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Best Things To Do in The Finger Lakes

The Finger Lakes region of central New York is known as an outdoor lover's paradise. Home to several expansive state parks, including Watkins Glen and Taughannock Falls, the area boasts excellent hiking trails and spectacular waterfalls. What's more, the region's 11 glacial lakes offer opportunities for boating, fishing and water sports. Oenophiles will be happy to hear this section of the state is ripe with wineries and wine trails. Meanwhile, families will love the Strong National Museum of Play, while history buffs will enjoy touring the Corning Museum of Glass or the George Eastman International Museum of Photography.

How we rank Things to Do.

#1

#1 in The Finger Lakes

Free
Located about 23 miles southwest of Syracuse, Skaneateles Lake is the sixth-largest of the Finger Lakes. The name means "long lake" in the Iroquois language and indeed, the 16-mile-long lake crosses three counties: Onandaga, Cayuga and Cortland. The historic Skaneateles Village dates back to the Revolutionary War and is filled with local shops, restaurants, inns and bed-and-breakfasts. The sparkling, clear lake is a favorite for boating and fishing. 
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Recreation Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Skaneateles Lake
Located about 23 miles southwest of Syracuse, Skaneateles Lake is the sixth-largest of the Finger Lakes. The name means "long lake" in the Iroquois language and indeed, the 16-mile-long lake crosses three counties: Onandaga, Cayuga and Cortland. The historic Skaneateles Village dates back to the Revolutionary War and is filled with local shops, restaurants, inns and bed-and-breakfasts. The sparkling, clear lake is a favorite for boating and fishing. 
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#2

#2 in The Finger Lakes

During the winter season, which runs from December through March, the Finger Lakes region is a destination for both downhill and cross-country skiers. The two major year-round resorts, Bristol Mountain and Greek Peak, offer a variety of winter sports from downhill skiing and snowboarding to snow tubing and snowshoeing.
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Skiing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Skiing
During the winter season, which runs from December through March, the Finger Lakes region is a destination for both downhill and cross-country skiers. The two major year-round resorts, Bristol Mountain and Greek Peak, offer a variety of winter sports from downhill skiing and snowboarding to snow tubing and snowshoeing.
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#3

#3 in The Finger Lakes

One of the most popular state parks within the region, Watkins Glen is known for its 19 waterfalls and picturesque trails, especially the Gorge Trail. This looped path, which spans 2 ½ miles, winds over and under the falls and through the spray of the Cavern Cascade. A shuttle runs to the top of the trail for those who prefer not to hike up the long slope. Both campers and day visitors also receive access to the park's Olympic-size swimming pool. What's more, the park offers picnic facilities and fishing in nearby Seneca Lake or Catherine Creek, known for its spring run of rainbow trout.
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Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Watkins Glen State Park
One of the most popular state parks within the region, Watkins Glen is known for its 19 waterfalls and picturesque trails, especially the Gorge Trail. This looped path, which spans 2 ½ miles, winds over and under the falls and through the spray of the Cavern Cascade. A shuttle runs to the top of the trail for those who prefer not to hike up the long slope. Both campers and day visitors also receive access to the park's Olympic-size swimming pool. What's more, the park offers picnic facilities and fishing in nearby Seneca Lake or Catherine Creek, known for its spring run of rainbow trout.
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#4

#4 in The Finger Lakes

The Corning Museum of Glass offers one of the world's best collections of art and historical glass, from a portrait of an Egyptian pharaoh to works by Tiffany and Chihuly. The museum's Innovation Center focuses on the science of glass, featuring hands-on exhibits and live glassmaking demonstrations. Visitors can also take a beginner's glassmaking class. If you bring your smartphone or tablet, you can download the museum's GlassApp, which includes videos, artist bios and photos you can reference while walking through the museum.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Corning Museum of Glass
The Corning Museum of Glass offers one of the world's best collections of art and historical glass, from a portrait of an Egyptian pharaoh to works by Tiffany and Chihuly. The museum's Innovation Center focuses on the science of glass, featuring hands-on exhibits and live glassmaking demonstrations. Visitors can also take a beginner's glassmaking class. If you bring your smartphone or tablet, you can download the museum's GlassApp, which includes videos, artist bios and photos you can reference while walking through the museum.
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#5

#5 in The Finger Lakes

The Seneca Lake Wine Trail, situated in the heart of the Finger Lakes wine region, is one of the most popular trails, offering more than 35 wineries, cideries and breweries in a concentrated area adjacent to the 75-mile shoreline, making it easy to visit several in a daytrip. Known for its excellent riesling, the region's varietals also include chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet franc and gewurztraminer.
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Sightseeing Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Seneca Lake Wine Trail
The Seneca Lake Wine Trail, situated in the heart of the Finger Lakes wine region, is one of the most popular trails, offering more than 35 wineries, cideries and breweries in a concentrated area adjacent to the 75-mile shoreline, making it easy to visit several in a daytrip. Known for its excellent riesling, the region's varietals also include chardonnay, pinot noir, cabernet franc and gewurztraminer.
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#6

