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Geneva Seneca Lake boardwalk

Spend a Day in the Finger Lakes Region

The Finger Lakes Region is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and it’s right in our backyard!

It’s easy to get out there and explore. For example, my husband and I spent a day driving from Rochester to Naples, hitting five of the lakes—Canandaigua, Honeoye, Canadice, Hemlock and Conesus—along the way. I call these 5 lakes the “West Hand”. You can see in the how these lakes, except Canandaigua, are not directly along historic Routes 5 and 20, rather US-20A.

Finger Lakes Region Sample Map
Our pre-flight plan. We didn’t follow it exactly; it helped to plan out the path we wanted to take.

Our drive was only a few hours, adding on field trips to the Ontario County Park “Jump Off” and Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreational Area, arguably two of the most scenic viewpoints in the entire region. Inter-lake roads also offered incredibly scenic views of the hills and valleys which dominate the terrain throughout region.

You could also break up each lake into multiple day trips. Hemlock & Canadice are the least populated as they are the primary water supply for the City of Rochester, whereas the major central Finger Lakes (Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga) are more active in the surrounding towns and wineries.

The All-Eleven-
Finger-Lakes
Club

Is there such a thing? If not I’ll start one! In 2019, I was able to visit all 11 of the Finger Lakes, ending with a perfectly timed day trip to Otisco Lake and the stunning causeway in the Otisco Lake Valley. 

Have you visited all 11 Finger Lakes? If so, congratulations! A toast to celebrate in this beautiful “Green Heart of the Finger Lakes” glass from the Old Country Store and More – 1849.

Green Heart of the Finger Lakes

Check out each one of
our beautiful Finger Lakes,
listed west to east:

  1. Conesus Lake
  2. Hemlock Lake
  3. Canadice Lake
  4. Honeoye Lake
  5. Canandaigua Lake
  6. Keuka Lake
  7. Seneca Lake
  8. Cayuga Lake
  9. Owasco Lake
  10. Skaneateles Lake
  11. Otisco Lake
Finger Lakes Region - Conesus Lake
Conesus Lake
Conesus Lake swimming
Vitale Park on Conesus Lake
Finger Lakes Region - Hook and Spoon
Hook & Spoon

1. Conesus Lake

Conesus Lake is the westernmost Finger Lake and the closest to Rochester, just 30 minutes from city center. Approximately 65% of the lake’s residents live here year round.

You can drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes. You’ll find the town of Lakeville on the north end with plenty of great dining options.

Finger Lakes Region - Hemlock Lake gazebo cover
Hemlock Lake Gazebo
Hemlock Lake park gazebo
Hemlock Lake Park tree
Finger Lakes Region - Hemlock Lake
Hemlock Lake

2. Hemlock Lake

Hemlock Lake is the most undeveloped and pristine of the Finger Lakes, and 45 minutes from Rochester.

Enjoy a drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes. Hemlock provides drinking water to the City of Rochester.

Finger Lakes Region - Get Away from it all Canadice Kayak cover
Canadice Lake
Canadice Lake summer shore
Canadice Lake kayak launch
Canadice Lake
Finger Lakes Region - Canadice Lake fishing
Canadice Lake

3. Canadice Lake

Canadice Lake is the highest, smallest, and most remote-feeling of the Finger Lakes, and 45 minutes from Rochester. Canadice has been a water reservoir for the City of Rochester since 1876. There is no development permitted along the shoreline.

You can drive around the entire lake in 20 minutes.

Finger Lakes Region - Honeoye Lake cover
Honeoye Lake
Honeoye Lake scenic overlook 20A
Honeoye Lake Sandy Bottom Park
Finger Lakes Region - Honeoye Lake from Harriet Hollister
Honeoye Lake from Harriet Hollister

4. Honeoye Lake

Honeoye Lake is the shallowest (only 30 ft deep!) and the 2nd smallest of the Finger Lakes, also 45 minutes from Rochester. Like Conesus, Honeoye Lake freezes completely in the winter. 

You can drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes.

