Frugal Foodie Mama: 5 Places to Visit in the Finger Lakes (That Are Not Wineries)

Friday, October 19, 2018

5 Places to Visit in the Finger Lakes (That Are Not Wineries)

The Finger Lakes region of New York is so much more than just wine country! From quaint downtown areas with wonderful local shops to waterfall chasing to a growing craft brewery scene, here are 5 Places to Visit in the Finger Lakes That Are Not Wineries...

The Finger Lakes region of New York is so much more than just wine country! From quaint downtown areas with wonderful local shops to waterfall chasing to a growing craft brewery scene, here are 5 Places to Visit in the Finger Lakes That Are Not Wineries.
The Corning Glass Museum tour, Watkins Glen State Park hike, & Farm Sanctuary tour were all provided courtesy of TBEX North America 2018As always, all opinions & thoughts expressed below are 100% my own.


I obviously have nothing against wineries. In fact, I think most of you all know by now that I love myself a good winery tour & tasting while traveling. ;) But I do think that when most people consider planning a trip to the Finger Lakes that they assume that they have to be wine lovers in order to enjoy the area. Today's travel post is to show you all that the Finger Lakes region of New York has so much more to offer than just great local wineries.

From quaint downtown areas with wonderful local shops to waterfall chasing to a growing craft brewery scene, the Finger Lakes is so much more than just wine country.  Now that isn't to say that you couldn't pop into a winery or two (or four!) for a tasting while in the area, but you most certainly do not have to be a wine aficionado to truly appreciate the Finger Lakes of New York.

Although I only scraped the tip of the iceberg during the few days that I visited the area, I am sharing 5 of my favorite must-visit places in the Finger Lakes (sans the wineries) with you all below...



#1: Downtown Corning, New York


Located just north of the central Pennsylvania border with New York, you will find the quaint town of Corning, New York. Corning is located just south of the Finger Lakes along the Chemung River.


Located just north of the central Pennsylvania border with New York, you will find the quaint town of Corning. Corning is located just south of the Finger Lakes along the Chemung River. 

For the best of shopping, dining, & entertainment, the Gaffer District is where it's at in downtown Corning. Start your morning in the District by stopping in at Poppleton Bakery & Cafe for a coffee and one of their amazing sweet or savory crepes. Once you are fueled up and ready to shop, be sure to pop into some of the downtown's locally owned shops like Connors Mercantile, Dimitri's Confectionery Treats, & Pure Designs for unique finds & gifts.


For the best of shopping, dining, & entertainment, the Gaffer District is where it's at in downtown Corning, New York.


After spending the morning shopping the district, make a stop at Atlas Brick Oven Pizzeria for a quick lunch where they sell pizza by the slice. You could spend the rest of your day in downtown Corning exploring the city's handful of local craft breweries & brew houses (I have heard that the Iron Flamingo is a must-do!).

The Gaffer District in Corning boasts over 45 restaurants, but I would definitely recommend making a dinner reservation at The Cellar for tasty shareable tapas plates and an amazing beer & wine menu. 
Do save room for dessert though! Did I mention that the District also has its very own self-guided Chocolate Trail? ;)



#2 The Corning Museum of Glass 

While in Corning, a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass is a must! After all, the museum & the city's 150 year history of glass making is why Corning, New York has been dubbed the Crystal City.


While in Corning, a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass is a must! After all, the museum & the city's 150 year history of glass making is why Corning has been dubbed the Crystal City. 

Definitely plan to make a day of your visit to the museum so you have plenty of time to view the numerous galleries & exhibitions. And don't forget to factor in a little time to explore the museum's impressive gift shop featuring beautiful works of art from over 200 emerging & well-known glass artists (including my personal favorite- Dave Chihuly). 


While in Corning, a visit to the Corning Museum of Glass is a must! After all, the museum & the city's 150 year history of glass making is why Corning, New York has been dubbed the Crystal City.


Once you have toured the museum & did a little shopping, make plans to try your hand at making your own work of art to take home & book a glassmaking class in their studio (pictured below).  They offer seasonal glass projects (like pumpkins & holiday ornaments) as well as timeless pieces like glass beads & the glass flower that I made while visiting their studio.


Once you have toured the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York & did a little shopping, make plans to try your hand at making your own work of art to take home & book a glassmaking class in their studio.



#3 Watkins Glen State Park

Just south of Seneca Lake, you will find Watkins Glen State Park. Perhaps the most famous of the state parks in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Watkins Glen is a waterfall chaser's paradise.


Just south of Seneca Lake, you will find Watkins Glen State Park. Perhaps the most famous of the state parks in the Finger Lakes region, Watkins Glen is a waterfall chaser's paradise. In fact, you will find 19 impressive waterfalls within the less than 2 miles of the park's Gorge Trail!

