A Tour of The Finger Lakes
They are called the Finger Lakes. Eleven of them, long and narrow, like
fingers. Native American tradition holds that the Creator reached down
and blessed this chosen land with his hands, and that his fingers created the lakes.
Today, the Finger Lakes region has become a chosen land for people
looking for a place to vacation. It's easy to see why. These fourteen counties in New York State include over 200 museums and galleries, more than 2,000 mikes of hiking and biking trails and 9,000 acres of other activities.
"This area reminds me of the lake region of
northern Italy," said Judi Bruckman. She and her husband Lenny traveled
from California to tour the area and take in sights like Willard
Chapel and the William Seward House, both in Auburn.
Willard Chapel is interesting not only for its history, but the sheer
beauty of the interior. The chapel is the only completely Tiffany chapel
in existence, featuring the exquisite artwork of the Tiffany Glass and
Decorating Company in the stained glass windows, chandeliers, and even
The Seward House was the home of William Henry Seward, known
for negotiating the purchase of Alaska. The original contents are pretty
much intact, including his 8,000 books and collection of some twenty or
"If you're having fun, you'll learn more," explained Bonnie Hays,
executive director of Historic Palmyra. That's why most of the artifacts
can be touched, tried on, and examined at the unique Palmyra Historical
Museum. Just down the street is the William Phelps General Store Museum,
an authentic former general store down to the eggs and supplies still on
the shelf. The Alling Coverlet Museum, also in Palmyra, is home to over
360 hand-woven coverlets, the largest collection in the United States.
Historic Palmyra operates all three museums.
For an awesome natural sight, it's hard to beat Chimney Bluffs on Lake
Ontario in Huron. These incredible structures, some as tall as 150 feet,
are called drumlins, and were formed by a glacier thousands of years ago.
For another view of the lake, visit Sodus Point. The Sodus Point
Lighthouse contains a museum and a gift shop. For a spectacular view,
climb the 55 stairs to the top.
For the whimsical pottery and home furnishings of MacKenzie-Childs, you
can go right to the source in Aurora. The factory, shop, and restaurant
are located on the site of a former dairy farm overlooking Cayuga Lake.
The gift shop alone is worth the trip, but a guided tour of the house is
After all this activity, you'll want to refuel. Fortunately, there are
many fine dining spots in the Finger Lakes. Former President Bill
Clinton and his family dined at The Sherwood Inn in Skaneateles several
years ago during a vacation in the area. The Aurora Inn in Aurora
offers fine dining either in their dining room or out back on the deck.
You'll have a great view of Cayuga Lake, plus a scenic back yard often
used for weddings.
In Waterloo, the Waterloo/Seneca Falls Holiday Inn has a great dining
room, Our Heritage Cafe. The restaurant not only serves up fine food,
but a bit of history as well. Black and white photos and artifacts from
the past adorn the walls and interior of the building.
Since man does not live by bread alone, you may want to stop in at one
of the area's 70-plus wineries. At the King Ferry Winery in King Ferry,
wine tasting has become so popular that owners Tacie and Peter
Saltonstall had to add on a new, larger tasting room.
At the North County Apple Winery in Wolcott, owner Linda Yancey produces
and sells delicious apple wine in a variety of flavors. The store also
offers gifts and wine accessories.
When it comes time to retire for the night, Geneva on the Lake in Geneva
offers luxurious suites, an attentive staff and the atmosphere of an
The Holiday Inn in Waterloo features 148 comfortable rooms and suites,
some with whirlpool tubs. You'll find friendly service, plus a fitness
center, sauna, outdoor heated pool, tennis court, restaurant and tavern
on the premises.
And the Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars offers fantastic views from every one
of their comfortable rooms.
Whether you stay for a day or for a week, a visit to the Finger Lakes has something for everyone.
For assistance in planning your trip to the Finger Lakes, visit Finger Lakes Tourism. They can also be reached at 800-548-4386.
For activities in Wayne County, visit their website at Wayne County Tourism or call 800-527-6510.
This article originally appeared in The Grapevine Magazine.
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