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36 Hours in the Finger Lakes, NY

The Finger Lakes are a group of 11 finger-shaped lakes in Upstate New York. There are more than 400 registered historic sites and landmarks in the Finger Lakes region that help bring guests closer to the storied past. While visiting the Finger Lakes, there are plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in culture through visual, performing, literary and culinary arts. We recommend staying for more than just a weekend, but if you only have 36 hours, here are our favorite Finger Lakes activities.


1 pm – Afternoon at Sonnenberg Gardens 

Arrange for an early check-in with your innkeeper at your bed & breakfast near Canandaigua Lake. If there is a fee, it’s worth it for the extra time in the area! Drop off your bags and chat with your innkeeper to get their recommendations for their favorite spots in the area. Head to Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park for a tour of the historic mansion and the 50-acre estate. Skip the weekend crowds by heading there on Friday afternoon!

After the garden tour, refuel for the rest of the day with a quick bite and maybe a coffee at The Dalai Java, a local coffeehouse with an attached art gallery. To continue the wine tasting adventure, head to Heron Hill Tasting Room on Canandaigua Lake. Or, if you prefer a guided tour, book one with Crush Beer & Wine Tours to experience some of the best Canandaigua wineries with safe transportation. They also offer combination beer, wine, spirits and food tours that let you sample great options in the area. These tours also give you the opportunity to learn more about the Finger Lakes and get acclimated to the land.

If you love elegance and Victorian charm, 1840 Inn on the Main B&B is a perfect place for you in Canandaigua. This charming B&B is located within walking distance of Sonnenberg Gardens and downtown. Check out their wine tour package!

6 pm – Devour a Meal on the Lake 

Dive into a delicious meal at Nolan’s on Canandaigua Lake, a steak and seafood restaurant with gorgeous lake views. Locals rave about their scallops, steak, and lobster rolls, but you can’t go wrong with anything on their menu.

For a totally different dinner experience, head to Rheinblick German Restaurant. You’ll love eating tasty authentic German food in this lively, charming setting. Their spaetzle is a non-negotiable menu item to order. Immerse yourself in the German experience by ordering potato pancakes and jagerschnitzel too!

8 pm – Sunset on the Skydeck

End your evening by watching a colorful sunset from a picturesque rooftop. The Skydeck at Nick’s offers panoramic views of Downtown Canandaigua. Reservations aren’t accepted on the Skydeck, so be prepared to wait for a seat. The atmosphere is definitely worth the wait! Whether you indulge in a mojito or a margarita, you’ll love sipping on a tropical cocktail while you soak in the sunset.


9:30 am – Explore Watkins Glen State Park

After you enjoy a delicious gourmet breakfast at your B&B, it’s time to hit the road. Watkins Glen State Park features Rainbow Falls, one of the most iconic waterfalls in the Finger Lakes. Head to the South Rim Trail as early as you can to get a less crowded view of the stunning cascades. The 2.6-mile, out-and-back trek can be a little muddy, especially after a good rain when the waterfall is at its best.

Wrap up the hike by 12 pm to be back in Geneva for lunch. You can also ask your innkeeper before leaving if they can pack you a picnic lunch to eat on the trails. On the way to Geneva, stop by the award-winning Scale House Brewery for a refreshing beer at the halfway point.

Conveniently located close to Watkins Glen State Park, The Cupola above Seneca provides an charming, old-fashioned retreat at the end of the day. Their expansive 2.25-acre property offers stunning views and easy access to natural wonders.

1 pm – Midday Grub in Geneva

Delight in the best chicken sandwich in the Finger Lakes at F.L.X. Fry Bird. This modern restaurant, known as a “chicken emporium,” serves incredibly tasty comfort food and fun boozy slushies. Another great lunch option is Opus, a quaint espresso and food bar that serves soups, salads, and sandwiches. Locals say this is one of the best places for lunch in town. The wood-fired pizzas at Opus are universally loved in Geneva as well.

