Sunday, September 3, 2023

Savoring the Serenity: A Blissful Journey through New York's Finger Lakes Region - 2023

Hello there, fellow travelers and adventure enthusiasts! Today, I'm absolutely thrilled to share with you my unforgettable experience exploring the breathtaking beauty and charm of the Finger Lakes region in New York. Whether you're a nature lover, a wine connoisseur, or simply seeking a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this incredible destination has something for everyone. Join me on this virtual journey as we delve deep into the Finger Lakes, uncover its hidden gems, and celebrate the beauty of this remarkable region.

A Glimpse into Finger Lakes' Rich History

Our adventure begins with a glimpse into the rich history of the Finger Lakes region. Named after its 11 long, narrow lakes that resemble fingers, this area is steeped in Native American history, with the Iroquois Confederacy playing a significant role in shaping the region's cultural heritage. As you explore the region, take the time to visit the Seneca Art & Culture Center, where you can immerse yourself in the history and traditions of the Seneca Nation, one of the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.

A Scenic Drive to Remember

One of the best ways to truly appreciate the beauty of the Finger Lakes is by embarking on a scenic drive along its picturesque byways. I highly recommend taking the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway or the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Both routes offer stunning views of the lakes, vineyards, and charming towns that dot the landscape. Don't forget your camera, as there will be plenty of opportunities to capture postcard-worthy moments!

Wine Lovers' Paradise

The Finger Lakes region is renowned for its world-class wineries and vineyards, making it a paradise for wine enthusiasts. With over 100 wineries to choose from, you can indulge in tastings of exquisite wines, many of which have received national and international acclaim. Some of the region's standout wineries include Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars, Wagner Vineyards, and Ravines Wine Cellars. Whether you're a seasoned sommelier or a novice, you're bound to find a wine that tickles your taste buds.

Here are some of the top wineries in the area that you definitely should check out:

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery: This winery is famous for pioneering the growth of European grape varieties in the region. Their Rieslings are especially celebrated.

Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard: Known for its world-class Rieslings, this vineyard has a strong commitment to sustainable farming practices.

Ravines Wine Cellars: A must-visit for lovers of cool-climate wines. Their Finger Lakes Cabernet Franc and Dry Riesling are highly regarded.

Fox Run Vineyards: With a stunning view of Seneca Lake, Fox Run offers a wide range of wines, including Chardonnay, Merlot, and Lemberger.

Boundary Breaks Vineyard: Specializing in Riesling, Boundary Breaks' single-vineyard selections showcase the unique terroir of the Finger Lakes.

Sheldrake Point Winery: Their Ice Wines are renowned for their sweetness and balance, and they also offer a variety of other delightful wines.

Heron Hill Winery: A beautiful winery with a diverse selection of wines, including their well-loved Eclipse Red and Ingle Vineyard Riesling.

Red Newt Cellars: Known for their expressive and elegant wines, particularly the Rieslings and Pinot Noirs.

Finger Lakes Distilling: If you're looking for something other than wine, this distillery offers a selection of craft spirits, including whiskey, gin, and vodka.

Wagner Vineyards: A family-owned winery with a wide range of wines, including the popular Caywood East Riesling and Meritage.

These wineries are just a taste of the Finger Lakes Region's wine offerings. Each one offers a unique experience, stunning scenery, and, of course, delicious wines to enjoy. So, if you're in the area, be sure to explore these fantastic wineries and savor the flavors of the Finger Lakes! Cheers! 🍷

A Culinary Delight

Exploring the Finger Lakes isn't just about sipping wine; it's also a culinary adventure. The region boasts a vibrant food scene, with farm-to-table restaurants, charming bistros, and cozy cafes that serve up delicious dishes crafted from locally sourced ingredients. Be sure to try the Finger Lakes' specialty, grape pie, which combines the region's love for grapes and pastry into a delectable treat.

Whether you're a foodie or just looking for a delicious meal, you're in for a treat. Here are some must-visit spots:

Dano's Heuriger on Seneca: This Austrian-inspired restaurant offers fantastic farm-to-table dishes, a wide selection of wines, and a charming atmosphere overlooking Seneca Lake.

Glenora Wine Cellars Restaurant: Located at the Glenora Wine Cellars, this restaurant serves up exquisite cuisine paired perfectly with their own wines, all while you enjoy breathtaking lake views.

