Explore From Geneva In Finger Lakes Region

Travel Along The Great Lakes Seaway Trail In Upstate New York

Things To Do Based In Geneva In Finger Lakes Region In Upstate New York.jpg

Many Things To Do Based In Geneva In Finger Lakes Region In Upstate New York

We definitely found many thing to see and do when we stayed in Geneva in Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York.  

On our road trip from Toronto, we stayed off the main highways after we crossed into New York State.  We found so many great places to stop as we travelled along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail on the south shore of Lake Ontario.

From our base in Geneva on Seneca Lake, we made many tasty stops as we travelled around the Finger Lakes.  We followed the wine routes around Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake and enjoyed several great winery visits.  For something different, we visited some breweries and an interesting distillery too.

When we were not tasting our way around the Finger Lakes, we explored the Finger Lakes waterfalls for a different perspective on this area of Upstate New York.

Road Trip Stops Driving The Great Lakes Seaway Trail

We left home in Toronto well before rush hour started and drove to the Finger Lakes Region in Upstate New York.  Our early start and our Nexus cards got us quickly through the U.S. border at the Queenston Lewiston Bridge.  

Queenston Lewiston Bridge.jpg

We immediately headed for the route along the Niagara River and then travelled on the south coast of Lake Ontario on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.  As we drove along the water, we stopped several times for water and lighthouse views.  The lighthouse at Olcott had tourist information inside.  In Oak Orchard, we stopped at the lighthouse and then at the marina for a snack.  When we followed the lighthouse sign, we found the Braddock Pt Lighthouse had been incorporated into a house.

Olcott Lighthouse - Great Lakes Seaway Trail Upstate NY.jpg
Oak Orchard Lighthouse - Great Lakes Seaway Trail Upstate NY.jpg
Braddock Point Lighthouse - Great Lakes Seaway Trail Upstate NY.jpg

We saw so much vast open green space and long stretches of sandy beaches on our drive.  And mid-week most places were almost empty.  We neared the end of sunflower season.  So when we saw the bright sunny faces pointed to the sun we had to stop.

Lake Ontario Beach.jpg
Sunflowers - Great Lakes Seaway Trail Upstate NY.jpg

We loved to see the local sights on our road trips.  So we were delighted by our slow trip along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

Interesting Sights On Our Travels

When we had a choice, we took the road closest to the water.  But at Irondequoit Bay we had to backtrack.  At one time there was a narrow truss bridge over the entrance to the bay.  This was ultimately replaced by a large swing bridge.  

When the bridge opened, boat traffic sailed through the channel.  In the summer, the bridge was kept in the open storage position for boats to pass unfettered.  But it stopped us from continuing along the shore.

Irondequoit Bay Swing Bridge.jpg
Irondequoit Bay Swing Bridge - Great Lakes Seaway Trail Upstate NY.jpg
Irondequoit Bay Swing Bridge.jpg

As we travelled along the south shore of Lake Ontario, we passed several historical plaques related to the War of 1812.  During this war the U.S. fought Britain over maritime rights.  Canada was drawn into the war.  Several major battles were waged along the waters and borders between the two countries.  This war was one of the precipitating factors that drove Canada’s independence in 1867. 

War of 1812.jpg

As we travelled along Lake Ontario in Upstate New York, we found many interesting spots to stop.

Travelling In Fruit Season

We found the season for fresh produce so short at home in Ontario.  So during harvest season, we always shopped at local markets and farms.  When we saw a fruit stand we pulled in.  The peaches looked great.  And the blueberries looked extra plump.  Nobody manned this farm stand.  But we knew to put our money in the can!

Roadside Fruit Stand.jpg

When we looked for a lunch stop, it was not hard to decide to stop at Burnap’s Farm Market And Cafe.   The bright flowers and fresh produce drew us in.  But the salad we had for lunch ensured we put this spot on our map for a return visit.  Every bite of our salad was full of mango, cranberry, nuts and chicken.

Burlaps Market - Great Lakes Seaway Trail Upstate NY.jpg
Burlaps Market.jpg
Burlaps Market Salad - Great Lakes Seaway Trail Upstate NY.jpg

A Four Day Stay In Geneva In Finger Lakes Region

For this return visit to Geneva, we again stayed at the Holiday Inn Express in Geneva.  We needed some hotel nights with IHG Rewards for our hotel status for 2022.  The large suite with a jetted tub was perfect after we explored the Finger Lakes waterfalls.  

