With college towns, outdoorsman paradises, and picturesque villages dotted all around the Finger Lakes region of New York, it is difficult to decide which towns to prioritize on your trip. While you can’t go wrong with any town in this amazing region, a couple of towns are not to be missed. Here are 5 Finger Lakes towns that every person should put on their bucket list.
Don’t be afraid of the unique name, you don’t have to pronounce the town to visit it! This little village on the north end of Skaneateles Lake is one of the top Finger Lakes destinations because of it’s perfect summertime vibe and the close proximity to Syracuse. You’ll find Shotwell Park which boasts a perfect swimming beach along with the most picturesque gazebo for picnics and gatherings of all kinds. During the winter, the entire town turns into an old-fashioned Christmas town known as A Dickens Christmas. Charles Dickens and his cast of 50 characters take over the town every weekend to spread Christmas cheer through the streets, shops, and restaurants.
4. Watkins Glen:
Nestled on the Southside of Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen is world-famous for the abundance of waterfalls and outdoor recreation located just minutes from the town. If Wakins Glen was a theme park it would be known as Waterfall World. The most popular of all the waterfalls is Rainbow Bridge and Falls in Watkins Glen State Park. You can venture through the moss-covered gorge to find an incredible hidden gem among the forest. The town is also known for its long history of auto racing. Visit this town during one of their several annual racing events at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Race Course for a great time.
When people think of Ithaca, one thing comes to mind: Cornell University. This town is one of the largest in the area and has a true college feel to it. You’ll frequently see Cornell gear, banners, and a doubled population during the school season. The prestigious university buildings paired with the beauty of Cayuga Lake make for one of the most picturesque towns in America. If you’re not in town for the University, then you are most likely visiting for the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Taughannock Falls, the Cayuga Waterfront Trail, or simply to shop your heart out in Ithaca’s thriving downtown.
On the North end of Seneca Lake lies the town of Geneva. If you are a wine-lover then you are already familiar with the incredible vineyards and wineries located just outside of town. As one of the largest stops on the Finger Lakes wine trail, you can easily spend a day or two touring all the must-see spots. Spend the better part of your day touring Three Brothers Wineries, Ravines Wine Cellars, Belhurst Castle Winery, and Lacey Magruder Winery, and at night head back into town to catch a show at the Smith Opera House.
Canandaigua is perched on the North end of Canandaigua Lake and is the closest Finger Lake town to Rochester. Canandaigua is the one town that has everything you could ever want (and more) just minutes from downtown. Want to go on a winery tour? Take your pick from Raymor Estate Cellars, Heron Hill Winery, Hazlitt’s Red Cat Cellars, Arbor Hill Grapery & Winery, or Inspire Moore Winery. Is a craft beer more your style? Stop by Twisted Rail Brewing, Naked Dove Brewing, Peacemaker Brewing, or Star Cider for a tasting flight. If you want to get outside and experience nature there are several year-round opportunities all around the town. From skiing on Bristol Mountain to hiking & biking the hundreds of trails, to kayaking or canoeing all along the lake, and even birding through the parks and preserves, one could never run out of places to explore. In the physical downtown, there is a myriad of unique stores and award-winning restaurants to please any eater. There are also a ton of unique lodging experiences in town like the Sutherland House B&B in a visually stunning Victorian-era home.
If you are looking for the perfect Finger Lakes road trip, then start at Skaneateles, then make your way down to Ithaca, skip over to Watkins Glen, then coast up Seneca Lake to Geneva, and end your trip at the charming town of Canandaigua. Make sure to save extra room in your trunk for bottles of wine, Cornell gear, and the dozens of presents you’ll inevitably pick up along the way.
Ready to experience the best towns in the Finger Lakes? Book a stay at the Sutherland House Victorian Bed & Breakfast, a historic inn located in the heart of beautiful Canandaigua, New York.