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Enjoy this zig-zagging tour through central New York illustrious Finger Lakes region. Starting in beautiful Rochester, you’ll explore wine country in Penn Yan, the beautiful campus of Cornell University, and plenty of state parks, ski areas, and historic sites.
New York’s third largest city, Rochester is a bustling city with plenty to see and do. Set on the southern shore of Lake Ontario (and found along the Lake Ontario Drive Tour) Rochester offers everything from museums to festivals and parks in the Finger Lakes Region.
Try to check out as many cultural sites in Rochester. Visit the Rochester Museum & Science Center, the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography, the Strong National Museum of Play, and the Rochester Contemporary Art Center.
For you theater buffs, ROC City is also teeming with opportunities from which to choose. Check the event calendar for the Geva Theatre Center or the East End Theater, or see what’s coming up for the Rochester Broadway Theater League.
Known as Flower City, Rochester also hosts the annual Lilac Festival in Highland Park – which holds over 500,000 attendees. Held in May, the Lilac Festival is the oldest event in Rochester, and features food, live entertainment, marathons, and free tours of the Highland Park Arboretum.
Rochester’s parklands are hard matched. Be sure to explore the aforementioned Highland Botanical Park – a 155-acre playground featuring gardens, athletic fields, and an outdoor amphitheater for summertime movies.
Other parks in Rochester include Cobb's Hill, Durand Eastman Park, Genesee Valley Park, and Ontario Beach.
From Rochester, take Interstate 490 southeast out of town to Victor. From Victor, continue southeast on State Route 332 passed Canandaigua Lake for 35 miles until you reach Penn Yan.
Set on Keuka Lake in the heart of the New York Finger Lakes, the Village of Penn Yan is a quaint little town with plenty to see and do.
Penn Yan puts you smack-dab in the middle of the Finger Lake’s wine country. Check out the tasting rooms, vineyard tours, and cellars at nearby wineries like Earle Estates Winery & Meadery, Fox Run Vineyards, Keuka Spring Vineyards, Rooster Hill Vineyards, Torrey Ridge Winery, and Vineyard View Winery – or hit the Keuka Lake Wine Trail.
If you’re looking for some local goods, check out the Windmill Farm & Craft Market right in Penn Yan. Held along NY Route 14A, this free, 200-vendor market offers free-parking, special holiday events, and local produce each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Less than 30 miles west of Penn Yan, the Bristol Mountain Ski Resort is a great way to experience the winter wonderland that is central New York. Bristol Mountain offers 33 runs on 160 skiable acres. Traveling outside of snow season? You can still head to Canandaigua for Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures. Bristol also offers Fall Sky Rides on the Comet Express chairlift for some incredible views of the area’s autumn colors.
For summer travelers, get out and see Keuka Lake at the Keuka Lake State Park. Enjoy summer activities like picnicking, hiking, fishing, boating, and swimming, plus winter recreation like cross-country skiing.
From Penn Yan, head north along Seneca Lake’s western shore on State Route 14 – then heading back east on US Route 20. You’ll pass – and are encouraged to stop at – Lakefront Park and Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva. It’s another 10 miles east to Seneca Falls – yet another scenic stop amongst the Finger Lakes.
Starting in Seneca Falls, head south on New York State Route 89 – skirting the western shore of Cayuga Lake for 42 miles until arriving in Ithaca.
Settled on the Cayuga Lake’s southern shore, Ithaca is known for culture, shopping, outdoor recreation, and as the home of Cornell University.
The Cornell campus is a must-see for any visitor to Ithaca. Browse the 35-000-work collection at the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, see the botanical gardens and F.R. Newman Arboretum in the Cornell Plantations, and bask in the beauty of Sage Chapel.
For more fall foliage in the Finger Lakes, be sure to see the Beebe Lake Waterfall from Thurston Bridge, or reflect upon the Newman Overlook.
Enjoy the two-block Ithaca Commons, an outdoor shopping and dining area in downtown Ithaca. The Commons feature restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and the Sagan Planet Walk – a .75-mile walkway connecting the Ithaca Commons to the nearby Sciencenter.
And for more Carl Sagan sites, Ithaca is also home to Sagan’s gravesite at Lakeview Cemetery.
Ithaca is absolutely surrounded by outdoor adventure. Choose from incredible parks like Buttermilk Falls State Park, Taughannock Falls State Park, and the Robert H. Treman State Park. Ithaca also offers the Finger Lakes Trail System, the Ithaca Dog Park, and Stewart Park on Cayuga Lake.
Head northeast to State Route 38 and continue passed Owasco Lake and Falcon Park, getting you from Ithaca to Weedsport in just under 50 miles. Found on the Erie Canalway, the Village of Weedsport – set just west of Syracuse – is a small town offering more of that New York charm.
Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Centreport Aqueduct was constructed in 1854 in neighboring Brutus, the 16-foot-high, 125-foot long (and wide) is an ideal stop for you history buffs.
If you’d like to see other people drive for a while, head to Weedsport Speedway. Established in the 1950s, Weedsport Speedway features special events like Sportsman Classic, Hall of Fame 100, and Super DIRT Week.
Get up close to the Seneca River at Riverforest Park – offering great fishing, boating, swimming, and picnicking. Riverforest Park visitors can also enjoy horseshoe pits, miniature golf, an arcade, and the American Restaurant & Bar.
From Weedsport, head south on State Route 41 for 42 miles until you reach Cortland – just southwest of Tully – and the end of our tour.