Posted on 12/4/2023

Winter Things to Do: Top 6 Activities in the Finger Lakes

Winter Things to Do: Top 6 Activities in the Finger Lakes

Wintertime in the Finger Lakes is a quiet time of year, but it is not without plenty to do. The area has many attractions for winter enthusiasts, all with the beautiful Finger Lakes backdrop. The air is crisp, the snowscape stunning, and the silence serene. Having worked in the region for nearly 25 years, we at Finger Lakes Premier Properties have taken the time to sufficiently compile a list of the top 6 winter things to do in the Finger Lakes region.

If you?d like a convenient list of more things to do in the area to help you plan your vacation, don?t forget to download our free Vacation Guide. It?s your ticket to the top recommended activities, including the best places to eat, fun activities, and exciting attractions. Get your copy and start planning your unforgettable getaway!

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Explore the Season: A Curated List of Winter Things to Do

#1 ? Snow Activities

Snowshoe the Trails

 Finding yourself close to the east side of the Finger Lakes? Snowshoe to the frozen Taughannock Falls near Ithaca along Cayuga Lake! Taughannock Falls is the tallest gorge in NYS and has numerous trails. Coupled with the area?s natural beauty, strapping on snowshoes is a fun way to explore the Finger Lakes in the winter! For a guide to more trails throughout the region, visit

Cummings Nature Center

Traversing Finger Lakes trails is for more than just the summer months. With the area?s natural beauty, strapping on your snowshoes is a fun way to explore during the winter months. Visit Cummings Nature Center, which has 15 miles of groomed trails alongside Honeoye Lake. Staying closer to the east side of the Finger Lakes? Snowshoe to the frozen Taughannock Falls near Ithaca along Cayuga Lake.

Ski & Snowboard at Terrain Parks  

Skiing and snowboarding at local terrain parks are two of the most popular Finger Lakes winter things to do. The Finger Lakes region is known for having excellent skiing potential. The cold bodies of water help to create ?lake-effect snow,? which is the best type for winter sports like snowshoeing, cross-country, or downhill skiing. 

Two excellent ski resorts are Bristol Mountain Ski Resort and Greek Peak Mountain Resort. Both offer fantastic rental programs like private classes and lessons, downhill mountain trails, and Nordic skiing centers. If you?d prefer to explore some of our beautiful state parks, consider snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Hammond Hill State Forest and Letchworth State Park are excellent Nordic skiing sites. The trails within both parks are well-maintained, perfect for beginners or experienced skiers. You can also visit the resorts? tubing centers for adrenaline-packed fun!  

Looking for some excellent cross-country ski trails? Look no further because Cumming Nature Center, between Canandaigua Lake and Honeoye Lake, is the perfect spot for that! Plus, it?s an ideal place for beginners to test their skills! 

Vacation Rentals near Bristol Mountain Winter Resort:  Family Affair and South Bristol Cottages.

Ice Skating

 Enjoy some good old-fashioned fun while you glide across indoor skating rinks at the Geneva Recreation Complex (Seneca Lake), the Canandaigua Civic Center (Canandaigua Lake), or Ithaca?s Lynah Rink (Cayuga Lake). 

#2 ? Ice Fishing

 It may surprise you that winter is one of the best seasons for fishing in the Finger Lakes. When the lakes freeze over, these beautiful bodies of water become a hotspot for various types of fish. Keuka Lake, in particular, is famous for this style of fishing, especially for lake trout, rainbow trout, brown trout, and landlocked salmon. The tip of Keuka Lake (in Penn Yan) typically freezes over so locals can enjoy the winter tradition during the first few months of each year. Book a vacation home along this section of the lake, drop a line, and experience Finger Lakes fishing in an icy fashion!

Vacation Rentals on the tip of Keuka Lake (Penn Yan):  Cedar Lodge and Brandy Bay Serenity.

#3 ? Art and Culture


 The Finger Lakes is packed with talent from artists who fill local shops with beautiful handmade items ranging from pottery to home furnishings. One of the most popular locations to shop and tour is the MacKenzie-Childs farm and store along the east side of Cayuga Lake.

