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I was hosted by Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce and Steuben County CVB during my stay in the Finger Lakes. All opinions expressed are my own.
When my friend Angela and I arrived in the southern Finger Lakes, I’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting a ton of incredible fall scenery. (Let’s be honest, I was expecting a lot of wine.)
I mean, I’m from New England–I grew up surrounded by fall foliage that most people consider destination-worthy. But once we started our mini road trip around Seneca Lake and Keuka Lake, I quickly saw why the Finger Lakes region is a popular fall getaway. (And I was not only smitten by its small-town charm, but also its natural beauty.)
Here are 7 things to love about visiting the Finger Lakes in the fall…
1. Stunning waterfalls
Nature lovers, let’s get straight to it. The Finger Lakes have waterfalls everywhere. In Montour Falls, a waterfall is literally the center of town. As we drove from town to town, we’d frequently interrupt each other mid-sentence with “OH my goodness look over there!” It’s a miracle we stayed on the road.
And yes, waterfalls are gorgeous anytime, but fall foliage + fall rain = extra magic.
If you’re planning your fall trip around a visit to Watkins Glen State Park, make sure you read up on when they will be closing the Gorge Trail. (Steep rocky gorges + cold rainy weather don’t make a good combo, and they close down in late fall.)Looking for a beautiful fall getaway? The Finger Lakes are a lot more than a spectacular wine region. Here's why they make a perfect fall escape!
2. Grape harvesting time!
You can’t visit the Finger Lakes without at least a little wine tasting, right? And it doesn’t get better than visiting wine country when gorgeous clusters of grapes are being harvested.
Enjoy the view of grapevines glowing in the fall sunlight as you sip wine inside a gorgeous tasting room. Heron Hill on Keuka Lake or Atwater Estates on Seneca Lake were two of my favorites.
3. Plenty to do inside and outside
With the humid days of summer behind, fall is the perfect time to go horseback riding or head out on a hike. And if the weather is too chilly or rainy, there’s still a lot to do inside–from wine tasting to exploring local museums.
4. Agritourism at its best
Visiting local farms or people watching at the farmers’ market is such a fun way to get to know the local community–wherever you are. And there’s something absolutely perfect about being on a farm on a crisp autumn day.
While the extent of my agritourism adventure was visiting a mushroom farm and picking my own produce for a farm-to-table meal at Pleasant Valley Inn, there are tons more activities in the Finger Lakes. Check out agritourism options in Watkins Glen (near Seneca Lake) here, Corning (near Keuka Lake) here, and Ithaca (near Cayuga Lake) here.
5. Hard cider tastes best in the fall.
This may be entirely subjective, but I’m pretty sure there’s no better time for hard cider than autumn. Apples and fall are a perfect pairing, and who doesn’t want to sip some locally-made cider while sitting around a campfire on a crisp fall evening?PSA: The Finger Lakes aren't all about wine! Here's where you can get some tasty hard cider, live music, and a campfire.
6. It’s a great weekend destination.
Fall is the perfect time to escape for the weekend–after all your summer vacations and beach trips are history but before the holidays roll around. And the Finger Lakes are located within driving distance of many (congested) places in the Northeast, making it a great place for a fall weekend getaway.
7. Gorgeous scenery
Whether you’re admiring the bright fall foliage as it’s swallowed up by steep gorges, or vineyards awash with color on their gentle descent to the lake, there’s a calm and quiet–yet still stunning–beauty in this landscape.