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Finger Lakes Travel Guide

Looking for an in-depth Finger Lakes travel guide?

Then you’re in the right place!

The Finger Lakes are very much the hidden gems of New York State. While they may not attract quite as many visitors as the Catskills or Adirondacks regions, the Finger Lakes have so much to offer travelers looking to get some fresh air.

Consisting of 11 lakes of varying size (Conesus Lake, Hemlock Lake, Canadice Lake, Honeoye Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Keuka Lake, Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake, Owasco Lake, Skaneateles Lake and Otisco Lake), this Western New York region makes for the perfect getaway for outdoor adventurers, wine lovers, thrill seekers, and more.

Not sure where to start? We’ve got the perfect Finger Lakes visitors guide for you!

When it comes to Finger Lakes activities, you’ll find plenty of options. The region is home to tons of great parks and trails for hiking, many featuring beautiful waterfalls and gorges that you’ll only find here.

Widely considered one of the best attractions in New York State, Letchworth State Park in Castile, NY features lush forests, waterfalls, and cliffs that have earned it the nickname the “Grand Canyon of the East.”

The park is also a great site for Finger Lakes camping, with plenty of campsites available near the Perry entrance to the park. With generally calm waters, the lakes are also the ideal place to try out fun watersports like wakeboarding and waterskiing.

Want to paddle your way around the lakes? Bring our rent a kayak or canoe for even more fun!

Of course, you can’t write a Finger Lakes tourism guide without mentioning the region’s incredible wineries and vineyards.

The Finger Lakes Region is home to a wine country that rivals those of California and produces some truly world-class varietals. You’ll find these wines served at the many restaurants and Finger Lakes resorts around the region, but you’ll definitely want to visit the vineyards to see the whole winemaking process for yourself.

Not much of a wine aficionado? The region has tons of other tasty treats to try. Check out the famous Finger Lakes Ice Cream Trail featuring 10 delicious independent ice cream shops throughout the region.

Keep reading to dive into resources that will help you with planning a trip to the Finger Lakes.

Note: This ultimate Finger Lakes guide contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

Finger Lakes Map

Use this Finger Lakes area map to begin planning your trip to this incredible destination!

Click here for an interactive Google Map version of the above graphic.

Finger Lakes Travel Guide

Explore top Finger Lakes attractions & experiences through the following guides!

Upstate NY Travel Guide

Looking to explore the best of New York State travel? Don’t miss:

New York City Travel Guide

Looking for a travel guide to New York City? Check out:

Best Finger Lakes Tours

Explore local culture with a Finger Lakes tour guide through these unique excursions:

Click here for a full list of Finger Lakes travel tours!

Renting A Car In The Finger Lakes

Need a rental car for your Finger Lakes trip?

Use Discover Cars to quickly compare your car rental options.

Their comparison tool does the homework for you, so there’s no need to have up 10+ tabs trying to figure out which company is the most affordable. Actually, you can save up to 70% using their tool!

Hotels In The Finger Lakes

Click here to browse the best Finger Lakes hotels!

Prefer self-contained stays?

Click here to check out unique local rentals!

You can also use this map to search for local stays and experiences. The rental link and map are set to Itaca, but you can easily change the location to your specific destination:

Finger Lakes Travel Insurance

It doesn’t matter if you’re traveling solo or with a group on a Finger Lakes tour. When visiting the Finger Lakes — or anywhere else in the world — make sure to get travel insurance to protect your health and safety.

In my opinion, the best travel medical insurance for travelers is SafetyWing as they’ve got a large network and offer both short-term and long-term coverage — including coverage if you’re traveling for months as well as limited coverage in your home country).

Additionally, SafetyWing is budget-friendly and offers $250,000 worth of coverage with just one low overall deductible of $250.

With coverage, you’ll have peace of mind as you embark on your Finger Lakes travel itinerary.

Click my referral link here to price out travel insurance for your trip in just a few clicks.

Finger Lakes Travel Guide FAQ

Below, find answers to frequently asked questions about traveling in the Finger Lakes.

Q: What is the Finger Lakes Region known for?

