Geneva Seneca Lake boardwalk

Explore the Finger Lakes Region

Geneva Seneca Lake boardwalk

The Finger Lakes Region is one of the most beautiful places on earth and right in our backyard! It is easy to get out there and explore as a day trip from Rochester.

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 five lakes the “West Hand.” You can see in the map below how these lakes, excluding Canandaigua, are not directly connected to historic Routes 5 and 20; instead, they are accessible from US-20A.

Map of New York’s Eleven Finger lakes

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. In contrast, the major central Finger Lakes (Canandaigua, Keuka, Seneca, and Cayuga) are more active in the surrounding towns and wineries.

Each of the eleven Finger lakes is worthy of a dedicated day trip. There is so much to explore along each shore.

Explore 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

1. Conesus Lake

Finger Lakes Region - Conesus Lake
Conesus lake

Conesus Lake is the westernmost Finger Lake and the closest lake to Rochester, just 30 minutes from the 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.

Gazebo
Conesus Lake Vitale Park
Vitale Park on Conesus Lake
Conesus Lake
Conesus Lake
Vitale Park

Vitale Park

Enjoy a stroll through Vitale Park on the north shore and Chip Holt Nature Center. Eat lunch at 3 Legged Pig. Stop in for a tasting at OSB Ciderworks. Enjoy dinner and sunset at Galene or on the way home at Ember Woodfire Grill in Livonia or Fratellis in Avon.

Long Point
Long Point

Long Point Park

Swim at Long Point Park. dine at The Beachcomber, and stop in for a tasting at Deer Run Winery.

Conesus Lake inlet
Conesus Inlet

Conesus Inlet Wildlife Management Area

Spend time exploring the 1,120-acre Conesus Inlet Wildlife Management Area. Conesus Inlet WMA is bounded by West and East Swamp roads, on the south by Guiltner Road, and the north by Conesus Lake.

A nature trail along the western portion provides viewing of wetland and upland habitats and wildlife species.

More information about Conesus Lake

30 minutes from Rochester – MAP

2. Hemlock Lake

Finger Lakes Region - Hemlock Lake gazebo cover

Located 45 minutes south of Rochester, Hemlock Lake in Livingston County is the most undeveloped and pristine of the Finger Lakes.

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

As a source of drinking water for the city, the DEC protects the lake and its tributaries, making this forever-wild, tranquil landscape the perfect place to unwind.

Hemlock Lake
Hemlock picnic tables
Hemlock Lake Park tree
Hemlock Lake park gazebo

Exploring

Relax at Hemlock Lake Park on the north shore, where you’ll also find a boat launch for mechanical and non-mechanical vessels.

St Michaels Mission

Enjoy a drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes. Make sure to drive along Mission Road to St. Michael’s Mission. You could spend the night there, too. You’ll find Eagle Crest Vineyards right down the road.

Hemlock Lake
Robs Trail Nature Conservancy
Robs Trail walking sticks

Walking Trails

There are a few hiking trails around the lake, including one that starts on East Lake Road. Drive down 3 minutes, and the road terminates at a gate with a parking lot. You can walk the haul road along the lakeshore. This trail is part of the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest.

Access Rob’s Trail from a parking lot on NY-15A. This trail connects Hemlock and Canadice Lake.

The woodlands surrounding both lakes are “old-growth forest,” meaning that these trees were not cut down by early cottagers and replanted.

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The Darkest Sky

Hemlock Lake Park is a favorite among night-sky photographers. It is the perfect spot to observe the Universe and the Milky Way, free from light pollution from the city and the absence of lakeside residents.

More Information about Hemlock Lake

45 minutes from Rochester – MAP

Note: Because the lake is a drinking water reservoir, there is no swimming.

Because the Finger Lakes are higher in elevation than the city and easier to protect, engineers were able to utilize gravity to reduce the cost and complexity of piping the water 25 miles to Rochester’s local reservoirs along the Pinnacle Range.

