- New York
There’s no question that the fall foliage in the Finger Lakes is epic, and boating on the lakes in summer is great fun.
Visitors will also discover that this region of Upstate New York is packed with exciting activities all year-round. Enjoy skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in winter; hiking and biking in spring; lake adventures in summer and wine tours with foliage viewing in fall.
Hit the Slopes in Winter
Winter is an exciting season in the Finger Lakes. Go skiing (downhill and cross-country) and snowboarding at Bristol Mountain, with nearly three dozen slopes on 55 hectares, all located about 15 kilometers from Canandaigua. Snowshoeing is an activity that’s accessible to nearly everyone – in Victor, follow trails at Ganondagan State Historic Site, a Seneca Native American village. Channel your inner child and go sledding or tobogganing at Mertensia Park in Farmington. Its open areas, which are used for summer sports, turn into awesome sledding hills when the snow flies. Still looking for an excuse to visit in winter? Try ice fishing for walleye, perch and bluegill on Honeoye Lake; this shallow lake freezes early.
Skiing in the Finger Lakes Region
Spring to Life
Spring is a wondrous time in the Finger Lakes as trees, bushes and flowers burst into bloom. At Grimes Glen Park in Naples, take a short hike in the shallow creek to reach cascading waterfalls set among towering rock walls. Nearby Cumming Nature Center has 10 kilometers of hiking trails – watch for deer, beavers and songbirds – and a welcome center with wildlife exhibits. Mountain biking is popular in spring, when the weather is sunny and invigorating. For unstructured riding, check out Ontario County Park at Gannett Hill in Naples, with 160 hectares of open space and woods. For a 25-kilometer network of single-track mountain bike trails of varying degrees of difficulty, head to Dryer Road Park in Victor. Eager to try something completely new? Consider cow and horse cuddling. The practice of interacting with the farm animals via brushing, petting or heartfelt chats with the animals is offered at Mountain Horse Farm, a bed-and-breakfast/retreat (there’s no riding involved).
Exploring a waterfall at Grimes Glen Park in Naples
Get Out on the Water in Summer
The action moves to the area’s long, picturesque lakes come summer. The options are many, but consider kayaking and canoeing with Canadice Lake Outfitters – they have all the equipment you need for a fun outing on this small, undeveloped lake. Canandaigua Lake – the fourth-biggest lake in the region – offers swimming at Kershaw Park’s landscaped beach with a public dock and gazebo. If yoga on land isn’t enough of a challenge, attempt downward dog on a stand-up paddleboard at Finger Lakes Yogascapes – or try “snowga” in winter. Relax with a lunch or dinner cruise on the Canandaigua Lady, a double-decker paddlewheel boat that operates from May through October.
Paddleboard yoga on Canandaigua Lake in Canandaigua
Go Leaf Peeping in Fall
The region’s fall foliage is rightfully famous, as hues of rich scarlet, fiery orange and glittery gold blanket the hillsides. Follow the Rochester/Finger Lakes Craft Beverage Trail to sample locally made wine, craft beer, spirits and hard cider, and see stunning countryside along the way. To get a different perspective, tackle the ropes courses at Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures – seven high-ropes courses offer increasing levels of difficulty – then fly down one of seven ziplines. For an aerial adventure at more sedate speeds, try the Fall Sky Rides – ride the ski lift up Bristol Mountain and ride or hike down on marked trails, taking in amazing views of the surrounding Bristol Hills.
Zipping on the high-ropes course at Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures
Fly into Greater Rochester International Airport or Syracuse Hancock International Airport, then rent a car. Driving time from Rochester to Canandaigua is 30 minutes; from Syracuse, it’s about an hour. Ithaca, a scenic university town at the south end of Cayuga Lake, is about an hour’s drive from Syracuse. For alternatives to flying and driving, Amtrak offers train service to Syracuse and Rochester from large Northeastern cities, and Greyhound has bus service to Ithaca and Geneva, small cities in the Finger Lakes region, as well as Syracuse and Rochester.