Experience 2300 Degrees at the Corning Museum of Glass

 Experience one of the most popular events at the Corning Museum of Glass. At their free demonstration show, 2300 Degrees, you?ll be impressed with hot glass demos, live music, food, and more!

four people enjoying winter activities in the finger lakes

#4 ? Culinary Experiences

Finger Lakes Wine Tours  

 The Finger Lakes Wine Region is one of the best in the nation. Our region is home to over 100 wineries and breweries, and the winter is one of the best times to get the complete tasting experience. Winter in wine country is also great because the climate and soil in this area create the perfect environment for growing grapes. Don?t be surprised if the person pouring your samples is the owner and winemaker. Take advantage of their extra attention by asking them about their favorite wines and places to visit. You?re sure to get some terrific local recommendations. To plan your winter wine tour, check out the local wine trails: Keuka Lake Wine TrailSeneca Lake Wine Trail, and Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.

Teach Your Taste Buds

 Take a cooking class in the hands-on kitchen or demonstration theater of your choice at the New York Kitchen in Canandaigua. The center features different events almost nightly and also features its Upstairs Bistro, where you can dine on local ingredients and New York-crafted beer and wines.

#5 ? Festive Events

Holiday Celebrations

It?s a Wonderful Life Celebration  

One of the best Cayuga Lake events is the It?s a Wonderful Life Celebration. The town-wide festival takes place in Seneca Falls, which was said to be the inspiration for the classic film. Visitors can enjoy horse-drawn carriage rides, special film screenings, holiday-themed competitions, and charity events that benefit local groups!  

Watkins Glen Village Christmas  

Celebrating over a quarter-century of festive cheer, the Watkins Glen Village Christmas is a hallmark event in the region, traditionally in early December. This cherished Seneca Lake event is perfect for family enjoyment, featuring a delightful Christmas parade, a spectacular fireworks display, and an array of food and craft stalls. The highlight for many is the opportunity to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, adding a magical touch to the occasion.

Special Events

Free Fishing Days  

As we said, ice fishing is a favorite activity in the Finger Lakes during the colder months. For out-of-state guests who may not have a New York State fishing license, the Free Fishing Weekend is an excellent opportunity to cast your line without too much paperwork. The first Free Fishing Weekend typically takes place in mid-February. These weekends are popular, so be sure to book your home along the lake ahead of time!  

Keuka Lake Wine Trail Wine and Cheese Lovers Weekend  

The Keuka Lake Wine Trail Savoring Sweets event is a great Valentine?s Day activity in mid-February. It showcases two of the most popular products from the Finger Lakes. When you purchase a ticket, you?ll visit various area wineries and enjoy a sample of the wineries? drinks perfectly paired with food items. Don?t miss one of the best Keuka Lake events! If you love cheese, read our blog on the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail for more great winter things to do!

#6 ? Exploration and Learning


The Finger Lakes region boasts more than 500 miles of hiking trails. While most trail systems close in the winter, Taughannock Falls State Park Trails remain open throughout the cold season. Most of the terrain here is flat, which makes it a bit safer under icy conditions. We still encourage guests to remain cautious as they explore this area, as ice and snow can easily go undetected.   

Museums & Shopping

Learn something new and visit some of the Finger Lakes? most fascinating museums, like The Rockwell Museum. Peruse a variety of intricate art pieces from different American artists or stroll through engaging exhibits.  

Corning Museum of Glass is another must-see attraction. If you?ve ever wondered how glass is made, you can see the process before your own eyes at this museum! You can even try a glass-blowing class to make your own creations.  

While you?re in Corning, NY, you can stop by Corning?s Gaffer District. It?s a fantastic spot to grab a bite to eat or go shopping!  

Book Your Winter Stay with Finger Lakes Premier Properties 

With so many winter things to do, there?s no better place to enjoy a Finger Lakes winter getaway than in one of our stunning rental homes! Discover the largest selection of beautiful lakeside and off-lake rentals with incredible amenities like fireplaces, fire pits, and hot tubs you wouldn?t find at any of the Finger Lakes bed and breakfasts! With so many options, you?ll have no trouble relaxing after a day of enjoying Finger Lakes winter activities.   

Browse a full inventory of our rental homes to start planning your trip. We can?t wait to see what Finger Lakes winter activities you discover!   

To visit more properties for your winter vacation, visit our web page.

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