8 Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

8 Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

Don’t get me wrong, if you know me, you know I love wine tasting. However on my recent trip to the Finger Lakes, I discovered there’s a lot more to do in the region than just sample their wine. That wine, by the way, happens to be some of the best I’ve had in the United States. So while it’s well worth a trip to New York’s Finger Lakes region to give that wine a try, there are more than a few reasons to stay a bit longer than you may think. Not only are there picturesque towns along the lakes, but there are adventures to be had, many more than I expected. So here are 8 things to do in the Finger Lakes besides wine tasting.

Sail on Seneca Lake

Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

After my recent schooner experience on the J&E Riggin, you could say I’m a bit obsessed with sailing. When I discovered we’d be doing some on Seneca Lake, I was thrilled. We hopped on True Love for a two hour ride and it was the most relaxed I’d been since my last schooner trip; there’s just something about being on the water. The True Love has an interesting history, as it was featured in the movie High Society, which starred Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong. Bing Crosby serenades Grace Kelly with the song “True Love,” while on board, and we got to sit exactly where they were for a picture. We spent the rest of our time on board taking in the scenes with local wine in hand, I had a delicious rosé from nearby Atwater Estate Vineyards, which we visited later that day. It was the ideal way to spend the first day of autumn.

Hike at Watkins Glen State Park

Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

Watkins Glen is unlike anywhere else I’ve hiked in New York, or the rest of the Northeast for that matter. I have wanted to visit for years, and I’m happy to say it lived up to my expectations. The gorge is beautiful; it has 200-foot cliffs and there are 19 waterfalls within the park. For non-hikers, it’s easy enough to do, since a lot of the park is made up of stairs. In many ways, it reminded me of Johnston Canyon in Banff, Canada. It definitely felt far away from home. Hopefully, I can make it back here again soon to do some more hiking along the trails.

Glide in the Soaring Capital of the USA

Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

Part of what I love most about travel is its ability to remove me from my comfort zone. Instead of being afraid, I force myself into situations I wouldn’t normally do. Take soaring for instance. Never in my life would I have imagined myself getting into an engine-less, two passenger glider, but when I arrived at Harris Hills Soaring Corporation, I decided to just do it. While I would have expected myself to be nervous, I wasn’t and instead I was high on adrenaline. It was exhilarating and surprisingly peaceful to float along. The total flight time was about twenty-five minutes, and it was much more enjoyable than any other flight I have ever been on.

Enjoy Some Art

Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

The museums in this area are some of the best I’ve been to in awhile. Our first stop was the Arnot Art Museum, which is housed in the former home of John Arnot, which was built in 1833. It first opened as an art gallery in 1913. While all of the art is impressive, I found myself most drawn to the current exhibition 3 Americans. It features the artwork of Inga Kimberly Brown, David Higgins, and Jack Radetsky, and it will be up until the end of January. I also loved The Rockwell Museum in Corning, which is a Smithsonian Affiliate. There’s a large collection of Native American art, as well as art by American artists. During our visit, we were lucky enough to meet the Ladd brothers who were installing 40 For 40, a collection of the museum’s works that they curated for The Rockwell’s anniversary. This installation is up until mid-January, and I’d recommend checking it out.

Kayak the Chemung River

Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

Kayaking is something I never get to do as often as I’d like, so I was happy to find some great kayaking conditions on the Chemung River. Unfortunately, there’s been a bit of a drought in the region, so the river was lower than usual, but we still found areas that were great for kayaking. We spent about two hours on a kayak tour with STKT, Southern Tier Kayak Tours, and it was a beautiful day to be out on the water. We were able to take in wildlife, as well as enjoy each others company while easily paddling down the river.

Embrace Your Inner Mark Twain

Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

I had no idea, but Mark Twain has strong ties to the Finger Lake region of New York. In this building, which originally sat on his family’s property at Quarry Farm in the Chemung River Valley, Mark Twain penned major portions of many of his famous works, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Life on the Mississippi. Since 1952, the study has be located 0n the campus of Elmira College. It’s amazing to enter a place that was of such importance in Twain’s life. Nearby, you can also visit his grave of him.

