Best Places to Visit in Finger Lakes Region
New York State’s Finger Lakes region is perfect for any season. Whether you want to hike to waterfalls in spring, swim in a freshwater lake in summer, glide through a kaleidoscope of colors in a hot air balloon in autumn, or glide down a slope in winter, you’ll find it. There are so many fun things to do in the Finger Lakes.
Comprised of 9,000 square miles of pristine terrain, the Finger Lakes are named after 11 narrow lakes that finger-spread this mid-northwest region country. With so many exciting activities to choose from, it can be difficult to decide where to go first. Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in the Finger Lakes Region and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Finger Lakes Region
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Finger Lakes Region:
1. Letchworth State Park, Portageville
There is nothing more romantic than gliding in a hot air balloon soaring over a magnificent waterfall while falling into a majestic canyon. While these unforgettable experiences don’t come cheap (we say around $1,600 for one-hour private cruises for five), they’re one of the best things to do in the Finger Lakes region.
Every trip in the region is guaranteed to pass through the rugged canyons and waterfalls in Letchworth State Park. Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, this magnificent park boasts impressive cliffs (some over 600 feet high) and three massive waterfalls (Upper, Middle, and Lower Falls). Seeing them from above is truly breathtaking.
Insider Tip: As flights are weather dependent, the safest times of year to take a hot air balloon ride in New York’s Finger Lakes are June, July, and August.
Genesee Falls Balloon is one of the best hot air balloon companies in New York. Named after the Genesee River, which runs through the giant canyon in Letchworth State Park, this friendly organization searches for the right (and safest) flight plan every day. Flights take place two hours before sunrise or sunset.
2. Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Birdwatchers, raise your binoculars! The expansive Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is located in the heart of one of the most active flying areas on the Atlantic Route. It’s also designated an Audubon Important Bird Area, which means you’ll definitely see a variety of interesting creatures.
In fact, this 9,809-acre wonderland is home to so many animals it’s hard to predict which animal you’ll see next. From turtles to bears, from muskrats to waterfowl, you’re sure to find something amazing here. Take a leisurely stroll along Wildlife Drive, a 3.5-mile route perfect for those seeking lots of creatures.
Established in 1938 as a breeding ground and refuge for wildlife and migratory birds, this vast site is located 48 kilometers west of Syracuse and 40 miles north of Ithaca. While cycling is not allowed here, visitors are free to hike, fish or boat at one of the three designated locations and enjoy views of the multiple pools, Esker Brook and Benning Marsh.
Address: 3395 Routes 5 & 20 East, Seneca Falls, New York
Official website: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Montezuma/
3. Greek Peak Resort
If you’re a thrilling fan, you’ll love Greek Peaks Resort. Packed with exhilarating activities, the Outdoor Adventure Center has everything you could want for a fun-filled day for the whole family.
Race downhill on the Mountain Coaster; Climb over trees on the High Ropes Aerial Challenge; Fly on a Zip Line Tour; jump into an inflatable bounce house; Admire the breathtaking views from the chairlift of the Scenic Sky Tour. There’s also a Eurobungy attraction to test your nerves.
There’s so much to do that you’ll want to make a full day (or better yet, a long weekend) for your stay. Whatever the season, you’ll be pampered at this vibrant resort. When it comes to eating and drinking, the on-site restaurant Trax is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a delicious lunch or dinner indoors or outdoors on the large terrace with picturesque mountain views.
When you’re using too much energy and your feet feel like lead, cross the road to the Hope Lake Inn. A charming log cabin style resort, this is one of the best family-friendly resorts in the Finger Lakes, and the beds are so comfortable you’ll fall asleep as soon as your head hits the plush pillow.
After recharging, head to the on-site Cascades water park. Giant water slides, wave pools, children’s water park and must-have buckets are here, plus you can enjoy the outdoor pool and indoor/outdoor hot tub. While suitable for teenagers (under 10 love it best), everyone can have a good time. There is also a small cafe, perfect for a quick lunch or snack.
Address: 2000 NYS Route 392, Cortland, New York
Official website: https://www.greekpeak.net/
4. Bristol Mountain Ski Resort, Canada
If you’re lucky enough to visit the Finger Lakes in the winter, there’s no reason not to ski. Whether you’re a skier, snowboarder, or lodge warmer to stay, you can have a lot of fun at Mount Bristol, one of New York’s top ski resorts.
Known for the highest vertical (1,200 feet) between the Adirondacks and the Rocky Mountains, this 138-acre ski resort is a must-visit for winter sports enthusiasts. Bristol Hill has 38 pistes and trails that challenge skiers and snowboarders of all levels, as well as 3km of Nordic trails popular with cross-country skiers.
Two high-speed quad gondolas make the return trip to the mountains more efficient, while the state-of-the-art snowmaking system provides good coverage from November to April. Night skiers are rewarded with lights on 97% of runs.
If you want to fill out your form, please sign up for ski lessons. When your energy starts to wane, you can grab a bite at one of the two main lodges in the mountains or Morningstar Cafe.
Address: 5662 Route 64, Canandaigua, New York
Official website: https://www.bristolmountain.com/
5. Robert H. Treman State Park
If you’re a waterfall lover, you can’t miss Robert H. Treman State Park. This 1000-acre park with 12 magnificent waterfalls is a great place to sunbathe in nature. The 115-metre-high Lucifer Falls and the rugged Enfield Glen Canyon are must-sees.