The Finger Lakes Region has a lot to offer travelers of all kinds. The region is probably best known for producing world-class wines, with tons of award-winning wineries offering everything from Riesling to Pinot Noir.

Cayuga Lake, Keuka Lake, and Seneca Lake all boast their own wine trails for those who want to taste the variety of wines on offer.

Beyond the wineries of the region, the lakes offer tons of opportunities for outdoor activities all year round. From boating and fishing in the summer to skiing and snowshoeing in the winter, there are tons of ways to explore the great outdoors in the Finger Lakes.

Q: Where should I go in the Finger Lakes?

If you want to indulge in some of the Finger Lakes region’s famous wines, head to Seneca Lake, home to the famous Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

Located at the heart of the region, Seneca Lake is surrounded by more than 35 wineries and breweries offering everything from riesling to cabernet franc to mead. Almost all of the wineries in the area have public tasting rooms where you can enjoy their varietals in a stylish atmosphere.

Walk-ins are generally welcome; but, you’ll want to make reservations during the summer high season, especially if you’re visiting on a weekend.

Hikers and outdoor adventurers will definitely want to visit Watkins Glen State Park, located just south of Seneca Lake.

The park is probably best known for its iconic waterfalls and rocky cliffs that have brought visitors to the region for decades. The Gorge Trail, a 2.5-mile paved loop, will take you under the falls for a truly unique experience (just be sure to bring a parka!). This is truly one of the best hikes in Upstate New York!

In the summer, cool down with a swim in the park’s Olympic-size pool, available to all park visitors. The nearby town of Watkins Glen also has tons of great shops and restaurants to explore, as well as the famous Watkins Glen International Racetrack, which hosts everything from NASCAR races to vintage car shows.

On the southern tip of Cayuga Lake sits the famous college city of Ithaca, home to Cornell University, Ithaca College, and of course, the famous gorges.

This exciting city has tons to offer visitors of all kinds, from world-class theatre productions to amazing lake views to tons of awesome outdoor activities.

Go for a hike through the aforementioned gorges on the Cascadilla Gorge Trail or go fly fishing in one of the area’s trout streams.

Another idea: learn more about the local wildlife and nature via a boat cruise on Cayuga Lake.

However you choose to enjoy your stay in Ithaca, you’re sure to have a good time.

Q: What are some fun things to do in the Finger Lakes?

The Finger Lakes region is the perfect place to cool off and enjoy the water during the hot summer months in Upstate New York.

Each summer, you’ll find visitors and locals alike swimming, boating, waterskiing, wakeboarding, and kayaking on the lake almost every day.

Many towns around the lakes have shops offering equipment and boat rentals, so if you didn’t pack your travel kayak, there’s no need to worry! Several shops like McKenzie Water Ski School even offer waterskiing, wakeboarding, and kneeboarding lessons for first-timers.

Of course, if you’re more interested in just relaxing by the water, you’ll find tons of public beaches and parks perfect for lounging the day away.

The Finger Lakes region is also tops when it comes to Upstate New York hiking. The area is home to some of the best trails in the state, including Grimes Glen Park in Naples and the Taughannock Falls Gorge Trail in Trumansburg.

These trails are the perfect places to spot waterfalls and hike through breathtaking gorges that you’ll definitely want to capture on camera. The difficulty of these hikes ranges from easy to moderate, so you’ll be sure to find one that’s appropriate for your hiking skills. Just be sure to pack sturdy shoes!

Winter sports fans will be glad to hear that the Finger Lakes region is also a top destination for skiing and snowboarding. The area is home to Bristol Mountain Ski Resort in Canandaigua, one of the state’s top ski resorts where you’ll find the highest vertical between the Rockies and the Adirondacks.

The resort boasts tons of trails perfect for all levels of skiers and a Snowsports School that will have even first-time skiers running down the mountain in no time.

Another favorite is Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Cortland, featuring tons of downhill trails and even opportunities for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Visiting in the summer but still want to take advantage of the trails? Bring your bike for some downhill mountain biking and some of the best cycling trails in the world!

Q: What are some top Finger Lakes wineries to visit?