Make Glass at Corning Glass Museum

Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

I’ve never had much of an interest in glass or glass making, and while I had heard it was interesting, I didn’t think it would ever appeal to me. That is until I visited the Corning Museum of Glass. Not only is it amazing to watch the creations being made, but there are so many beautiful artistic pieces throughout the museum. There’s even a chance to create a piece of your own, and this was probably my favorite part, as I love hands-on activities. It was a lot harder, and hotter, than I expected it to be, but I’m pretty proud of my flower creation.

Drink Up at a Brewery or Distillery

Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

This may be cheating a bit, but it is a great option if you’re starting to get a little full from wine. The breweries and distilleries in the area are fantastic, so they are perfect for a break from wine tasting. We visited The Brewery of Broken Dreams first and it became a quick favorite, as I liked almost every beer they served up. I also enjoyed the tastings at Grist Iron Brewing Company and Horseheads Brewing Company; both had the best pumpkin beer I’ve ever sampled. As for distilleries, we made our way to Finger Lakes Distilling and Four Flights Distilling. While I’m not one for drinking spirits straight, I did enjoy learning about the process, as well as sampling a few of the goods.

Of course, it would be silly to head to the Finger Lakes and not check out their amazing vineyards, but in case you’re looking for something a little different, and a reason or two to stay a bit longer, these are just some of the wonderful activities you can get yourself involved in. I’m already dreaming up a return trip.

8 Things to Do in the Finger Lakes Besides Wine Tasting

 

I was a guest of Corning, Mark Twain Country, and Watkins Glen, however, this did not impact my experiences. As always, all opinions and views are my own.

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Comments (12)

  1. Marc Hample

    Bravo to The Arnot Art Museum & the other Upstate Experiences !!!

    Marc Hample

    1. The World Wanderer

      Thanks so much! It was a wonderful week!

  2. Peg Haust-Arliss

    This is great! And I would add visit Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Yes! I actually didn’t realize it was nearby until the end of my trip. As a vegetarian, it’s super high on my list of places to visit!

  3. Samantha DePasquale

    Such an interesting article! I am a New York native and have rarely been upstate before, let alone to the Finger Lakes. This is an area I’m sure many people don’t think to travel to, which I find makes for a great blog post! I hope to make my way up there sometime in the future.

    1. The World Wanderer

      I hope you make it there soon too! I grew up in New Jersey and had rarely explored Upstate as well. There are so many wonderful things to see and do! I’d definitely recommend the Finger Lakes for a trip sometime soon. I hope to get back soon as well 🙂

  4. Dana Marie Piazza

    I love visiting Seneca Lake NY. ,(Lodi). Watkins glen is beautiful. The air is crisp and the vineyards are breathtaking. Such a beautiful place to visit. I enjoyed Hazlitt winery. 😘 Very welcoming wonderful people.🍷😊🍷😊

  5. Leah

    I enjoyed following along with this trip on social media. I didn’t know much about the Finger Lakes at all. Though, I’d go just for the wine tasting. 😉

  6. craig zabransky (@StayAdventurous)

    Wow, looks like a great time….I need to make this a trip here happen… it is my state after all….stay crazy eight, stay loving NY, Craig

  7. Andrew Scott

    Thanks for writing this, Erin. I lived in the Finger Lakes area a few years ago, and everyone always forgets that there’s a lot more to do there than just drinking wine (although that part is quite nice).

  8. Erin Klema | The Epicurean Traveler

    I loved visiting Ithaca. I wish I had made it to some of the wineries while I was there, but I was in town for Cornell football games when my friend was coaching there. I did go to the farmers’ market, which is fantastic. We saw some gorges. I mean, you can’t go to Ithaca without seeing some, right? And, we ate at some fantastic restaurants. While researching Ithaca for a blog post I wrote ages ago, I learned that the city has more restaurants per capita than NYC! Crazy! I’d love to get back out there to do some of the activities you mentioned — namely beer tasting and visiting the Corning Museum of Glass. It looks so cool. Loved this post, Erin!

    1. The World Wanderer

      Yes, gorges are a must! Isn’t their slogan, “Ithaca is gorges,” haha. I love it! Yes, the food is amazing! I have to be honest, I didn’t know what to expect, but I really fell in love. I hope you go back one day! I think you’d really love it.

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