3. Canadice Lake

Canadice Lake

Located 45 minutes south of Rochester, Canadice Lake is the highest in elevation, smallest in size, and most remote-feeling of the Finger Lakes. You can drive around the entire lake in 20 minutes.

As a source of drinking water for the City, there are no buildings along the shoreline, making this the perfect place for peace and quiet.

kayak launch
Parking on Canadice Lake Rd
Canadice Lake summer reflection
Canadice Lake kayaks
Canadice Lake

Boating on Canadice Lake

Find a car-top boat launch on the eastern shore, plus several places to park along Canadice Lake Road and carry a kayak down to the water’s edge. These make ideal spots for shore fishing and ice fishing.

West Canadice Lake Trail
Canadice Lake parking lot Purcell Road
Canadice Lake Purcell Road Parking Lot

Hiking the West Lake Trail

To access the west lake trail from the north shore, park in the lot off Purcell Hill Road and walk the road past the gate. The path runs the full-3-mile length of the lake.

Robs Trail Nature Conservancy Hemlock Canadice Lake
Robs Trail toward Hemlock Lake

Rob’s Trail

You can hike Rob’s Trail between Hemlock and Canadice Lakes through Hemlock-Canadice State Forest. Check out this brochure before you go. There is a parking lot on NY-15A, which serves as a midway point between both lakes.

  • Loop Trail – 1.75 miles
  • Candice Lake Trail – .75 miles
  • Hemlock Trail – 4.8 miles (To shoreline – 1.5 miles, To boat launch – 4.8 miles )
  • Connector Trail – .28 miles

“Rob’s Trail Preserve is a collection of memorial trails nestled among the high ridges and rolling hills of the Finger Lakes. Completed in 2008, Rob’s Trail—Canadice was built to connect two undeveloped lakeshore properties that protect Canadice and Hemlock Lakes, the main source of Rochester’s drinking water supply. With the help of donors and volunteers, a new trail, Rob’s Trail—Hemlock Lake, was built in 2016 that makes it possible to hike from one lake to the other. Please be advised the spur trail to Canadice Lake is a challenging trail that is steep and minimally maintained.”

More Information about Canadice Lake

45 minutes from Rochester – MAP

4. Honeoye Lake

Finger Lakes Region - Honeoye Lake cover
Honeoye Lake

Honeoye Lake is the most shallow (only 30 ft deep!) and the second smallest of the Finger Lakes. The lake is just 45 minutes from Rochester, and you can drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes. Like Conesus, the lake freezes completely in the winter.

Honeoye Lake Sandy Beach Park
Sandy Bottom Park Nature Trail enter boardwalk
Sandy Bottom Park & Nature Trail
Sandy Bottom Park Nature Trail boardwalk Honeoye Creek
Honeoye Creek
Sandy Bottom Park Nature Trail meadow
Sandy Bottom Park Nature Trail meadow

Sandy Bottom Park & Nature Trail

Relax, swim or put in a car-top boat at Sandy Bottom Park on the north shore.

A walking trail at the north end of East Lake Road is open year-round for visitors to walk, jog and enjoy outdoor scenery and wildlife. A wooded Nature Trail just west of the Honeoye Outlet, accessible from Main Street, can also be used to walk to Sandy Bottom Beach.

Honeoye Lake state boat launch

Find a more significant boat launch at Honeoye Lake Boat Launch State Park on the east shore.

Honeoye Lake from Harriet Hollister
Honeoye Lake scenic overlook 20A
Scenic overlook on 20-A
Honeoye Lake scenic overlook Inlet WMA
Honeoye Inlet WMA
CR-36 below Harriet Hollister
CR-36 below Harriet Hollister

Scenic Overlooks

The drive around Honeoye Lake, especially in peak Autumn, is one of my favorite drives in the Finger Lakes region.

Head up Canadice Hill to Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area for a spectacular view! Find another scenic overlook toward the northeast on NY-20A, though the lake is less visible.