#6 in The Finger Lakes

Robert Treman State Park is known for its rugged and stony gorge, Enfield Glen, and the 115-foot Lucifer Falls. In fact, Lucifer Falls is just one of 12 waterfalls along the park's 9 miles of winding trails. The park also features a stream-fed swimming area beneath a waterfall, campsites, cabins and RV sites. 
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Parks and Gardens Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Robert Treman State Park
Robert Treman State Park is known for its rugged and stony gorge, Enfield Glen, and the 115-foot Lucifer Falls. In fact, Lucifer Falls is just one of 12 waterfalls along the park's 9 miles of winding trails. The park also features a stream-fed swimming area beneath a waterfall, campsites, cabins and RV sites. 
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#7

#7 in The Finger Lakes

The waterfall at Taughannock Falls State Park is one of New York's most spectacular natural sights, descending more than 200 feet over 400-foot-tall rocky cliffs above the gorge. Trails offer stunning views from above the falls and campsites and cabins line the sparkling lake, which also offers a marina and a beach. The park also boasts trails for cross-country skiing, sledding slopes and skating ponds, making it a year-round destination. In the summer, concerts are held along the lake shore. 
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Hiking Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
Taughannock Falls State Park
The waterfall at Taughannock Falls State Park is one of New York's most spectacular natural sights, descending more than 200 feet over 400-foot-tall rocky cliffs above the gorge. Trails offer stunning views from above the falls and campsites and cabins line the sparkling lake, which also offers a marina and a beach. The park also boasts trails for cross-country skiing, sledding slopes and skating ponds, making it a year-round destination. In the summer, concerts are held along the lake shore. 
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#8

#8 in The Finger Lakes

Who wouldn't love a museum dedicated to play? The Strong National Museum of Play in downtown Rochester has something for kids of any age. From "Sesame Street," board games, dolls and books to the latest electronic games, the museum is home to the world's most comprehensive toy collection. Interactive exhibits include a replica Wegmans grocery store – where kids can shop and use a cash register – and an area devoted to the history of vehicles, from trucks and trains to planes and boats.
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Museums Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
The Strong National Museum of Play
Who wouldn't love a museum dedicated to play? The Strong National Museum of Play in downtown Rochester has something for kids of any age. From "Sesame Street," board games, dolls and books to the latest electronic games, the museum is home to the world's most comprehensive toy collection. Interactive exhibits include a replica Wegmans grocery store – where kids can shop and use a cash register – and an area devoted to the history of vehicles, from trucks and trains to planes and boats.
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#9

#9 in The Finger Lakes

Located in Rochester, this facility – the world's oldest museum of photography and one of the oldest film archives – is housed within the former estate of George Eastman, a photography and film pioneer. The National Historic Landmark pays homage to the history of photography and motion picture film, offering both permanent and temporary exhibits, an extensive library and a 500-seat theater, which shows more than 300 films each year. Past exhibitions have covered the relationship between photography and our national parks and the history of space photography. 
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Historic Homes/Mansions Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
George Eastman Museum
Located in Rochester, this facility – the world's oldest museum of photography and one of the oldest film archives – is housed within the former estate of George Eastman, a photography and film pioneer. The National Historic Landmark pays homage to the history of photography and motion picture film, offering both permanent and temporary exhibits, an extensive library and a 500-seat theater, which shows more than 300 films each year. Past exhibitions have covered the relationship between photography and our national parks and the history of space photography. 
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#10

#10 in The Finger Lakes

Free
Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, this Ivy League private university is located in Ithaca. When you're not exploring Cornell's 745 acres, head to Collegetown for budget-friendly eats and university apparel, or nearby Cayuga Lake for more outdoorsy pursuits. 
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Sightseeing Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
Cornell University
Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, this Ivy League private university is located in Ithaca. When you're not exploring Cornell's 745 acres, head to Collegetown for budget-friendly eats and university apparel, or nearby Cayuga Lake for more outdoorsy pursuits. 
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#11

#11 in The Finger Lakes

Free
Since 1948, Watkins Glen has been one of the premier racing facilities in North America, hosting everything from the Formula One United States Grand Prix to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Legendary drivers, including Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart, have tested their skills on this course, and visitors can follow in their footsteps with the Drive the Glen program. Guests can take two laps on the 3.4-mile course and also receive a commemorative finish line photo. The venue also hosts large regional events, such as the Finger Lakes Wine Festival.
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Sports Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
Watkins Glen International
Since 1948, Watkins Glen has been one of the premier racing facilities in North America, hosting everything from the Formula One United States Grand Prix to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Legendary drivers, including Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Tony Stewart, have tested their skills on this course, and visitors can follow in their footsteps with the Drive the Glen program. Guests can take two laps on the 3.4-mile course and also receive a commemorative finish line photo. The venue also hosts large regional events, such as the Finger Lakes Wine Festival.
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