Frolicking in the Finger Lakes

During the last Ice Age, upstate New York was covered in glaciers. The massive ice sheet–up to a mile thick–stretched from this region north across the pole and back down into Europe. When the planet began to warm again, the giant glacier receded. As it melted away, it carved deep trenches into the land below. Some of these trenches filled with water, forming the Finger Lakes–narrow, deep waterways scratching their way across upstate New York.

I lived in the Finger Lakes region for a few years, and although I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it as a permanent home, there is a lot to love about the area.

1. Outdoors

The Finger Lakes offers endless adventures for those who like the outdoors. You can:

Get out on the lakes through your own manpower or on a scenic cruise;

picture of kayak on Cayuga Lake near Ithaca, New York

Kayaking on Cayuga Lake

marvel at the natural beauty carved out by receding glaciers;

hike out to a waterfall taller than Niagara Falls;

or simply take a stroll around one of the numerous small towns.

Picture of Penn Yan in upstate New York

Penn Yan

2. Get Your Drink On

With a latitude roughly equal to southern France, the rolling hills here are perfect for wineries. Many grape varietals have been locally created by Cornell University, and some of the most popular hybrids are making their way out of New York into other growing regions.

Picture of grapes at a vineyard along Seneca Lake in upstate New York

Vineyard grapes

There are several wine trails where you can taste until your heart’s content. My favorite is the one around picturesque Seneca Lake. You really can’t go wrong picking a place on this trail, but a little shout-out to one of my favorites: Kings Garden Vineyards.

Picture of winery along Seneca Lake in upstate New York

Winery along Seneca Lake

A number of breweries and distilleries have recently opened to cash in on the action.

Picture of a winery-brewery site along Seneca Lake in upstate New York

A rustic-looking winery-brewery combo along Seneca Lake

Picture of microbrews from Rooster Fish in upstate New York

Beer options at Rooster Fish, along Seneca Lake

3. Something for Everyone

Like glass? Corning, home of CorningWare, has got you covered.

Are you more the literary type? Upstate New York is Mark Twain Country.

Picture of Mark Twain / Samuel Clemens' grave in Elmira, New York

Mark Twain’s grave in Elmira

Prefer something to do with the kids? Take them to visit a happy, rescued farm animal at Farm Sanctuary. (Full disclosure: I used to work at Farm Sanctuary.)

Picture of rescued pig at Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York

Pleased piggy

Picture of rescued chickens at Farm Sanctuary in upstate New York

Content chickens

Still don’t know what to do? Maybe just enjoy the sculptures.

Picture of a swan sculpture in upstate New York

Bird sculpture

At about five hours from both NYC and Baltimore-DC, the Finger Lakes area is the perfect weekend destination for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle of city life. Get out and see it today!

Have you been to the Finger Lakes? What was your favorite part?

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