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Finger Lakes Family Vacation

The Finger Lakes is a picturesque region located in upstate New York. Named after the 11 narrow lakes in the area, the region spans over 9000 square miles, offering a range of stunning parks, natural attractions, and charming towns. If you have not been to the area before, it is time to add it to your New York state bucket list.

Finger Lakes Towns

There are 13 towns situated in the Finger Lakes region, providing you with a variety of options for a base during your stay. Take a look at the towns below to choose one that is right for you.

  • Auburn – If you are looking to enjoy Owasco Lake, Auburn is a quaint town that boasts a rich history.
  • Aurora – This bustling town has real energy and is located right on the Cayuga Lake.
  • Canandaigua – The perfect spot to enjoy the Canandaigua Lake, this town is also for the race fans who might like the check out the Finger Lakes Racetrack.
  • Corning – Corning has a whole range of attractions to keep you occupied from the Museum of Glass and glassmaking workshops to cosy, little antique stores where you are sure to find a treasure.
  • Geneva – Located on the water, this college town is as picturesque as they come and has plenty of restaurants and shops to enjoy during your stay.
  • Hammondsport – This village is full of character and is known for having the first nationally licensed winery in the country. 
  • Ithaca – This buzzing college town has it all – retail, eateries, wineries, and waterfalls!
  • Naples – This town is situated on the shores of Canandaigua Lake and is well-known for its national Grape Festival – make sure to check it out if you happen to visit during this time. 
  • Penn Yan – Penn Yann is a huge producer of grapes and buckwheat, yet still retains its small-town charm.
  • Seneca Falls – The perfect combination of quaint coziness and history, Seneca Falls gave rise to Women’s Rights when it held the first convention in 1848.
  • Skaneateles – This lakefront destination is perfect for a family vacation, offering a range of shops, excellent eateries, and endless fun on the water.
  • Waterloo – Another place to acknowledge history, Waterloo is recognized as the place where Memorial Day originated.
  • Watkins Glen – From Seneca Lake to Watkins Glen State Park, this town is surrounded by natural beauty.

Finger Lakes in Winter

While you will not want to be spending time in the water during the winter, there are not many things prettier than small towns and beautiful natural landscapes covered with a clean layer of fresh, white snow. The shops and restaurants will be decked out for the holiday season, providing a real charm to the whole area and there is plenty of indoor activities to keep you occupied. If you do want to brave the cold weather and get outdoors, seeing the frozen waterfalls surrounded by snow is a unique and magical experience.

Planning your Trip to Finger Lakes

For local USA residents, a trip to the Finger Lakes region might be as easy as jumping in your car and hitting the freeway. Remember to pack appropriate clothing for the season that you visit as it can get very cold in winter and you will want to be prepared. If you are coming from further away, it is possible to fly to one of New York’s big airports and get the train or alternative transport to your final destination, or even get a flight to one of the Finger Lake’s various small airports.


For international visitors, your best bet is to fly to New York City. From here, you can choose what type of transport will best suit you and your group to get to the Finger Lakes. Coming from an overseas destination means you will need to pass through border security and customs upon arrival. This means it is absolutely vital that you understand the entry requirements that apply to you so that you can make prior arrangements.


For some people, this will involve obtaining an american esta. Take note, however, that not everyone is eligible for an ESTA. You must reside in a country that belongs to the visa waiver program in order to go down this path. Alternatively, you may need to apply for a traditional visa and even meet other criteria specific to your nationality.


The ESTA application process is relatively straight forward and completed entirely online. Your esta check status can be viewed via an online portal so you can track its progress. It is best to apply at least a few weeks before your trip. That way, you can fix any problems if required and will not be stressed about timing. If you do not have an ESTA and you are required to, you may be denied entry into the USA. Some airlines may even stop you from boarding your flight!

Best State Parks in Finger Lakes Region

Looking to visit one of the state parks during your Finger Lakes vacation? Here are some of our favourites.

  • Watkins Glen State Park

This park boasts epic scenery that will not disappoint. Expect rugged, rocky outcrops and flowing waterfalls.

  • Taughannock Falls State Park

Many claims that this park is the best in the region. With 750 acres of natural beauty, it is hard to argue with that!

  • Keuka Lake State Park

This park is all about the lake. Pack a picnic, enjoy the water, and admire the views!

Finger Lakes Waterfall Resort

Finger Lakes Waterfall Resort is known for being the only accommodation provider with its very own waterfall. They offer a range of accommodation options from quaint, cosy cabins to modern motel rooms that will guarantee you have a great vacation.


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