four people enjoying winter activities in the finger lakes

5 Things That Make Winter Vacations to the Finger Lakes Awesome

Our area is best-known as a summer vacation destination. After all, there’s nothing more idyllic than days on the lake under the summer sun. However, winter vacations to the Finger Lakes are equally as fun! That’s when our quiet upstate New York region transforms into a beautiful snow-covered wonderland. Whether you’re taking a holiday vacation or visiting early in the new year, there are so many wonderful Finger Lakes winter activities and events to enjoy during this season. Peek at some of our favorite activities so that you can customize your perfect winter getaway!   

When you’re ready to start planning your trip, download our Finger Lakes Vacation Guide. This free resource is filled with local insight into how to spend every season in the Finger Lakes region!  

Download our Free Vacation Guide

Things to Do on Your Winter Vacation in the Finger Lakes

Please note that due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, some of these winter activities and events in the Finger Lakes may be adjusted, postponed, or canceled. The safety of our community of locals and visitors alike is of the utmost importance to us. Please continue to check the events’ websites linked below, or visit the Finger Lakes Chamber of Commerce’s website for the latest information. To see how we’re keeping our guests safe, please view our COVID-19 Response. Thank you for understanding!  

1. Finger Lakes Wine Tour 

The Finger Lakes Wine Region is one of the best in the nation.  Winter in wine country is great because the climate and soil in this area create the perfect environment for growing grapes. Winter is a fantastic time to visit area wineries. Enjoy a wine tasting with outstanding views of the snow-covered land!  

2. Ice Fishing  

It may surprise you to learn that winter is one of the best seasons for fishing in the Finger Lakes. When the lakes partially or completely freeze over, these beautiful bodies of water become a hotspot for various types of trout and landlocked salmon. Keuka Lake is especially good for ice fishing! We also offer rentals along this lake, so you can easily enjoy ice fishing every day of your winter getaway.  

3. Ski & Snowboard at Terrain Parks 

Skiing and snowboarding at local terrain parks are two of the most popular Finger Lakes winter activities. 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 or cross-country or downhill skiing.   

There are two excellent ski resorts in the area: Bristol Mountain Ski Resort and Greek Peak Mountain Resort. Both offer fantastic rental programs, 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 both excellent sites for Nordic skiing. The trails within both parks are well-maintained, perfect for beginners or experienced skiers. You can also visit the resorts’ tubing centers for some adrenaline-packed fun for everyone!  

4. Taughannock Falls 

The Finger Lakes region boasts more than 500 miles of hiking trails. While most of the 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, though, as ice and snow can easily go undetected.  

5. Museums

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 fascinating 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! 

Finger Lake Winter Events 

Enjoy the Finger Lakes in December 

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 screenings of the film, holiday-themed competitions, and charity events that benefit local groups! 

Watkins Glen Village Christmas 

One of the most iconic holiday events is the Wakins Glen Village Christmas. It has been running for over 25 years in early December. Village Christmas includes a Dr. Seuss parade, fireworks, and arts and crafts. It also includes a meet and greet with Santa and Mrs. Claus! This Seneca Lake event is an excellent fit for the whole family. 

Visit the Finger Lakes in January 

Get a Deal at the Bargain Bash 

Each year, Seneca Lake Wine Trail launches their event season with the Bargain Bash. This week-long sale allows wineries to clear their inventory and prepare for the upcoming harvest. You can visit participating wineries to score fantastic deals on everything from bottles of wine to souvenirs! Check the website to see a list of participating wineries. If you’d like a preview of some of our favorite spots on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, check out our blog! 

Don’t Miss the Finger Lakes in February 

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 

A great Valentine’s Day event is the Wine and Cheese Weekend from Keuka Lake Wine Trail. It showcases two of the most popular products from the Finger Lakes. When you purchase a ticket, you’ll get to visit various area wineries (and receive a complimentary Keuka Lake Wine Trail glass) and enjoy a sample of the winery’s drink that’s perfectly paired with cheeses. Don’t miss one of the best Keuka lake events! For more information on local dairies and creameries, read our blog on the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail! 

Book Your Winter Stay with Finger Lakes Premier Properties 

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! 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!   

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