Go On A Wild Foraging Hiking Tour
Join local forager and ecologist, Sarah Kelson on this 90 minuted guided hike through Buttermilk Falls State Park. With her help, youll learn about the local plants and ecology of this gorgeous region. Please note- youll meet at Firelight Camps and depart on your guided hike from there.
PS: Firelight Camps is one of our favorite places to go glamping in New York! Two for one!
The Lakes Of The Finger Lakes
At the end of the last ice age, over one hundred-thousand years ago, massive glaciers advanced southward from Canada, carving deep trenches in the earth. As the earth warmed and the glaciers receded, the trenches filled with water and formed what we now know as the Finger Lakes.
The eleven Finger Lakes range in length from 40 miles to only 3 miles and in depth from 618 feet to just 30 feet , and are beloved for their natural beauty. The deep waters of the largest lakes, combined with the steep slopes of their hillsides, create a micro-climate ideal for wine production, which attracts wine makers and enthusiasts from all over the world to the region.
Some of the lakes are well developed with booming tourism industries and are dotted with quaint towns and villages, while some lakes are pristine and undeveloped with miles of peaceful, picturesque hiking and biking trails.
Q: What Is The Best Time To Visit The Finger Lakes
The best time to visit the Finger Lakes Region depends on the kind of trip you want to take. If youre looking to enjoy the great outdoors and cool off with a dip in the lake, youll want to visit between May and September when temperatures hover around the mid-70s Fahrenheit.
The summer months do tend to see some more rain, but showers generally pass quickly. Keep an eye on the weather forecast and come prepared with rain gear.
For winter sports, plan your trip for some time between December and February. Temperatures will be chilly , but youll have plenty of snow for skiing, snowboarding, and more.
Youll also likely enjoy lower rates at area hotels during this time, as its considered the off-season.
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Wineries In The Finger Lakes
Please note there are over a hundred wineries in this region and people have different predilections to the wines/tastes they may prefer. These are my suggestions based on taste, recognition/accolades, and ambiance.
Two unique types of wine that I personally recommend trying in the Finger Lakes are Riesling and Cayuga White. The former is renowned in the region as one of the best in the world and the latter was invented by local Cornell students!
Red Tail Ridge Winery
Best for: Eco-conscious wine enthusiasts
Another Seneca Lake showstopper, Red Tail Ridge Winery produces both popular varieties as well as more creative choices, and wine enthusiasts can find everything from unoaked Chardonnay to Pét-nat to Riesling. This boutique operation, owned by a husband-and-wife team, focuses on sustainability, and its the only LEED gold-certified green winery in all of New York State. As part of its sustainable model, this Finger Lakes winery also donates 10% of proceeds to community initiatives, such as improving food security in upstate New York.
Winemaker Nancy Irelan has a PhD in grape genetics and spent a decade at E& J Gallo before branching out on her own, notes Rebecca Holland, a wine, food and travel writer and certified sommelier based in Chicago. Now, shes focused on uncharted territory, like planting the red Italian grape variety Teroldego, primarily grown in Trentino-Aldo, in Seneca. This type of ingenuity in an up-and-coming wine area will add to the regions lore.
Best time of year to visit: Spring, to enjoy the scenic patio
Tasting prices: $15 to try five current releases
Hero wine: RTR Estate Vineyard Dry Riesling for summer sipping. Holland calls out this wines stone-fruit and honey taste, accompanied by plenty of acidity and a lemon finish. She also recommends Blaufränkisch, a dark purple wine with blueberry, black pepper and clove notes and the perfect companion to grilled lamb.
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Buttermilks Falls State Park
This is one of my favorite places in the entire State of New York and one of the most beautiful hikes in New York. This park is a short hike around several natural gorges, natural pools, streams, waterfalls, unique rock formations, and lovely trails. Swimming is officially allowed at the bottom of the waterfalls when a lifeguard is present.
Located near Ithaca, NY
Dr Konstantin Frank Winery
Best for: Old World wine aficionados
One cant-miss Finger Lakes winery is Dr. Konstantin Frank on Keuka Lake, arguably the prettiest lake in New York. This historic home turned winery even boasts the oldest Pinot Noir, Riesling and Chardonnay vines in the eastern United States. Frank was basically responsible for bringing vinifera to the Finger Lakes, explains Selinger. For more than six decades, this winery, a longtime champion of European varietals in the new world, has welcomed guests to the region. The main tasting room is indoors, while a more casual outdoor seating area, Eugenias Garden, provides an another option and experience.
Best time of year to visit: Spring, for the fresh garden blooms and the energy of a new season
Tasting prices: $15 for a signature seated tasting $75 for a more elaborate food and wine experience
Hero wine: Any Rkatsiteli offering. Selinger explains that this interesting white varietal, made from a European grape, is designed to be consumed upon release. Its very floral and tropical, and pairs well with spicy food, the way does, she says.