Holiday Inn Geneva - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg
Holiday Inn Geneva.jpg

Geneva was located at the top of Seneca Lake.  There was a park at the top of the lake and lots of walking paths along the shore.  One evening we wandered on the paths by the marina.

We were drawn into the Long Pier in Geneva by the sign for wine ice cream and slushies.  We stopped at the memorial before we walked out on the pier.  There were kayaks for rent.  But the times when we visited, the waters were rougher and nobody kayaked. 

Long Pier Wine Slushies.jpg
Long Pier Memorial - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg
Long Pier.jpg
Long Pier Kayak.jpg

The hotel was a great base as we explored Geneva in Finger Lakes region. 

Exploring The Erie Canal

The Erie Canal is a historic canal in upstate New York between the Hudson River and Lake Erie.  In 1825, it created  the first navigable waterway that connected the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.  

One day we headed to drive down along Cayuga Lake and planned a stop in Seneca Falls.  We saw a mural that depicted wide cascading falls.  But when we search the town for a waterfall, we only found signs that pointed us to canal locks.

Seneca Falls Mural.jpg

We learned there are a total of 4 locks over the length of the Cayuga-Seneca Canal.  This canal is part of the New York Canal System and it joined the Finger Lakes of Senaca Lake and Cayuga Lake to the Erie Canal.  On our travel around the Finger Lakes Region, we stopped at the locks in Seneca Falls.  And saw the highest single lift on the canal at Locks CS2 and CS3. 

Seneca Falls Barge Canal - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg
Seneca Falls Barge Canal.jpg
Seneca Falls Barge Canal - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg

On our stop in this small town, we also saw the National Women’s Hall of Fame.  And several tributes to Seneca Falls as the birthplace of the women’s suffrage movement.

Seneca Falls Women of Change - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg

On the trip home, we had one more stop on the Erie Canal.  Several times we passed over the Erie Canal and got a view of the water.  But it was fun when we headed to Medina and took the culvert that went under the Erie Canal.

Erie Canal.jpg
Erie Canal Medina Culvert - Great Lakes Seaway Trail Upstate NY.jpg
Erie Canal Medina Culvert.jpg

When we explored from Geneva in Finger Lakes region, we saw several historic sights.

Waterfalls In The Finger Lakes Region

We left Geneva at the top of Seneca Lake and headed south on Highway 89 along Cayuga Lake.  We made several stops and enjoyed the waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region.  Our first stop was at the Taughannock Falls State Park.  We found the overlook with a view of the waterfall.  And hiked the North Rim Trail for other great outdoor sights.

Taughannock Falls Overlook - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg

At the bottom of Cayuga Lake we continued through Ithaca and found the Buttermilk Falls State Park.  It was late in the day and the attendant at the park gate said the water flows were low.  So we got a quick glimpse of the falls and moved on.

Buttermilk Falls - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg

Our last planned waterfall stop was in Montour Falls for the Shequaga Falls.  We got our first glimpse of the falls from the main street in town.  And even went up for a view from above after we got a view from the park.

Montour Falls - Shequaga Falls - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg

On another day trip, we headed around Seneca Lake.  At the bottom of Rte 414 on the east side of Seneca Lake we found Hector Falls.  The parking spots were right on the road.  This was a great waterfall spot that was not even on our waterfalls plan.

Hector Falls - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg

When we explored from Geneva in Finger Lakes, we enjoyed several stops for waterfalls.  It was a dry summer and the water flows were low.  But we were still fascinated with the waterfalls and the underlying shale rocks the water flowed over.

Wine Tasting In The Finger Lakes

On our visit to the Finger Lakes region, we planned several wine tasting stops.  The top of our list was at Glenora Wine Cellars for a chocolate pairing.   We each got 5 different local chocolates.  With each chocolate we got one dry wine and one sweet wine.  The chocolates were great and we were fascinated with the impact that the chocolate had on each of the wines we tried.

Glenora Wine Cellars Chocolate Pairing - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg

We arrived at the Ventosa Vineyards for an early wine tasting and were delighted when we had the tasting bar all to ourselves.  This area was known for its Rieslings, so we tried two.  We could not resist trying an un-oaked Chardonnay.  For red wines we sipped on a Sangiovese and a Cabernet Sauvignon.

Ventosa Vineyards Wine Tasting.jpg

We stopped in several other wineries on our visit to the Finger Lakes.  But we ran out of time to do tastings at all of them. We know there are many more for return visits to Geneva in Finger Lakes region.

