The Finger Lakes region of upstate New York is a conglomeration of eleven lakes – Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye, Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco, Skaneateles, and Otisco – running north to south directly below Lake Ontario. Along with several state parks, regional parks, and national forests, this region has a variety of other attributes and amenities, including a selection of quaint small towns, like Watkins Glen and Trumansburg, which possess excellent restaurants, charming mom-and-pop stores, and exciting seasonal events and festivals, like the Naples Grape Festival at the end of September, Halloween Fest at Lincoln Hill Farms in Canandaigua in October, and the Bristol Mountain Fall Festival, also in the town of Canandaigua.
The town of Canandaigua, perched on the upper tip of Canandaigua Lake, is home to several historic buildings and sites. The Granger Homestead & Carriage Museum relates the history of the Granger family, who were an integral part in establishing Canandaigua, and Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park shares the spectacular beauty of the botanical gardens. Along with strolling through the past, a variety of natural attractions are also in and around town, including Kershaw Park, offering lakefront walkways, a public beach, a public dock, and a playground for the younger children. Canandaigua also has several options for choice lodging. The Chalet of Canandaigua and Sutherland House Victorian both offer a free complimentary breakfast the next morning.
The town of Watkins Glen, in Schuyler County, lies at the opposite end of the next prominent lake in the area, Seneca Lake. This quaint town is home to just under 2,000 residents, as well as Watkins Glen State Park, the most well-known state park in the Finger Lakes Region. Watkins Glen State Park offers two excellent hiking trails, the Gorge Trail and the Rim Trail, camping and picnicking amenities, and views of several spectacular waterfalls, including Hector Falls and Glenora Falls. There are also a variety of great choices for lodging in and around Watkins Glen, like Clute Park & Campground on Clute Park Drive, which has both tent and RV sites, and the Hudson Manor Bed & Breakfast over on Seneca Street.
Between Canandaigua and Watkins Glen, in Yates County, the town of Penn Yan is home to several historical and natural attractions. Along with activities available due to its location on the upper tip of Keuka Lake, including swimming, fishing, boating, and kayaking, visitors can partake in several tours showcasing the wineries and vineyards in the area. These include the Keuka Lake Winery Tour and the Finger Lakes Brewery Tour. There is also the Keuka Outlet Trail to check out with family or friends. It travels east from Penn Yan to Dresden for just under seven miles and passes two magnificent waterfalls, Seneca Mills Falls and Cascade Mills Falls, separated by about a mile and a half.
The town of Trumansburg, located in Tompkins County between the southwestern end of Cayuga Lake and a portion of the Finger Lakes National Forest, is home to the Taughannock Falls State Park. Enjoy fishing, hiking, camping, and swimming, alongside sledding, hunting, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. In downtown Trumansburg, visitors can check out the farmer’s market, the Ulysses Historical Society, and Salmon Pottery Gallery, which showcases pottery created by the talented residents of the town. Top restaurants in town include Hazelnut Kitchen, Falls Restaurant, and the Creekside Café, all three located on Main Street.
Almost at the opposite end of the same body of water, Cayuga Lake, the town of Seneca Falls, is the epitome of a quaint town in upstate New York. Along with the Women’s Rights National Historical Park, the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge, and the "It’s a Wonderful Life" Museum, Seneca Falls is home to the Ludovico Sculpture Trail, the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, and the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. This wine trail starts at Swedish Hill Vineyard in Romulus, circles around Cayuga Lake, and ends at Montezuma Winery just above Seneca Falls. There are also several amenities available through the Seneca Falls State Park, which offers camping right off the lake, swimming, fishing, and a variety of boating options, including kayaks and canoes.
In Onondaga County, at the top of Skaneateles Lake, the town of Skaneateles is a wonder to behold. While possessing a quaint, small-town demeanor that brings returning visitors each year, the town of Skaneateles has many activities and attributes that beckon new visitors as well. Carpenter Falls Trail, a half-mile-long path, out and back, showcases a spectacular 90-foot-high waterfall. Cliff Park and Thayer Park, both located in Skaneateles, offer walks along Skaneateles Lake. There are also several other natural attributes in and near town, including the Charlie Major Nature Trail, which is a little over a mile long from Skaneateles to the town of Mottville.
The quaint town of Naples, located in Ontario County below Canandaigua Lake, is home to a variety of natural attractions, including Grimes Glen, Grimes Glen State Park, and the Grimes Glen Trail. Grimes Glen Park offers views of two awe-inspiring waterfalls, one in the middle of the trail and one at the end. There are also several attractions in the town of Naples, including Wohlschlegel’s Naples Maple Farm, the Ontario County Park at Gannett Hill, and Parish Glen, home to the Conklin Gully Rim Trail. Along with this, in downtown Naples, visitors can stop to dine on local fare, like a fresh kale salad at Roots Café or home-baked cookies at Old School Café, both located on Main Street.
The town of Corning, located in Steuben County, is best known as America’s Crystal City due to it being the home of the Corning Museum of Glass. This does not stop it from being a quaint town in the Finger Lakes region, just south of Watkins Glen and Seneca Lake. Along with the Corning Museum of Glass, Corning is home to the Heritage Village of the Southern Finger Lakes, which includes a 1796 inn, an 1870s one-room schoolhouse, an 1870s blacksmith shop, and an 1850s log cabin. The Whingblinger Heritage Festival, which occurs each autumn while the leaves are changing, is just one of several festivals and events held in the Heritage Village every year.
Above the town of Penn Yan and between the towns of Canandaigua and Seneca Falls, the town of Geneva, located on Seneca Lake, holds its own when it comes to being one of a kind. Famous for Rose Hill Mansion, which is an elegant Greek-Revival house built in the early 19th century, Geneva is also home to several vineyards and wineries. Check out Seneca Lake State Park and South Main Street, a tour through Geneva and past a variety of establishments, like the Smith Opera House, the Geneva History Museum, and McDonough Park. There are also several restaurants in town, including Beef & Brew and Cosentino’s Ristorante.
Despite the town of Hammondsport having less than 1,000 residents, there are endless events, festivals, and attractions to check out in and around this small town at the southern end of Keuka Lake. Along with the Finger Lakes Boating Museum, the T.M. Younglove Octagon House, and the Glen H. Curtiss Aviation Museum, Hammondsport is home to several vineyards, wineries, and distilleries. It is also home to several outdoor activities, including all the attractions available through Keuka Lake, Champlain Beach Park, and Depot Park, like fishing, swimming, hiking, and boating. When hungry, there are a variety of places to get something to eat, like Burgers & Beer of Hammondsport, the Timber Stone Grill, and Wise Guys Pizzeria.
Far to the west, past the last of the Finger Lakes, Conesus Lake, the town of Geneseo is a haven for historic and natural attractions. From the Wadsworth Homestead, which was built at the beginning of the 19th century, the National Warplane Museum, home to a C-47 war plane named Whiskey 7, and the Livingston County Historical Society to Fallbrook Farms and the farmer’s market called the Little Fruit Stand, Geneseo is a quaint, small town with a good sense of history. There are also a variety of lodging choices in Geneseo, including Temple Hill Bed & Breakfast, which is on Temple Street and offers guests lodging in a three-story brick mansion built in the year 1826.
These quaint small towns throughout the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York are just a few of many all-around upstate New York. From Canandaigua, home of the Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park, to Geneseo, home of the Temple Hill Bed & Breakfast, it is well worth visiting the scenic playground known as the Finger Lakes Region.