The Finger Lakes Wine Trail — a must-visit whether you’re looking for a romantic Upstate New York getaway or just to explore local culture — is home to many top vineyards that rival those of Napa and Europe.

Located on Cayuga Lake, Americana Vineyards is a favorite of many travelers to the Finger Lakes Region. The vineyard’s wine tasting room and gift shop are housed in a former swing barn from the 1820s, giving it a fun, rustic feel.

Try out some of Americana’s many wine varietals, including dry riesling and pinot gris, or satisfy your sweet tooth with their 20 varieties of homemade fudge.

Stop by on a Sunday for Americana’s afternoon concert series and be sure to say hi to the vineyard’s resident labs, Maverick and Lilly!

When it comes to Seneca Lake wine, Fox Run Vineyards is a favorite of visitors and locals alike. Fox Run is the perfect place for wine fans to learn more about the growing and winemaking process as the vineyard offers in-depth tours of its grounds and facilities.

Once back at the tasting room, you can enjoy a flight of dry, sweet, or Riesling wines. If you’re more of a foodie, you can savor a Taste Buds Flight featuring five delicious snacks perfectly paired with 5 different wines.

And with tons of great events at the vineyard every summer, it’s the perfect place to spend the day.

Looking for a vineyard with incredible views? Head to Keuka Lake Vineyards in Hammondsport. Located on the slopes of the southern edge of Keuka Lake, this gorgeous winery offers amazing dry wines like cabernet franc in a small tasting room with amazing lake views.

Reservations are required for the tasting room Monday through Thursday, but you’ll definitely enjoy learning about these local wines in a more intimate setting.

You can also enjoy your wines at their outdoor tables throughout the week on a first-come-first-served basis.

Q: What is the best time to visit the Finger Lakes?

The best time to visit the Finger Lakes Region depends on the kind of trip you want to take. If you’re looking to enjoy the great outdoors and cool off with a dip in the lake, you’ll want to visit between May and September when temperatures hover around the mid-70s Fahrenheit.

The summer months do tend to see some more rain, but showers generally pass quickly. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and come prepared with rain gear.

For winter sports, plan your trip for some time between December and February. Temperatures will be chilly (usually in the 20s and 30s Fahrenheit), but you’ll have plenty of snow for skiing, snowboarding, and more.

You’ll also likely enjoy lower rates at area hotels during this time, as it’s considered the off-season.

Q: What is the best lake to stay on in the Finger Lakes?

For first-time visitors to the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake is the perfect home base.

The area around the lake is home to many of the region’s top attractions, including the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, Watkins Glen, Finger Lakes National Forest, and more.

You’ll also find tons of great hotels, inns, and rental homes around the vast lake that will provide easy access to lakefront activities like boating and swimming.

Q: Are the Finger Lakes safe?

The Finger Lakes Region is considered very safe when it comes to crime and violence. As with any destination, typical travel safety practices are recommended, but you likely won’t run into too many issues in this area.

If you’re planning on going hiking or boating during your trip, it’s important to review the best safety practices for these activities before you head out. Always be aware of trail and lake conditions and make sure you tell someone where you’re going before your trip.

Q: How long can a tourist stay in New York?

Most visitors from abroad who are allowed to enter the United States — the country New York State is located in — can stay for up to six months. Entry requirements and allowances vary depending on where you are from, so definitely check the US government website.

Q: Do I need a travel visa for New York?

Visa requirements vary depending on where you are from. You can visit the US government website to see if you need a visa and what type.

Q: Where are the Finger Lakes located?

The Finger Lakes extends across the state of New York from Syracuse to Rochester.

Q: Are credit cards accepted in the Finger Lakes?

Credit cards — particularly Visa and Mastercard — are widely accepted around the Finger Lakes, though it is always wise to carry some cash for smaller establishments and in case of emergency.

Q: Can you drink the tap water in the Finger Lakes?

While tap water is safe to drink in most places, it’s smart to check with the hotel in your specific destination to be safe.

Q: What is the local currency in New York State?

The local currency in New York is the US Dollar (USD).

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