Finger Lakes, New York State

Water is, of course, at the heart of everything in the Finger Lakes region where not ten, but thirteen elegant long, willowy waterscapes stretch their way across the map. And in case that isn't miraculous enough, they also create wine out of this water-filled wonderland. There are wine trails around Seneca Lake, Keuka Lake and Cayuga Lake and Canandaigua, the largest of which is Seneca, with eleven vineyards and a many more cellars and wineries too.
You can push the miracle metaphor even more by walking on water here in winter too, as these lakes become natural playgrounds for those who love to skate or cross country ski. You can rent the equipment you need in Canandaigua, where you can also rent bikes in summer to take on the many cycling tails around the lakes. And cycling is a thing here, probably because it is such a great feeling to do a circuit of such relaxing on the eye, if a little less relaxing on the thigh, landscapes. You can download cycling trails here but if you would like to take on all the lakes by foot, then the genius trail creations of voluntary group, Finger Lakes Trail Conference, is the way to go. This is just another example of that American ethos of conservation and donation that blew me away when visiting New York State. People commit to it for the love of it, and for the desire to share it with others. End of.

Waterfall and kayaks at Letchworth State Park, New York State. Photos by Catherine Mack

Letchworth State Park is far from voluntary, however, as it is one of New Yorks' finest State Parks and certainly one of the glittering jewels on these spectacular fingers. Sometimes known as the Grand Canyon of the East, you can see it in its entirety by hot air balloon, if you are lucky enough to get the right conditions. It was too windy when I was there but, to be honest, I was so overawed just kayaking the white waters of the Genesee River which cuts its way through the Park, at the bottom of giant canyon walls, I didn't need anything else. Except that in a hot air balloon you get to go over the three waterfalls as well of course. One of my top ten things to do in New York State, I wanted to race back up the canyon and do it all again. You can keep hiking here for days, however, with over 28 trails to discover by foot and, like the whole of the Finger Lakes region, you can be sure that you will never be far from water.

Danica Stewart
Rafting on the Genesee River
Danica Stewart, guide with Adventure Calls Outfitters talks about rafting in Letchworth State Park and spotting foxes and beavers. [01:17]

Find more information on the regions of New York State

Responsible Travel would like to thank the New York State Tourist Board for their sponsorship of this guide
Written by Catherine Mack
New York to Niagara Falls tour, 3 days

New York to Niagara Falls tour, 3 days

Niagara Falls & upstate New York short break from nyc

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