Follow CR-36 south along the west side of Honeoye Lake for spectacular views of the Honeoye Inlet Wildlife Management Area and Canadice Hill.

Honeoye Creek outlet
Honeoye Creek outlet

More Information about Honeoye Lake

45 minutes from Rochester – MAP

5. Canandaigua Lake

Finger Lakes Region - 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.

The City of Canandaigua is on the north end and Naples on the south end. You can drive around the entire lake in 60 minutes, but take your time!

Canandaigua Lake
Stand-Up Paddle Board (SUP)
Canandaigua Lake Kershaw Park swimming beach
Kershaw Park
Canandaigua Lake
Seager Marine
canandaigua lady boat
Canandaigua Lady
City Pier boathouses
City Pier Boat Houses
Main Street
Downtown
Lincoln Hill Farms bar
Lincoln Hill Farms
Sonnenberg Gardens Japanese Garden Tea House
Sonnenberg Gardens

City of Canandaigua

Swim at Kershaw Park in Canandaigua. Take a walk on the Canandaigua City Pier and check out Boathouse Row. Interestingly, owners are prohibited from living in their boathouse—they are for daytime use only.

Take a boat ride on the  Canandaigua Lady—a 19th century steamboat replica and double-decker paddle wheeler. Rent a kayak or paddleboard for the day.

Enjoy a concert at CMAC or Lincoln Hill Farms.

Visit Sonnenberg Gardens or Granger Homestead, then stroll along North Main Street.

Eat at Rio Tomatlan, New York Kitchen, Flavors Indian Restaurant, Eric’s Office, Rheinblick German RestaurantThe Green Front, and enjoy an ice cream from Cheshire Farms Creamery.

Grimes Glen
Grimes Glen
Canandaigua Lake: Jump Off Trail on Gannet Hill in Ontario County Park
Jump Off Trail
monicas pies naples ny
Monica’s Pies
Inspire Moore Naples NY
Roots and Inspire Moore Winery

Naples

Hike through Grimes Glen to two 60′ waterfalls; there is a 3rd, but it’s only for the daring to access.

Pick grapes at Jerome’s U-Pick, then stop at Monica’s Pies or Lynnie Lou’s Homemade Ice Cream.

Take in the view of the Bristol Hills from “The Jump Off” in Ontario County Park at Gannett Hill.

Eat at Roots Cafe or the Naples Hotel.

Canandaigua Lake Scenic Overlook
Canandaigua Lake Scenic Overlook on CR-12
Bristol Mountain
Bristol Mountain Skiing

Bristol

Stop at the scenic overlook on CR-12.

Take the lift up Bristol Mountain in the autumn and check out the Aerial Adventure Park and Zip-line Canopy Tour. You can walk up or down the mountain trails or take the lift.

Other points of interest

Follow the Canandaigua Wine Trail

Swim at Onanda Park on the west shore and Deep Run Park on the east.

More Information about Canandaigua Lake

30 minutes from Rochester – MAP

6. Keuka Lake

Finger Lakes Region - Keuka Lake

Keuka Lake, sometimes 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 and Branchport on the north end and Hammondsport on the south., with exceptional wineries along both shores.

Penn Yan Diner
Penn Yan Diner
Keuka Outlet Trail
Seneca Mills Falls on the Keuka Outlet Trail
The Windmill
The Windmill

Penn Yan

Hike the 6.6-mile Keuka Lake Outlet Trail between Keuka Lake in Penn Yan to Dresden on Seneca Lake. It was ranked one of the 25 best hiking trails in the northeast. The trail takes you past remnants of mills, locks, and bridges that used the waterway’s energy to grist grain, saw lumber, and distill spirits during the mid-1800s.

Explore scenic views offered between the branches at Keuka Lake State Park, Garret Memorial Chapel, and Keuka College’s Norton Chapel. Enjoy a beautiful, scenic drive from Bluff Point south along NY-54A.

Spend a few hours eating and shopping at The Windmill, with nearly 200 local producers and artisans, including a significant presence of Amish-made goods. There’s a handy map of the market to help you explore.

