The beautiful town of Skaneateles, New York.

6 Most Inviting Towns In The Finger Lakes

There is no better town than a Finger Lakes one for a rendezvous with nature this summer. The Finger Lakes are an invitingly lush region in west-central New York. Home to warm locals, the many towns dot the shores of the lakes, like Auburn, right in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region at the northern tip of Owasco Lake. Hammondsport nestles at the very southern tip of the "Y" of the unique Keuka Lake, allegedly the prettiest and best for fishing, surrounded by the region's main wine-growing area, home to the top-rated winery, Dr. Konstantin Frank. Geneva is a beautiful little town at the northern tip of Seneca Lake, the largest and deepest of the Finger Lakes, with many more vineyards around and breweries along its shore.


Street view in Auburn, New York
Street view in Auburn, New York. Editorial credit: PQK /

Just 35 miles west of Syracuse, off I-90, Auburn is a quintessentially Upstate town right in the heart of the Finger Lakes Region, rich in history, culture, and the arts at the northern tip of Owasco Lake. With Skaneateles Lake to the east and Cayuga to the west, visitors disperse for waterside recreation, leaving trails surrounding the lakes and into the wilderness pristinely quiet for hikes, turning to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. Among several national treasures and historic sites, don't miss the legacy of a notable abolitionist in American history, Harriet Tubman, at his former home.

President Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State fronted the 1867 purchase of Alaskan territory from Russia at William Seward House. Willard Chapel is a real crowd-pleaser, complete with an unaltered display of chapel windows by Louis C. Tiffany and Tiffany Glass & Decoration Co. Auburn's smattering of local art galleries and reputable farm-to-table restaurants headline the downtown, turning every stroll into discovering local culture, while Auburn Public Theater is a perfect date night idea over a cold-weather evening performance.


Boathouses in Canandaigua, New York
Boathouses in Canandaigua, New York.

Honing the top stop of the namesake lake, this largest town in the region is also one of the most inviting, with a beckoning waterfront. From art galleries to boutiques and wineries, get the full taste of a lakeside lifestyle on a retreat for swimming, kayaking, and fishing this summer. Featuring warm waters, the local love for water sports is infectious, with enough room along the vast shores for everyone's serene enjoyment. Dating back even further, the site of Susan B. Anthony's trial the year after her vote in the 1872 presidential elections, the Ontario County Courthouse, is an important historic landmark in Canandaigua.

Replete with charming inns, B&Bs, and lakeside cottages for every budget, the splurge-worthy Lake House on Canandaigua offers views, a spa, morning yoga, and world-class dining, including craft beverage tastings and wine pairing dinners. Complete with walking trails and a beach, the lakefront Kershaw Park is a day full of fun, including a dock and a playground, while the historical Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park offers spectacular botanical gardens for a stroll in the embrace of natural beauty notable figures enjoyed in the past. Don't miss the Granger Homestead & Carriage Museum for insights into this family's notable role in establishing the town.


Downtown Geneva, New York
Downtown Geneva, New York. Editorial credit: PQK /

Home to 12,677, Geneva is a beautiful little town at the northern tip of Seneca Lake, with a walkable downtown, breweries, and a 2.5-mile-long trail from downtown to Seneca Lake State Park. Lush as we speak, it attracts landscape photographers in the winter with its beautiful scenery. This summer, whether you're relaxing on a stroll or a serene picnic overlooking breathtaking views of Seneca Lake, there's also the Sprayground with over 100 water jets for kids and the kids at heart. Geneva, idyllic for romantic getaways reminiscent of the namesake town and lake in Switzerland, is also popular for destination weddings.

Offering a European feel, its architecture and historical estates provide a romantic backdrop while browsing local shops for unique handcrafted memorabilia, gifts, and home decor. Geneva's restaurants are recognized for using high-quality, locally sourced ingredients and creating delectable works of art on your plate. For memorable dining experiences, there's no better place in the region than along Linden Street. When the weather is particularly favorable, enjoy its active and diverse culinary scene al fresco or mingle with drinks in between the foodie delights as it gets closed off to traffic.


The B&H Railroad Depot in Hammondsport, New York
The historical B&H Railroad Depot in Hammondsport, New York.

