Not surprisingly for such a scenic and beautiful part of the world, there are a number of state parks in the region and over 1,000 waterfalls. Whether you are simply interested in seeing some great scenery, or want to hike, fish or bird-watch, here are a few venues to consider.
New York State played a vitally important role in the history and story of America, as becomes evident from visits to its historic buildings and landmarks, some of which are located in the Finger Lakes Region. There are some vastly interesting museums in the area, at least one of which (Corning Museum of Glass), has achieved world-class status. And the story of aviation innovation in this country cannot truly be understood without realizing the contributions made by Hammondsport’s Glenn H. Curtiss, whose story is told at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum.
Parks and Waterfalls
Watkins Glen State Park in Watkins Glen, NY is the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks, with a reputation for leaving visitors spellbound. Within two miles, the Glen's stream descends 400 feet past 200-foot cliffs, generating 19 waterfalls along its course. The gorge path winds over and under waterfalls and through the spray of Cavern Cascade. Rim trails overlook the gorge.
The Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor, running through the northern reaches of the Finger Lakes Region, is a National Heritage Area celebrating the Erie Canal, the internet of its day, carrying people and ideas and bringing the young nation together. Built with bold vision, ingenuity, a can-do spirit and hard work, the canal helped to forge our national identity.
Taughannock Falls State Park's namesake waterfall is one of the outstanding natural attractions of the Northeast. Taughannock Falls, located northwest of Ithaca, NY, plunges 215 feet past rocky cliffs that tower nearly 400 feet above the gorge. Gorge and rim trails offer spectacular views from above the falls and from below at the end of the gorge trail.
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, located between Seneca Falls and Auburn, NY, was established on September 12, 1938 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife.. The Refuge contains 9,809 acres, provides resting, feeding, and nesting habitat for waterfowl and other migratory birds, and is situated in the middle of one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway.
Buttermilk Falls State Park is an 811-acre state park located southwest of Ithaca, NY. The upper park has a small lake, hiking trails through woodlands and along the gorge and rim, picnic areas and playing fields. The lower park has a campground, natural pool and playing fields, beyond which is Larch Meadows.
Letchworth State Park is a 14,427-acre state park located in NY’s Livingston and Wyoming counties. The park is roughly 17 miles long, following the course of the Genesee River as it flows north through a deep gorge and over several large waterfalls. Trails are also available for horseback riding, biking, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
The Smith Opera House is a historic theater building located in Geneva, NY. It was constructed in 1894, and is a 3 ¹⁄₂-story, detached brick-and-stone building of historical and architectural importance. Today, the Opera House has a vibrant programming effort, including musical concerts, live stage performances and film presentations.
Built in 1839, this elegant Greek Revival house located just outside of Geneva, NY, was the center of a busy and productive farm by mid-century. The house and surrounding grounds are now open seasonally for guided tours, which focus on the Swan family, in residence from 1850 to 1890, and serve as a fine example of well-to-do farming in the 1800s.
Built in memory of a deceased son, Garrett Memorial Chapel is a small church in the Norman Gothic Style located on Bluff Point in the town of Jerusalem, NY. Known as “The Chapel on the Mount”, the Chapel’s beautiful architecture facilitated its addition to the National Register of Historic Places in 2001.
Sonnenberg Gardens is a 50-acre estate located in Canandaigua, NY. The property was once the summer home of a prominent banker in New York City, but has since become a State Park. The house and gardens are open to the public every day, May through October. All nine gardens have been restored and visitors can tour the mansion.
The Willard Chapel, located in Auburn, NY, is an extremely rare example of the work of Louis C. Tiffany and Tiffany Glass and Decoration Co., in that it is the only complete and unaltered Tiffany chapel known to exist. Included in the Tiffany interior are 14 opalescent windows, a rose window, and other examples of Tiffany’s work.
Museums & Galleries
There are some hugely interesting museums in the Region, at least one of which, Corning Museum of Glass, has achieved world-class status. And, . . . the story of aviation innovation in this country cannot truly be understood without an understanding of the contributions made by Hammondsport’s Glenn H. Curtiss, whose story is told at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum.
The Glenn H. Curtiss Museum is a museum of local history, with a focus on Glenn Curtiss and the pivotal role he played in the development of American aviation. Located in Hammondsport, NY, the Museum boasts a large collection of Curtiss' airplanes, motorcycles and many other items pertaining to the local area.
The Finger Lakes Boating Museum is located in Hammondsport, NY in facilities originally constructed in the mid and late 1800s, and occupied by the Taylor Wine Company. The Museum is dedicated to preserving the rich history of boating and boat building in the Region, and the pivotal role boating has played in the area’s development.
The mission of the National Women's Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls, NY is “Showcasing great women, . . . Inspiring all!” Inductees include women such as Abigail Adams, Susan B. Anthony and Shirley Chisholm. The 1844 Seneca Knitting Mill is currently undergoing renovation to serve as the Museum’s national headquarters.
The Corning Museum of Glass, located in Corning, NY, is dedicated to the art, history and science of glass, and showcases more than 35 centuries of glass artistry. It was founded in 1951 by Corning Glass Works, and currently has a collection of more than 45,000 glass objects, some over 3,500 years old.
The Rockwell Museum in Corning, NY contains art about the American experience -- the people, land and ideas that shaped America through the eyes of American artists. The diverse collection of original American masterpieces includes a mix of contemporary Native American art alongside traditional bronze sculptures, landscape paintings and other works that embody America and its migration west.
The George Eastman Museum is located in Rochester, NY, on the estate of George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography and motion picture film. The Museum holds unparalleled collections, encompassing several million objects in the fields of photography, cinema, and photographic and cinematographic technology.