3 Fascinating Days in the Finger Lakes: Wonderful Things to Do


Finger Lakes. It actually rolls off the tongue for some reason, even though it’s kind of a strange name. After looking at a map, I totally get it though.

The long, thin lakes look as though Freddy Krueger himself reappeared for one last nightmare and swatted his metal-clawed glove across central New York.


Plan a perfect 3 day getaway to Upstate New York. This itinerary for the Finger Lakes region has the best things to see and do.

Contrary to my analogy, the Finger Lakes region is nothing to be terrified of. When the natives first arrived, they claimed the Great Spirit blessed the land with his very own hands.

The rolling hills, pristine lakes, tree-lined roads, and narrow picturesque ravines are quite extraordinary.

And not only is it a nature lovers playground, but I also lost count on the first afternoon of how many vineyards and breweries we passed throughout the area. Some with amazing views, some with awesome atmospheres, and others with libations that are so good it doesn’t matter about the other things.

Plan a perfect 3 day getaway to Upstate New York. This itinerary for the Finger Lakes region has the best things to see and do.

Best Time to Visit Finger Lakes

The most popular time of year to visit is from May through September when the ice is melted and there are leaves on the trees. Since this is the busy season, expect accommodations to be higher as well. I wouldn’t dismiss the shoulder season though for cheaper costs and fewer crowds.

Another great time of year would be to plan a visit around the fall color. The best time to see fall foliage varies but is typically from the end of  September to mid-October.

Places to Stay in the Finger Lakes

From lakeside homes to chain hotels, there’s something for everyone’s taste in the Finger Lakes NY region.

Watkins Glen State Park is a must-see when in the Finger Lakes region of New York.
Camping at Watkins Glen State Park

We spent three nights van camping at Watkins Glen State Park which is a cheap option, but if you are looking for a more interesting stay check these other places out:

HOT TIP: When booking a campsite at Watkins Glen State Park, your pass also allows you to enter the other state parks in the area for those dates.

Full Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. We receive a commission at no extra charge to you if you purchase through them so a big thank you for that!

If you are planning a trip to Upstate New York, here are the Finger Lakes things to do that you should not miss!

Plan a perfect 3 day getaway to Upstate New York. This best itinerary for Finger Lakes has the best things to see and do.
Instagram Spot at the Finger Lakes Visitor Center

Watkins Glen State Park

First up is Watkins Glen State Park, home to a magical gorge walk that will make you think you stepped into Alice’s Wonderland.

And we thought Letchworth State Park was impressive, Watkins Glen is right up there on the beautiful scale.

Plan a perfect 3 day getaway to Upstate New York. This itinerary for the Finger Lakes region has the best things to see and do.

Plan a perfect 3 day getaway to Upstate New York. This itinerary for the Finger Lakes region has the best things to see and do.

The main attraction is the 400-foot deep gorge that is sliced by a stream. The trail is roughly 2.4 miles long with stone bridges and flowing waterfalls. DO NOT MISS THIS HIKE on your Finger Lakes vacation.

A must-visit in the Finger Lakes Region in New York is the Watkins Glen State park.

Plan a perfect 3 day getaway to Upstate New York. This itinerary for the Finger Lakes region has the best things to see and do.

Plan a perfect 3 day getaway to Upstate New York. This itinerary for the Finger Lakes region has the best things to see and do.
 Is that a heart?

Corning Glass Museum

Thinking we would only spend a few hours at the Corning Glass Museum, it was originally planned as a morning thing to do. Boy were we wrong!

Best things to do in the Finger Lakes region of New York: Do not miss the Corning Museum of Glass.
Everyone is ready for fall even Corning Museum of Glass.

Between glass demonstrations, creative displays of the history and science behind all things glass-related, and an impressive glass collection, we spent the entire day at the museum.

I highly recommend adding a visit to your Finger Lakes itinerary.

HOT TIP: In previous years, the Corning Museum participated in the Blue Star Program which allows free entry for military and their dependents during the summer months..

Corning’s Gaffer District

Take a gander down Market Street and explore the shops and restaurants. If you have a sweet tooth, check out the Chocolate Trail.

Stop for some hot chocolate, chocolate pudding pie, mousse, or chocolate cheesecake.

