From the cooler nights to the yellow leaves swirling down, and from spiced hot beverages to the pumpkins overflowing at the farmers market, it’s clear autumn is in the air.
Fall in the city can be a beautiful sight, but if you’re yearning for a quieter getaway, it’s a perfect time to explore the Finger Lakes region. Strung like jewels on a necklace between Syracuse and Rochester, these lakes are a popular destination about six hours from Long Island by car.
Learn more about visiting the Finger Lakes region in autumn and get suggestions for things to do there in this blog post.
A Primer on the Finger Lakes Region
Just south of Lake Ontario and stretching across 14 counties, the Finger Lakes are deep, narrow bodies of water formed by glaciers. The area is rich in history - from Native Americans to the origins of the women’s suffrage movement.
Today, the Finger Lakes are recognized for their natural beauty and are a popular destination for all seasons. Wineries, farms and U-picks, bed and breakfasts, and waterfront destinations are all available in abundance here.
According to the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, visitors can also enjoy more than 185 museums, 80 art galleries, 2,000 miles of hiking and biking trails, and more.
Best Places to Enjoy Fall Foliage
The Finger Lakes region is a perfect place to take in autumn scenery. Be sure to try a visit to or drive through these locations for your leaf-peeping visit. And check a foliage report before you go to choose an optimal viewing date.
Watkins Glen State Park
Named one of the best state parks in the country by USA Today readers, Watkins Glen offers stunning looks at cliffs, scenic views, and trails passing by 19 different waterfalls.
The park is located at the southern tip of Seneca Lake in the central part of the region.
Harris Hill Overlook
This vantage point offers a gorgeous look across the Chemung Valley’s hills, ridges, and farmland. You can also take a glider ride for a more adventurous look at the landscape.
You’ll find the overlook, which is part of the Points of Inspiration Scenic Views Trail, at 51 Soaring Hill Drive, Elmira, NY 14903.
Finger Lakes National Forest
This National Forest covers more than 16,000 acres and contains trails, historic sites, green spaces, and scenic viewing areas. Or, simply enjoy a quiet drive through the park itself.
The forest’s official address is in Burdett, NY.
Enjoy a pastoral pursuit at one of the area’s many farmers markets, U-picks, and working farms. You’ll take in the autumn scenery while enjoying the fruits of the harvest.
Reisinger’s Apple Country
Choose from more than 20 varieties of apples at this U-pick farm, including Crimson Crisp, MacIntosh, Gala, and more. When you’re finished, be sure to enjoy cider and donuts in the farm store.
And don’t worry - if you’re not up for apple-picking, there are bags available in the store, plus pumpkins, gourds, local honey, and more.
Lively Run Goat Dairy
Taste award-winning cheese and pet baby goats at this family-owned farm in Interlaken.
You’ll learn about the goats, which include French Alpines and Swiss Saanens, and get a look at the farm. You can also meet the cheesemaker to learn more about the process and get a sample of some of the made-on-location cheeses. Don’t forget to visit the gift shop for cheesecake and other local goodies.
Ithaca Farmers Market
This long-running market is a mainstay of the town (its pavilion is even a popular destination for weddings). You’ll find vendors five days out of the week throughout the community, but Saturday’s events are the biggest and most famous.
Produce like tomatoes and cucumbers are available, of course, but you’ll find much more at this market. Local honey, baked goods, clothing, and arts and crafts are all sold here. Come early and bring your appetite!
Wineries and More
The Finger Lakes region is home to more than 100 wineries, and that’s not even counting breweries, cideries, and distilleries. In fact, the area has been voted the top wine region in the country - and fall is always a perfect time to visit to see the harvest.
Whether you prefer red or white (or rosé), you'll find a winery to enjoy in the Finger Lakes region. You can always opt to visit locations on a wine trail, or create your own trip.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery
This legendary winery was founded by its namesake, a pioneer in the American wine industry who garnered international attention for New York’s wine regions.
You’ll find white, red, rosé, sparkling, and dessert wines. Choose from a variety of tasting options, from four personalized flights to a curated food and wine experience.
Casa Larga Vineyards and Winery
Experience a taste of Italy in the Finger Lakes at this 35-acre vineyard. Tours, tastings, and events are all held on the property. Sample traditionally-produced ice wine or plan a visit during November to catch the holiday craft marketplace.
Damiani Wine Cellars
Enjoy a sip at one of the top-rated wineries in the region. Visit the tasting room for their reserve or older vintage wines, and learn more about the art of grape-growing and wine-making.
The winery also hosts an art gallery space, which features rotating pieces by local artists. And if you find yourself hooked, you can always join their wine club for quarterly shipments.
Get More Travel Ideas from The Bristal
Whether you go across town or around the globe, traveling can be a fulfilling experience as well as a relaxing one.
If you’re looking for short fall day trip ideas on Long Island, we’ve put together a list of hidden gems you can enjoy visiting this season.