What to Do in the Finger Lakes

October 26, 2023

Finger Lakes Travel Guide

Despite having lived in New York State for over 12 years, there still remains a lot of New York that I haven’t explored. For years I have heard people talk about the charm of the Finger Lakes region so when Steuben County invited me to come and enjoy the best the area has to offer, I was excited to make the drive North and get a taste of what this part of the state is like.

Finger Lakes Travel Guide

Steuben County is located in the Southern Finger Lakes region in western New York State. Prized for its heritage of innovation in agriculture — particularly winemaking — aviation, and glassmaking, Steuben County combines scenic rural vistas and unique natural features with quaint downtowns.

Steuben County has craft breweries and distilleries, farm-to-table dining, natural wonders and small town charms and I enjoyed getting to know the area better with a quick 48 hour trip. We rented a car and the drive from Brooklyn was about four and a half hours and rather scenic for most of it.

What to do in Finger Lakes

There is no shortage of Finger Lakes attractions and it is a destination I think you could enjoy with a visit year round. Below are my ideas of what to do in The Finger Lakes broken down by season.

Things To Do in The Finger Lakes in Summer

Rent a Boat

When in the land of lakes it is only appropriate to head out on the water. You can rent boats or even paddle board when in Steuben County.

Visit Farm Stands

The area has a variety of farm stands where you can shop produce or canned goods like jams and salsas. I picked up apple butter and queso dip while in town at the ever so charming Parker’s Farm Market.

Have a Picnic

With many state parks around that have picnic tables and several even have fire pits and grills, there’s no better opportunity to shop for and enjoy a picnic in the great outdoors. 

Enjoy Ice Cream

Enjoy a scoop or two to cool off in summer at the utterly charming Crooked Lake Ice Cream Company in Hammondsport. It has been a staple of  the Hammondsport Village Square for nearly 100 years and feels like stepping back in time. The ice cream shop was originally established in the early 1930’s and was called “the grape vine and the sugar bowl” back then. 

Go Horseback Riding

If hiking isn’t for you, consider going for a horseback ride. Steuben County has a resource on their site if this is an activity of interest.


Originally sold for $1 to New York Governor Smith in 1928, Stony Brook State Park is a gorgeous, wooded haven that boasts a lifeguarded swimming. hole to cool off in during summer. 

Cider Taste

Situated along Cayuga Lake, the Finger Lakes Cider House features a tasting room with local hard ciders, charcuterie & cheese plus seasonal live music. I think a crisp hard cider tastes so, so good in the summer. 

Things To Do in The Finger Lakes in Fall

Visit a Pumpkin Patch

Pick up some pumpkins or enjoy seasonal treats like apple cider donuts or apple slices with caramel sauce at Smithhome Farms. If you’re feeling brave, there is also a corn maze!

Finger Lakes Travel Guide


There are so many beautiful parks to enjoy in Steuben County. We enjoyed the Gorge Trail at Stony Brook State Park and the super unique Watkins Glen State Park which features a stream that descends 400 feet past 200 foot cliffs. It has 19 beautiful waterfalls you can enjoy while you walk along the gorge. 

Other parks to consider visiting in the region include Buttermilk Falls State Park, Taughannock Falls State Park, Letchworth State Park and Treman State Park.

Go for a drive

The rolling hills as they change color with the changing leaves on the trees in autumn is pretty spectacular. Be sure to go for a drive to really soak in the views. Highly recommend doing this as the sun begins to set at golden hour!

Finger Lakes Travel Guide

Have a Diner Brunch

Crooked Lake Ice Cream Company also offers up diner meals in addition to their homemade ice cream. In the Fall you don’t want to miss their seasonal pumpkin pancakes and I highly recommend their breakfast sandwiches as well!

Finger Lakes Travel Guide

Wine Taste Along Keuka Lake

We loved our visit to the cozy barn tasting room of Keuka Lake Vineyards. Mel’s award winning wines are lovely to sip on and he even told us sometimes they bring in a jazz trio at nights for visitors to enjoy. 

Have dinner at Timber Stone Grill

Perfectly cozy and rustic for a Fall dinner, Timber Stone Grill offers up hearty dishes in a friendly atmosphere. Don’t miss the pierogis on the menu! And I recommend skipping dessert as they aren’t made in-house.

Finger Lakes Travel Guide

Enjoy lunch at Bully Hill Vineyards

The home cooking at this winery’s on-property restaurant is not to be missed. The spinach artichoke dip and the fried chicken sandwiches were so, so good! If it is warm enough, you can take advantage of eating outside to enjoy the winery’s beautiful views of Keuka Lake.

Afterwards you can pop over to their tasting room to try one of their many wines. Framed by a tumultuous family history that goes 100 years beyond its inception, Bully Hill Vineyards rests on the same plot of land where founder Walter S. Taylor’s grandfather began Taylor Wine Company all the way back in the late 1800s.

Shop local product + goods

Grab local goods and seasonal produce at Dave’s Produce. Don’t miss the photo opp with the pumpkin barn during the Fall!

Things To Do in The Finger Lakes in Winter

Museum hop

Seek warmth in the colder Upstate New York weather and visit some of the Finger Lakes Region’s best museums including the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rockwell Museum.

Bully Hill Winery also has a charming small museum on property with some great wine history and even historic glassware used by past Presidents!

Brunch at The Quincy Exchange

With a big fire pit in the main dining room, this spot is perfect to grab a cozy meal in. They serve up contemporary and seasonal dishes and at brunch they have the best monkey bread I have ever had.

Wine Taste at Weis Vineyards

Perfect for a winter stop thanks to the cozy downstairs that has communal tables with games available!

Things To Do in The Finger Lakes in Spring

Finger Lakes Travel Guide

Wine Taste at Living Roots

With a sweeping terrace and stunning lake views, the brand new tasting room for Living Roots is a great spot to enjoy some snacks and delightful wines as Spring weather arrives. I was really impressed with Finger Lakes wines and this spot was a favorite. We purchased several bottles to bring home as souveniers!


Explore downtown Corning which has a charming and historic main street. We also enjoyed some of the cute antique stores in Hammondsport as well!

Visit a Brewery

If you prefer beer to wine, consider a visit to one of the breweries in the Steuben County area.The Steuben Brewing Company came well recommended to us and while we didn’t make it this trip, I’d love to visit this award winning, family run farm brewery with a passion for the best beer and local agriculture in the Finger Lakes region on a future trip.

Finger Lakes Travel Guide

Do a Wine and Macaroon Tasting at Domaine LeSeurre

This was such a cute idea from the French owner of this winery. Their wines are paired with macarons flown in from France and it was the perfect sweet treat wine tasting way to end an afternoon.

French husband and wife winemaking team Sébastien and Céline have brought the old-world wine approach to the Finger Lakes. Originally from the south of France where she studied to be a sommelier, Céline met Sébastien while they were both working on a vineyard in Australia. Since then, they’ve been together and opened their winery ten years ago. 

. . .

When I next return to the area, I want to visit The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail – considered to be America’s first wine trail. There is also a Seneca Lake Wine Trail.

Have you been to Steuben County or other parts of the Finger Lakes? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments if so!

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This post is in collaboration with Steuben County’s Tourism Board Explore Steuben. All opinions expressed are my own.

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