Geneseo is a town in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Image credit JWCohen via Shutterstock

12 Unforgettable Small Towns to Visit in the Finger Lakes Region

Nestled in the state of New York is the picturesque Finger Lakes Region, an area encompassing eleven lakes, with an estimated 1.28 million local inhabitants. The Finger Lakes are known for their high-class wineries throughout the region. With no shortage of available Wine Tours, visitors can enjoy their travels, relaxing in the heavenly scenery of the Finger Lakes. The towns spread throughout the Finger Lakes region present endless opportunities for unforgettable experiences.

Watkins Glen

The Seneca Lake pier at Watkins Glen, New York.
Seneca Lake pier at Watkins Glen, New York.

Watkins Glen is a town on the southern shore of Seneca Lake, within the Schuyler County region of New York State. The Blackberry Inn Kitchen is a local bakery, known for its diverse collection of New York bagels. Whatever the time of the day, you can always find what you desire. After you finish your bagel, head over to the local Watkins Glen State Park. Take the journey along the 1.5-mile Gorge Trail to its ending at Rainbow Falls. If you are fortunate enough to arrive at the right time of day, you can see the reflection of a rainbow off of the falls.

Just to the North of Watkins Glen, you can take a voyage along the 19-mile-long Seneca Lake Scenic Byway. This adventure will leave you in awe as you drive past the local breweries, enjoy the fresh produce, and sample the vintages. Following the Second World War, the First Road Race occurred in Watkins Glen. Since 1993, the town has committed to commemorating this legacy. Their most recent festivities brought an estimated 25,000 spectators, who stayed for the feature event, a recreation of those first races on that 6.6-mile race course.


Students at Libe Slope watch the sunset on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca.
Students at Libe Slope watch the sunset on the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca. Image credit Jay Yuan via Shutterstock

Situated at the southern shore of Cayuga Lake is the town of Ithaca, located 55 miles to the southwest of Syracuse. Robert H Treman State Park is just to the south of Ithaca and is known for the awe-inspiring view of its 12 waterfalls. The 115-foot-tall Lucifer Falls is a popular tourist attraction. This cascading waterfall can be viewed from a nearby overlook. Operational since 1973, the Ithaca Farmer's Market has become a local tradition. Today, the market has over 130 vendors selling local produce and crafts to attending customers.

Moosewood Restaurant is a restaurant in Ithaca which has received national acclaim. Moosewood Restaurant has produced twelve cookbooks over the years. With over 5 million copies sold, the Restaurant has established itself as the culinary standard for vegetable-inspired creation. The scenic town of Ithaca is also home to the Cornell University Campus. Students can earn post-secondary education at this prestigious Ivy League institution and explore the lovely city in their downtime.

Visitors can also schedule a near 75-minute in-person tour of the campus. Firelight Camps is a unique outdoor experience. They provide visitors with a log cabin fitted with quality living amenities, from a king-sized bed to rocking chairs. A private balcony is also available, where residents can soak in the outdoor view with their beverage of choice before they explore the Finger Lakes.


Main Street in downtown Naples, New York.
Main Street in downtown Naples, New York. Image credit Ritu Manoj Jethani via Shutterstock

Naples, New York, is a charming town by Canandaigua Lake within the Ontario County region of New York State. An annual celebration in Naples is the Grape Festival. Since 1872, the community has come together to sample a variety of pies, jellies, and puddings. Naples Greatest Grape Pie Contest is the festival's feature attraction. Created in 1950, the contestants showcase their baking abilities with a first-place prize of $50. Founded in 2007, the Inspire Moore Winery Winery is best known for its popular 2006 Vintage Riesling.

The Grimes Glen Park takes you to the famous Naples Devonian Tree. Discovered over a century ago by D. Dana Luther, it is the oldest fossilized tree in the state. The Cumming Nature Centre is a 900-acre preserve. Beaver Trail is a pathway taking visitors across a local marsh habitat to an overlook of a Beaver pond. Interested in history? The Naples Memorial Town Hall was built in 1872 and dedicated to the soldiers of the Civil War. In 1996, the National Register of Historic Places named the memorial a historical location.


Geneva is located at the northern end of Seneca Lake, New York.
Downtown Geneva, Seneca Lake, New York. Image credit PQK via

Residing on the northern tip of Seneca Lake 48 miles to the southeast of the city of Rochester is Geneva. Hobart and William Smith Colleges are private Liberal Arts institutions in Geneva with a history dating back to 1796. The 170-acre campus is home to a post office, a cafe, and a theatre. Students can earn a post-secondary education from a list of 40 major and 70 minor degrees. Belhurst Castle is a site with three hotels, two restaurants, and a majestic view of nearby Seneca Lake. Guests can enjoy this view with their favorite beverage in hand from the Belhurst Estate Winery.

