What to Do in the Finger Lakes (+ A Weekend Itinerary)

The Finger Lakes are located in the central part of the state, closest to the PA border. The area is quite large and covers about 9,000 square miles. We planned a trip here in the Fall of 2021 and had a wonderful time. While we didn’t get to everything on the list below, these were the best recommendations I found from my research. Any we got to specifically are mentioned below as well as a sample itinerary for what to over a weekend in the area.

Where to Stay:

Breweries / Wineries: 

Outdoors

  • Watkins Glen State Park – Entry is technically free, but if you park in their parking lot, it’s about $8 parking. We loved our time here and how close it is to downtown Watkins Glen.
  • Robert H Tremain State Park – State parks are $9 so this one as well as a few others can be visited in one day and you only have to pay once. This one has a waterfall and hiking.
  • Taughannock Falls State Park – Pay $9 per vehicle and you can can do the observation deck or the hike to the bottom of the falls. We only did the observation deck but plan to hike to the bottom next time.
  • Buttermilk Falls This one is also $9 per car and has hiking trails.
  • Grimes Glen – This one is has a short, easy hike and waterfall.

Eating: 

  • F.L.X Wienery – Near Seneca Lake, this spot has hot dogs, burgers, sausage, chorizo, and poutine, and signarure milkshakes. They also have vegetarian options.
  • Crooked Lake Ice Cream – Ice Cream Shop and a Diner in Hammondsport. It looks adorable from the photos.
  • Tobey’s Donut Shop in Watkins Glen – We drove by here each morning and there were lines every day. Surely a must stop next time we visit.
  • Nickel’s Pitt BBQ – Downtown Watkins Glen – We came here for a late lunch and thought the bbq was incredible. It’s right downtown so easy to walk into shops and by the lake.
  • Toni’s Diner in Hector – This was near our cabin and had a wait to get in. It was one of the diners that are surprisingly good.
  • Amity Coffee in Penn Yan – Definitely planning a stop here during our next visit. Such awesome decor.
  • Monica’s Pie – Try the famous grape pie
  • Verasians –  This is at Glenora Winery so if you’re looking for a higher end option, check this out.

Example Itinerary 

Thursday 

  • Drive to Finger Lakes 
  • Depending on time, visit Robert H Treman State Park or Buttermilk Falls State Park near Ithaca for waterfalls and hiking 
  • Check out Grist Iron Brewery for Beers and Dinner (East Lakes) or Dr Konstan Frank Winery (West Lakes)
  • Check into Hotel/Airbnb 

Friday 

  • Breakfast at Tobeys Donut Shop or Toni’s Diner or just grab coffee at Amity Coffee
  • Hike through Watkins Glen State Park and check out all the beautiful waterfalls
  • Lunch at Nickel’s BBQ in Downtown Watkins Glen  
  • Walk around the shops downtown and by the water 
  • Ice Cream at Great Escape Ice Cream Parlor  
  • Check out Wagner Winery and Brewery – They have various events happening on Fridays so check out what’s upcoming before visiting

Saturday 

  • Breakfast at Crooked Lake Ice Cream Diner or Amity Coffee
  • Explore one of the towns like Hammondsport, Geneva, or Penn Yan  
  • Have lunch in town at one of these spots –  
    • Hammondsport
      • Timberstone Grill
      • Union Block Italian Bistro 
      • Park Inn 
      • Grab icecream at Crooked lake icecream company
    • Geneva 
      • Rusty Pig
      • Kindred Fare
      • Ravenous Kitchen
      • Beef and Brew 
  • Check out one of the local state parks or waterfalls depending on where you are
  • If you’re up for a nicer dinner, check out a winery like Verasians, or if you want something low key check out F.L.X Wienery or Two Goats Brewing

Sunday 

  • Grab donuts or coffee near where you’re staying like Tobey’s or Amity Coffee
  • Pick a brewery or hike you’d like to do before heading home
    • Two Goats Brewery 
    • Atwater Estate Vineyards 
    • Robert H Treman State Park 
    • Buttermilk Falls 
    • Taughannock Falls Trail 
  • Drive Home