Named for a series of long, thin lakes in north central New York, the Finger Lakes are the perfect place to take your family for a nice trip. A Finger Lakes vacation rental is the best way you can enjoy the beauty of the area, which is known for its beautiful vineyards, a wealth of museums, dramatic waterfall, and deep-water gorges. Here you can go hiking, fishing, kayaking and boating or spend the day touring one of the many wineries and sampling the blends. Vacation rentals include stately homes, fully furnished condos or lakeside cabins in the forested hills. This guide details 12 picturesque towns along the Finger Lakes that are perfect for a getaway.
1. Seneca Falls
Located in the northern part of the Finger Lakes district, Seneca Falls lies along Cayuga Lake. Teach the children a little history about women’s rights at Women’s Rights Nationals Historical Park, then visit It’s a Wonderful Life Museum to see the exhibits and artifacts from the popular film. There are several wineries to explore, including Montezuma Winery. You can also take the kids to Cayuga-Seneca Canal and watch the boats in the waterway.
Beautiful architecture and a quiet and friendly atmosphere await you in Auburn. Visit The Harriet Tubman Home to learn about the Underground Railroad. You’ll find the home and grounds in excellent condition, and the caretaker answers visitors’ questions about the background of the home place. Take in a performance at Merry Go Round Playhouse or Auburn Public Theater. If you are interested in good deals, take the kids shopping at New Hope Mills Factory Store, where you can also grab a bite to eat.
Vacation in Canandaigua, and explore the waters of Canandaigua Lake by renting a sailboat. Pack a picnic and head to Kershaw Park, or spend the day at Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park, where you can view the beautiful gardens. In the winter, Bristol Mountain Ski Resort offers cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. The kids can also have a blast building a snowman or having a snowball fight.
Located in the northern part of Geneva Lake, Geneva offers a variety of waterfront vacation rentals away from the crowds. Rent a boat and go whale watching, or cast off from the shore and fish for bass and trout. There are several wineries and eateries close by. You can also take the kids to Seneca Lake Park for a picnic and swimming.
Relax and take in the beauty of Keuka Lake in Hammondsport. This tiny village offers peace and quiet and a lazy atmosphere. Take the kids to Glenn H. Curtis Museum to learn about the history of the area, or visit Finger Lakes Boating Museum for a variety of exhibits on how the lake contributes to the community. Adults will enjoy the variety of wineries, including Lime Berry Winery, Ravines Wine Cellars, and Heron Hill Winery. To relax, go kayaking or canoeing at Depot Park, where you will find calm waters.
Located in the southern part of the Finger Lakes Region, Ithaca is one of the largest communities in Tompkins County. Vacation rentals include historic homes, cozy apartments, and spacious cabins by the water. Pack a picnic lunch and head to Cascadilla Gorge; this 20-foot multiple cascading waterfall is a popular place for swimming. Sign up for a city tour, or visit Cornell Botanical Gardens to view various flora and fauna of the region. Ithaca Farmer’s Market is the perfect place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s close to the downtown area, where you can stop and have a bite to eat with the family.
Sample wine and enjoy the lifestyle of the tiny town of Naples. Grimes Glen County Park has a towering waterfall that is a beautiful spot for photographs. Take in a production at Bristol Valley Theater, or hike with the family at Cumming Nature Center, where you can spend the day bird watching or go cross-country skiing in the winter. There are several gift shops in the area, and you can make an appointment to play a round of golf at one of the local courses.
8. Penn Yan
Book a vacation rental for the family in Penn Yan. Spend a day at Keuka Karts, which offers fun and excitement for the whole family, or visit the Keuka Candy Emporium and load up on snacks to take back to your vacation rental. Weaver View Farms is an Amish Farm that sells a variety of handmade items, and you can learn about the Amish lifestyle while visiting. There are also a variety of wineries and vineyards in the area, including Serenity Vineyards, Torrey Ridge Winery, and Red Tail Ridge Winery.
Skaneateles is a popular spot to visit during the winter months. Adventure-seekers can take part in the annual Polar Bear plunge in Skaneateles Lake. In the summer, you can take a cruise on the water or hike along Charlie Major Trail. Carpenter Falls, located on the western shoreline of the lake, is the perfect place to plan a picnic. You can also fish or swim in the area.
Walk along the quiet city streets and enjoy the beautiful architecture in Waterloo. The courthouse, with its big front columns, is the perfect spot for photographs. When you’re done taking pictures, head to the local shops or outlet mall for gifts and souvenirs. If you like cheese, you can learn how it’s made at Muranda Cheese Company. When you want to relax, rent some canoes or a kayak and hit the open water with your family.
11. Watkins Glen
Mingle with the locals in the tiny village of Watkins Glen. Hike Rainbow Falls in Gorge Trail to enjoy stunning geological formations. Kids will enjoy seeing a race at Watkins Glen International Racetrack. You can also take them to Farm Sanctuary, where they can see the animals and take part in feedings. Adults can take part in a wine tour and purchase a bottle of vino to take back to the vacation rental. End one of your vacation days by heading to the local theater and catching a movie with your family.
Honeoye is a small Hamlet located to the south of Rochester. This location provides easy access to Honeoye Falls for hiking, and you can stop by Trident Marine to rent paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks. Tennity’s Guide Service and Fishing Charters can take you to the perfect location to catch some fish. There’s also a bowling alley in the area, where you can enjoy a friendly game with your family.