Everything You Need to Know About the Finger Lakes in the Fall

What’s your favorite season? If you love cool weather, pumpkin spice, and cozy sweaters, then fall is likely your favorite time of year. This season is a great relief from the summer heat and boasts some great things to do. Thinking about visiting the Finger Lakes in the fall? Let us help you plan with the family-friendly recommendations below. For more vacation inspiration, download our free Finger Lakes Vacation Guide! It’s filled with local insight into how to explore our area during each season! 

Download our Free Vacation Guide

Top 10 Things to Do in the Finger Lakes in the Fall 

Due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, some of the fall activities in the Finger Lakes may be adjusted or canceled to meet social distancing guidelines. We appreciate your understanding during this time! 

1. Fall Foliage 

The first two weeks of October are the peak time for leaf-peeping in the Finger Lakes region. You can enjoy the Finger Lakes fall foliage from the dock of your lakeside home or on an outdoor adventure. The chair lift at Bristol Mountain Fall Sky Rides is one of our favorite leaf-peeping experiences. While you’re there, you can take it to the next level by coasting through the trees on the zip line at their Aerial Adventures Park!  

2. Scenic Drives 

Explore more of our region of New York with a Finger Lakes scenic driveRoute 14S is one of our favorites! This scenic drive winds through the Seneca Lake Wine Trail and Watkins Glen State Park. Both destinations are especially beautiful in the fall!  

3. U-Pick Farms  

Nothing says “autumn” quite like the taste of a freshly baked apple pie or a spiced hot toddy. Get an unbelievably fresh taste of the flavors of fall with a u-pick experience in the Finger Lakes. Our area is home to several orchards and farms that are great for apple, grape, and pumpkin picking! 

4. Hiking Trails  

There’s no better time to explore the Finger Lakes by foot than on a crisp fall day. From picturesque gorges and waterfalls like those at Watkins Glen State Park to the gradual hiking trails of the Cummings Nature Center along Canandaigua Lake, there are trails to suit hikers of all skill levels. Along the way, take in the beautiful views of bright orange and yellow fall foliage! 

5. Wine & Grape Harvest  

Fall is one of the best seasons to visit the Finger Lakes. With more than 100 wineries throughout the region, you can taste a variety of award-winning wines during their peak harvest season. The grape harvest typically begins in the first week of September and lasts through the end of October as the different varieties ripen.  

6. Naples Grape Festival   

Located at the southern end of Canandaigua Lake, the town of Naples hosts an annual festival that celebrates the local grape harvest at the end of September. The Naples Grape Festival features live music, wine tasting, vendors, and, of course, a myriad of local grape fare. Enjoy this delicious event to kick-start the fall season! 

7. Corning Museum of Glass   

There are a variety of museums to explore throughout the Finger Lakes Region of New York. For the fall season, be sure to visit the Corning Museum of Glass for their glass harvest and glass pumpkin blowing events. 

8. Corn Mazes & Pumpkin Patches  

Pumpkin patches aren’t just for the little ones. Make a race out of a corn maze or see who can carve the best pumpkin for some fun off-lake activities during your fall stay. Many local markets now offer local wine and craft beers for a delicious fall pairing! 

9. Haunted History Trail of New York State 

The Finger Lakes has a long history of tales from the beyond. Fall is the perfect opportunity to get spooked by the history of the region. Here are a few of our favorite places to snag a scare: 

  • Haunted History Trail of New York State  
  • Mansion Mysteries at Sonnenberg Gardens 
  • Bristol Mountain’s Aerial Adventures  

10. Make Yourself at Home with Finger Lakes Premier Properties  

Need a place to stay in the Finger Lakes in the fall? Look no further than Finger Lakes Premier Properties! We offer a diverse portfolio of rental homes across the Finger Lakes region. With nearly 300 rental properties to choose from, you’re sure to find a home to fit your vacation style.  

Even better, fall kicks-off our off-season sales! Take advantage of the September Secret, when many of our homes begin to offer a one-night free special. Click here to see if your favorite home is running any special offers during your stay! 

Browse a full inventory of our Finger Lakes rental homes to start planning your trip! 

Celebrating July 4th in the Finger Lakes – 2020 Edition

Most of the annual July 4th celebrations including large events, parades, and firework displays have been canceled in the Finger Lakes region due to the COVID-19 restrictions. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still celebrate our pride for the USA.

For those seeking greater experiences, we’ve provided our recommendations for creating new patriotic traditions in the Finger Lakes.

Booking the Perfect Lake House

The dates surrounding the July 4th weekend are the most popular of the year for booking a lakefront vacation rental. With family travel plans being diverted this year because of COVID-19, you may still have a chance to secure the perfect home to enjoy a Finger Lakes Independence Day, but book soon!

The key to creating the perfect lakeside getaway is finding the home that checks all your boxes. Unlike hotels, vacation rental homes are not all created equal, but that is also part of the fun. Some families require open layouts with bedrooms on the first floor or level lakefronts for easy access for children. Many of our homes also offer virtual tours allowing you to tour the home before you book, ensuring it fits your vacation style. Identifying these needs will be key for an enjoyable getaway for everyone in your group and will also help our local vacation planners find the right home for you.