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Uplift And River Valleys
Around 360 million years ago, sea levels began to decline, and the land that was for millions of years covered in a shallow ocean began to uplift. By 100 million years ago, the inland sea that once covered New York would have mostly disappeared. The new land uncovered began to form a mesh of river valleys, most of which flowed south-to-north, and one valley that flowed west-to-east, carrying the drainage out to the ocean.
How To Get To The Finger Lakes
The best way to get around the Finger Lakes is by driving or renting a car. This way you get the most out of your trip and get to see a little bit of everything. Otherwise, you can take a bus to the walkable town of Ithaca and take an Uber to places around Cayuga Lake.
Because the 11 Finger Lakes span across a large portion of New York State, the time it takes to get there varies on which lake/area you choose. But the most popular lakes are about a 4-5 hour drive from New York City.
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Ithaca + Weekend Farmers Market
You could easily spend your morning at this lovely market in Ithaca. Here you can grab your morning coffee/kombucha while you shop for plants, local honey, cheese, meats, organic soaps, lotions, jewelry, home goods, fruits/veggies, and a zillion other local small business products. After you work up an appetite, be sure to check out the food stands in the back. I recommend the Cambodian food, its full of flavor and uses some of my favorite Caribbean/Asian staples like plantains!
The Icy Origins Of The Finger Lakes
May 6, 2013JPEG
The Finger Lakesa group of long, roughly parallel lakes in upstate New Yorkgot their name for obvious reasons. On a map, the narrow lakes look similar to outstretched digits. Seneca and Cayugathe two largest Finger Lakesare among the deepest lakes in North America. Lake Cayuga descends about 435 feet at its deepest pointputting it about 53 feet below sea level.
On May 6, 2013, the Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on NASAs Terra satellite acquired this true-color image of the Finger Lakes. Water appears dark blue. Farms and orchards, mainly around the northern part of the lakes, are beige. Forested areas south of the lake are brown because leaves had not fully emerged in early May. However, grass and other low-lying vegetation in meadows had turned some parts of the landscape green.
Millions of years ago, the lakes were northward-flowing streams that ran through a series of narrow valleys shaped like a V. Beginning about two million years ago, during a period known as the Pleistocene glaciation, sheets of ice crept south and buried those valleys under ice.
As the glaciers pushed south, they gouged the bottoms and sides of the narrow valleys, deepening and widening them into vertical U shapes. This process, known as glacial scouring, likely happened multiple times as orbital variations in global climatecalled Milankovitch cyclesproduced cycles of advancing and retreating ice.
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Grist Iron Brewing Company
This brewery wins on all counts: great ambiance, beautiful views, delicious food, and really good beer. Since most of their drinks are on tap, you can ask to try a beer before committing to an entire class. I tried the grape beer and was floored by how delicious and refreshing it was!
Location: Seneca Lake
Q: What Is The Best Lake To Stay On In The Finger Lakes
For first-time visitors to the Finger Lakes, Seneca Lake is the perfect home base.
The area around the lake is home to many of the regions top attractions, including the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, Watkins Glen, Finger Lakes National Forest, and more.
Youll also find tons of great hotels, inns, and rental homes around the vast lake that will provide easy access to lakefront activities like boating and swimming.
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Graft Wine + Cider Bar
I was delighted to find out that the chef of this restaurant is a fellow Dominican! You know what that means? FLAVOR!
Honestly, anything you get on the menu is bound to satisfy your taste buds. We tried the chicken, pork, salmon, and we were all delighted with Chef Orlandos dishes. The ambiance is uniquely beautiful and cozy. And the service was lovely. A must-visit for tasty and fresh dishes by a dexterous chef! And some of the best food I had in the entire Finger Lakes region.
Bonus: I recommend starting dinner with their delicious cheeseboard + a cider flight!
Finger Lakes Vacation And Cabin Rentals
Formed more than 200 million years ago as a result of receding Ice Age glaciers, the Finger Lakes are comprised of 11 freshwater lakes and surrounding forests, making it the ideal vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts. Located in upstate New York, this region has more than 1,000 waterfalls, countless quaint towns and vineyards, and an abundance of national and state parks. Relax amongst the serene natural landscape or head into one of the nearby cities like Syracuse or Ithaca.
A unique climate is created by the lakes presence, which protects the region from the harsh winters and hot summers, forging the perfect location for cultivating grapes. Naturally, the area is known for its more than 100 wineries and farm-to-table culinary scene, which heavily incorporates locally-sourced products.
Finger Lakes vacation rentals are the perfect place to take in the breathtaking scenery surrounding this part of upstate New York. With a plethora of state parks, the Finger Lakes outdoor activity options are endless hike or bike through the trail system that extends over 950 miles, visit The Grand Canyon of the East at Letchworth State Park, admire waterfalls of Watkins Glen State Park, and explore the food and wine scene on tours covering everything from wine and beer to sweets and cheese.
The Best Finger Lakes Cabin and Vacation Rentals For Your Finger Lakes Vacation.
