Finger Lakes Family Vacations

28th December 2017

Why Go

Looking for lake fun? The Finger Lakes region includes 11, narrow lakes nestled in the hills of upstate New York. Known for its natural beauty, cultural heritage, food and wine, the Finger Lakes are perfect for a family vacation on the water. Formed by glaciers, these stone bottom lakes are filled with some of the clearest water you can find.


Deserted Pier with a Benches and a Red Shelter at the End. Woody Hills are Visible in Background Seneca, Lake, N.Y.

Where to Go

The Finger Lakes lie in a region between Rochester in the west, Syracuse in the east, the upper border is Lake Ontario and the Pennsylvania state line on the southern end.  From west to east the Finger Lakes include: Conesus, Hemlock, Canadice, Honeoye, Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, Cayuga, Owasco, Skaneateles, and Otisco.  Ithaca, NY sits at the southern end of Cayuga Lake, and is home of Cornell University.


Great Bend Overlook at Letchworth State Park in New York just after sunrise.

What to Do

The lakes themselves are the main draw here, long summer days filled with swimming, sailing, fishing, kayaking, and more. Kids are drawn to the inviting water like bears to honey.  Rent a cottage on the lake, and gather the family, extended family, or multigenerational group, and enjoy the water.  Families will find each lake has its own distinct character.  Canandaigua, with its proximity to Rochester, is slightly more developed and has a thriving arts community with the CMAC Performing Arts Center.  Keuka is more rural, and the only “Y-shaped” lake with a prominent 900-foot-high bluff bisecting the branches.  Seneca is the deepest lake at over 600 feet, and has Watkins Glen State Park at the southern end.  Cayuga Lake has not only Cornell University, but also Ithaca and Wells Colleges for a funky college town vibe.

Getting Around

A car is definitely required to get around the Finger Lakes region, or, once you’ve reached your lakefront cottage, a bike.  There are not many public transportation options traveling between the Finger Lakes, so your own or a rental car is necessary.  You can find tour companies offering guided (and driven) wine tasting tours to prevent drinking and driving.

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