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Canandaigua Lake

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. We call these 5 lakes the “West Hand”.

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-

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:

Water Trails: Conesus Lake
Conesus Lake

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 La
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.

Canadice Lake kayaks
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.

Honeoye Lake Kayaking
Honeoye Lake

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.

Kayaking Canandaigua Lake
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.

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.

Watkins Glen Seneca Lake boats
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.

Cayuga Lake State Park Swing
Cayuga Lake 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.

Owasco Lake pier sail boats
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.

Skaneateles Lake Clift Park

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. The water quality is so pure it passes unfiltered into homes in Syracuse and other municipalities.

You can drive around the entire lake in 60 minutes.

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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Routes 5 and 20 is a beautiful 67-mile stretch of highway where NY-5 and US-20 converge, following an ancient foot trail of New York’s first people.

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The Darkest Sky Near Rochester

Locations northeast of Rochester close to Lake Ontario, or south of US-20 in the Finger Lakes will offer the darkest sky near Rochester.

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Geologic History of the Rochester Area

These day trips into Rochester’s geologic history, filled with drumlins, fossils, house-sized boulders and a meromictic lake, will leave you awe-struck!

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39 Other Great Lakes Near Rochester

Rochester is well-known for our 11 Finger Lakes and 2 beautiful Great Lakes, Ontario and Erie. But there are even more fantastic, fresh-water lakes out there to discover!

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9 Lighthouses Along Lake Ontario

These lighthouses along Lake Ontario in New York are all within a two-hour drive of Rochester. And where there is a lighthouse there is a sweeping view!

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Rochester Railfans: Trains, Depots, Rail-Trails, Models, & Clubs

Rochester railfans are incredibly lucky that passionate preservationists before us saw the value in retaining structures we can still appreciate today.

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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!