua Lake, Seneca Lake, and Keuka Lake, each aptly named for the beautiful lake that they surround. There’s no better way to spend a beautiful, sunshine-filled day than enjoying a delicious glass of wine while relaxing on one of the splendid lakes of the area. Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars and Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard are two of the oldest wineries in the area, but have quickly been joined by many others that will be sure to leave you raising your glass in cheer. And, if wine isn’t your drink of choice, the cideries and distilleries of the area definitely do not disappoint either, often offering the same views and charm as their winery counterparts.
If you’d prefer to spend your time outside, the glacial formed Finger Lakes have everything you could ask for and more. Spanning over 9,000 sq. miles of hills and picturesque scenery sprawled over 14 counties, the 11 lakes that encompass this area cannot be missed. #1-rated Letchworth State Park is surrounded by lush greenery and waterfalls from the Genesee River. #3-rated Watkins Glen State Park has abundant hiking as well as waterfalls and gorges that will take your breath away. Many of the state parks offer camping sites ranging from the basic to the glam, so if you need a place to rest your head after a long day of sightseeing, you’ll wake up to a beautiful view and with a smile on your face. The City of Ithaca is a place where everyone is familiar with the term that “Ithaca is Gorges.” A delightful play on words, the sentiment is apparent at Buttermilk Falls State Park, Robert H. Treman State Park, and Taughannock Falls (which is one of the highest east of the Rocky Mountains) amongst many of the other state parks that surround the city that Cornell University calls home.
Traditionally, the travel season extends from Memorial Day to Labor Day, but the region is seeing an increase in visitors during all times of the year, with the season often extending late into October for leaf-peepers hunting for the best autumnal backdrop for their photographs. In the winter, you can go to one of the many ski locations, like the Greek Peak Mountain Resort in southern Cortland or centrally-located Bristol Mountain in Canandaigua. Ice fishers eagerly wait for the first freeze of the lakes because they know that another season of frozen water camping and fishing is on the horizon. It’s hard to miss a glimpse of fisherman as their tents speckle the lakes at any time of the day or night. But, frozen lakes aren’t just for fishers, as families and friends can be seen sliding and skating across the lakes, too.
The Finger Lakes region is proud to offer all of these things and more. Sure to delight everyone in the family with the abundance of amenities and fun, experience this yourself with a trip at any season of the year. Visit www.fingerlakes.org for more information, event listings, and sample itineraries.
This article first appeared in the Spring Issue (Mar/Apr) 2018 of Great Lakes Scuttlebutt magazine.