Hammondsport Keuka Lake
Hammondsport
Hammondsport

Hammondsport

Relax on the south shore in Hammondsport at Depot Park.

Tour Pleasant Valley Wine, the Finger Lakes Region’s oldest winery, or the Glen H Curtiss Museum, honoring a local pioneer of American aviation.

Dr Frank 1886 Reserve Room
Dr. Frank 1886 Reserve Room
Scenic Keuka Lake Views McGregor Vineyard
McGregor Vineyard
Scenic Keuka Lake Views Bully Hill
Bully Hill Vineyards
Scenic Keuka Lake Views Rooster Hill Vineyards
Rooster Hill Vineyards

Visit wineries with scenic Keuka Lake view

There are sophisticated publications dedicated to the intricacies of wineries, vineyards, cellars, and tasting rooms in the Finger Lakes Region. Our priority is to show you which ones have the most spectacular scenic Keuka Lake views!

Other points of interest

Eat at The Olney Place, Penn Yan Diner, Seneca Farms, Switzerland Inn, Lakeside Restaurant & Tavern, Union Block Italian Bistro, or Timber Stone Grill.

Swim at Keuka Lake State Park, Indian Pines Park, Red Jacket Park, and Depot Park.

More Information about Keuka Lake

60 minutes from Rochester – MAP

7. Seneca Lake

Finger Lakes Region - Geneva Seneca Lake boardwalk
Seneca Lake, Geneva

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 Finger Lakes combined. Seneca and Cayuga Lakes are so deep that their bottoms are well below sea level.

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, and Watkins Glen is on the south end.

Geneva Seneca Lake boardwalk
Geneva
Geneva on the Lake Seneca
Geneva on the Lake
Geneva Belhurst Castle Winery
Belhurst Castle and Winery in Geneva
Historic Geneva
Historic Geneva
New York State Parks Seneca Lake Geneva
Seneca Lake State Park
Geneva visitor center cover
Finger Lakes Visitor Center

Geneva (north end)

Spend the day at Seneca Lake State Park on the north shore in Geneva. There is a fun sprayground and playground, plus swimming! Take a tour of Rose Hill Mansion or historic South Main St. Enjoy a show at the Smith Opera House. Explore Bishop Nature Preserve.

Eat at Ports CafeBeef & BrewChar Burrito BarClub 86 Bagels, Red Dove TavernFLX TableGeneva on the Lake, and Belhurst Castle.

Watkins Glen Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls
Seneca Lake Pier Watkins Glen
Watkins Glen Seneca Lake boats
Worlds smallest diner cony island hot dogs
Historic Small Movie Theaters Around Rochester Glen Theater Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen (south end)

Tackle the 800 steps up the gorge (800 more back down!) at Watkins Glen State Park. Enjoy a walk down the Seneca Lake Pier or through Catharine Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Check out a race at Watkins Glen International.

Eat at Jeraldo’s, Rooster Fish Brew PubNickel’s Pit BBQ, Curly’s Family Restaurant, Seneca Harbor Station, World’s Smallest Diner, and many more!

Seneca lake Adirondack Chairs
Seneca Lake
Roadside Waterfalls Shequaga Falls Montour Falls building
Shequaga Falls
Farm Sanctuary Watkins Glen
Farm Sanctuary
Havana Glen
Havana Glen

Around Seneca Lake

Follow Rt. 14 just three miles south and visit Montour Falls, home to several more waterfalls, including one of the most photographed—Shequaga Falls.

Head about eight minutes south of town to Havana Glen to explore a much smaller gorge with an extraordinary fall—a great swimming hole!

As you’re heading back toward Rochester, stop at Watkins Glen Farm Sanctuary for a tour.

Seneca Lake has more wineries than any other Finger Lake. Follow the wine trail!

Take a hike through Finger Lakes National Forest and pick wild blueberries for free from a 5-acre managed patch. 

Eat at Dano’s Heuriger On Seneca and Spotted Duck on the way home near Dresden in Penn Yan.

