4 of the Best Towns in the Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is home to some of the country’s best state parks, one of the best wine regions, and an up-and-coming food scene that should not be missed! If you’ve never visited the Finger Lakes before, there’s no better time to do it than right now. But with so many possible destinations surrounding the 11 Finger Lakes, it can be difficult choosing the right one. Here are some of our picks for the best towns in the Finger Lakes and what there is to do. For even more great suggestions of things to do in the region, download our free Vacation Guide!

The Best Towns in the Finger Lakes


Home to Ithaca College and Cornell University, this quiet Finger Lakes town has the laid-back feel of a college community and some of the best attractions and state parks around. Whether you’re touring one of the higher education centers as a potential student or you’re planning on taking a quiet lake vacation, this is an excellent choice! Buttermilk Falls and Robert H. Treman State Parks are both nearby, both of which are great options for hiking excursions. In town, you can tour the Herbert H. Johnson Museum of Art, the Cornell Botanic Gardens, or the Sciencenter. Ithaca is located at the southernmost tip of Cayuga Lake and is home to some of the best wineries on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail!

Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen is most well-known for two things: Watkins Glen State Park, which is said to be the best park for gorge hikes in the Finger Lakes, and the Watkins Glen Grand Prix. If you’re interested in rally car racing, Watkins Glen is the place to go. Outdoor enthusiasts should not miss the change to hike the gorge trails in the state park. Wakins Glen is located at the southernmost tip of Seneca Lake.


Voted All-America City 2015, Geneva is the perfect place to go for a quiet, relaxing lakefront vacation. Geneva is on the northernmost tip of Seneca Lake and features a bustling downtown district and fantastic cultural attractions. See a show at the Smith Opera House or tour the many local historic houses.

Penn Yan

Enjoy the best of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail when you visit Penn Yan! This quiet village is home to many wonderful vineyards as well as shuttle and touring services that allow you to make your own, custom wine tour. If you’re interested in taking a boat tour (which we highly recommend you do!), stop by Big Fish Boat Tours. They offer a variety of different tour packages, including a wine tasting or a romantic sunset tour.

Stay With Finger Lakes Premier Properties

dean lake houseExperience the best towns in the Finger Lakes for yourself when you book your stay with Finger Lakes Premier Properties. We have an amazing selection of homes, from luxury estates to pet-friendly houses. If you’re interested in hiking the best gorge trails in the region or seeing a race, consider staying in Dean Lake House, located in Watkins Glen! This four-bedroom, two-bathroom rental features stunning lake views, modern conveniences, and a cozy atmosphere. Dean Lake House is perfect for families who don’t want to sacrifice comfort or privacy during their annual vacation.

Take a look at all of our properties and book today! We look forward to having you.

Where to Find the Best Finger Lakes Fall Foliage

The Finger Lakes region is famous for its incredible displays of orange, reds, yellows, and browns during the fall season. Leaf peepers and photographers come from all over the country to enjoy the amazing sights. Let Finger Lakes fall foliage become part of your annual tradition. Here are some of the best places to see the foliage! If you need help planning the rest of your trip to the Finger Lakes, download our free Vacation Guide. It’s full of our personal recommendations for everything in the region, from restaurants to hiking trails and more! It’s the perfect all-in-one guide to this area we call home, and we’re so excited to share it with you. Download it today!

Where to see Finger Lakes Fall Foliage

Canandaigua Lake

Start your leaf peeping adventure at the northernmost tip of Canandaigua Lake and head down West Lake Road. This drive is enough of an opportunity to see some incredible foliage, but it also conveniently takes us to our next stop on the tour of trees.

About 15 minutes into your drive south, you’ll come across Onanda Park. This quiet, lakefront park in the town of Canandaigua is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic lunch or an easy stroll. One of our favorite things to do here is to sit in some of the available chairs and gaze out on the water. However, if you’re looking for a great hike, we’ve got the inside scoop. There are 73 acres of Uplands located across the road. You can hike two miles of hiking trail over the hillside and encounter gorgeous vistas.

After your hike, continue to explore on Route 21S towards Naples, you will discover a vast array of photo-worthy sights as you climb and descend the hills surrounding Canandaigua Lake. Along your ride grab a snack at one of the many fruit stands offering freshly picked grapes, or better yet, a grape pie from the infamous Monica’s Pies just outside Naples.  Fortunately, this area also neighbors many of our vacation rentals that fit the bill for the perfect foliage-oriented weekend. 