It’s all about the amenities

Get more out of your vacation by taking advantages of the additional amenities that come with most vacation homes. Many of our homes come with perks such as kayaks (non-motorized watercraft) and hot tubs. These are searchable features on our website. Some other key features include game rooms, lawn games, fire pits, and bonus lake houses. These amenities can be found in the property descriptions or the amenities section on the property pages.

More ways to get on the lake

Motorized boats are not included with any of our rentals. However, local marinas can help you get out on the lakes during your stay with rentals of boats, kayaks, and any accessory you need to enjoy the water during your stay. Like our rentals, these will also be reserved well in advance for the busy holiday weekend so please plan accordingly.

For expert help on creating the perfect Independence Day getaway, contact our local vacation planners who are familiar with all of our 280+ homes across the Finger Lakes.

Plan Ahead for Easy, Delicious, and Festive Meals

One of the best advantages of staying in a vacation home is you have a fully equipped kitchen and grill for making your favorite meals throughout your stay. But again, planning ahead is key especially with new COVID-19 guidelines in place for shopping.

In today’s digital world it is easier than ever to order groceries online and have them ready for curbside pick-up. Reduce the need to go into stores by using these methods to pick up all of the items you need for a delicious getaway. Search your route to your rental beforehand then see what options are offered or check out the list below:

  • Conesus Lake: West’s Surfine Food Mart,
  • Honeoye Lake: West Wise Honeoye
  • Canandaigua Lake: (North) Canandaigua Wegmans, Tops, Aldi’s, Walmart; (South) Rennoldson’s Market
  • Keuka Lake: (North) Tops, Morgan’s, Aldi’s, Oak Hill Bulk Goods; (East Lake) Olney Place; (South) Hammondsport Grocery
  • Seneca Lake: (North) Geneva Wegmans, Walmart, Sauder’s; (South) Top’s, Walmart
  • Cayuga Lake: (North) Waterloo Tops, Waterloo Walmart, Cayuga Corner, Sauder’s, Auburn Wegmans, Auburn Walmart; (East side) Union Springs Shurfine Supermarket, the Produce Place; (South) Ithaca Wegmans, Tops, Target, Aldi’s, Anabel’s Grocery, Green Star Food Co+op

Need some festive inspiration for what to serve through the July 4th weekend? Check out our Pinterest Board while you are creating your shopping list!

Creative Ways for a Memorable Lakeside Holiday

There is no doubt this will be one of the most memorable Independence Day’s in our Nation’s history. Make the most of social distancing by celebrating with a small group of your closest family and friends at your lake rental. Here are some of our guest’s favorite ways to celebrate at their lakefront vacation rentals:

  • Bring your favorite (most competitive) lawn game and plan a tournament
  • Create a Patriotic Picnic
  • Decorate your boat/kayak in red, white, and blue and create your own water parade
  • Patriotic Kid Crafts and Games
  • Watch a patriotic movie (Have a projector? Make an outdoor theater)
  • Create your own Finger Lakes wine/beer tasting by picking up similar styles from different tasting rooms (see below)
  • Spark up the sparklers at night
  • Lakeside campfire with s’mores

Explore the Finger Lakes Responsibly

If you choose to leave your lakeside rental this July 4th weekend and explore some of the natural wonders of our region, please plan ahead.

Parks, Trails and Waterfalls

Be aware that without the annual festivals and events, our popular parks will likely be busier than usual with locals and travelers all seeking a memorable holiday weekend. If you are staying through the week, planning on visiting these locations during a week day may be an option for less traffic. And although most parks have reopened, there are restrictions and new guidelines. Always research the venue prior to getting into the car to avoid closures.

For resources on finding trails and parks, visit:

Beverage Experience Seekers

Our region is hoping to be in Phase 3 of New York State’s reopening plan by July 4th, which includes tasting rooms across our wine trails and craft brew trail. However, each day is different and we cannot guarantee the availability of visiting tasting rooms. One thing is certain, tasting room policies, procedures and experiences will be much different this year with new protocols in place to keep staff and patrons safe.

As of right now, most tasting rooms are offering pick up and delivery options of your favorite craft drinks. While we understand it isn’t the same experience, perhaps picking up bottles of fresh vintages and enjoying them lake side may not be the worst way to savor the flavors of the Finger Lakes.

Below are links to the beverage trails for you to get the most current information on what will be available during your visit to the Finger Lakes.

Plan a Lakeside Celebration for Another Time

Without the organized parades and fireworks this year, who says you can’t create your own festive vacation on a different weekend of the summer. This will also provide you with more flexible dates with possible lower rates to get more out of your next vacation.

Don’t forget to take a peak at our specials page which includes Mini-week specials (stays of 6 days or less depending on the property) or deeper discounts on select lake homes.

If your reason for visiting the Finger Lakes includes must-have experiences such as wine tasting, museum touring, or sitting down at your favorite restaurant, stay up to date on the New York State’s Phases for reopening by visiting our COVID page.

Best Ways to Celebrate Memorial Day From Your (Vacation) Home

Each Memorial Day we recognize the bravery and sacrifice of the men and women who have served our country in grand, festive ways.. This year will look different as we all sacrifice many of our traditions and find new ways to celebrate and remember the meaning of the holiday.