Six trails stretching for 9 miles in the area take visitors through dense woodlands, jagged cliffs and, of course, beautiful waterfalls. No wonder it is referred to as one of the best national parks in New York.
Visiting on a hot summer day? Take a dip in the creek and the most scenic Lower Falls (aka Enfield Falls), or cool off by jumping off a diving board. They are open to tourists during these months when a lifeguard is on duty during peak hours.
Address: 105 Enfield Falls Road, Ithaca, NY
Official website: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/135/details.aspx
6. Tauhannock Falls in Trumansburg
While there are all kinds of great resorts in the Finger Lakes region, there’s nothing like falling asleep under the stars. Setting up a tent (or tying up a trailer) with unique views is exhilarating, and it’s no wonder so many people choose to camp in the magical Tauhannock Falls State Park near Ithaca. Don’t like roughing it? don’t worry. The park offers cabins for those who prefer luxury.
Pronounced “tuh-ga-nick,” the waterfalls have carved a huge canyon 400 feet deep and dropped 215 feet (three times higher than Niagara Falls) over the past few hundred years. It’s no surprise that visiting them is rated as one of the top things to do in the Finger Lakes area.
While swimming is not allowed inside the canyon, you can enjoy the lifeboat waters of the park’s sparkling Cayuga Lake during the summer months. Multiple hiking trails guide visitors through the park, whether biking, hiking or cross-country skiing. The easiest is the Gorge Trail, a 0.75-mile hiking trail that runs along Taughannock Creek to the bottom of the falls.
Address: 1740 Taughannock Avenue, Trumansburg, New York
Official website: https://parks.ny.gov/parks/62/details.aspx
7. Skaneateles Lake in Skaneateles
What’s a Finger Lakes cruise without a water experience? Whether you’re a fan of canoeing, sailing, canoeing or fishing, you’ll find plenty of opportunities at the lakes of Skaneateles (pronounced “skinny atlas”).
A quaint town filled with nature trails, delicious restaurants, eclectic shops and lavender farms, there are all sorts of things to do in Skaneateles. Still, spending time on the sparkling lake is by far the most fun way to spend a day in this northeastern New York paradise.
Don’t have your own boat? Head to Skaneateles Marina to rent everything from motorboats, canoes, canoes and stand-up paddle boards. They can be rented for half day, full day, five days or 7 days.
If you’d rather be driven by someone else, book a lake cruise through Mid-Lakes Navigation Company. They offer guided sightseeing tours and moonlight cruises from June to September.
8. Harriet Tubman Home in Auburn
The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park was established in January 2017. Its main tourist attraction is the former home of Harriet Tubman, a runaway slave woman whose courage and determination helped lead nearly 70 enslaved people to freedom before the Civil War.
A political activist, Harriet was a heroic abolitionist who later served as a spy and scout for the Union Army during the Civil War. Today, an independent nonprofit run by the African Methodist Bishop Zion Church runs the Harriet Tubman House.
Guided tours give you a deeper understanding of Harriet Tubman’s life and values. Visitors will find some of his remains and other items related to the Underground Railroad. The house has been called “a tribute to America and all freedom-loving people.”
Address: 180 South Street, Auburn, NY
Official website: https://www.harriettubmanhome.com/
9. Rochester Strong Museum
Whether you are 5 or 75 years old, everyone loves to relax and what better place to relax than a museum dedicated to the art of gaming? The mighty National Museum of Play has everything you could want in an interactive game center: Video Game Hall of Fame, Toy Hall of Fame, Game Show Historical Archives, Dance Lab, Carousel and Trains, just to name a few.
Auto enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy the Build, Drive, Go exhibition, which outlines the history of vehicles ranging from airplanes to trains, from boats to trucks. A physical space called the Test Track allows visitors to try various ways to speed up their cars, while Big Build offers large building blocks to help visitors create any building they can imagine.
There is also an aquarium, butterfly garden and climbing wall on site. Don’t miss the super interactive playground exhibit where you can walk through a giant kaleidoscope, pretend to be driving a car, and hang out in a jellyfish jungle.
The on-site restaurant is the perfect place for lunch, while the bustling museum shop will test your ability to say no.
Address: One Manhattan Plaza, Rochester, New York
Official website: https://www.museumofplay.org/
10. Cascadilla Gorge Trail, Ithaca
The stunning Cascadilla Gorge Trail is an easy escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. This lovely retreat is located in the heart of Ithaca and is easily accessible from the Cornell campus (near Oaks and College Avenue) or Treman Triangle Park.
Operated by the Cornell Botanical Gardens, this natural sanctuary spans one mile (1.3 miles to be exact) connecting downtown Ithaca to the Cornell campus. Once inside, the hustle and bustle of the city are gone, replaced by the soothing sound of water flowing over the rocks.
The canyon has numerous waterfalls ranging from 8 feet to 80 feet in height and descends 400 feet along Cascadilla Creek. Your camera needs to be ready as the picturesque scenery needs to be captured.
If you’re looking for solitude, head to the upper northern part of the trail. It’s much quieter here, as students walking through the park stick to the lower canyon section, which has dramatic waterfalls.
Address: Cornell Campus (behind Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts) or Treman Triangle Park (next to Lynn Street)
Official website: https://cornellbotanicgardens.org/location/cascadilla-gorge/
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in the Finger Lakes Region. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Finger Lakes Region, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.