Wineries, boating, fishing, biking, hiking, and more – here’s a recap (and a video!) from an incredible 4-day weekend in The Finger Lakes! We had such an amazing time, we plan on returning really soon, hopefully in September when the leaves are changing color.
How We Got There
Although it’s probably a 6 hour drive from my house in Long Island, I always prefer to fly. We took a direct flight to Syracuse from JFK which was only 1 hour and 12 minutes. From there we rented a car and took a very scenic 45 minute drive over to Watkins Glen, NY.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Watkins Brewery Vacation Rentals along the south end of Seneca Lake in the heart of Watkins Glen, NY. A former abandoned Brewery Building, it’s now new construction for vacation rentals. The owners Ann and Dan were the kindest people, we adopted them as Madison’s Seneca Lake grandparents. The 3 bedroom condo we stayed in had three floors, with the kitchen and living room on the top floor with a balcony overlooking the lake. I loved watching the sun rise every morning from my balcony while enjoying my morning coffee.
What We Did
There’s so much to do in the Finger Lakes it’s hard to do it all in 4 days, but we sure packed in a lot of stuff in a short time. Whatever downtime we had was spent on the lake, Madison loved collected sea glass, skipping rocks and walking along the pier. The rest of our weekend we were on the go, here’s a peak at our itinerary, then you can read below for more details on the highlights.
3:40 pm – landed in Syracuse airport then rented a car.
4:00 to 5:45 pm – drove to Watkins Brewery Vacation Rentals in Watkins Glen.
6:00 pm – dinner just a walking distance away at Graft Wine + Cider Bar which featured local, seasonal small plates, local wine and cider. Although there’s no kid’s menu, Madison was perfectly happy enjoying the olives, radishes, artisan bread and butter. The poké special was spot on as well as the mushroom gnocchi.
After dinner we watched the sun go down over Seneca Lake.
9 am to 1pm – Corning Museum of Glass, 1 Museum Way, Corning
1pm – Lunched at a new eclectic restaurant in Corning called Hand & Foot (69 W. Market Street, Corning) really great food with the best fried pickles I’ve ever tasted. They had board games, sketch pads, crayons and stuff for the kids which Madison loved.
4:30 pm – we met Ann and Dan, the owners of Watkins Brewery Vacation Rentals and enjoyed a glass of local wine on the lake.
6:30 – 8:00 pm – We drove up to the Inn at Taughannock, which is part of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trails. We sat outside and enjoyed the views, but there was a wedding happening, so our menu was limited.
8:00 pm – after dinner we stopped real quick to look at the Taughannock Falls before returning to the lake for some s’mores over the fire.
9:00 – 11:00 am – 2 hour hike at Watkins Glen State Park, 1009 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen
11:15 am – 1:15 pm – Wine Tasting at Lakewood Vineyards
3:15 – 4:30 pm – cheese tasting and tour of Sunset View Creamery, part of Finger Lakes Cheese Trail. Madison milked a cow, and played with the dogs on the farm while we sampled their artisan cheese made from the milk of their own cows.
5:00 – 6:15 PM – sightseeing boat tour aboard The Remedy. If you want to experience the lake from the water, this is a must! They offer Eco Tours, History Tours, Custom Winery, Brewery, Distillery Tours and Sightseeing Cruises, You can even sail aboard American cinematic history on the vessel “True Love” featured in the 1957 classic film, “High Society”.
6:30 pm – lakeside dinner outside on the patio at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, 16 North Franklin Street, just minutes from our rental house.
12:15 – 1:15 pm – We left Watkins Glen and worked our way back towards Syracuse. First stop was a tasting at Beak & Skiff Apple Orchard, 2708 Lords Hill Road (Rt. 80), LaFayette
1:45 – 2:45 pm – Lunch at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 246 W Willow St, Syracuse. Dinosaur’s bar-b-que is nationally acclaimed. Food and sauces are award-winning, fresh, homemade and high-quality. A Syracuse staple!
2:45 – 5:00 pm – Explore downtown Syracuse before heading back to the airport.
Highlights of the Trip
- Guided Hike at Watkins Glen State Park
This beautiful park and falls left us spellbound – a stop you cannot miss! An easy two mile hike for kids and adults, within those two miles, the glen’s stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. It was voted the #3 State Park in the Country by USA Today readers in 2015 and is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks.
- Glass Blowing at the Corning Museum of Glass
The world’s largest museum of glass is not to be missed. We had so much fin exploring glass art and artifacts, watched live glassblowing demonstrations by master artists, then we made our own glass ornament.
- Wine Tasting at Lakewood Vineyards
One of the Lakewood Vineyards is part of Seneca Lake Wine Trail (there are 35 vineyards total). With 80 acres of grapes planted with a diverse selection of wine.
Sample hard cider, wine, vodka and more, all made from apples in the gorgeous tasting room of 1911 Spirits at Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards, New York’s premiere apple orchard known for producing handcrafted, small batch spirits and artisanal hard ciders. Beak and Skiff also produces regular cider and has a playground within the apple orchards for kids. Voted the Best Apple Orchard in the Country by USA Today readers.