The glen's stream quickly descends 400 feet within these 2 miles making for breathtaking drops & cliffs that have been carved from exposed rock that is at least 380 million years old. 


Just south of Seneca Lake, you will find Watkins Glen State Park. Perhaps the most famous of the state parks in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Watkins Glen is a waterfall chaser's paradise.


Though the hike itself is not too difficult, there are quite a few stairs along the 1 1/2 mile stretch of the Gorge Trail. 832 steps, to be exact. But every step that you climb is worth it (even in the pouring rain!), to get this close to the gorge's waterfalls. 


Just south of Seneca Lake, you will find Watkins Glen State Park. Perhaps the most famous of the state parks in the Finger Lakes region of New York, Watkins Glen is a waterfall chaser's paradise.


We did visit Watkins Glen on a very rainy day in September. While not ideal, hiking such a popular Finger Lakes destination in a downpour did have its advantages. Like unobstructed views of the waterfalls, parking close to the state park's entrance, and less crowded trails. 



#4. Farm Sanctuary

Located just 20 minutes west of Watkins Glen State Park, is the Farm Sanctuary. This 271 acre farm serves as a shelter & sanctuary to over 500 rescued farm animals.


Located just 20 minutes west of Watkins Glen State Park, is the Farm Sanctuary. This 271 acre farm serves as a shelter & sanctuary to over 500 rescued farm animals. The Farm Sanctuary offers guided tours to the public from May through October. Tour prices are $10 for adults, $5 for children (ages 4-12), and children 3 & under are admitted for free. 

Even though this farm tour has a heavy emphasis on veganism, I would still recommend a visit to the sanctuary if you just happen to be an animal lover but not necessarily vegan or vegetarian. It is a wonderful hands-on way to connect & interact with these animals and learn their stories.


Located just 20 minutes west of Watkins Glen State Park, is the Farm Sanctuary. This 271 acre farm serves as a shelter & sanctuary to over 500 rescued farm animals.


For those of you who would really like to immerse yourself in the rescue farm experience, the Sanctuary offers overnight accommodations at their on-site cabins & tiny houses.



#5. Keuka Lake


Stretching almost 20 miles from Penn Yann in the north to Hammondsport in the south, Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes is known for its unusual Y-shape. But it also happens to be known for its excellent fishing, picturesque lakefront restaurants, & growing local brewery & cidery scene.


Stretching almost 20 miles from Penn Yann in the north to Hammondsport in the south, Keuka Lake is known for its unusual Y-shape. But it also happens to be known for its excellent fishing, picturesque lakefront restaurants, & growing local brewery & cidery scene. (And yes, they are also very well known for their wine trail. ;) )


Stretching almost 20 miles from Penn Yann in the north to Hammondsport in the south, Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes is known for its unusual Y-shape. But it also happens to be known for its excellent fishing, picturesque lakefront restaurants, & growing local brewery & cidery scene.


Although it is not the largest of the Finger Lakes, it is rumored that Keuka is the most scenic of the region's lakes. And even on a cloudy day like on the day that we visited the area, I could see how this just might very well be true. 


Taking inspiration from the styles of beer you would find in the United Kingdom, Lyonsmith Brewing in Penn Yann, New York offers 8 taps at any one time.


We started our day exploring the Keuka Lake area by driving all the way to north to Penn Yann and then making our way back down south to Hammondsport. After enjoying a lakeside lunch on the deck at the Top of the Lake Restaurant, we headed to Lyonsmith Brewing Company for a craft beer tasting (pictured above). 

Taking inspiration from the styles of beer you would find in the United Kingdom, Lyonsmith Brewing offers 8 taps at any one time- 4 selections available year round, 3 seasonal brews, & 1 tap for their monthly Brewer's Choice (an exclusive beer available only in their tap room). Thought not my preferred style of beer, our tasting at Lyonsmith was definitely a unique experience that I would recommend to any craft beer enthusiast.


At the southern most tip of Keuka Lake is the town of Hammondsport, New York. Hammondsport also happens to be home to a handful of local breweries, including the Finger Lakes Brewing Company


At the southern most tip of Keuka Lake is the town of Hammondsport. Hammondsport also happens to be home to a handful of local breweries. We stopped in at the Finger Lakes Brewing Company tasting room (pictured above) to partake in a flight of their locally brewed offerings. My favorite was their Steamboat Stout poured from their Nitro tap. If you haven't had a good dark stout or porter from a Nitro tap yet, be sure to make that happen the next time that you are given the opportunity. The Nitro infusion transforms a regular dark beer into this creamy, smooth pint of amazingness.




The Finger Lakes region of New York is so much more than just wine country! From quaint downtown areas with wonderful local shops to waterfall chasing to a growing craft brewery scene, here are 5 Places to Visit in the Finger Lakes That Are Not Wineries.


Have you visited the Finger Lakes region of New York before?
What are some of your favorite things to do there?


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