New York State’s Governor Cuomo continues to urge residents across the state to minimize gatherings to 10 people or less, and practice responsible social distancing. Keep the essence of Memorial Day alive this year with some of our recommended ways to celebrate from your Finger Lakes vacation home.

Plan Ahead for a Stocked Fridge

Any vacation and celebration is largely circled around delicious dishes, recipes, and sweet treats. There is no change there for this year, except to do a little more planning ahead.

In today’s digital world it is easier than ever to order groceries online and have them ready for curbside pick-up. Reduce the need to go into stores by using these methods to pick up all of the items you need for a delicious getaway. Search your route to your rental beforehand then see what options are offered. Or click here for some local Finger Lakes resources.

While you’re preparing your shopping list, take a list at our Memorial Day Pinterest board for some savory inspiration.

One great advantage of renting a vacation rental is that your accommodations come equipped with a kitchen. All of our rental home kitchens include dinnerware, silverware, bake ware, utensils, and even a grill to accommodate your meal serving needs. However, experiencing local fare when traveling is an expected vacation experience.

Don’t worry, even though you may not be able to sit down in your favorite local diner or pub, you can still order takeout from many restaurants throughout our region. Click the links below for the local resources by lake:

Don’t forget the beverages!

Seneca Lake wine trail vacation rentals
Guest photo by Sandy B.

Our local wine trails, breweries and distilleries are also offering curbside and delivery options. Click on the link below for their resources:

Exploring the Finger Lakes

If you choose to leave your lakeside rental this Memorial Day weekend and explore some of the natural wonders of our region, please plan ahead. Perhaps this trip you forego the popular parks and instead explore some of the paths less taken.

No matter where you choose to trek, contacting the park ahead of time is recommended. Some parks have not opened this year because the trails do not allow enough space for safe social distancing. Other parks have reduced access or sometimes closed mid-day in order to eliminate overcrowding in popular settings.

For more information on where to go and the precautions parks are taking, click below.

Just Relax Lakeside

Seneca Lake vacation rental campfire
Guest photo by Tarun R.

You rented a lakeside vacation home, enjoy it! The lake itself provides plenty of entertainment for days. Take a look at the description of the vacation rental you reserved, and you may find some additional perks for added entertainment through your stay.

Many of our vacation rentals come with non-motorized watercraft including kayaks, paddle boards, canoes, etc. There is no better way to social distance than by being on the water! Better yet, pack a fishing pole and make sure your NYS Fishing License is ready for catching dinner from the lake.

Games rooms and lawn games are another feature to add some fun to stay. However, not all rentals provide these. If your family has a favorite game for some friendly competition, make sure to bring it from home.

There is no better way to end each day then to gather around a campfire as the sun sets behind the rolling hills. Most of our rentals provide fire pits, but double check. You’ll also want to buy local wood way from either a roadside stand or grocery store. Remember that shopping list, don’t forget the s’mores!

You can always relax in one of our rentals knowing we have the most dependable cleaning standards. We are confident in our services and even provide a housekeeping guarantee to ensure all of our guests feel safe and comfortable throughout their Finger Lakes vacation.

Quarantined in the Finger Lakes

Creating memorable experiences in the Finger Lakes isn’t only for the out-of-towners. Here at Finger Lakes Premier Properties, we strive to be a resource for everyone to enjoy their time in the our picturesque region. During this period of social distancing and limited travel, in order to #flattenthecurve, we’ve provided some inspiration for making the most of our time apart.

Take A Breath of Fresh Air

Local and New York State Parks are still open, but visit responsibly. As Spring weather welcomes warmer temperatures, you’re bound to see more people stretching their legs at public parks. Luckily for us, there is a plethora of parks with great trails for hikers of all levels.

The New York State Parks have only closed access to playgrounds, athletic courts, and sporting fields to reduce the spread of COVID-19. To explore a park near you, visit their website.

Another one of our favorite resources for creating new adventures is GoFingerLakes.org. You can download the app or visit their site to find the best spots for hiking, biking, paddling, and outdoor recreation across our 6,000-square-mile area. On this site, you can even use their advance search for the best locations for waterfalls, pet-friendly trails, bird watching, and more.

The Lake is Open!

It may be obvious, but the lakes offer great activities for responsible social distancing. Take advantage of the free entertainment they provide from paddling to fishing.

No matter what species of fresh water fish you’re looking for, the Finger Lakes has it. For family outings you can cast from most public and state parks for a lakeside activity. For the serious anglers, different lakes are better for certain types of fish. For example, Seneca Lake attracts fishermen for its Perch and Trout and hosts tournaments each year. In addition to the lakes, the ponds and streams throughout the region also offer plentiful opportunities for casting a line or net, which can be brought home for a fresh dinner. For more information about fishing in the Finger Lakes, click here. Before you grab your fishing pole, take a look at New York State regulations and licensing by clicking here.

If you own a kayak or canoe, take advantage of your extra time and get paddling. If you don’t live lakeside, you can launch from parks scattered along the shores of each lake. For fresh scenery and the chance to view wildlife, paddle an inlet where you can also find some great fishing spots. Click here for resources on where to launch.

Savor the Flavors

Just because you can’t sit down in your favorite restaurant doesn’t mean you have to fend for yourself at every meal. Create a special evening or make a picnic out of it by ordering take out from local restaurants. Below you can review menus of favored venues around our region offering to-go or delivery options.