Finger Lakes Region - Canandaigua Lake
Canandaigua Lake
Roadside attractions: Canandaigua Lake Boat Houses pier 2
Canandaigua Lake Scenic Overlook
Finger Lakes Region - Canandaigua Lake Kershaw Park swimming beach
Kayaking on Canandaigua Lake near Squaw Island

5. Canandaigua Lake

Canandaigua Lake is home to the smallest island—Squaw Island—one of only two islands in the Finger Lakes (the other on Cayuga). The lake is 30 minutes from Rochester.

You can drive around the entire lake in 60 minutes. The City of Canandaigua is on the north end, Naples on the south end.

Finger Lakes Region - Keuka Lake
Keuka Lake
Scenic Keuka Lake Views McGregor Vineyard
Scenic Keuka Lake Views Bully Hill
Finger Lakes - Hammondsport Keuka Lake
Keuka Lake, Hammondsport

6. Keuka Lake

Keuka Lake, often called “the middle finger”, is the only lake that runs north and south, and is 60 minutes from Rochester. 

You can drive around the entire lake in 90 minutes. You’ll find Penn Yan on the north end, Hammondsport on the south end.

Finger Lakes Region - Geneva Seneca Lake boardwalk
Seneca Lake, Geneva
Finger Lakes Visitor Center in Geneva on Seneca Lake
Geneva on the Lake Seneca
Finger Lakes - Seneca Lake Pier Watkins Glen
Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen Harbor

7. Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake is the deepest of the Finger Lakes with an estimated volume of 4.2 trillion gallons, roughly half of the water in all of the Finger Lakes. The north end is 45 minutes from Rochester.

You can drive around the entire lake in 120 minutes. The City of Geneva is on the north end of Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen on the south end.

Finger Lakes Region - Cayuga Lake State Park
Cayuga Lake State Park
Cayuga Lake State Park
Cayuga Lake State Park overlook
Finger Lakes Region - Cayuga Lake Taughannock Falls State Park
Cayuga Lake, Taughannock Falls State Park

8. Cayuga Lake

Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes at 38.1 miles, and is 60 minutes from Rochester to the north end. There are 140 streams that flow into Cayuga.

You can drive around the entire lake in 120 minutes. You’ll find Seneca Falls on the north end and the City of Ithaca at the south end.

Finger Lakes Region - Owasco Lake
Owasco Lake
Owasco Lake pier
Owasco Lake park
Finger Lakes Region - Owasco Lake
Owasco Lake

9. Owasco Lake

Home to both a cold water and a warm water fishery, and is a 75 minute drive from Rochester. Owasco Lake, unlike the other Finger Lakes, is almost completely surrounded by agricultural land. 

You can drive around the entire lake in 45 minutes. You’ll find the City of Auburn on the north end, Morovia to the south.

Finger Lakes Region - Skaneateles Lake Clift Park
Skaneateles Lake
Skaneateles Lake Mid-Lakes Navigation
Skaneateles Lake pier
Finger Lakes - Skaneateles Lake Clift Park
Skaneateles

10. Skaneateles Lake

Skaneateles Lake is the only Finger Lake not connected to the Erie Canal System, and is a 75 minute drive from Rochester. 

You can drive around the entire lake in 60 minutes.

Finger Lakes Region - Otisco Lake
Otisco Lake
Otisco Lake
Otisco Lake
Finger Lakes - Otisco Lake Causeway cut through
Otisco Lake Causeway

11. Otisco Lake

Otisco is the easternmost of the Finger Lakes and is seventh in size among the Finger Lakes. It’s a 90 minute drive from Rochester. 

Enjoy a drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes.

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Which are your favorite Finger Lakes?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments. Your insight and experience is invaluable!

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COVID-19 NOTE: Please follow the most current recommendations from the CDC and New York State for spending time away from your home.

The great outdoors can provide a well needed respite & escape during stressful times. Please move quickly through parking lots, trail heads, and scenic areas. If crowded, choose a different park, trail, or time to visit. Please day trip responsibly and locally—seek solitude!