Enjoy a swim and relax at Sampson State Park and Lodi Point State Park. Hike the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail between Seneca and Keuka Lakes or through the Kashong Conservation Area.

More Information about Seneca Lake

45 minutes from Rochester – MAP

8. Cayuga Lake

Finger Lakes Region - Cayuga Lake State Park
Cayuga Lake State Park

Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes at 38.1 miles and is 60 minutes from Rochester to the north end. One hundred forty streams flow into Cayuga. Water that comes into the lake takes ten years to cycle toward Lake Ontario.

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.

Seneca Falls visitor center cover
Seneca Falls visitor center
Seneca Falls sign
Gould Hotel
Seneca Falls canal lock 2
Lock 2
Seneca Falls Anthony Stanton Bloomer
Anthony, Stanton, Bloomer
First Convention for Womens Rights in Seneca Falls NY
First Convention for Women’s Rights Held in Seneca Falls, NY 1848

Seneca Falls (north end)

Step back in history at the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. Check out the famous “It’s a Wonderful Life” bridge and museum.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on Cayuga Lake
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge eagle statue near thruway
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge view inside

Take a slow drive through Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge and look for migratory waterfowl and nesting eagles.

Paleontological Research Institution and its Museum of the Earth in Ithaca NY
Museum of the Earth
Public Gardens Around Rochester: Cornell Botanic Gardens
Cornell Botanic Gardens
Sagan Planet Walk
Sagan Planet Walk

Ithaca (south end)

Enjoy a day filled with science at the Museum of the Earth, the Sciencecenter, and the Sagan Planet Walk. Eat and shop around Ithaca Commons. Explore the gardens at Cornell Plantations and the Ithaca Children’s Garden.

Groge Trails Cascadilla Creek Ithaca
Cascadilla Gorge
Ithaca Falls
Ithaca Falls
Robert H Treman State Park
Robert H Treman
Taughannock Falls State Park
Taughannock Falls State Park

Ithaca is Gorges!

Pick a waterfall, any waterfall! They are all spectacular.

Taughannock Falls State Park

Buttermilk Falls State Park

Cascadilla Gorge

Robert H. Treman State Park

Ithaca Falls on Fall Creek

Find more waterfalls around Ithaca

Things to do around Rochester NY: MacKenzie-Childs
MacKenzie-Childs

Other points of interest

Stop at MacKenzie-Childs on the east shore in Aurora; if not for the shopping, then definitely for the landscape!

Follow the Cayuga Wine Trail, Sweet Treat Trail, or Cheese Trail.

Eat at MoosewoodParker’s Grille & Tap HouseDeerhead Lakeside Restaurant & Bar, Fargo Bar & Grill, Cayuga Lake Creamery, Hazelnut Kitchen, Connie’s Diner, The Heights, Sumo, Ciao, Ithaca Ale House, Just a Taste, Carriage House Cafe, Istanbul Turkish Kitchen, Agave, and many more!

Cayuga Lake State Park overlook
Cayuga Lake State Park

Swim at Cayuga Lake State Park, Taughannock Falls State Park, Long Point State Park, and Myers Park ($5 gate fee for non-residents of Lansing)

More about Cayuga Lake

60 minutes from Rochester – MAP

9. Owasco Lake

Finger Lakes Region - Owasco Lake

A 75-minute drive from Rochester, Owasco Lake features a cold- and warm-water fishery. Unlike the other Finger Lakes, Owasco is surrounded almost entirely 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. On your way home, catch a movie at Finger Lakes Drive-In.

Willard Memorial - Owasco Lake Auburn
Willard Memorial Chapel
Hunter Dinerant
Hunter Dinerant in Auburn
Owasco Lake Emerson Park
Owasco Lake at Emerson Park
Owasco Lake fishing pier
Owasco Lake at Emerson Park
Owasco Lake Merry Go Round Playhouse
Merry Go Round Playhouse
Owasco Lake pier
Owasco Lake park
Seward House
Seward House

City of Auburn (north end)

Swim or paddle at Emerson Park. Catch a show at Merry-go-Round Playhouse.