3 pm – Splash Around Seneca Lake 

Cool off in the crisp blue water in the afternoon at Seneca Lake State Park. The park features scenic walking trails along the water. They also have a water-centric playground with fun water jets for children, called the Sprayground. Wade through the shallow water of the lake at the beach for a refreshing break from land.

Chapman House Bed & Breakfast in Geneva, NY was built in 1802 for the area’s first clergyman. This kid-friendly property offers a full breakfast each morning in the formal dining room or on the porch when the weather is nice.

6 pm – Sail Off into the Sunset

Take a private sailing tour on Seneca Lake with Sail Seneca to experience a sunset like no other. Step aboard Frank and Barb’s sailboat “Crazy Love” for a magical evening on the water. Call ahead to ask if you can bring dinner onboard or if they’re willing to set up a romantic dinner for you.

9 pm – Ice Cream Nightcap

End your exciting evening with an incredible treat. Stop by Mr. Twistee’s ice cream shop for the best ice cream in the area. Some even say it’s the best ice cream anywhere. You tell us! They serve a variety of soft and hard ice creams, and even make their own version of Disney’s famous Dole Whip.


8:30 am – One Last Waterfall Hike

Since you aren’t in town for long, make these last few hours in the Finger Lakes count. The night before, arrange with your innkeepers for an early sit-down breakfast or to eat yours on the go this morning. Wake up early, grab your fuel and head to Taughannock Falls State Park! Traverse the easy, heavily trafficked 1.9-mile Gorge Trail to the gorgeous waterfall. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for fossils layered within the rocks. Arrive around 8:30 am to beat the crowds!

Juniper Hill B&B in Trumansburg is located just 2 miles from Taughannock Falls State Park. Enjoy staying in this historic white house with beautifully decorated rooms and luxurious bedding. Check out their art gallery filled with over 100 works of art.

FLBBA ithaca farmers market

11 am – Farmer’s Market

After working up your appetite on the trails, head over to the Ithaca Farmers Market, about 15 minutes away near Cayuga Lake. Fill up on local favorites, such as Littletree Orchards’ apple cider donuts, Forty Weight Coffee, and On the Street Pitas. Make sure to buy some fresh fruit to keep you and the rest of your group satisfied when the hunger inevitably strikes during your travels home.

Tag us at @flbba on Instagram if you visit any of our favorite Finger Lakes spots! Let the Finger Lakes Bed & Breakfast Association guide you to the perfect retreat for all your brewery adventures. While we have highlighted a few charming inns above, FLBBA boasts a comprehensive list of independent inns across the Finger Lakes. The members of FLBBA abide by a list of high standards set by the organization, so you can confidently plan the perfect getaway today.

Beer Lover’s Guide to the Best Finger Lakes Breweries

Although the region is famous for its wineries, the Finger Lakes is home to many extraordinary breweries as well. There’s almost nothing better than drinking a cold beer after a long day of fun in the sun. We’ve narrowed the list down from an incredible selection of breweries near a few of our favorite Upstate New York lakes. From West to East, here are our favorite local Finger Lakes breweries.

Conesus Lake

Rising Storm Brewing Company is a small-scale microbrewery in Avon. With great service and a spacious grassy outdoor area, the brewery is a perfect place to sample delicious beers and relax. Rising Storm is especially touted for their crisp sour IPAs.

Founded by Benjamin and Steve, the “B” and “S” that make up the name, No BS Brew Company works to produce the highest quality craft beer. Beer lovers are divided over their favorite No BS beer, so you’ll have to grab a flight to decide for yourself. Their beer slushies are an iconic menu item and are perfect for summertime!

Canandaigua Lake

Other Half Brewing Company crafts local beers in their Brooklyn brewery. At the Finger Lakes location, they have an incredible outdoor seating area with weekend food trucks in the summer. Check their social media before your visit to see if they’ve released any special new brews. Other Half is well known for their delicious IPAs.

