Travel Thoughts By Kim
Let’s go on an adventure together … to the Finger Lakes!
September brings the start of amazing colors across our great state. My mother always said that if you want to enjoy the fall colors, you really don’t have to leave Orleans County – we have autumn beauty everywhere you look. That’s very true … but there’s no denying that certain landscapes can really enhance that beauty. And the best place to view the colors of autumn is right here in New York State. I lived in central North Carolina for a good number of years, and while NC does have some nice color changes in the fall, you really have to go up to the Blue Ridge Mountains to get the full effect. But even that doesn’t compare to the stunning views you get right here in New York. A true all-out gorgeous fall is one of many things that I missed when I lived in NC and was placed prominently on the “Pros and Cons” list I created when deciding to move back home to Albion when I retired.
If you’re looking for a nice autumn getaway, you can consider the Adirondacks, the Catskills, and the Finger Lakes. All are sure to provide a peaceful place to enjoy the fall colors and also offer some exciting things to do. I want to focus this article on the Finger Lakes. What’s not to love year-round in the Finger Lakes? But especially during the fall. There are 11 lakes that offer a variety of ways to relax and explore the beauty of New York State: (from east to west) Otisco Lake, Skaneateles Lake, Owasco Lake, Cayuga Lake, Seneca Lake, Keuka Lake, Canandaigua Lake, Honeoye Lake, Canadice Lake, Hemlock Lake, and Conesus Lake.
To be honest, I haven’t been to all seven of the lakes – I’ve been near most of them, but only spent time at a few. Maybe I’ll add “visit all the Finger Lakes” to my Bucket List. For now, I’ll just talk about the ones I have some personal experience with.
A major attraction in the Finger Lakes is the high concentration of vineyards and wineries that produce some of the best wines in the country. Vineyards set in the hills with a lake in the background make for views that cannot be beat anywhere. A couple years ago, I took a Finger Lakes bus tour that included stops at three wineries and a lunch cruise on Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen. It was an amazing day trip, and I promised myself I’d return to spend more time in Watkins Glen – a promise I haven’t had a chance to fulfill yet, but am determined to keep. Seneca Lake is one of the two largest lakes in the center of the cluster of Finger Lakes.
The wineries we visited were amazing – the wines we tasted were, of course, delicious, but the views and atmosphere at each stop were simply stunning. Going on a wine tasting tour is a special treat – even if you don’t care for wine. Wineries are usually beautifully decorated and set in the middle of landscape that will take your breath away … and they often have a pretty cool gift shop, too. Just going to enjoy the scenery will surely erase any stress you are harboring.
Conesus Lake has a special place in my heart. When I was a kid, my family kept a camper at a year-round spot on Conesus Lake. It was up on a tier overlooking the lake, and we would go down most weekends and for the occasional full week. It was a home-away-from-home, and we loved it. Since we were in the same park all the time, we got to know other regulars and the area, so it was all very comfortable for us when we were there. More recently, I got to drive down to spend the day with family that was renting a house on the lake for the week. That brought back some really wonderful memories. Conesus is the closest of the Finger Lakes to us – the farthest west, and one of the smallest.
My personal favorite, although I really haven’t spent a ton of time there, is Keuka Lake. Keuka Lake is a small “Y”-shaped lake just west of Seneca Lake. I found it to be calm and peaceful – a perfect place to just relax and enjoy the lake. A friend and I stayed at a nice retro motel in Hammondsport on the lake when we visited Corning a few years ago. I adored the small town of Hammondsport, and it was the perfect place to spend a couple of days close to Corning. Strolling in the quaint little village and sitting by the lake in the evening was a perfect end to our days during the trip. When I drove to Gettysburg a couple of years ago, I made a little side trip just so I could drive through Hammondsport again. I parked and sat in the sweet little public square for a bit to take a break from my drive – it was so nice.
I mentioned stopping by Skaneateles Lake in my article about Cooperstown in August. Skaneateles Lake is the second-to-the-last lake going east from here and is a beautiful place to enjoy a boat ride and shop. I’m hoping to go to their Dickens-style Christmas one of these years.
Other lakes in the general region, not technically considered Finger Lakes, that I have visited and really enjoyed are Cazenovia Lake and Chautauqua Lake. I took a lunch cruise on Chautauqua Lake during an “I Love Lucy” tour of Jamestown and a few wineries. These lakes are an extension of the Finger Lakes and just as lovely to visit.
Get out and enjoy our beautiful Finger Lakes and all that the area has to offer. They are a true treasure, with something to enjoy no matter what kind of adventure you’re looking for – especially in the coming weeks, as the leaves turn the landscape into an amazing painting that only God can create.
If you’d like to see more photos that I have taken at the Finger Lakes I mention here, you can visit these posts on my blog: