The Finger Lakes are a group of eleven long, narrow, and roughly north–south lakes in an area informally called the Finger Lakes region in New York State.
Cayuga and Seneca Lakes are among the deepest in the United States, measuring 435 feet (133 m) and 618 feet (188 m) respectively, with bottoms well below sea level. Though none of the lakes’ width exceeds 3.5 miles (5.6 km), Seneca Lake is 38.1 miles (61.3 km) long, and 66.9 square miles (173 km2), the largest in total area.
NATURE & Scenic Waterfalls
WATKINS GLEN State Park
One of the most stunning gorge trails. The park features three trails, open from mid-May to early November, by which one can climb or descend the gorge. The Southern Rim and Indian Trails run along the gorge’s wooded rim, while the Gorge Trail is closest to the stream and runs over, under, and along the park’s 19 waterfalls by way of stone bridges and more than 800 stone steps. The trails connect to the Finger Lakes Trail, an 800-mile (1,300 km) system of trails within New York state. All the trails are amazing and unique. I would recommend coming here on separate occasions to hike each one.
A year ago, the state provided a shuttle that took you all the way to the top of the gorge that you could easily walk back down all the way to the parking lot. This year being 2020, the shuttle service was suspended. None the less, there was a lot of parking available, and if you come in the afternoon (around 3 pm) you don’t have to pay the state park entry fee.
TAUGHANNOCK Falls Gorge Trail
You can drive up to the upper parking lot that has a sweeping view of the falls and you don’t have to hike at all, if unable or in a crunch for time. The parking is free here too.
Otherwise park at the foot of the park. The parking is paid, unless you come in the later afternoon hours.
This park has two sides that are split by the road – there is the park that is next to Cayuga Lake (again, fishing is allowed, but Dana never caught anything, nor did we ever see any other fisherman with an actual fish). It’s fun to come here during the hot summer months to swim.
The gorge trail – it’s easily marked and you can choose to hike the trail, which is nicely shaded and protected by tall trees, or you can hike the river bed that is dry during the summer and early fall months.
It takes about a mile to get to the end, where you’ll be rewarded by this stunning waterfall. Wear sturdy shoes, especially if you plan to walk through the river bedrock.
One of the easiest accessible falls in the area (or anywhere else, honestly). The falls are located literally between homes in a residential area. The parking is tiny – maybe for 5 to 6 cars. You get out of the car and voila! The falls are right in front of you.
Lower falls at Robert Treman State Park
Easily accessible from a large, free parking lot. An easy walk along the river will lead you to the lower falls. Swimming is allowed during summer months only.
Buttermilk Falls State Park
Another stunning gorge trail that is a bit underrated and less popular than Watkins Glen.
You have to cross the road from the parking lot to access the trail and it’s not visibly marked or easily spotted. There are always people around, so if you don’t see it, ask.
Very nice and relaxing hike along the gorge and cascading river. There were very few people on the trail, which made it that much better.
Town of Senca Falls
Seneca Falls was the site of the Seneca Falls Convention, a foundational event in the Women’s Rights Movement. The town is believed by some to have been the inspiration for the fictional town of “Bedford Falls, N.Y.” portrayed in filmmaker Frank Capra’s classic 1940s film, “It’s a Wonderful Life”(there is a small “display” museum dedicated to the movie).
The town is very scenic with a beautiful waterfront walk and stunning architecture.
Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry
Trinity Episcopal Church
When Anthony Met Stanton Statue
(Amelia Bloomer introduces Susan B. Anthony to Elizabeth Cady Stanton)
Town of Geneva
Belhurst Castle and Winery
It holds a hotel with three choices of lodging (Vinifera Inn, Chambers in the Castle, and White Springs Manor); two ballrooms to host weddings, two restaurants (Edgar’s Restaurant – a formal, fine dining restaurant for special occasion,s and Stonecutters – a relaxed, casual dining restaurant that I highly recommend for great food and service); spa, and a winery.
