Living only two states away from New York, of course I’d heard happy chatter about the Finger Lakes, New York. I listened to stories about how folks fell in love with the area at first sight and how if you can’t find a new favorite winery there you’re not going to find one at all. But, until I visited for myself, I didn’t get it. Did I fall in love at first sight?
Most definitely. And, while there’s plenty of additional reasons why, I’m happy to share with you my five favorites.
By Spying A Reminder of Home
If you’ve read the blog before (thank you!), you know all about my love of Hocking Hills, Ohio. Filled with caves and waterfalls, it’s my family’s go-to spot for hiking and outdoor activities in Ohio. Visiting Watkins Glen on Seneca Lake in Schuyler County was like not only stunning but it reminded me of my outdoor Ohio fave compliments of Watkins Glen State Park. Within a two-mile area there’s walking, hiking, and 19 waterfalls.
Our morning hike last month was the perfect way to check out the rock formations and natural pools made from the water that fills the gorge area. LOVE this one as it looks like a heart. For an $8 vehicle entrance fee you have access to all of the trails and beauty plus a dip in the outdoor pool.
By Taking in Movie History
Another fun way to check out Watkins Glen is on the schooner, True Love. Featured in two old-school movies (“Philadelphia Story” with Carey Grant and Katherine Hepburn AND “High Society” starring Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra & Louis Armstrong), I had the coolest two-hour tour of Seneca Lake and spied what the region looks like from the water.
Schooner Excursions has two choices for water fun and tours are very affordable starting at $35 per person. Wine and beer are available on board for an additional charge.
By Learning All About the Beauty and History of Glass
Check your mother’s or grandmother’s cupboards and I bet you’ll find glassware that was made at Corning. Definitely one of my favorite spots in the Finger Lakes, the town is filled with museums and restaurants, and it’s so walkable that you can park the car and get some exercise with leisurely strolls. Not a fan of glass-making? You will be after a visit to Corning Museum of Glass. For 165 years Corning Glass Works (they’ve changed their name to Corning, Inc. since then) has been making glass for both household and industrial use. On the company’s 100th anniversary in 1951, the Corning Museum of Glass was dedicated to the city to tell the story of glass through history.
Sure, you’ll find modern pieces and 3,500 years of history in its exhibits but you’ll also have the chance to experience hands-on glass blowing instruction. Never one to pass up an opportunity to add to my Halloween collection, I had to go with a black and white pumpkin with a dark purple stem. I was able to blow the glass myself and the instructors worried about the other end of the rod to make sure my pumpkin looked exactly how it should.
By Rolling on a River
Compliments of a severe lack of rain in the area it was more like a slow roll on the Chemung River in Elmira, New York, with some scooting between rocks when I visited, but the experience was still a hoot. I’d never had the honor of kayaking on a river before (lakes only!) so this kayaking experience was a first for me and I’m definitely up for more.
The gang at Southern Tier Kayak Tours took care of all of the details including busing us to where we began, making sure we stayed safe, and even helping me get my kayak out of the water. The 2 1/2 hour trip down the Chemung was gentle and serene and the education immense compliments of our guide, Leave No Trace Master Educator and company owner, Aaron. Yep, half way back we stopped and received a lesson in water ecology!
By Being Inspired by the Spot Where Mark Twain Created His Masterpieces
The literary master Mark Twain lives on. And on and on- and not only compliments of his masterful writings but in the heart of the Finger Lakes. Susan and Theodore Crane, Twain’s in-laws, had a study made for him on the family’s property. Once on the top of a hill so he could spy the gorgeous views on the Chemung River, the study now sits on the Elmira College grounds where students and residents pass by it daily. Schedule an appointment and you can walk inside and see where Mark Twain found his inspiration to write The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
Dig a little deeper into Elmira College and you’ll find a stained glass tribute to Samuel Clemens in the on-property chapel. Why am I so enamored with the tributes? Twain was one of the first (if not THE first) travel writer.
Well done, Sir. Well done.
Have you visited the Finer Lakes region of New York? What made you fall in love with it? Please let me know in the comment section below!
Disclosure: I was graciously hosted by the folks at the Watkins Glen, Corning, and Finger Lakes CVBs to give you fine folks the scoop on top notch lodging choices in the Finger Lakes region. I was not asked to state a particular point of view and all opinions are my own!