8 Fun Things to Do in Finger Lakes (+Photos)

One week during the summer, my husband and I decided to make the 5-hour trip back to his hometown in Pennsylvania. Since there isn’t much to do in the area, we decided to drive 45 minutes to Finger Lakes, located in New York State.

Finger Lakes covers 11 lakes in its regions and is also home to several state parks, breweries, wineries, waterfalls, and outdoor tours for tourists.

It’s one of the best getaways in upstate New York and is perfect for art lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, and foodies. If you’re in the area for more than one day, I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite things to do during your vacation/trip.

1. Visit Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park

While in the area, one of the first places I wanted to visit was Watkins Glen State Park to go hiking. If you enjoy hiking, natural wonders, gorges, and waterfalls, this spot is a must-visit and should be on your list. During our hike, we passed over the rainbow bridge, one of the park’s most iconic attractions.

If you’re not a massive fan of crowds, I highly recommend coming on a weekday or getting there early on the weekends. Our favorite trail in the park was the South Rim trail, which took us to a peaceful creek and into a beautiful forest.

2. Take a Wine Tasting Boat Tour

Wine Tasting in Finger Lakes

After our hike, we took a wine-tasting boat tour from Cayuga Lake. We departed from a small port, where the boat took us through vineyards/wineries for a wine tasting. One of the best ways to see Cayuga Lake is from the wineries, and since it wasn’t a super hot day, it made wine tasting more tolerable.

For the boat tour, we paid around $150+ tax and tip, which was a little more than we anticipated; however, it was well worth the trip. If you want to take a break from driving or need a rest from the physical activities outdoors, the wine-tasting boat tour is perfect to take in those scenic views.

3. Take a Finger Lakes Seaplane Tour

Seaplane Tour

On the second day, after spending a good portion of day one on the water, we decided to take to the skies! One of the best ways to get a full view of Finger Lakes is by taking a seaplane tour. During our tour, we flew over Canandaigua Lake, Seneca Lake, and Watkins Glen.

Our tour lasted approximately 1 hour, and we had a very informative pilot who talked a lot about the area. Our pilot, Bob, was knowledgeable and gave us a seamless flying experience. He also recommended our next activity, which I can’t wait to tell you about!

4. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon

Recommended by our seaplane pilot, next we went on a hot air balloon over Letchworth State Park. The park has three waterfalls as high as 600 feet, it has guided tours, horseback riding, and over 66 miles of hiking trails. Since the weather was near perfect that day, we had a wonderful ride, and it was nice to see the waterfalls from above.

Pro Tip: If you plan to ride in a hot air balloon, get your tickets in advance. We purchased our tickets the night before, and luckily, there was an opening; however, given the popularity, they tend to book up quickly.

5. Visit the Corning Glass Museum

Corning Glass Museum

On day three, we ventured into town and went to the Corning Glass Museum. My mother-in-law told me it was one of her favorite spots in the area, so I wanted to stop by. The museum dove into the functions of glass and had ancient collections, interactive workshops, exhibits, and a large gift shop that featured the items of local artists.

We spent roughly 2 hours in the museum, and tickets were affordable at $22 per person.

6. Have a BBQ Dinner


Since, for most of our trip, we ate at home or packed our lunches, we decided we wanted to go out for dinner. We found Nickel’s BBQ Pit, where we ate some southern heavy meals! As someone who enjoys chicken wings and could eat them every day of the week, I thoroughly enjoyed their buffalo wings.

Just talking about it makes my mouth water and reminds me of how spicy they were! On the side, we also had fried pickles for an appetizer and delicious tater tots.

Pro Tip: Since we went during the evening, this location was pretty busy, but they didn’t accept reservations. If it’s only two of you, I recommend grabbing a seat at the bar.

7. Go Kayaking on Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake

On our final day, we loaded our kayaks on top of our cars and headed to Seneca Lake. Kayaking is the perfect water activity on a hot summer day and will take up most of your time, so I wouldn’t make any other plans. Since I was still learning to kayak, I decided to take a kayak tour with a guide named Lisa.

She took me through a calmer area, the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, which helped me stay more comfortable and relaxed. I’m one of the least experienced kayakers in the family, so it was nice to have an option.

Pro Tip: If you’re not into kayaking, they also have stand-up paddle boarding for the more adventurous outdoor tourists.

8. Visit the Farmers Market

Farmers Market

As we headed back from Seneca Lake, we came across a local farmers market. As I love supporting local businesses, I knew we needed to stop. Finger Lakes has many shops, stands, and corners where small businesses thrive, so it’s a breath of fresh air to see since I grew up in Maryland.

At this particular farmers market, I purchased a jar of honey, organic garlic, and some floral arrangements. Finger Lakes is a calmer region, so this specific market had it where you would leave your money in a box to pay for an item without needing the help of an employee. It was refreshing to know the area is very trustworthy.

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