Here’s an insider view of the Finger Lakes from those who know it best – the counties themselves! Check out this list of the region’s must-see stops, hidden gems and amusing facts that may make you ask, “really?”
Check back frequently. We’ll be adding more ‘insider’ knowledge regularly so that you can impress your friends with how much you know about the Finger Lakes.
Hemlock-Canadice State Forest
Hemlock and Canadice Lake are the only two Finger Lakes free of development. The state forest encompasses both lakes. Whether for biking, hiking, paddling or birding, a perfect place to explore the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes.
Green Lakes State Park
Green Lakes State Park was a German prison camp. Before this park, named after two unbelievably natural aqua-green colored lakes, was open for leisure visitors, it was the Fayetteville Camp for German prisoners of war in 1945, during WWII. After the war, many Germans returned to the area because they enjoyed it so much.
Eagle Crest Vineyards
O-Neh-Da Vineyard (Eagle Crest Vineyards) is the oldest authentic producer of premium sacramental wine in the New World and their wine has been used by Pope Francis during a visit to the US.
Havana Glen Park and Eagle Cliff Falls
This special little hidden gem is a local park in the village of Montour Falls. Everyone knows Watkins Glen for the iconic Watkins Glen State Park, but for those who have either already done that hike or perhaps are looking for something a little less strenuous, Havana Glen offers the perfect alternative.
It’s just $2 to park your car and after a short walk alongside the babbling stream, you arrive at Eagle Cliff Falls. People like to wade in the water, take advantage of the stunning photo opportunities, and let their kids play to cool off. It’s really quite a spot and even landed on the cover of Watkins Glen/Schuyler County 2018 Travel Guide!
Cayuga County Water
With eight lakes and the Erie Canal, Cayuga County has more freshwater coastline than any other county in NYS. 20% of Cayuga County is water!
Ithaca's Natural Beauty
How did Ithaca inspire that well known saying, “Ithaca is Gorges?” Because this small town with a big city vibe is an oasis of natural beauty where one can find more than 150 waterfalls and gorges within a ten mile radius of city limits. IthacaTrails.org can help you plan your next outdoor experience.
Located in Ithaca, NY, Gourdlandia is more than a gallery but not quite a farm. Visitors to Gourdlandia can stroll through the viney gourd trellis, shop for very unique, one-of-a-kind gourd art or participate in a workshop to learn how to cure, wash and carve gourds. While you're there, be sure to see the vast body of gourd work - marionettes, masks, lamps and more!
Gourdlandia is just one of nine places in Ithaca featured on Atlas Obscura. See all of them here.
World’s Largest Pair of Pants
Climb the stairs to the second floor of Homer Men and Boys, a clothing store located on Main Street in Homer, NY, and you will find a pair of pants fit for a mythical lumberjack. Stretching from floor to ceiling the larger than life Wranglers were allegedly worn by the Cardiff Giant, another historical mystery of Cortland County. Years ago, Wrangler Jeans came into town with a promotion – guess how many stitches were in the giant pair of pants and win a prize. While the exact number of stitches was lost to time, the 8-feet tall pair of pants lives on.
Cortland Corset Company Building Mural
A 30-foot mural on the west end of the Corset Building in downtown Cortland was created by local artist Crystal Lyon to honor the 150-year old building. The mural features a large wagon wheel in the background and a woman wearing a corset, goggles, and artwork on her arms. This woman is Grace Brown – an American skirt factory worker at the Gillette Skirt Company in Cortland, who was murdered by her lover Chester Gillette (nephew of the Skirt Company owner) in 1906. The story of the murder was made famous by the movie “A Place in the Sun” and the book “American Tragedy” and was featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries.
Established in 1853 this open-air museum is a beautiful 19th century Victorian garden cemetery located on 50 acres in downtown Cortland. Voted one of the Top 11 Spooky Cemetrails You Can Visit by the Travel Channel, the self-guided walking tour lets you admire the beauty of the headstones, the impressive diverse species of trees and discover those who helped share Cortland County history.
Experience Cortland Geotour
Want to see places in Cortland County that only the locals know about? Do just that and learn about the unique history of this area at the same time on the Experience Cortland GeoTour. From underground railroads to civil war camps, to major league ballplayers and possibly the best trucks every built, there is a little something for everyone on the GeoTour. You will also experience some of the nicest countryside and rural villages found in all of New York State.