According to Native American legend, the 11 glacial lakes that comprise this region in central New York are evidence of the Great Spirit leaving his handprint as a blessing on the area. Thus, the region's freshwater lakes carry Native American names like Skaneateles, Keuka, Cayuga and Seneca. Today, this 9,000-square-mile area is a year-round outdoor playground and home to a burgeoning wine country that's been compared to Napa Valley.
In addition to an abundance of boating, fishing and water sports, the Finger Lakes offer challenging hikes through stunning state parks that boast dramatic rocky gorges and cascading waterfalls. But the region also provides plenty of opportunities for relaxation, with scenic drives through wine and farm country. If it's culture you're after, the area has you covered there, too: It's home to the Corning Museum of Glass, The Strong International Museum of Play and the George Eastman Museum.
The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.
The best time to visit the Finger Lakes region is from May to September, when there are plenty of opportunities to take advantage of the area's outdoor pursuits. Expect higher accommodation rates in the peak months of June to August and longer lines at attractions and wineries. Fall foliage also draws crowds, so try to visit on weekdays. Even in the summer, temperatures vary through the day with cool mornings and evenings and daytime highs in the 70s and 80s. You'll want to layer with some long-sleeved shirts, light sweaters and jackets, and pack comfortable shoes.
Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center
In addition to its many wineries, the Finger Lakes region is home to a vast array of farms, making it a great place for farm stands and farmers markets. The Ithaca Farmers Market offers five weekly markets during growing season (June to October), the largest at Steamboat Landing and additional markets at Dewitt Park and East Hill Plaza. Visitors can pick up fresh food for a picnic to enjoy at the many lakes and parks.
Ithaca also claims to be the birthplace of the ice cream sundae – created in 1892 by the local reverend and the pharmacy owner after a church service (thus the name "sundae"). Visitors can enjoy versions of this local favorite at several local ice cream shops, including Purity Ice Cream and the Cornell Dairy Bar.
Other iconic regional dishes include salt potatoes and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse, Cornell chicken (a vinegar-based barbecue version invented by a former Cornell professor) at Jim's BBQ in Candor and spiedie sandwiches filled with grilled pork cubes at Sharkey's in Binghamton. And with the abundance of water in the region, you'll want to try a local fish fry: Doug's in Skaneateles is a local hot spot.
The best way to get around the large Finger Lakes region – a 9,000-square-mile area that encompasses 14 counties – is by car. Although cities like Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca and Seneca offer public transportation, there isn't a system that serves the entire rural region. Major cities are accessible by bus lines (such as Greyhound), train and air. The three international airports in Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester are all served by several major airlines and the regional airports in Ithaca and Elmira welcome flights from Allegiant, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines and American Airlines.See details for Getting Around
Search for the best flight deals across Orbitz, Expedia, Kayak and more.
Dec 13, 2018
These tips can help you see the world at prices you can afford.
Dec 11, 2018
Create priceless honeymoon memories without breaking the bank.
Dec 04, 2018
You don't have to travel to a big city to experience nonstop Christmas fun.
Nov 26, 2018
These family-friendly mountain resorts offer exceptional snow sports and activities for all ages.
Nov 19, 2018
Get away to enjoy the views and activities at these properties around the world.
Nov 13, 2018
Find out which lines will help you save big on your next cruise vacation.
Nov 13, 2018
See how cruise lines are raising the bar with tech-savvy touches and improved luxury experiences.
Nov 13, 2018
Find out how taking a cruise can support your health, fitness and nutrition goals.
Nov 08, 2018
These tips can help you snap stunning and creative images without a fancy camera – or any experience.
Oct 22, 2018
Learn more about these accommodations and why they are so popular.