Are you planning a Finger Lakes Vacation? If so, there are some things to consider before you go. Many of the attractions are popular with kids. Additionally, the New York State Finger Lakes region is home to dozens of wineries. This can be overwhelming for newbies and even wine connoisseurs alike. I have put together this quick guide so that you can plan your visit/vacation with kids and have fun. I have also picked some top places that are perfect for relaxing without the kids. We consider ourselves to be Finger Lakes locals and prefer to call ourselves Finger Lakes inhabitants. Besides the obvious, we really enjoy sharing our knowledge about the best places for family vacation in the Finger Lakes and hope you’ll find this guide useful.
With so many things to do in the Finger Lakes area, there is something for everyone. One of our biggest attractions is Canandaigua Lake and beaches. Many visitors consider Canandaigua to be one of the best lakefront vacations in New York State. There are so many things to do in this area for kids including an amusement park, mini golf, water slides, pedal boats, and water skiing which makes it a perfect vacation spot for the entire family.
Finger Lakes Vacation With Kids
I’ve been to the Finger Lakes region of New York a couple times now and every time I’m amazed by how beautiful it is. The pictures of waterfalls and gorges are spectacular, but you have to see it in person. For the last two years, I’ve spent my summers up here. It’s a wonderful place to visit in the summer, with lush green trees and a wide range of activities for families to enjoy together or separately.
There’s nothing more family-friendly than enjoying time with the ones you love and having new experiences. The Finger Lakes region offers a variety of activities for families to discover that will appeal to all ages and a wide array of interests. If you’re looking to pack up and get away with the family, here are some attractions to check out.
The Finger Lakes’ name comes from its lakes, and if you’re a family that likes water, we’ve got plenty of it. Our region’s major 11 glacially-made lakes offer recreation all spring, summer, and fall long, including swimming, kayaking, boating, and more. Even in the winter the water can be fun when it’s covered in ice. Just don some skates and spend an afternoon spinning and sliding across the ice. Check out the large number of Finger Lakes State Parks that offer access to the Finger Lakes including beaches, boat launches, and more.
Looking for something more inspiring? When you go waterfalling in the Finger Lakes, you’ll experience nature at its finest. There are plenty of easy waterfall trails to follow that are great options for the family. Among some of the dazzling spectacles is Taughannock Falls, the highest single-drop waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains. Now that’s a memory you won’t want to miss making.
Continue the family fun outside and head to the Finger Lakes National Forest. Spanning 16,212 acres between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, it is New York’s only public, federally managed national forest. When you’re there, take a hike, bike, or grab a fishing rod and enjoy the day peacefully gazing out on the water and trying to catch the next big one or teaching the little ones how to cast a line. Numerous state parks in our region offer camping and an abundance of outdoor recreation. If you decide to set up camp, there’s really nothing quite like a late night campfire with the family.
Another great option for kids is the Rochester Museum & Science Center’s Cumming Nature Center located in Naples. The Cumming Nature Center is an environmental education facility that features a 900 acre preserve with trails for hiking, skiing or snowshoeing. The Center offers a number of educational programs and events that are great for kids and adults. Plan an afternoon or make a weekend of it!
And, all these options can be enjoyed in the colder months as well. The winter season still offers many outdoor activities for families who like to ski or get out in the snow. There are many trails for snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and mountains for some serious downhill skiing. And of course, there are plenty of hills for sledding and mountains that provide areas for snow tubing.
Visit a Museum
All museums are not made equally when it comes to keeping the attention of younger children, but if you’re in the Finger Lakes area we can guarantee several that will be sure to entertain. From science to art to play, there is a museum for a variety of interests.
In Corning, the Corning Museum of Glass brings the magic of glass blowing to life and the option for you and the family to get hands on while there. Watch artists in live glassmaking demos or you can even make your own glass! The Corning Museum of Glass also offers a number of events and tours throughout the year.
Also located in Corning is The Rockwell Museum – a Smithsonian Affiliate. The Rockwell offers art exhibits and collections featuring American artists. The museum features a number of activities and displays for kids including the new Kids Rockwell Art Lab, an interactive family studio. They also host a number of events and workshops for kids that will get their creative juices flowing.
One of the largest history museums in the United States, The Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester offers a day’s worth of activities. Home to the National Toy Hall of Fame and World Video Game Hall of Fame, the Strong Museum of Play is a kid’s dream. Some of the more popular features of the museum include the DanceLab, a mini Wegmans for shopping fun, a video game area featuring the nostalgia of the ’80s alongside current game tech, a butterfly garden, and more.
For museum fun outside, the Genesee Country Museum is a living museum depicting a 19th century village, but it also hosts themed fun throughout the year such as the museum’s Spirits of the Past Theatrical Tours around Halloween. But don’t stop here, there are many more museums and historical sites to discover with the family when you visit.
Go for Thrills
For those looking for a little more excitement, the Finger Lakes region is home to a number of amusement parks and other venues offering thrills for families. There are several attractions for families to visit in both the summer and winter months.
Roseland Water Park in Canandaigua is a fun way to beat the heat. The park offers a wave pool, water slides, and more. They also host a number of events throughout the season geared towards kids. Also in Canandaigua, Bristol Mountain – while offering skiing in the winter – also has off-season fun at Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures. Kids can rope climb, do zip lines and participate in a canopy tour.
If looking for a thrill ride, Seabreeze in Rochester offers a water park and amusement park with rides for kids of all ages. Overlooking Lake Ontario, the park has stunning views as well as games and more. Take a picnic and stay the day – the kids won’t run out of things to do.
Or, check out RPM Raceway. With locations in both Rochester and Syracuse, it’s just one of the speedways in the region. But at RPM Raceway you’re not just a spectator, you and members of your family can feel what it’s like to be the racecar driver in these electric go-karts, as long as everyone reaches the height requirement of course.
In addition to mainstay attractions, all year long, there are festivals and events that cater to all ages, whether it’s Sonnenberg Garden’s Haunted Garden Stroll in October or holiday events in November and December. The fall especially brings a host of activities to the Finger Lakes region that are fun for the entire family. Peruse what’s coming up next; maybe it’s time for a getaway.
Whatever the time of year, families can rest assured that when they visit the Finger Lakes there will be plenty to do for adults, teens, and kids. Sun or snow, the Finger Lakes is here waiting to explore.