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Best Retreat Spot: The Best Place To Go To Escape The Hustle And Bustle Of The Real World According To Fitzgerald Is Seneca Lake
Along with its tasty wineries and affordable homes, Seneca Lake is also the go-to spot for visitors looking to kick back and relax.
“A lot of people, from all over the world, come to the Watkins Glen International race track,” Fitzgerald told Business Insider. “People love to get away and go to these boutique areas.”
Fitzgerald named Keuka Lake as the runner up for the best retreat spot.
“It’s kind of like being on a lake, but you feel like you’re in the Adirondack Mountains,” she said.
Finger Lakes Cider House
One of the Best Things to Do in the Finger Lakes!
Just the drive there alone is worth the drive, as you pass magnificent landscape views, beautiful homes, bucolic farms, and the sprawling countryside. Located in the middle of vast farmland, the rustic American-style Finger Lakes Cider House offers delicious food, a unique gift shop, and a huge list of some of the best cider youll taste. Their ciders and cider cocktails vary from sweet to dry, some infused with herbs, spices, wine grapes, and much more.
This is definitely one of the best things to do in the Finger Lakes.
Location: Northwest Cayuga Lake
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Watkins Glen & Hammondsport
Things to Do:
Watkins Glen is located on Seneca Lakes south shore. This area has a number of wineries and breweries. This village is adjacent to the beautiful Watkins Glen State Park, which is a must do in the area.
Hammondsport is at the south end of Keuka Lake. It is home to the Finger Lakes oldest winery, Pleasant Valley Wine Company, which dates back to 1860. Other sites of note here include the Finger Lakes Boating Museum, and the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, which showcases aviation and motorcycle history.
Where to Stay:
If you wish to stay in a beautiful hotel suite, Snug Harbor has year round all suite options along with local curated wines. The Pleasant Valley Inn has peaceful lodging in a historic residence, along with a fine dining restaurant.
Visit Harriet Tubmans House In Auburn
Another one of the best places to visit in upstate New York for meaningful history is Auburn, New York. Auburn sits on the north end of Owasco Lake. The town got its name from a beautiful poem, Deserted Village by Oliver Goldsmith.
While you visit Auburn, stop by Harriet Tubmans house to pay homage to one of our greatest American heroines. After escaping slavery, Tubman rescued 300 enslaved Americans using a network of safe houses that reached this very region in upstate New York. This was all despite having suffered a traumatic head injury which affected her health for the rest of her life. She was also the first recorded American woman to lead an armed expedition during the American Civil War. During the Combahee Ferry Raid, she helped liberate another 700 enslaved Americans! Tubman retired and was buried in Auburn, New York. Today, you can visit her home in Auburn. She is an icon of revolutionary courage and freedom.
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Finger Lakes National Park
Finger Lakes National Forest is the only national forest in New York State. Here, you can choose from several hiking trails for hikers of all levels. The forest encompasses over 15,000 acres that span across Seneca and Schuyler countries. As you explore the 30+ miles of trails, you can admire wildlife, gorges, woodlands, and much more.
When To Go To The Finger Lakes Region
This region in upstate New York is a great place to come in every season. The spring, summer and early fall bring many opportunities for outdoor activities. Visitors to the region enjoy hiking, biking, and water sports at the many state parks and open spaces in this expansive 9,000 square mile area. In the autumn, the harvest time brings apples, pumpkins, and cider, plus amazing fall foliage. During the winter months, the region is a favorite for skiers and other winter sports, plus there are many holiday festivals occurring everywhere.
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Q: What Are Some Top Finger Lakes Wineries To Visit
The Finger Lakes Wine Trail a must-visit whether youre looking for a romantic Upstate New York getaway or just to explore local culture is home to many top vineyards that rival those of Napa and Europe.
Located on Cayuga Lake, Americana Vineyards is a favorite of many travelers to the Finger Lakes Region. The vineyards wine tasting room and gift shop are housed in a former swing barn from the 1820s, giving it a fun, rustic feel.
Try out some of Americanas many wine varietals, including dry riesling and pinot gris, or satisfy your sweet tooth with their 20 varieties of homemade fudge.
Stop by on a Sunday for Americanas afternoon concert series and be sure to say hi to the vineyards resident labs, Maverick and Lilly!
When it comes to Seneca Lake wine, Fox Run Vineyards is a favorite of visitors and locals alike. Fox Run is the perfect place for wine fans to learn more about the growing and winemaking process as the vineyard offers in-depth tours of its grounds and facilities.
Once back at the tasting room, you can enjoy a flight of dry, sweet, or Riesling wines. If youre more of a foodie, you can savor a Taste Buds Flight featuring five delicious snacks perfectly paired with 5 different wines.
And with tons of great events at the vineyard every summer, its the perfect place to spend the day.
Reservations are required for the tasting room Monday through Thursday, but youll definitely enjoy learning about these local wines in a more intimate setting.