Notably, Young Lion Brewing Company is a woman-owned and managed brewery just north of Canandaigua Lake. While you might be tempted to pop in just for the stunning lake views, their spin on classic draughts will make you stay for hours. Don’t forget to order one of Young Lion’s signature oversized soft pretzels too!

Located only five minutes from Young Lion, Canandaigua Cobblestone Cottage is a scenic, romantic retreat near northern Canandaigua Lake. This historic inn built in 1837 has a room that was used as part of the Underground Railroad.

two men clinking beer glasses seated at bar

Keuka Lake

Named “Best Craft Brewery in New York State” in 2014, Keuka Brewing Company continues to produce unique, award-winning beers. Fans of the brewery rave about their lagers, but they also have a selection of inventive beers, such as Afterburner Habanero Ale and Ghost of Rita Gose. Soak in the views of Keuka Lake as you sample a flight of small-batch beers.

Located on farmland west of Keuka Lake, Steuben Brewing Company is a New York State Farm Brewery. The brewery hosts turns tastings into fun events, with live music, food trucks and lawn games to keep everyone entertained. While they have an awesome selection of beer and cider, the IPAs at Steuben are especially tasty.

Country Comforts Bed & Breakfast is located in an updated 1850s home two miles north of Keuka Lake. You’ll delight in waking up to a full country breakfast each morning after a relaxing, peaceful sleep in one of their charming rooms. 

Seneca Lake

Winner of Finger Lakes Brewery of the Year in 2021 at the New York International Beer Competition, Scale House Brewery is a local favorite for their great beer and equally good food. The brewery boasts a laid-back atmosphere with striking views of Seneca Lake. You have to try their delicious peanut butter stout!

Seneca Lake Brewing Company is a conventional British pub with a covered deck that overlooks Seneca Lake. They stand out from other breweries in the area by serving only traditional cask ales. Fans of the brewery love their unique “no cell phone” rule in the bar area.

Consisting of two renovated barns built in 1855, The South Glenora Tree Farm Bed & Breakfast is a tranquil place to stay between Seneca and Keuka Lakes. Kick back on a glider chair on the porch, and enjoy a homemade snack each evening. 

Cayuga Lake

Known for mastering New England-style IPAs, Aurora Brewing Company continues to produce tasty, small batches of beer. This nanobrewery sits on a hill overlooking Cayuga Lake and local vineyards. Aurora’s sour beers are a must-try as well!

Fleur De Lis Brew Works is a family-owned, small batch brewery in Seneca Falls. If the tables are full, bring your own chair to grab a spot on their gorgeous, green grounds. Try one of their stouts – we especially love their milk stout!

Located between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, Glass Magnolia Bed & Breakfast has access to gorgeous vineyards and lush rolling hills. Their highly-acclaimed chef serves gourmet breakfast each morning using locally sourced ingredients. Check out their packages too!

red-haired woman passing money through food truck window with beer on counter

Skaneateles Lake

Prison City Pub and Brewery serves small batch beers with quirky names and huge flavor. They also have a tasty food menu with delicious appetizers! You have to try their award-winning Mass Riot IPA or Cool Hand Cuke sour beers. Actually, just order a flight or two, and try them all!

Finger Lakes on Tap has a unique, relaxing atmosphere that will make you feel right at home. Don’t want to miss a brewery? With 60 taps flowing, they offer a variety of local craft beers made in the region. Talk to their knowledgeable bartenders to sample the perfect beers for you!

Tag us at @flbba on Instagram if you visit any of our favorite Finger Lakes breweries! Let the Finger Lakes Bed & Breakfast Association guide you to the perfect retreat for all your brewery adventures. While we have highlighted a few alluring inns above, FLBBA boasts a comprehensive list of independent inns across the Finger Lakes. The members of FLBBA abide by a list of high standards set by the organization, so you can confidently plan the perfect getaway today.