Stonecat Café: A beloved local spot in Hector, Stonecat Café serves up farm-fresh, seasonal dishes with a focus on sustainability. Don't miss their live music nights!

Kindred Fare: Located in Geneva, Kindred Fare offers a contemporary American menu with a strong emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and craft cocktails.

FLX Table: A unique dining experience in Geneva, FLX Table features communal seating and a set multi-course menu, showcasing the region's finest ingredients.

New York Kitchen: This culinary center in Canandaigua offers a variety of dining experiences, from casual to upscale, along with cooking classes and tastings.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que: If you're craving some mouthwatering BBQ, head over to this iconic joint in Syracuse. Their ribs and brisket are legendary!

Ports Cafe: Nestled in Geneva, Ports Cafe offers a diverse menu with an emphasis on seafood and Mediterranean-inspired dishes.

Red Newt Bistro: A winery and bistro rolled into one, Red Newt Cellars in Hector boasts delicious wine pairings with a creative and locally inspired menu.

Parker's Grille & Tap House: In Seneca Falls, Parker's Grille offers a welcoming atmosphere with a menu featuring classic American dishes and a great beer selection.

Graft Wine + Cider Bar: Located in Watkins Glen, Graft specializes in craft cider and wine, along with a menu that complements the beverage offerings perfectly.

Berta's Café: A cozy cafe in Burdett, Berta's is known for its delectable breakfast and brunch offerings, making it a great start to your day.

Adventures in the Great Outdoors

For those who crave outdoor adventures, the Finger Lakes region offers an abundance of opportunities to connect with nature. Whether you're an avid hiker, kayaker, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll in the woods, you'll find your bliss here. Watkins Glen State Park, with its 19 cascading waterfalls, is a must-visit for any nature lover. For a more challenging hike, venture to Taughannock Falls State Park, where you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of a 215-foot waterfall.

Here are some of the top places to hike in this fantastic region:

Letchworth State Park: Known as the "Grand Canyon of the East," Letchworth offers breathtaking views of the Genesee River Gorge and numerous trails for hikers of all levels.

Watkins Glen State Park: Famous for its dramatic gorge and stunning waterfalls, Watkins Glen offers a picturesque hiking experience with stone bridges and over 800 steps along its trails.

Taughannock Falls State Park: Home to the tallest waterfall east of the Rockies, this park features a short and easy hike to the falls overlook and more challenging trails for avid hikers.

Robert H. Treman State Park: Explore the rugged Enfield Glen, hike along the rim of Lucifer Falls, and take in the beauty of natural swimming areas and cascading waterfalls.

Buttermilk Falls State Park: This park is known for its series of cascading waterfalls and offers both easy and challenging trails through a lush gorge.

Finger Lakes National Forest: Discover a network of trails perfect for hiking, horseback riding, and birdwatching amidst the tranquil forests of the region.

Hammond Hill State Forest: Ideal for those who love woodland hikes, this area features an extensive trail system with varying levels of difficulty and beautiful scenery.

Clark Gully: For a more rugged and off-the-beaten-path experience, explore the challenging terrain and unique landscapes of Clark Gully Preserve.

Grimes Glen: A hidden gem with waterfalls and a natural swimming hole, Grimes Glen offers a short but rewarding hike in Naples, NY.

High Tor Wildlife Management Area: Experience panoramic views of the Canandaigua Lake and explore a network of trails that cater to hikers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Charming Small Towns

One of the most endearing aspects of the Finger Lakes region is its collection of charming small towns that exude quintessential American charm. Places like Skaneateles, Hammondsport, and Canandaigua are perfect for leisurely strolls along Main Street, boutique shopping, and enjoying a scoop of homemade ice cream. Don't forget to explore the local art galleries and museums that showcase the region's creativity and heritage.

Here are some of the best main streets to stroll down in the Finger Lakes region:

Skaneateles Main Street: This picturesque street is like a scene out of a postcard, with its quaint boutiques, cozy cafes, and a lovely view of Skaneateles Lake. Don't forget to stroll along the pier!

Canandaigua's Main Street: Canandaigua is known for its vibrant downtown, filled with unique shops, art galleries, and fantastic restaurants. It's also home to the beautiful Canandaigua Lake.

Auburn's South Street: Steeped in history, South Street boasts charming 19th-century architecture, including the Seward House Museum. You can also explore the nearby Finger Lakes Wine Trail.