Visit the museum homes of Harriet Tubman and William Henry Seward

Tour the beautiful Willard Memorial Chapel, a rare example of the work of Louis C. Tiffany and Tiffany Glass and Decoration Co., in that it is the only complete and unaltered Tiffany chapel known to exist.

Wander through the Ward W. O’Hara Agricultural Museum.

Fillmore Glen walking across bridge
Fillmore Glen

Morovia (south end)

While not on the lake, Fillmore Glen State Park has a stream-fed swimming pool and a 1.5-mile gorge trail.

Hike the Owasco Flats Nature Preserve at the south end. There is also a car-top boat launch here in addition to Southshore Marina.

More Information about Owasco Lake

75 minutes from Rochester – MAP

10. Skaneateles Lake

Finger Lakes Region - Skaneateles Lake Clift Park

Located on the northern tip of Skaneateles lake, you’ll find dozens of boutiques and eateries along Genesee and Jordan streets in the village of Skaneateles.

It’s the perfect place to get away and enjoy the pace of lake life.

Skaneateles is a 75-minute drive from Rochester, and you can drive around the entire lake—from the Village of Skaneateles to the Town of Scott and back—in 60 minutes.

Skaneateles Lake shopping
Skaneateles Nest
Skaneateles Cate and Sally
Skaneatles Getaway Imagine cover

Village of Skaneateles

It is the best village in the Finger Lake Region for boutique shopping and finding unique lake-themed souvenirs. Head over to Hammondsport on the southern end of Keuka for another shopping destination.

The traffic through Skaneateles seems pretty used to having pedestrians crisscrossing US-20 at regular intervals, so take advantage of the many cross-walks.

Mirbeau Bistro
Mirbeau Bistro
Skaneateles Lake Doug's Fish Fry
Doug’s Fish Fry
Skaneateles Lake bakery
Skaneateles Bakery
Skaneateles Lake House Pub
Lake House Pub
Skaneateles Moros Kitchen
Moro’s Kitchen
Skaneateles Patisserie
Patisserie
Rosalies Cucina garden
Rosalie’s Cucina
Skaneateles Blue Water Grill lakeview
Sherwood Inn

Exceptional dining options

Eat at Doug’s Fish FrySkaneateles Bakery, the historic Sherwood InnBlue Water Grill, or Rosalie’s Cucina. Skaneateles seems to specialize in great food—you can’t go wrong!

Skaneateles Lake Mid-Lakes Navigation
Mid-Lakes Navigation
Skaneateles Clift Park gazebo
Skaneateles Thayer Park
Skaneateles Lake swimming
Skaneateles Lake

Lake Life

Every lake has boat cruises, but a 3-hour Mail Boat Cruise is a unique experience! Mail has been delivered by boat on Skaneateles Lake for 120 years, except during the two world wars. Many of the summer cottages are not accessible by road (sounds lovely!)

Enjoy a swim, or relax along the shore and watch the boats sail past.

Skaneateles Lake Dickens Fest Sherwood Inn
Skaneateles Artisans
Skaneateles Artisans
Skaneateles Lake
Sidewalk along US-20

Visit Skaneateles Lake in December

Head over for Dickens Christmas and explore the town with festive costumed “Christmas Carol” characters. The official kickoff to the festivities is the day after Thanksgiving with the Tiny Parade. You’ll even find chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

We’ve been a few times with weather ranging from heavy snow to mid-60s, but my favorite was the year we had the lightest, fluffiest snowfall with a bit of lake breeze. It is the perfect event to start the holiday season!

Skaneateles cliffs
Staghorn Cliffs
Skaneateles Anyelas Vineyard scenic view
Anyela’s Vineyard
Andrew Fuller Recreation Park Scott
Andrew Fuller Park
Skaneateles Hinchcliff Family Preserve
Hinchcliff Family Preserve

Other points of interest

There are three boat launches; Skaneateles Marina and a DEC launch on the west bank, Fuller Park (Town of Scott) on the south end.