Seneca Lake

Another wonderful scenic drive begins in Geneva, near Seneca Lake. Drive along NY 14 South and look at the stunning views of the lake on the left and the trees on the right. This road continues to Watkins Glen, where you can explore the town or head to the state park, which has some of the best hiking trails in the Finger Lakes. Explore the Gorge Trail, which is famous for its winding staircases and views.

Cayuga Lake

Cayuga Lake State Park is ideal for families traveling with small kids. The little ones will love playing on the swing sets and other equipment, and you’ll love the priceless views!

If you’re in the mood for a glass of wine, the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is the perfect opportunity for another scenic drive. Wineries like Toro Run or Thirsty Owl are perfect places to stop and enjoy the view and a glass of wine!

Keuka Lake

The Keuka Outlet Trail is a rail-trail in the heart of the Finger Lakes. This path stretches between Keuka and Seneca Lake, with plenty of opportunities to see the vistas for which the Finger Lakes are famous, including waterfalls and historic buildings.

Stay with Finger Lakes Premier Properties

Are you ready to experience the Finger Lakes fall foliage? We’ve got just the homes you need! Finger Lakes Premier Properties has the best selection of vacation rentals around, including many rentals that are just a short distance from the sites above! For example, Stone Crest, our gorgeous six-bathroom, four-bathroom estate is just two miles from the Keuka Outlet Trail. If you’d prefer to spend your time in Watkins Glen, book Dean Lake House, a four-bedroom, two-bathroom property which is less than a mile from town. The possibilities are endless!

Check out our full selection of rentals and book today! We look forward to having you.

Curtain’s Up! Check Out 4 of the Best Finger Lakes Theaters

Nothing beats a night at the theater! Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly activity or you’re planning a quiet date night with your loved one, there is always a good reason to see a live performance. The Finger Lakes is home to many different types of theaters, from modern to musical. During your vacation, why not enjoy a night of spectacle and splendor? Discover the best Finger Lakes theatres and what kind of show you might in each.

If you’re searching for the perfect restaurant to visit before curtain-up, download our free Vacation Guide!

Visit These Finger Lakes Theaters

Merry Go Round Theater

Commonly called “Broadway in the Finger Lakes,” the Merry Go Round Theater is known for its extravagant productions and quirky performances. It’s the largest theater of its kind in the region, and mainly musicals. You’ll see everything from huge hits like Mamma Mia to lesser-known works. They also produce the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival, a summer-long series that showcases the best talent in the region. Its most well-known for The PiTCH, which showcases new works in early stages of development. If you’re a hardcore theater fan, this is a must!

Hangar Theater

Another popular performance hall in the area is Hangar Theatre. Located in Ithaca, this company produces a wide range of plays and musicals. You’ll find experimental works like at the Merry Go Round, but you’ll also find options for children, art exhibits, and stand-up comedy. It’s named for its location, which is inside a renovated airplane hangar, which only adds to the quirky likability of this location.

Clemens Center

A more traditional performing arts center, Clemens Center hosts touring productions of musicals in their Broadway series, as well as comedians, musicians, and kid-friendly shows. If you’re staying near Seneca Lake, check out the calendar of events and see if there are any that pique your interests!

Bristol Valley Theater

The Bristol Valley Theater is modeled after a traditional community theater, with local performers and classes provided at the center. It’s located south of Canandaigua Lake and offers a handful of shows every summer season. Another option is Camp Dramapalooza, a week-long camp for young thespians! The weeks are divided by age group, so if you plan on traveling to the Finger Lakes in the summer, keep an eye out for the next round of dates and sign up your little ones!

Stay with Finger Lakes Premier Properties

After your night at one of these great Finger Lakes theaters, return to a gorgeous lakefront vacation rental! Finger Lakes Premier Properties has the best selection of homes in the region, from luxury rentals to pet-friendly accommodations.

Evergreen PlaceIf you plan on attending a show at the Merry Go Round Theater, book Evergreen Place for your getaway! This five-bedroom, four-bathroom property is just a five-minute walk from the playhouse. This historic property, built in 1884, was one of the original homesteads on the north end of the lake. Today, it’s been outfitted with modern amenities and comfortable furnishings.

Take a look at our full selection of homes and book today! We look forward to having you.