Geneva On The Lake Resort is a 10-acre destination that provides great hospitality for visitors. The 5&20 Disc Golf Course is a frugal way to get outdoors and partake in a fun activity. A night of entertainment in Geneva can be had at the Smith Opera House. Operational since 1894, the Opera House hosts various scheduled concerts and is a culturally enriching experience.


Main Street in downtown Canandaigua, New York
Downtown Canandaigua, New York. Image credit Ritu Manoj Jethani via Shutterstock

This lovely town lies on the north shore of Canandaigua Lake. The Sonnenberg Gardens & State Historic Park is a 50-acre estate in Canandaigua. The Park is home to nine themed gardens, a Victorian-era mansion, and an expansive greenhouse. Visitors can book an appointment to explore the property. Next up, visitors find the Canandaigua City Pier. With a history of serving its visitors for over 150 years, the pier has become a popular location for artists and photographers. Right downtown, the Lake House on Canandaigua is a high-end resort. Visitors can enjoy their time at the luxury spa and heated lakefront pool.

Roseland Waterpark is a 56-acre escape. Amenities include the 600-foot-long Adventure River or The Cliff. Those daring enough to go down the slide fall from a 65-foot height, traveling as fast as 30 miles per hour. For 35 years, the community has come together to celebrate the annual Arts & Music Festival. Over three days in July, the community explores its artwork and samples from various food vendors and takes in musical performances at the local Commons Park.


Overlooking dowtown Owego, in winter, a small village in New York State, located along the Susquehanna River.
Owego is a small village in New York State, along the Susquehanna River. Image credit JWCohen via Shutterstock

The village of Owego sits within Tioga County, ten miles north of the Pennsylvania Border and about 30 miles south of Ithaca and the shores of Cayuga Lake. The Owego Riverwalk is a paved pathway, connecting with the scenery of the area, and its assorted collection of wildlife. The Riverwalk was recognized with the Excellence in Craftsmanship Award, by the Owego Historic Marketplace Commision. Established in 2013, the Owego Antique Centre offers visitors paintings, prints, jewelry, and more. With over 21,000 feet of space, the Centre has 95 vendor booths over its two floors.

Glen Park Vineyards specializes in artisanal dry wines and hard ciders. Come anytime during the year, and enjoy your glass either by the indoor fireplace or outside patio. You can sample the food produced by nearby Englebert Farms or explore the wine production area. Located along the Susquehanna River, Hickories Park has great fishing, as well as multiple volleyball courts. The Park also houses 65 individual campsites for visitors. The Strawberry Festival has been a popular celebration in Owego for 41 years, hosting parades, activities, and concerts capped off with a fireworks show.

Seneca Falls

Trinity Episcopal Church in Seneca Falls, Finger Lakes region, Upstate New York
Trinity Episcopal Church in Seneca Falls, Finger Lakes region, Upstate New York.

Seneca Falls sits along the northern shore of Cayuga Lake. The town allows visitors to step into the Local Wesleyan Chapel, host of the First Women's Rights Convention. This history is told at the Women's Rights National Historical Park. At the park, attendees can tour locations such as the Wesleyan Chapel and the house of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, the convention organizer. The accomplishments of women throughout history are commemorated at the National Women's Hall of Fame. The center commemorates many women, from Civil rights advocate Maya Angelou to social reformer Jane Addams.

A great pathway for visitors to explore is the Ludovico Sculpture Trail. Named after Frank J Ludovico, the journey spotlights a variety of sculptures. The Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is 9,809 acres of land, known as a prominent nature preserve for several species of migratory birds. One of the ways visitors survey the land is by venturing down the 3-mile Wildlife Drive adventure.

Skaneateles Village

Waterfront view of Skaneateles, New York.
Waterfront view of Skaneateles, New York. Image credit PQK via

In 2021, Oprah Winfrey named Skaneateles Village number one on her list of "Charming American Towns you should visit ASAP." Mid-Lakes Navigation Company is a way for visitors to book a lake tour. A day trip provides attendees with a wave of peace and inner renewal. Charlie Major Nature Trail is a 1.5-mile jaunt where hikers can traverse what was once a railroad line. The trail appeals to all ages, providing a picnic area and a playground for the kids.

The Skaneateles Festival is a 4-week event, with more than 40 years of history. Attendees are treated to various top musical genres, from classical to bluegrass. Gilda's is a positively reviewed restaurant in Skaneateles, known for its collection of artisan pizzas. The Antique & Classic Boat Show is an event with 45 years of history in Skaneateles. Attracting around 10,000 visitors a year from across the country, the festival is an experience for all ages, as nearly 90 boats are displayed.