Canandaigua Restaurants with Take Out:

Naples Restaurants with Take Out:

Penn Yan Restaurants with Take Out:

Hammondsport Restaurants with Take Out:

Geneva Restaurants with Take Out:

Watkins Glen Restaurants with Take Out:

Seneca Falls Restaurants with Take Out:

Ithaca Restaurants with Take Out:

(check back as we will be updating this page with more options)

Don’t forget the wine and beer!

You may not be able to do a tasting on site, but you can still purchase your favorite bottles and growlers while supporting our local beverage industry. Find complete lists by visiting the wine trail and beer trail links below.

We hope everyone stays healthy, safe, and connected during this unprecedented time. Join us on Facebook as we will be posting live photos, videos, and updates from our picturesque region.

Best Homes for the Big Game

We saved you a seat for the Big Game right here in the Finger Lakes! Celebrate 2/2/20 with a weekend getaway for you and your fellow football fans to one of our lakeside vacation rentals. Our homes have fully-stocked kitchens, pool tables, hot tubs, and the space you need to pull off the best game day party of the new decade.

Here are our top picks for your Big Game getaway:

Seneca Shores

Big House for the Big Game. 4 photos of Seneca Shores.

This home is a sports fan’s paradise! 5 bedrooms, 4.5 bathrooms, and an entertainer’s kitchen take up the top floors, but you’ll want to take the party downstairs. The finished basement features a pool table, shuffleboard, and full-size bar. Screen some football on the flat screen over the fireplace and enjoy!

We recommend guests stop into nearby Climbing Bines Brewery for a growler fill or check out any of the stops on the Finger Lakes Beer Trail.

Sweet Serenity

Big House for the Big Game. 4 photos of Sweet Serenity.

Escape to Keuka Lake for the weekend! This home is just outside Penn Yan, making it easy to stock up on groceries or order pizza and wings. Sweet Serenity sleeps up to 16 and boasts must-have amenities, like a hot tub, rec room, and a second fridge for all your extra snacks and beverages.

Extend your stay to attend the Penn Yan Wing Walk!

Good Vibe Getaway

Big House for the Big Game. 4 photos of Good Vibe Getaway.

This home has all the right vibes for your Big Game getaway. The custom built kitchen has everything you need to prep a game day feast. Plus, you’re only steps from the action in the spacious great room. Light a fire, turn on the flat screen, and spread out – there’s plenty of room for up to 18 guests in this Honeoye Lake home. An added bonus: the huge yard is perfect for a pick up game!


We have several homes available for your February getaway! Browse our Finger Lakes vacation rentals now to see off-season rates or call our reservation agents to find the right house for your group – (855) 233-9506.

When Is the Best Time to Visit the Finger Lakes?

One of the most common questions we get asked is, “When is the best time to visit the Finger Lakes?” The answer is, of course, right now! The Finger Lakes is a wonderful year-round region. From the snowy winters to the warm summers, there are endless opportunities for fun no matter the season. Find out some of the best things to do and see during each of the seasons! For even more help planning your trip, download our free Vacation Guide! It contains our recommendations for the best of the Finger Lakes. From wineries and restaurants to hiking trails and boat rentals, you’ll find everything you need to plan the ultimate getaway!

Download our Free Vacation Guide

When Is the Best Time to Visit the Finger Lakes?

Although anytime is a great time to come, the best time to visit the Finger Lakes is late spring through summer, or May through September. It’s an outdoor wonderland, full of recreational activities and water sports for any adventure lover!

But, if you’re pinching pennies, you should avoid the summer months. Prices may go up between June and August, when the kids are out of school. Plus, local attractions may be a little crowded during the summertime as well.

Another thing to consider: thousands of tourists flock to the Finger Lakes region in the fall, too. Keep reading and we’ll explain why in a moment. 

Why Every Season Has Its Pros

Spend Spring in the Finger Lakes

Spring brings blooming flowers, warmer weather, and tons of great wine and food events in the Finger Lakes! From the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail Bacon on the Lakein to the Seneca Lake Wine Trail Pasta & Wine Weekend, there are so many excellent opportunities to enjoy a wine tour or wine tasting, and learn more about Finger Lakes wine country.

Enjoy a Finger Lakes Summer Vacation

The possibilities for adventure are endless when you visit the Finger Lakes in the summer! Hiking, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and boating are hugely popular activities during this season. Make sure to dress accordingly because mornings can be a little chilly, but the afternoons warm up to the perfect temperature in the 80s.

Get a birds eye view of the lakes and book a hot air balloon ride!. White-water rafting in Letchworth State Park is another awesome activity! The Finger Lakes Wine Festival, Grass Roots Festival, and the Canandaigua Lakefront Art & Music Festival all take place during this season, as well! Make sure to plan your summer vacation several months in advance. Many people dream of a summer vacation in the Finger Lakes, and accommodations book up quickly!

Fall in Love with the Finger Lakes

You’ll be hard-pressed to find more gorgeous fall foliage than in the Finger Lakes! Autumn brings changing leaves, pumpkin farms, and the end of the grape-growing season. 

Visitors come from all over to see the captivating fall foliage. The colors are absolutely breathtaking! Just beware of the crowds. 

