Cornucopia of Craft Beverages
The Finger Lakes is known for its incredible wineries, breweries, cideries, and distilleries and there is no better time to experience the craft beverage scene than during the fall. Take in the stunning fall foliage as you check out some of the best craft beverage destinations the region has to offer.
Fly into Syracuse and head straight for Cortland Beer Company and Distillery for a delicious lunch to kick off your trip. Cortland Beer Company has unique handhelds like their Classic Spiedie Sub or The CBC sandwich made with chicken, peppers, onions, and beer cheese courtesy of Brew House Chew. Enjoy one of their many beers like the Dragon Fuel Pilsner or Pumpkin Ale or try one of the spirits from their distillery.
Before leaving Cortland, head to Dragonfyre Distillery for a tasting and tour. Dragonfyre Distillery produces its spirits with locally grown grain and other NY-grown produce. Book a tour and experience how Dragonfyre makes its whiskey, bourbon, moonshine, and apple brandy.
After your tasting, make the 45-minute drive over to Ithaca where you’ll find no shortage of impressive cideries and breweries to please your palate. Before heading to dinner, stop at Taughannock Falls State Park to take in some of the gorgeous fall foliage. Hike the .95-mile Gorge Trail for a quick and easy view of the 400-foot waterfall.
Head to dinner at Ithaca Beer Co., a family-run brewery that produces 20,000 barrels of beer each year. Be sure to try the Flower Power IPA which has been recognized as one of the “25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever Brewed” by Food & Wine magazine. At the taproom, you can enjoy farm-to-table dining like sandwiches, wood-fired pizzas, and a fry flight.
After dinner, enjoy a nightcap at South Hill Cider, a cidery located on a protected orchard just four miles from downtown Ithaca. Sample one of their many ciders whose names are inspired by musical references.
When you’re ready to wind down, spend the night in Ithaca, where there are plenty of accommodations to choose from.
Kick off your day at the Ithaca Farmers Market. Get some breakfast and a slice of life in Ithaca at this nationally acclaimed local treasure. Named one of TripAdvisor’s Top 20 Markets for Foodies, American Farmland Trust’s Most Celebrated Farmers Markets, and Zagat’s 8 Must-Visit Farmers Markets around the U.S., this is a weekend stop you won’t want to miss! While there, be sure to grab some cider to go from some of the local cideries including Blackduck Cidery, Eve’s Cidery, New York Cider Company and Redbyrd Orchard Cider.
After you’ve spent some time browsing the market, grab lunch at Revelry Yards. This new hotspot in Ithaca features over a dozen craft beers produced in the microbrewery upstairs. If the weather permits, be sure to check out the expansive outdoor patio and wood-fired pizza oven.
Take a scenic drive up the west side of Cayuga Lake to Bellwether Hard Cider & Wine. Pick your favorite from their 10 different varieties of hard ciders ranging from very dry to semi-sweet. After enjoying some cider, it’s time to head to your second Finger Lake of the trip, Seneca Lake. Drive just north of Watkins Glen for a beer tasting at Two Goats Brewing. Try one of their famed Beef on Weck sandwiches as you take in the extraordinary views of Seneca Lake and the fall foliage.
After your beer tasting, go leaf peeping at Watkins Glen State Park. Recently ranked #1 in New York State by Conde Nast Traveler, the incredible Gorge Trail and Rim Trails offer beautiful fall views and a view of Rainbow Falls, which was ranked #8 on Conde Nast Traveler’s list of must-see waterfalls in the country.
Relax after your hike with a cocktail or glass of local wine at the Coldwater Bar inside the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel. Afterward, visit Oak + Stone gift shop, inside the hotel for handcrafted local artisan wares for home and hearth.
Now that you've worked up an appetite, head to Graft Wine + Cider Bar for locally sourced gourmet dishes such as Pan Seared Scallops and Roasted Chicken. Make sure to end your evening with a glass of local wine or cider!
Spend the night at Idlwilde Inn, a charming Bed & Breakfast in Watkins Glen on the southern tip of Seneca Lake. This 18-room Victorian mansion was built in 1892 and sits on two and a half acres of land. The wrap-around porch and enclosed gazebo offer incredible fall views of Seneca Lake. You can also choose from any other of the wonderful accommodations in the area.
Begin the day with breakfast at your accommodation or at one of the local restaurants - you will really love the breakfast with a view at Lakeside Bistro. If you’re at Idlwilde Inn, you can enjoy the complimentary breakfast (served 8-9am). The menu varies seasonally and there is always something sweet or savory to enjoy.
Embrace the fall season and head up to Lakewood Vineyard for a wine tasting and a hike among the grapevines to take in the spectacular views of the eastern side of Seneca Lake and the village of Watkins Glen.
When you’re ready for lunch, head to Abandon Brewing Co. in Penn Yan for wood-fired pizza and a beer. Take the scenic route along Route 14 so you can enjoy the fall views of Seneca Lake as you make the drive over to Penn Yan. Housed in an 1800s barn, Abandon Brewing Co. prides itself in creating a wide range of beer styles with ingredients sourced locally in New York State.
After lunch, visit the charming downtown area of Penn Yan and check out some of the local shops. If the weather is nice, you could also take a walk along the Keuka Outlet Trail to admire the changing leaves. This generally downhill course will take you from the outlet of Keuka Lake in Penn Yan to the inlet along Seneca Lake in Dresden.
Whether you’ve been shopping or hiking, you’ll be due for another relaxing wine tasting so head to Fox Run Vineyards. This winery strives to make wine approachable, so no matter your knowledge level you can enjoy a tasting or a glass of wine while overlooking the western shores of Seneca Lake.
Spend your final night at The Mansion at Keuka Lake. This 2 ½ story mansion was built in 1838 on a bluff overlooking Keuka Lake and is a stunning example of Greek Revival architecture. Enjoy a carefully curated dinner at The Mansion that features local, seasonal produce and meats and fine wines from local vineyards. Stay right at The Mansion in one of the main house’s eight charming rooms or stay at the adjacent Inn. Or, check out one of the other charming B&Bs on Keuka Lake.
Fly out of Syracuse or Rochester.