Free Things To Do in The Finger Lakes
- #1View all PhotosfreeSkaneateles Lake#1 in The Finger LakesRecreation, Shopping, Sightseeing, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPENDRecreation, Shopping, Sightseeing, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
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.
Many recent visitors to Skaneateles Lake said it was a favorite stop and loved the charming, historic town, saying that both dining and shopping were excellent. Visitors also commented on the lake's calm and clean "crystal clear" waters and said that even though it's off the beaten path it's well worth a visit. Several recommended one of the local boat tours, such as those provided by Mid-Lakes Navigation, as a way to learn the history of the area.
- #10View all Photos#10 in The Finger LakesSightseeing, Tours, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDSightseeing, Tours, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
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.
Recent visitors said the campus is gorgeous – especially in the fall – and an ideal place to take photographs thanks to the beautiful old academic buildings (many of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places). You'll also spot stunning views of the surrounding lakes from the campus's hilltop perch (specifically, the Libe Slope Overlook). Some reviewers bemoaned the lack of available parking and recommended visiting on a weekend when there aren't major university events (hint: avoid homecoming, commencement and home football games). You can view a calendar of events on the university's website.
- #11View all Photos#11 in The Finger LakesSports, Tours, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDSports, Tours, FreeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
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.
Visitors from all over the world love the Drive the Glen program, calling it the highlight of the trip, and recommend arriving early to avoid long lines. Others enjoyed watching practice rounds and taking in the scenic views of Seneca Lake (both of which can be experienced for free).
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