Drive around Keuka Lake with a stop in Hammondsport

Keuka Lake isn’t the largest or the most visited, but the drive around the lake is spectacular. Hugging the shore, it only takes roughly 90 minutes to circumnavigate the entire lake.

Make sure to take a break in Hammondsport, voted the “Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel to the south, or Penn Yan, a waterfront village with a cozy Main Street to the north.

Robert H. Treman State Park

Robert H. Treman State Park is another stunning walk in the woods.

Follow the gorge trail as it winds above the Enfield Creek on a 2 1/4 mile hike.

The rock formations are rugged and the layers of the towering walls are mesmerizing.

Mark Twain’s Study and Burial Site

In the quiet town of Elmira, you can trace Mark Twain’s legacy. For over twenty years Samuel Clemens would retreat here for summers.

The study that now stands at Elmira College is where he penned some of his most famous works.

If you are a fan: Mark Twain Mania


And just a stone’s throw away at Woodlawn Cemetery, he was laid to rest with his extended family.

Mark Twain's Study: All the MUST-SEE and MUST-DO in the Finger Lakes Region.
Visiting Mark Twain’s Study in Elmira, New York.

Drink and Then Drink Some More

The Finger Lakes region is renowned for its wine trail, but did you know the area is home to more than 75 craft brewers too?

Not too far from Watkins Glen Campground is Glenora Wine Cellars, Seneca Lake’s oldest winery. The water landscapes and sloping hills provide a perfect backdrop for wine tasting.

Plan a perfect 3 day getaway to Upstate New York. This itinerary for the Finger Lakes region has the best things to see and do.
Glenora Wine Cellars Tasting Room

Taughannock Falls

Another great hiking area is Taughannock Falls, home to one of the tallest waterfalls in the East. We ran out of time but it is definitely on our list for the next visit.

There you have it, all the wonderful things to do to make the best itinerary for Finger Lakes. 

What’s your favorite place to visit in the Finger Lakes? Any other suggestions for a 3 day Finger Lakes visit?


Disclaimer: Some of the links are affiliate links where we receive a small commission if you book through our site at no additional charge to you. Thanks for helping us support the blog!

Follow Angela:

Angela E. is a travel writer from the Chicagoland area who has visited all 50 states in the US and has traveled extensively around the world. She is passionate about exploring the great outdoors and hiking in particular. Her love for nature has taken her to some of the most beautiful locations on the planet. She has written extensively about her travels on her own website, Dang Travelers, and has been published in collaboration with other travel websites and multiple visitor bureaus around the country.

9 Responses

  1. sunrise taj mahal tour from delhi

    Wow! its looks Great I would love to go! thanks for putting this amazing and very thorough post together. It’s not only inspiring but very helpful. I am planning on visiting this lake in November 29.

  2. Diane Mundrick

    I would suggest next time you visit that you go to the Windmill Farm & Craft Market in Penn Yan, NY. I absolutely love that place! Also a definite mention is that Watkins Glen International is located here where the Nascar races are just a small portion of the racing that go on there. It is also the location of the Finger Lakes Wine Festival each year in July.

    • Dang Travelers

      Thanks Diane! So many wonderful suggestions! Yes, there was a big race going on when we were there so didn’t get a chance to check it out but definitely will next time.

  3. Samantha

    Thanks for sharing your travels. I’m doing research for a trip my husband and I will be doing in late Oct. We will drive from Niagara, CA to LGA in NY, where we will catch a flight home. As we drive through NY we have at least 6 hours to explore a park. My first pick would be Watkins Glen, but it might be closed depending on weather, so I want to have a back up. I was between Letchworth State Park, Buttermilk Falls State Park and Taughannock Falls State Park. Not sure if you’ve been to all of these, although I did see your post on Letchworth. If you only had time for one park and may never return to see more, which would you go to? Feel free to choose something not on this list. Thanks so much!

    • Dang Travelers

      Hi Samantha! That’s a tough one. We’ve been to two out of the four, and I would say Letchworth since it’s a bigger park, less busy, and BEAUTIFUL. We loved Watkins Glen, too, but I’d only go if it’s a weekday. I heard weekends are ridiculously busy, so that would make a difference for me. It’s impressive, but on a much smaller scale.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.