Geneva's Seneca Street: Geneva's downtown is a bustling hub with a diverse range of eateries, specialty shops, and the beautiful Seneca Lake just a stone's throw away.

Ithaca's Ithaca Commons: As the home of Cornell University and Ithaca College, this vibrant college town offers a lively atmosphere with boutiques, bookstores, and an array of dining options. It's the gateway to exploring the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.

Penn Yan's Main Street: Penn Yan, located at the northern tip of Keuka Lake, is a charming village with a classic small-town feel. You'll find a mix of boutiques, antique shops, and cozy cafes here.

Canandaigua's Main Street: Canandaigua is known for its vibrant downtown, filled with unique shops, art galleries, and fantastic restaurants. It's also home to the beautiful Canandaigua Lake.

Hammondsport's Main Street: Hammondsport, nestled at the southern tip of Keuka Lake, is a gem with its wineries, craft breweries, and friendly local shops. The town's beauty is matched only by the lake itself.

Watkins Glen's Franklin Street: Famous for Watkins Glen State Park and its breathtaking gorge trail, Watkins Glen's main street offers charming boutiques and places to grab a bite after your outdoor adventures.

Corning's Market Street: While technically just outside the Finger Lakes region, Corning's Market Street is a must-visit. It's home to the world-renowned Corning Museum of Glass and a delightful collection of shops and restaurants.

Water Adventures

With 11 pristine lakes to choose from, water enthusiasts will find plenty to keep them entertained. Whether it's sailing on Seneca Lake, fishing on Keuka Lake, or paddleboarding on Cayuga Lake, there's a water activity for every interest. Don't miss the opportunity to take a scenic boat tour, where you can soak in the panoramic views and learn about the fascinating geology and history of the region.

Here are some of the top boat tours in the Finger Lakes Region that will surely make your visit memorable:

Seneca Lake Wine Tour: Explore the largest of the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake, while sipping on some of the finest local wines. Many tour operators offer wine tasting cruises where you can enjoy the serene waters and taste world-class wines from nearby vineyards.

Keuka Lake Boat Tours: Keuka Lake's unique Y-shape provides picturesque scenery. Take a boat tour here to enjoy the stunning views, visit charming towns like Hammondsport, and learn about the lake's history.

Cayuga Lake Scenic Cruise: Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes, and a scenic cruise here is a fantastic way to take in the lush landscapes and visit attractions like Taughannock Falls State Park.

Skaneateles Lake Boat Tours: This crystal-clear lake is known for its pristine waters. Enjoy a boat tour on Skaneateles Lake and admire the charming village of Skaneateles and its stunning waterfront homes.

Canandaigua Lady: Experience a relaxing cruise on Canandaigua Lake aboard the Canandaigua Lady paddlewheel boat. It offers narrated tours that provide insights into the region's history and geology.

Erie Canal Cruises: Explore the historic Erie Canal, which runs through parts of the Finger Lakes Region. Take a cruise to learn about the canal's significance and the role it played in the region's development.

Finger Lakes Waterfall Tours: Some tours focus on the many waterfalls that dot the Finger Lakes landscape. These excursions often include visits to multiple falls, including the famous Watkins Glen State Park.

Private Charters: For a more personalized experience, consider renting a private boat charter. You can tailor your trip to your preferences, whether it's a romantic evening cruise or a family adventure.

Festivals and Events

Throughout the year, the Finger Lakes region hosts a wide range of festivals and events that celebrate its culture, food, and natural beauty. The Finger Lakes Wine Festival, held at Watkins Glen International, is a wine lover's dream, featuring tastings, live music, and culinary delights. The Naples Grape Festival is another highlight, where you can sample grape pies, enjoy live entertainment, and peruse local crafts.

Here some of the top festivals and events in the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of New York! 🎉

Finger Lakes Wine Festival 🍷
Raise a glass to the region's renowned wineries with wine tastings, live music, and food pairings at Watkins Glen International.

Ithaca Festival 🎭
Celebrate the arts and culture of Ithaca with a vibrant weekend of music, dance, visual arts, and delicious local food.

GlassFest 🔮
Corning's annual celebration of glass art features live demonstrations, glassblowing, and an arts and crafts show.

Naples Grape Festival 🍇
Enjoy everything grape-related, from grape pies to wine tastings, as you explore the charming town of Naples.