Belhurst Castle was previously used as a speakeasy during Prohibition, with a casino, and supper club.
Geneva On The Lake Boutique Resort
Built in the style of the renowned Villa Lancellotti in Frascati, Italy, Geneva On the Lake is a slice of Italian elegance in the Finger Lakes region complete with replica statues of Venus de Milo and Hera of Samos. Furnished with Stickley furniture, extensive attention to detail is given to the decor of the hotel and its 10-acre property. A leisurely walk through the grounds reveals architectural and horticultural excellence and on a nice day you can even play croquet on the lawn. This elegant, four-season resort also features a swimming pool, lakeside boat house, and a fine-dining restaurant. A recipient of the AAA 4-diamond award for over 30 years.
Rochester is a city on Lake Ontario, in New York State. Old industrial buildings cluster near the Genesee River’s High Falls.
The George Eastman Museum
The George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography. Home to the 500-seat Dryden Theater, the museum is located on the estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the founder of the Eastman Kodak Company.
Very educational museum and one of the most beautiful residence wings I’ve seen in a long time. I recommend to save at least half a day for visiting this fascinating museum. The gardens and the theater is currently closed due to extensive renovations (as of August 2020).
Highland Park Conservancy
Lamberton Conservatory within the park showcases living collections of plants found in tropical rain forests and desert environments. A seasonal display area changes several times a year so there is always something beautiful to see.
Warner Castle & Estate Gardens | Alling DeForest Sunken Garden
The Warner property is the Gothic-styled former residence of Horatio Gates Warner. The Landmark Society of Western New York is the current tenant of the Castle.
Genesee Country Village & Museum
Genesee Country Village is a 19th-century living history museum covering more than 600 acres (2.4 km2) located in Wheatland, New York, in the small hamlet of Mumford, about 20 miles (32 km) from Rochester. On the museum property is the 19th-century village (the Historic Village), the John L. Wehle Gallery of Sporting Art, the Genesee Country Nature Center, the Carriage Museum, the Silver Baseball Park, and the Heirloom Gardens. The facility offers special events and classes throughout the year.
Cornell is a private and statutory Ivy League research university in Ithaca, New York. Founded in 1865 by Ezra Cornell and Andrew Dickson White, the university was intended to teach and make contributions in all fields of knowledge—from the classics to the sciences, and from the theoretical to the applied. These ideals, unconventional for the time, are captured in Cornell’s founding principle, a popular 1868 quotation from founder Ezra Cornell, “I would find an institution where any person can find instruction in any study.”
The grounds and the architecture are worth visiting any time of year.
Please be advised that there is no public parking anywhere within the University grounds and the University police are very active and present throughout the campus. Park in town instead and take the bus up and then walk back down into town or take an Uber.
The area of the Finger Lakes has many stunning historical churches. The main significance of this area lies in the origins of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, commonly known as the Mormon Church.
The founder of the church, Joseph Smith, was only 15 years old when two heavenly bodies appeared to him while he was praying in a wooded grove of trees. Those were the manifestations of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
All these sites are family friendly and accessible to anyone interested in the Latter Day Saints history, not just those of the LDS faith.
All these places have free admission and have a very knowledgeable staff of volunteers, who are members of the LDS church.
Please know that if you are not an LDS member, nobody will ask you to join without your expressed interest or against your will. You can ask as many questions about the history, but please be polite and mindful when doing so.
Preaching the gospel and talking about Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father doesn’t mean that you are being asked to join the LDS church. These sites are extremely important to the LDS community and have strong spiritual significance. Therefore, it’s only logical that the history of these sites center around the life of Joseph Smith and the founding families of the LDS faith, Jesus Christ, and the faith.
Joseph Smith Family Farm
Granding Building – Book of Mormon Publication Site
Palmyra New York LDS Temple (this one is not accessible to people without an LDS Temple recommend, but you can still walk the stunning grounds and admire the stain glass windows from the outside).