There are some fantastic fall festivals and harvest celebrations taking place during September, October, and November. Consider taking a scenic drive around the area to take in the gorgeous sights.

Cozy up in Winter

Whether you’re celebrating the holiday season or you’re interested in winter sports, there are so many great reasons to visit the Finger Lakes during the chilly season! Browse through the Watkins Glen Village Christmas or the Canandaigua Christkindl Market. There’s no better way to get your holiday shopping done and have a fun day! Skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are all popular activities in this region, so come prepared for a fun day of adventure!

Stay with Finger Lakes Premier Properties

find out where to find the best finger lakes fall foliage

Are you looking for the best place to stay in the Finger Lakes? Then browse through our inventory of homes! Finger Lakes Premier Properties contains the best selection of luxury rentals in the region! From pet-friendly to lakefront and more, our homes have everything you need for an outstanding getaway. Remember, the best time to visit the Finger Lakes is right now, so check out our catalog and book today!

Are you looking for things to do in the Finger Lakes this weekend? Follow us on Facebook! We’re always posting upcoming events and festivals in the area.

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Finger Lakes Homemade Ice Cream Stands

After this weekend’s record breaking heat wave, you deserve to cool off with a scoop or twist of delicious Finger Lakes ice cream. And its perfectly timed with National Ice Cream Day! To celebrate, we’ve put together a list of the best ice cream and custard stands near your favorite lake.

Cayuga Lake Creamery

This small-batch ice cream stand in Trumansburg, NY serves up sweet treats from the finest ingredients, coffee, and roadside fare. You can also visit them at all the best Finger Lakes Festivals happening in the Ithaca area.

Cake Batter & Shakespeare in the park at Woodstock 1869 at the Trumansburg Conservatory! Here til 6. Come out & play!

Posted by Cayuga Lake Creamery on Saturday, July 13, 2019

Seneca Farms

Seneca Farms has been a local favorite since the 1950’s, serving up homemade hard ice cream and other parlor favorites. If you’re staying on Keuka to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, be sure to stop in for one of their homemade ice cream cakes!

White Mountain Blueberry…. White Chocolate Ice Cream with White Chocolate Chips and a Blueberry Swirl!

Posted by Seneca Farms on Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Spotted Duck Creamery

This unique frozen treat stand sits right between Keuka and Seneca Lakes. Their one-of-a-kind custard is made from duck eggs, rather than chicken eggs, giving it a richer flavor and it’s signature creamy texture. All of their flavors are derived from local, organic, and in-season ingredients.

Cheshire Farms Creamery

This Canandaigua Lake creamery serves up premium home churned ice cream, baked goods, locally roasted coffee, AND lunch specials. Their menu changes daily, so may need to make a second trip!

Glen Dairy Bar

There’s no better way to end a day of hiking in Watkins Glen than with a stop into Glen Dairy Bar. While they don’t make their own ice cream, they have everything you’ve ever craved… and air conditioning!

Geneva Gelato

We know this isn’t ice cream, but Geneva Gelato offers the tastiest homemade frozen treats on the north end of Seneca Lake! They have everything from old favorites, like Pistachio to unique flavors, like Root Beer.

Geneva gelato is welcoming a whole new flavor to the family! Try new: "Fruit Medley" with bananas, strawberries, kiwis, lemon and lime! It's the perfect way to feel refreshed and cool off in the summer heat!

Posted by Geneva Gelato on Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Twister’s Ice Cream Shop

Our Conesus Lake guests will love this homemade ice cream shop! Cool off in their Livonia location or catch them at one of their mobile locations around the lake.

Montezuma Winery

How did a winery make this list? Because Montezuma sells wine ice cream flavored with some of their most popular varietals. And if you’re not an ice cream fan, stop in for a wine slushie or some homemade fudge instead!


Looking for more ways to cool off during your stay? Our local vacation planners can help you beat the heat with their knowledge of Finger Lakes attractions. Call them today! (888) 546-5517

5 Things to Do in Watkins Glen, NY, for the Perfect Vacation

The Finger Lakes are full of marvelous views and exciting activities. You’ll want to make it an annual trip once you see our amazing waterfalls and walking trails. Before you lace up your hiking boots and experience the best things to do in Watkins Glen, NY, make sure to request access to our complimentary Vacation Guide. It has everything you need to know to plan your Finger Lakes vacation, including restaurants, local attractions, shopping, and entertainment.

Download our Free Vacation Guide

Things to Do in Watkins Glen, NY

Watkins Glen is a beautiful village in Schuyler County packed with a variety of outdoor adventures. Waterfalls flow throughout the area, along numerous walking trails that guide the way. In addition to the beautiful outdoor attractions, you can also visit and drive on the only NASCAR track in the state of New York, explore a wine trail, or go out on a boat. Below are some of the best points of interest and activities to make your lake vacation special.

Watkins Glen State Park Gorge

Watkins Glen State Park Gorge is a must during your visit to the Finger Lakes. It’s one of the most famous state parks in the region, and it is absolutely gorgeous (pun intended!). Hike the 2.5-mile trail and encounter 19 magnificent waterfalls along the way! 