Cayuga Sound Festival 🎶
Curated by X Ambassadors, this music festival in Ithaca brings together a diverse lineup of musicians for a rocking good time.

Watkins Glen Waterfront Festival ⛵
Take in the beauty of Seneca Lake at this festival featuring boat rides, live music, and delicious local cuisine.

Lilac Festival 🌸
Head to Rochester for a celebration of spring and the city's stunning lilac collection. It's a fragrant and colorful experience.

Ithaca Apple Harvest Festival 🍏
Embrace the fall season with apple picking, cider tasting, and live music in the heart of Ithaca.

Trumansburg Porchfest 🎵
Stroll through the streets of Trumansburg as local musicians play on neighborhood porches, creating a unique and intimate music experience.

Geneva Music Festival 🎻
Classical music enthusiasts will appreciate this festival, which showcases world-class musicians in various stunning venues.

Harvest Fest and Duck Derby 🦆
Seneca Falls hosts this fun-filled event featuring live music, local food, and the famous duck derby race down the canal.

Hammondsport Festival of Crafts 🎨
Discover handmade arts and crafts at this event in the "Coolest Small Town in America," Hammondsport.

Where to Stay

The Finger Lakes offer a diverse range of accommodations, from charming bed and breakfasts to luxury lakeside resorts. For a truly immersive experience, consider staying at one of the region's vineyard-side inns, where you can wake up to stunning vineyard views and enjoy wine tastings right on the property.

Whether you're looking for a cozy bed and breakfast, a lakeside retreat, or a charming inn, this region has it all. So, here are some top picks:

The Black Sheep Inn and Spa: Nestled in the heart of the Finger Lakes, this eco-friendly inn offers luxurious rooms, a full-service spa, and delicious organic breakfasts.

Taughannock Farms Inn: Located near Taughannock Falls State Park, this historic inn offers elegant rooms and breathtaking views of Cayuga Lake.

Belhurst Castle: Experience a touch of royalty by staying in this magnificent castle overlooking Seneca Lake. You can even dine in their on-site winery and restaurants.

Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars: If you love wine, this is the place to be. Enjoy vineyard views and wine tastings at the Glenora Wine Cellars, right on the shores of Seneca Lake.

Finger Lakes Premier Properties: If you prefer vacation rentals, this agency offers a wide range of beautiful lakefront homes and cottages, perfect for group getaways.

La Tourelle Hotel & Spa: Set in a tranquil natural setting, this boutique hotel offers upscale rooms, a spa, and access to hiking trails in Buttermilk Falls State Park.

The 1897 Beekman House: This charming bed and breakfast in Skaneateles is known for its hospitality, gourmet breakfast, and proximity to the picturesque Skaneateles Lake.

Mirbeau Inn & Spa: Relax in French-inspired luxury at this inn and spa in Skaneateles. The grounds are beautifully landscaped, and the spa is top-notch.

Geneva On The Lake: This historic villa-style resort on Seneca Lake exudes old-world charm. You can stroll through the Italianate gardens and enjoy a meal with a view at their restaurant.

The Fox and The Grapes Bed & Breakfast: A quaint B&B located near Seneca Lake, offering cozy rooms and a delicious homemade breakfast.

The Inns of Aurora: Explore the charming village of Aurora and stay at one of their elegant inns, such as the Aurora Inn or Rowland House, both overlooking Cayuga Lake.

Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel: For a modern lakeside stay, this hotel in Watkins Glen offers upscale accommodations, dining options, and easy access to Watkins Glen State Park.

The Warmth of the Finger Lakes

What truly sets the Finger Lakes region apart is the warmth and hospitality of its residents. Locals are not just proud of their beautiful home; they're eager to share it with visitors. Be sure to strike up conversations with the people you meet along the way, as they may offer invaluable recommendations and stories that make your trip even more memorable.

In conclusion, my journey through New York's Finger Lakes region was nothing short of magical. From the captivating landscapes to the delicious wines, the Finger Lakes offer an experience that caters to every traveler's desires. So, whether you're planning a romantic getaway, a family adventure, or a solo exploration, consider adding the Finger Lakes to your travel bucket list. It's a place where serenity, beauty, and warm hospitality converge, creating memories that will last a lifetime. So, what are you waiting for? Start planning your Finger Lakes adventure today and get ready to savor the serenity of this enchanting region!