Eleven pristine lakes spread like fingers across central New York. Native American legend (detail page linking to Ganondagan State Historic Site) has it that these lakes were left behind by the Great Spirit who blessed this land with his hands. Today, we know them as New York’s Finger Lakes. The legend is echoed in the names of these fresh water lakes: Skaneateles, Otisco, Owasco, Cayuga, Seneca, Keuka, Canandaigua, Honeoye, Canadice, Conesus and Hemlock. Each lake and the land surrounding it has its unique personality and offerings.
Water is important to the recreational offerings of the area. Lake Ontario is the northern border to the region and is an anchor for great fishing. In the southern Finger Lakes, your natural outdoor choice is to fish the Susquehanna River. If you prefer your water frozen or snow-like then you can tackle the slopes at Greek Peak or Bristol Mountain Ski Resorts. Catch some famous waterfalls like Taughannock Falls which plunges over 400 feet. Many state parks border the lakes, giving you lots of options for camping, canoeing and kayaking. At Watkins Glen, go hiking through winding gorges or visit the eastern border of the Finger Lakes, the Grand Canyon of the east, Letchworth State Park. Nearly 80 different trail ideas are available in the Finger Lakes hiking and biking kit. Bring your bike and thinking about joining in one of the triathlon our touring events which take you along the country roads and through the hills besides the lakes.
Visitors to the Finger Lakes love the great outdoors and the natural scenery; visitors also note the spirit of the “locals” with their reputation for warm hospitality, entrepreneurship and creative artistic spirit. History, art and culture are showcased in the museums which dot the region, anchored in cities like Rochester, home to the Strong National Museum of Play, Corning, famous for its Museum of Glass, and Syracuse, the host for the New York State Fair.
Charming communities are nestled lakeside or hillside, each with its own character: Auburn is known as “history’s hometown”, Elmira was home to Mark Twain, and Skaneateles is dubbed a “stress free zone”. Speaking of characters – what would American society be today without the influence of the people who called the Finger Lakes their home: The Seneca Falls Suffragettes, Harriet Tubman, Joseph Smith, and George Eastman are also among those who have historic sites dedicated to them and their contributions to American history.
The food and wine you'll find in the Finger Lakes are legendary, from natural-foods pioneer Moosewood in Ithaca to the famous Dinosaur Bar-B-Ques. At the New York Wine & Culinary Center in Canandaigua, you can sample the state's prized harvests and taste what artisans are crafting at area wineries, breweries and distilleries. A favorite activity in the Finger Lakes is taking the trail – wine trails range from the largest, the Seneca Lake Wine Trail to the smallest, Little Lakes Wine Path. The rich agricultural lands of the Finger Lakes offer up a cornucopia of fresh tastes: apples, grapes, strawberries, corn and cabbage. Farm and craft markets are favorite craft hunting and gathering spots – especially New York State’s largest, The Windmill Farm and Craft Market.
You need to see the Finger Lakes from the air to really understand its splendor. The fall foliage rivals any in the Northeast and the landscapes are inspirations to photographers and artists, explorers, sailors and pilots. When you visit the Finger Lakes make sure you get on a boat – on the Erie Canal or one of the lakes, hop in a hot air balloon and float, consider one of the scenic train tours or take a glider ride.
The Finger Lakes are 9,000 plus square miles of adventure, scenery, and personal experiences. It’ll be a tough choice of where to start and what to do. That’s why visitors have to return to the Finger Lakes over and over again to enjoy all that there is to offer.