Stop by Anyela’s Vineyards (the only winery on Skaneateles Lake) and Lockwood Lavender Farm (pick your own in season).

Explore Bahar Preserve and Carpenter Falls, High Vista Nature Preserve, Ripley Hill Nature Preserve, High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary, or Hinchcliff Family Preserve.

Dickinson Conservation Area is accessible by boat only. You can still appreciate it in this beautiful drone-captured video of Staghorn Cliffs.

More about Skaneateles Lake

75 minutes from Rochester – MAP

11. Otisco Lake

Finger Lakes Region - Otisco Lake
Otisco Lake

Otisco Lake is the easternmost lake and is seventh in size among the Finger Lakes. Enjoy a drive around the entire lake in 30 minutes.

Driving east along US-20 from Skaneateles, the road takes you along more of an advanced-roller-coaster ride than the eastern portion. The drive is an adventure from here east to Cazenovia and beyond, but the views are spectacular.

Otisco Lake Park shoreline
Otisco Lake Park bench
Otisco Lake parking

Otisco Lake Park

With a 5-car parking lot and no swimming, Otisco Lake Park on the northeast side is the perfect spot for relaxing in a serene environment. The shore is lined with benches, with a fire pit on the southern tip.

There are few food options, but you’ll find Giuseppe’s Piazzeria right next to the park. Lakeside Vista is on the western shore.

Otisco Lake Causeway looking north
Otisco Lake Causeway state fishing access
Otisco Lake causeway parking
Otisco Lake Causeway cut through
Otisco Lake Causeway cutting through

Otisco Lake Causeway

The causeway is an abandoned roadway that once spanned the lake. There is a gap in the causeway where a bridge once connected the shores. The opening serves as the boating and water-flow channel between the north and south ends, making for excellent fishing.

Head over to the west side on West Valley Road to the NYS DEC Fishing Access. You’ll find a car-top boat launch here and parking for about 20 cars.

You can fish from the causeway or bring a chair and a book to enjoy Otisco Lake’s quiet, gorgeous view.

Otisco Lake Causeway looking south

Other places to visit

Spafford County Forest looms large above the south-western end of Otisco Lake and is a pristine forest without formal trails. Church Hill Road will take you up to the woods or take Moon Hill Road, passing Bucktail Falls along the way, less than 50 ft. from the road.

According to NYFalls, “Bucktail Falls is on private property, but is not POSTED. The owner is okay with visitors respectfully walking to see and photograph the falls.”

More Information about Otisco Lake

90 minutes from Rochester – MAP

One of Our Day Trips

Finger Lakes Region Sample Map
Our pre-flight plan. We didn’t follow it strictly; it helped 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 panoramic views of the hills and valleys which dominate the terrain throughout the region.

Geneva I Love NY Seneca Lake cover
Geneva Visitor Center

The All-Eleven-Finger-Lakes Club

Is there such a thing? If not, I’ll start one! In 2019, I visited 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

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Which are your favorite Finger Lakes?

Please share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments. Your insight and experience are invaluable!

Debi Bower, Day Trips Around Rochester NY

Author Debi Bower is the Founder and Creative Director for Day Trips Around Rochester, NY.

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4 thoughts on “Explore the Finger Lakes Region”

  1. Thanks Debi for this article.Been visiting the Finger Lakes since 1985 with trips occurring every 3-5 years.Retired now and am a Texas resident with family in West Seneca and Cooperstown.Really haven’t explored the 4 westernmost lakes.Will use your guide on next trip this year.

    1. I’m happy to hear you can visit during the summer, Bud! The four lakes closest to Rochester are much smaller than those closer to CNY but lovely in their own right. You’ll enjoy a road trip along US-20A, stopping at a few food and wine destinations and spending time along each lakeshore. It’s a leisurely day.

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