Nestled at the very tip of the "Y" of the unique Keuka Lake, this picturesque town has been in wine production since the 19th century. Home to a cozy downtown with quaint art galleries and stores just a stroll from the serene surroundings along the long lake shores, inspire a tranquil retreat. Ideal for a wine-drenched getaway or a family vacation this summer, Hammondsport encapsulates you in an authentic lakeside lifestyle feel that makes you linger just a day longer. The historic village square features 19th-century buildings as well as cafes and artisanal shops with locally-made crafts for view and sale. Just south, Champlin Beach features a swimming area, and Cold Brook Wildlife Management Area offers animal interactions like feeding small chicks.

Don't miss Timber Stone Grill for dinner after, while the whole cult around Triskaidekaphobia barley wine and craft beers at the Brewery of Broken Dreams is worth checking out. Stop by on a hot day for a refreshing brew, or make it out to Steuben Brewery with friends known for sparkling treats on a beautiful front lawn with expansive Keuka Lake views for a fun, warm-weather evening. From a scenic morning run along the shores to a peaceful fishing trip out on a boat, the southern tip of the lake beckons water sports fans to explore upwards within lushness. Places like the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum and winter wine tours make Hammondsport a year-round escape.

Mt. Morris

A historical building in the Historic District of Mt. Morris, New York.
A historical building in the Historic District of Mt. Morris, New York. Image credit: Onasill-Bill Badso-Happy D via

Mt. Morris, one of the most unique yet overlooked towns in the region, is snugged neatly in between Silver Lake and Conesus Lake. Offering an inviting atmosphere under Mt. Morris to the west, Mount Morris Park was nominated as a historic district in 1971 by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Visitors can explore some eclectic architecture and preserved brownstone housing by activist Shawn Dunwoody on the way to the Mount Morris Mural. Attracting sightseers from near and far, its murals explore the town's history with local historical figures, like Francis Bellamy, a clergyman who authored the Pledge of Allegiance.

As the gateway to Letchworth State Park, Mount Morris is a popular rest stop before entering the Northern Entrance to see the "Grand Canyon of the East." Hosting an applicable amount of attractions for every taste, the restored mansion from 1838, Allegiance Bed and Breakfast, warmly welcomes visitors for a stay in history, with a gourmet breakfast and eight unique bedrooms. The state park, a vacation-worthy destination, features a convenient network of trails over 66 miles, like the 4.2-mile Al Lorenz Park-Finger Lakes Trail Loop. Following the Genesee River, which features three spellbinding waterfalls, the heart-stopping 107-foot-high Middle Falls cascades between rocky walls.


Skaneateles Lake, New York
Skaneateles Lake, New York. Editorial credit: PQK /

Skaneateles, a charming town along the pristine northern shore of Lake Skaneateles, one of the cleanest and clearest lakes, is one of those destinations that never sleeps but burst with life in the summer. The lovely Thayer Park is a favorite place for a family picnic, while couples enjoy strolling through Clift Park, with its gazebo benches against awe-inspiring waterfront views and a long pier for a romantic, honeymoon-worthy shot. Downtown Skaneateles features marvelous architecture from the 19th century, like the 1807 Sherwood Inn, a historic site, and an inviting stay for every group's cozy and comfortable rest.

The town on the easternmost of the major Finger Lakes is another major wine destination, with Main Street straight out of a Hallmark movie. Skaneateles's local wineries with lush vineyards nearby add another touch of romance, like Anyela’s Vineyards, with music performances over wine tastings, a cozy deck for an overview, and gardens for a stroll while sipping wine. Dickens' Christmas festival features period-costumed characters, while the famous Winterfest beckons with ice sculptures and a polar plunge, alongside ice fishing and skating, hot cocoa, and winter treats.

The five largest lakes in the region are Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, and Skaneateles. Canandaigua, the westernmost, is home to two major shipwrecks at the bottom, while the perky town features cute shops, restaurants, and Young Lion, a must-hit brewery.

Inviting you for a year-round escape, the eleven long, narrow lakes (like fingers) feature unique vibes worthy of diving in to explore. The lakeside towns are an outdoor and cultural paradise with fascinating historical sites, extensive hiking trails, hundreds of wineries, and breathtaking waterfalls and gorges all around.

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