If you plan to walk the Gorge Trail, you should come between May and October, but if you want to see the waterfalls at their most powerful flow, visit during the spring. You can also have a picnic in the most serene setting or go for a swim in the Olympic-sized pool. Don’t forget to take your furry companion! Dogs are allowed on the Indian and South Rim Trail as long as they stay by your side on a leash. 

Drive the Watkins Glen International

Have you ever dreamed of becoming a professional race car driver?  Watkins Glen International is the perfect place to go to get that feeling! It’s the only NASCAR race track in the state of New York, and you can drive it yourself! Bring your personal car and drive around the 3.4-mile Grand Prix Circuit. Drive the Glen is available from April to November. Make sure to bring your driver’s license and your registered and insured vehicle. You must be 18 years old to participate. 

The Glen also has events and big races throughout the year. Some of those include Go Bowling at the Glen, a tripleheader weekend which is a top-ranked event on the NASCAR calendar every summer, and the Ticket Galaxy Beer Festival. It’s an October event, featuring 40 breweries, a cornhole tournament, pace car rides, amazing food, and fantastic live music.

Seneca Lake Wine Trail in Watkins Glen

Finger Lakes has the perfect trail for wine lovers — a wine trail, that is! Make your way down the Seneca Lake Wine Trail to taste world-class, local wines. You can schedule a personalized tasting or a private tour from a selection of 31 wineries. Skip around to check out the entire trail that loops around Seneca Lake or stay in Watkins Glen, where Castel Grisch and Lakewood Vineyards are located. 

Sunset View Creamery

What goes better with wine than cheese? In between your wine tours, make a stop at Sunset View Creamery. The Hoffman family has been producing the Finger Lakes’ top quality milk and cheese since 1905. Shop at the farm store, which offers 10 varieties of artisan milk cheese, seven varieties of cheese curd, raw milk, locally sourced beef, eggs, fudge, and more! 

You can take a tour and meet some of their friendly animals or try their delicious cheese samples! Can’t get enough wine and cheese? Well, you’re in luck because Glen Watkins is part of the Seneca Lake Cheese Trail as well!

Sailing Charters in Watkins Glen

There’s no better way to experience the Finger Lakes than actually going out on one of the lakes. Board the True Love sailboat with Schooner Excursions for a fantastic trip in Seneca Harbor. The boat takes off four times a day, and you can either call ahead or just show up! You can also go on a private charter, completely stocked with food and drinks! Don’t worry if you’re a novice sailor. There is a schooner perfect for your skill level. 

Return to Your Luxury Finger Lakes Premier Properties Rental

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After a day of exploring Glen Watkins, make your way back to a luxury lakefront vacation home. Stay with Finger Lakes Premier Properties for the ultimate family getaway. Choose from vacation rentals with elegant verandas, relaxing hot tubs, convenient boat docks, or all of the above!
Make yourself at home in the Dean Lake House. This four-bedroom vacation rental accommodates 10 people and is located on the Seneca Lake. This historic home, built in 1850, features upscale, modern amenities. You’ll feel at peace waking up every morning to the gorgeous views of the serene lake as the sun rises. Gather the family to catch up with each other on the patio or head out to the dock and go for a swim or go fishing. If you’re ready for the vacation of a lifetime, check our availability and book your family getaway today!

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Fall U-Pick Experiences

We love fall in the Finger Lakes – golden, leafy landscapes, hay rides and corn mazes, the smell of fresh-pressed apples and grapes in the air! It’s the time of year when our lake communities slow down to celebrate the changing seasons and boast fresh produce, new wines, and harvest festivals. However, no autumnal visit to Finger Lakes is complete without a visit to one our region’s many U-pick orchards and farms. Experience the harvest for yourself and pick fresh apples, pumpkins, grapes, and more!

Here are a few of our “picks” for your U-pick experience:

Apple Barrel Orchards – Penn Yan, NY

The perfect fall day is spent just outside Penn Yan among the rows of apple trees and grape vines! Sample tasty ciders or local food truck fare. U-pick season for apples and concord grapes starts in September. Learn more!

Indian Creek Farm – Ithaca, NY

40 acres of fresh picking fun minutes from downtown Ithaca! In addition to hundreds of apples, you’ll find fresh veggies, pears, and pumpkins to pick yourself or pick up at the farm stand. Plus, kids will love the playground! Plan your visit!

Reisinger’s Apple Country – Watkins Glen, NY

This orchard encourages you to taste the apples in the field and pick your favorites to bring home! Homemade cider donuts are made fresh every weekend and the barn store is full of local flavors, like maple syrup and jellies. Learn more!

Jerome’s U-pick Fruit Farm – Naples, NY

This local favorite is one of the best places to pick your own grapes through September and October! Plus, pumpkins are plentiful here in the fall. Check their Facebook page for farm updates and crop conditions.

The Apple Station– Union Springs, NY

There is so much to experience at this vintage country store at the north end of Cayuga Lake! Pick apples in the orchard, sample apple wines and spirits in their tasting room, and watch as cider donuts are made right in front of you. Check it out!

Wickham’s Pick’n Patch & Corn Maze – Stanley, NY

This patch offers the quintessential fall experience! Pick the perfect pumpkin then find your way out of the 8-acre corn maze. There’s also a funhouse, apple blasters, a petting zoo and so much more! Plan your visit!

