24 May 9 Awesome Adventures in the Southern Finger Lakes of New York
When we visited New York’s Southern Finger Lakes area last spring, we were pleasantly surprised by all the fun adventures there were in the area. We spent 5 days road tripping our way through the region and although we fit a ton into our visit, we only scratched the surface of everything the area has to offer. There are many more adventures we’d love to experience on a future visit such as sailing on Seneca Lake, hiking on numerous trails, glamping, exploring the area’s agri-tourism, and biking, just to name a few. Even though our list of things to see in the area could go on and on, here are 9 of our favorite adventures in the Southern Finger Lakes!
1. Kayaking Chemung River
Since it is a lake region, there are plenty of places to kayak in the Finger Lakes. We went kayaking on the Chemung River with Southern Tier Kayak Tours and had a fantastic afternoon. Our adventure started between the towns of Corning and Elmira, and after a brief lesson, we set off on a 6 mile paddle. As we paddled, we learned all about the river, the surrounding region and even the ecosystems and wildlife around us. Kayaking is always a must for us, and we loved every minute of this tour—it was fun and informative, plus we lucked out with amazing weather!
2. SUP at Kueka Lake
Just like kayaking, there are ample opportunities to SUP (stand-up paddle board) in the Finger Lakes. We’ve recently become fans of SUP, so we were happy to have the opportunity to join Keuka Watersports for a paddle on Keuka Lake. This lake is shaped a bit different than the other Finger Lakes—instead of being long and narrow like the others, Keuka Lake is shaped more like a Y. The lake is 19 miles long, so we didn’t even come close to paddling the entire length, and we stayed near the Hammondsport side of the lake. We were happy we didn’t fall in because the lake was a bit chilly due to it still being spring!
3. Take a Glider Ride and Visit the National Soaring Museum
Our first stop of the trip was the National Soaring Museum, which was a fascinating museum documenting the history of soaring, flying and glider planes. In addition to the museum, you can also sign up for a ride in a glider, and let me tell you, it’s SO MUCH FUN!! I was a bit scared to ride in a plane with no engine, but after I learned how the planes worked and we got up in the air, all my fears melted away. I was having such a great time that I even had my pilot do a nose-dive towards the ground! But don’t worry, the rides are usually super relaxing and calm…unless you ask for it to be a bit crazy!
4. Visit Mark Twain’s Study and Gravesite
If you are a literary fan, a stop at Mark Twain’s study and gravesite makes for an interesting afternoon activity. At Elmira College, you can see the very place that Twain penned several of his famous books. The study was originally located at the family farm, but it was moved to Elmira College in 1952, so it could be toured by the public. Inside one of the buildings at the college, you will also find a Mark Twain exhibit which is home to memorabilia from Twain’s life. After you learn more about his life, a stop at Mark Twain’s gravesite is a perfect add on. Woodlawn Cemetery is only a mile or so away. At the cemetery you will find a 12 foot monument, headstones for Twain and his family and you might even see some of the many trinkets fans leave on his gravesite. It was definitely a fantastic walk through history!
5. Tour Wineries, Breweries, Cideries, and Distilleries
The Finger Lakes region is home to more than 100 breweries, over 100 wineries and several cideries and distilleries, which makes it an excellent spot to put on your tasting hat and try sample after sample. No matter what you prefer, you are sure to find something of interest along the brewery or winery trails in the Finger Lakes. During our five day visit, we made it to four breweries, four wineries, one cidery, one distillery and one wine and cider bar serving a variety of local specialties. Some stops offer tours of the facility and every stop offered samples or tastings. A few of our favorite stops were Iron Flamingo Brewery, Pleasant Valley Wine Company, Bully Hill Vineyards, Cider Creek Hard Cider, and Graft Wine + Cider Bar. Read about all the stops we made in our detailed write up on the brewery and winery trail to learn more about some of the great options available.
6. Head to the Corning Museum of Glass and a Make Your Own Glass Art Workshop
I was blown away by the Corning Museum of Art, both by the exhibits and the sheer size of the museum! The museum’s collections range from contemporary glass, to glass of the Romans, to paperweights, to glass in nature, and much more. You can grab a delicious lunch at the onsite restaurant, shop in the impressive gift shop, watch art be created in front of your eyes in a live Hot Glass Demo, or play and experiment in the Innovation Center, an interactive technology and science exhibit. And, you can even create your own art in the make your own glass experience—I tried glass forming and made a flower and Micah tried his hand at glassblowing and made an ornament. With the help of our instructors, the pieces turned out great and we had so much fun making our own art!
7. Soak up Art at the Rockwell Museum
There are several interesting museums in the Finger Lakes region and another one that we had the chance to visit was the Rockwell Museum in Corning, NY. I was pleasantly surprised with the collection at the museum which focuses on the American spirit through the eyes of American art. Located in Corning’s Old City Hall, the Rockwell Museum holds innovative events and programs for the community, such as art crawls, art classes, story time, music and margaritas, and even community paddles down the river. I would love to check out one of their special events sometime!
8. Go Horseback Riding at Painted Bar Stables
If you feel like spending some time with adorable animals, Painted Bar Stables is the place to go! Jump in a saddle and go for a horseback ride through the beautiful nature surrounding the stable. We rode through fields, woods, rivers, and up and down some fairly steep hills. The rides can be as adventurous as you would like them to be, and the horses are all great to ride. Painted Bar Stables does a wonderful job pairing horses and riders, so no matter your comfort level, you are sure to have an enjoyable time!
9. Hike the Trails at Watkins Glen State Park
Watkins Glen State Park is a wonderful place to go for a hike. The rim trail runs into the gorge next to Glen’s Stream, and there are 19 waterfalls along the way. The hike is absolutely gorgeous—you will find yourself strolling under, over and next to one waterfall after another. This state park is definitely worth a visit if you are in the town of Watkins Glen!
What are your favorite adventures in the Southern Finger Lakes? Which ones did we miss that we should check out on our next visit?
Special thanks to the Corning and Southern Finger Lakes tourism board for organizing and hosting us on so many amazing adventures throughout our week in New York. As always, all opinions are our own.