Mt. Morris

Mt. Morris, New York, Letchworth Balloon Festival
Mt. Morris, New York, Letchworth Balloon Festival. Image credit Laurie B. Webb via Shutterstock

Situated snuggly between Silver Lake and Conesus Lake, Mt. Morris sits in the western reaches of the Finger Lakes region. In 1971, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission nominated Mount Morris Park as a historic district. The area is known for its eclectic architecture and preserved brownstone housing, which today tourists can explore. The Mount Morris Mural is a unique local creation made by activist Shawn Dunwoody. This artwork showcases murals of historical figures born in Mount Morris. One example is Francis Bellamy, a clergyman known for authoring the Pledge of Allegiance.

Mount Morris is referred to as the gateway of the Northern Entrance to Letchworth State Park. A park referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the East," the park is a popular vacation destination that can be explored over its 66 miles of walking trails. Al Lorenz Park-Finger Lakes Trail Loop is a 4.2-mile pathway along the Genesee River. The Genesee River is known for enhancing its three waterfalls, one being the Middle Falls, measured as high as 107 feet in height. Allegiance Bed and Breakfast is a restored mansion with a local history dating back to 1838. Visitors get a gourmet breakfast and the comfort of one of eight unique bedrooms.


The Visitor Center at the Taughannock Falls Overlook in Trumansburg, New York.
Visitor Center at the Taughannock Falls Overlook in Trumansburg, New York. Image credit Steve Cukrov via

Visitors find Trumansburg following a short 10-mile trip north from Ithaca, along Cayuga Lake. The town's primary feature is the Taughanock Falls State Park, which provides a variety of seasonal activities. The Taughanock Falls is a natural phenomenon within the park, known as one of the highest falls east of the Rocky Mountains at 215 feet. Families enjoy recreational activities at the T-Burg Mini Golf Family Entertainment Centre. The family-owned establishment has miniature golf, an arcade, and a playground.

The Spa at Gothic Eves Inn is a relaxing escape for visitors during the day. Amenities include a 75 to 90-minute massage, two private outdoor hot tubs, and an infrared sauna. Little Venice is Trumansburg's only pizza delivery establishment. The Finger Lakes GrassRoots Festival is the main celebration in Trumansburg. Since its first event in 1990, the county has united behind the theatre for musical entertainment, with money raised for charitable causes.


Corning, New York: The view of the traffic and buildings in town.
Downtown Corning, New York. Image credit Khairil Azhar Junos via

The town of Corning is about 20 miles south of Watkins Glen and Seneca Lake, along the Chemung River. The Corning Museum of Glass is one of the world's largest museums specifically dedicated to the material of glass. Established in 1951, over 50,000 glass-related exhibits representing more than 3,500 years of history within the Museum. A new aspect for visitors includes, with the help of experienced glass workers, designing your own glass creations. Market Street, is a section of Corning that has gained national recognition. It was listed as one of the Great Places of America, by the American Planners Association for its lovely historic architecture and a vast array of businesses.

The Spencer Crest Nature and Research Centre has 7 miles of trails. Students from the local Corning Community College use space within the Research Centre to examine the bodies of natural systems, from the two ponds to the stream. Other visitors are also able to hike on the available trails. The Day of Incandescence is special to the story of Corning. The Celebration is known for commemorating the history of Corning's role in supplying inventor Thomas Edison with the glass encasement required for his infamous incandescent lamps. The Community is united over a three-day celebration.


Old cars in the historic downtown of Geneseo, New York.
Historic downtown streert of Geneseo, New York. Image credit JWCohen via

The town of Geneseo lies within Livingston County, 30 miles to the south of Rochester and just west of Conesus Lake. Geneseo is a college town, on 220 acres of land, offering students a beautiful location to pursue their post-secondary education. Visitors can book tours on the Geneseo Campus or attend a scheduled open house. Travelers to Geneseo can spend a day at Long Point Park. Within the Lake area, activities such as fishing or swimming are commonplace. Bird watchers can also witness a large migratory bird population in the area.

A popular entertainment location in the city's downtown is the Geneseo Riviera. With over a century of history, the theatre showcases musical or cinematic entertainment for its attendees. The Warplane National Museum strives to preserve historic Military Aircraft. Visitors can tour the exhibits on the premises or book a ride with an expert on the BT-13 Basic Trainer.

Whether it be a trip to the Mount Morris Mural or a stop at the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, there are several places to explore within the Finger Lakes Region. This area of land has its own unique culture, plenty of noteworthy history, and natural landmarks you have to visit. So book your trip now. The Finger Lakes await you!

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