Grisamore Farms – Locke, NY

This fifth generation family farm sits between Cayuga and Owasco Lakes. Highlights include the massive farm store, acres of U-pick fields, Grisamore Cider Works, and a variety of kids activities. Hayrides are available throughout October and drop you off at the pumpkin patch just in time for Halloween. Learn more!

Popple Ridge Pumpkin Patch – Bradford, NY

This farm is an easy drive from Seneca and Keuka Lakes. In addition to pumpkins they offer hayrides, pedal carts, Corn Nerf, and zip lining. Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day here! Learn more.


Fall in love with the Finger Lakes this year and start planning your getaway! Our local vacation planners can help you design the perfect itinerary, packed with festivals, fall events, and more. Call us today! (888) 231-9470

Top Family Excursions in the Finger Lakes – From a Local Mom

By Lindsay Bolton, Marketing Manager at Finger Lakes Premier Properties

As a mom of two very energetic boys (ages 3 and 6), we are always out exploring. The Finger Lakes has so much to offer, but can be a bit overwhelming if you’re the one planning out the adventures. Here are just some of my family’s favorite things to do and go-to places to create a memorable vacation in the Finger Lakes.

Enjoy the lakes!

Even before I worked for Finger Lakes Premier Properties, my husband and I rented a cottage on Honeoye Lake. Staying on the lake offers days of entertainment for the whole family, and even allows you some time to pick up that book you’ve been wanting to read. Our son’s favorite thing about staying on the lake was kayaking and fishing. So be sure to pack some fishing poles for your stay along with some sand toys (even though we don’t have sandy beaches, they will still get lots of use). Many of our rentals come with non-motorized watercraft. But if you need to rent some, or want to rent a motorboat for some extra excitement on the lake, check out these vendors.

Take advantage of the provided watercraft at your rental and the most out of staying on the lake!

If you’re staying at one of our off-lake rentals, no fear! There are plenty of public beaches that offer fantastic swimming. Our favorites are Keuka Lake State Park (Keuka Lake), Kershaw Park (Canandaigua Lake) and Cayuga Lake State Park (Cayuga Lake) for their sandy beaches where my kids spend more time in the sand than in the water.

Take a hike!

The word “hike” does not always imply an uphill trek backpacking the kids. While, yes, there are some trails like this, my family steers more towards the locations where the kids are comfortable exploring on their own. Some even come with a bonus waterfall! Some of my family’s favorite trails are:

The first falls at Grimes Glen
  • Grime’s Glen in Naples (South end of Canandaigua Lake) – This starts as an easy trail, but pack your water shoes because if you want to get the full experience, you have to walk up the (very shallow) creek. There are three different waterfalls, the first two are easy to get to. If you want to get to the third there is a bit more climbing involved. Then at the end and last waterfall, there is a natural pool that you can swim in. This trail is perfect for hot summer days as a shaded alternative to staying at the lake and cooling off.
  • Taughannock Falls State Park in Ithaca (Cayuga Lake) – The paved gradual trail is great for kids of any age. This is also a great dog-friendly hike, for any size pup. During the summer months, the water may be only a trickle, which does allow you to walk up the gorge but doesn’t provide the grand view of the majestic falls at the end. Either way, after your trek you can go across the road to enjoy swimming, the playground, or have a picnic by the lake.
  • The Outlet Trail in Penn Yan (between Keuka and Seneca Lakes) – This seven-mile path goes from Keuka to Seneca Lake and is mostly very gradual. It follows the canal and offers views of waterfalls, historic buildings, and is overall a very peaceful trail. If you have older kids, this is a perfect biking trail.
  • Onanda Park (Canandaigua Lake) – This park is not as well known as some of the others but is one of my family’s go-to parks (disclosure: we also live relatively close to it). On the lakeside, there is a great park for swimming, kayaking (bring your own), and playground. Across the road, you have the choice of going up the hill (there is a parking lot up there) where you can hike some up-hill trails, or stay below to walk up along the gorge. We usually choose the later, especially on hot days. Here my boys can explore the gorge, throw rocks into small pools of water, and hunt for salamanders. If you trek up to the end there are waterfalls!
Fall visit to Taughannock Falls!

There are MANY trails to hike in the Finger Lakes, my goal is to explore some more this summer! Some others that are more of an incline and would be great with older kids include Watkins Glen State Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park, and Letchworth State Park. For a great resource on finding trails in the Finger Lakes, visit GoFingerLakes.org.

Museums… for kids!

As much as we don’t want to admit it, there is a chance of a rainy day during your vacation. But don’t fear! There is still plenty to do to keep the kids occupied, even if you didn’t pack that suitcase full of toys! Some of these museums may be a drive (an hour or more) from your rental, but they can easily turn into full-day excursions:

Hands down the Strong Museum of Play is one of the best children’s museums we’ve been to!
  • Strong Museum of Play (Rochester, NY) – My kids love this museum so much we have a season pass! It is exactly what it sounds like, a museum of toys! This destination has everything from a kid-size Wegmans (grocery store for the non-locals), an indoor carousel, train, and any kind of imaginative play you can think of. You can pack a lunch or purchase a meal (or milkshake) in their food court. Just a warning, especially for the little ones there is so much to do, you may not get through it all in just one trip.
  • Rochester Museum of Science (Rochester, NY) – I recently went here with my son’s school and am anxious to go back. This museum has some great exhibits for the future astronaut (get tickets to the planetarium), archeologist, marine biologist, or historian. There are plenty of hands-on activities and a massive climbing AdventureZone for even the most active kids. Even as parents you’re sure to leave with some extra knowledge at the end of the day.
  • Sciencenter in Ithaca (Cayuga Lake) – Ok I’ll be honest, I haven’t even hit up this museum yet. BUT, many of my mom-friends have and they rave about it. They tell me its especially great for younger kids (10 years to the just walking) with all of the hands-on exhibits. It includes marine life, an outdoor playground, and tons of experimental exhibits for your future Isaac Newtons.
  • Corning Museum of Glass (Corning, NY) – So the thought of taking two energetic boys to this location scares me. BUT, their marketing rep assured me there is no “you break it you buy it” policy. Also, it is pretty remarkable for the kids to watch the glass blowing demos or even the glass breaking demos. Plus, kids 17 years and under are free!

Go Pickin’!

One of the most delicious ways to spend the day is picking local seasonal fruit. My kids love it and they always oblige to being my helpers with finding the ripest pickings. In the Finger Lakes, you can find local u-pick farms for strawberries (around July), blueberries (August), cherries (June), grapes (end of August through September), Apples (October), and Pumpkins (October). After you’ve picked your heart out, take advantage of that kitchen in your rental and bake some sweet pies and treats together. Here are a couple of our favorite pickin’ spots:

Picking grapes at Jerome’s in Naples is something my boys look forward to all year!
  • Jerome’s in Naples (South end of Canandaigua) – Naples is one of the epicenters in the Finger Lakes for fresh grapes (thanks to the annual Grape Festival and the delicious Monica’s Famous Grape Pies). You will find all sorts of u-pick farm signs around this quaint town. But our go-to year after year is Jerome’s with its delicious variety and surplus of grapes.
  • Apple Barrel Orchards in Penn Yan (Keuka Lake) – I grew up picking apples at this farm, so it is a bit of a family tradition. Now located up the hill on Wager Hill Rd, the family-owned farm offers one of the best offerings of fresh fruits including apples, grapes, cherries, black raspberries, and peaches. In the fall, they also have a shop full of their own baked goods and treats, those also come highly recommended!
  • Varick Winery (Cayuga Lake) – Not only does this winery have award-winning wines, loads of fresh snacks, and fresh grape juice for the kiddos, but it also offers fresh cherries each summer. However, they tend to save the picking for their annual Cherry Festival (this year on June 29th). This festival also offers vendors, live music, and of course, wine and juice tastings.

Playgrounds and Parks

Kids love playgrounds. They are free, they are fun, and it allows you a few minutes to relax on the sidelines. My boys and I have had a few summer days that we call “playground marathons” where we pack a lunch and hit up all of their favorites. Then there are days where we’re seeking a bit more adventure and head to bigger attractions for a special day together. Here are some of their must-visit jungle gyms:

My oldest at the pirate ship playground on Outhouse Road, Canandaigua.
  • Outhouse Road in Canandaigua (Canandaigua Lake) – This playground has a pirate ship, who wouldn’t love that! It also has a walking path around the grounds, public bathrooms, pavilions, and plenty of space for the kids and pups to run. Also, Canandaigua has a HUGE variety of playgrounds between the schools and four different parks, but this is their go-to in town.
  • Keuka Lake State Park in Penn Yan (Keuka Lake) – Probably one of my favorite playgrounds because of the variety of climbing options, swings, and what we call an obstacle course of monkey bars. This is great for families with kids of all ages with the different options available. Did you see above this park also has a sandy beach and swimming? Pack a lunch and enjoy a day at this park!
  • Geneva Community Lakefront Playground in Geneva (Seneca Lake) – This playground isn’t as large as the other two, but if you’re staying near the top end of Seneca Lake, it’s a great option. Not only is the playground a blast, but there is an ice cream shop right next to it, a pier to walk out to, and the Finger Lakes Welcome Center is just a short walk down the lake with a huge I LOVE NY sign and (gasp) a new playground there too!
  • Roseland Waterpark in Canandaigua (Canandaigua Lake) – Especially for those staying at one of our off-lake homes, Roseland Waterpark is a great place for the whole family to spend a hot summer day together. My kids are still at an age (and height) where they can’t do the larger water rides. But that doesn’t stunt their excitement for this park. Between the wave pool, huge splash park, raft ride, and lazy river, we get more than our share of fun. They even have tables set up right outside the entrance so you can retrieve a packed lunch to enjoy together before returning back in for more waves.
  • Seabreeze Amusement Park in Rochester – We’re a big theme park family and try to find one when we are traveling. Seabreeze is a day trip, but well worth it. This park offers a great variety of rides for kids to adults and also includes a waterpark. It’s not a huge park, but has been providing my family with great memories since I was in a car seat myself!

This list by no means encompasses all of the possible options for your family’s Finger Lakes vacation. But as a mom who loves to travel, I always appreciate a local’s point of view. If you have some of your own recommendations post in the comments below. Perhaps I’ll add them to my bucket list too!

For more information about planning your next vacation call our reservation department at (877) 751-9011 or visit our online interactive map to find attractions across our region.