Beer And Spirits Too

As we drove around we also found lots of other liquid tasty stops in the Finger Lakes region.  We passed breweries, cideries and even saw someone selling moonshine at a roadside stop.

The O’Begley Distillery was on our route right after we left Glenora Wine Cellars.  We saw no moonshine but we found a wide array of liquor choices.  We tried 3 different absinthes, a chocolate cream and whiskey with a sweet maple taste.  

OBegley Distillery Absinthe - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg

We stopped at the Three Brothers Winery.  While there were at 3 different wineries at this stop, we really wanted to try some beers at War Horse Brewing. David was interested in several of their dark beer selections.  And he even went home with the “S’Mores With Churchill” (an oatmeal coffee stout) that he tried.

Three Brothers War Horse Brewing - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg
Three Brothers War Horse Brewing.jpg

Our stop at the Three Brothers Winery really needed more time to enjoy all the offerings.  We could even get a massive 20 tasting card to sample all the different wine and beer shops.  

When we explored Geneva in Finger Lakes region, we found a great variety of drinks to try.

We Ate Well On Our Stay in Geneva

We were delighted when we found that many of our winery stops had great restaurants.  And a lovely lake view too.  There were many tasty stops in the Finger Lakes region.

On our trip down the the west side of Cayuga Lake we pulled into the Thirsty Owl Wine Company when we saw they had a bistro.  We did not do a wine tasting.  But we enjoyed lunch on a picnic table with a view out over the lake and the vineyards.  Our dessert stop was at the Cayuga Lake Creamery. 

Thirsty Owl Winery - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg
Thirsty Owl Winery.jpg
Cayuga Lake Creamery.jpg

When we did our chocolate wine pairing at Glenora Wine Cellars, we made sure we had a good lunch at Veraisons at the Inn first.  Our table had a great view out over the vineyards and down to Seneca Lake.  

Glenora Véraisons Restaurant - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg
Glenora Véraisons Restaurant Lunch.jpg

After our wine tasting at Ventosa Vineyards we headed to the Cafe Toscana patio.  With a view out over Seneca Lake, it was a lovely way to finish our wine tasting visit.

Ventosa Toscana Cafe Lunch - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg

At the bottom of Seneca Lake we stopped in Watkins Glen and went out on the pier at Seneca Harbour Station for a view up the lake.  We watched the Seneca Legacy boat load for a dinner and sunset cruise on the lake.  But we stayed on shore for a tasty seafood dinner.

Watkins Glen Marina.jpg
Watkins Glen Marina - Geneva In Finger Lakes Region.jpg

We made several tasty stops in the Finger Lakes region.  It was great to be well fed before our wine tasting.  And for our waterfall visits.

Much Fun From Geneva In Finger Lakes Region

We enjoyed so many great things to see and do based in Geneva in Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York.  Our travel day to Geneva along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail provided great stops for a very slow road trip day.  On our return trip we stayed off the interstate in Upstate New York but made far fewer stops.  It was Friday and we wanted to be home before the weekend traffic rush.

It was great to do a variety of wine tasting stops.  And we loved finding beer and liquor options too.  We ate well on our stops and got lovely lake views.  

When we travelled around the area, we were happy we found some interesting waterfall sites in the Finger Lakes area.  We needed the exercise to wear off the tasty food and drink we enjoyed.

We were happy we finally made it back to the Finger Lakes region.  It really was a short drive from home in Toronto.  On this trip we travelled around Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake.  There were several other Finger Lakes yet to explore.  Our visit reminded us that there were many reasons to head back.

Did you use Geneva in Finger Lakes region as a base to explore the area?  Any other special spots we missed?

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  1. Sounds like you got your fill of incredible views AND delicious wines! Glenora would have been at the top of my list as well, a chocolate pairing sounds incredible. The fruit at Burnap also looked and sounded incredible, just the way you described that salad made me want to dig in! Happy to see you really enjoyed your trip through the finger lakes region.

  2. Your trip to the Finger Lakes region along the Great Lakes Seaway trail is truly inspiring g with some captivating views on the way. The Olcott light house and the Braddock lighthouse are so beautiful and it’s nice to know you can stay in one. The sunflowers on the trail look amazing.Tasting fresh fruitsalad at Burnap’s market cafe is one of the interesting things I would love to do.Also thanks for sharing the historic plaques of 1812 on maritime war and the National Women’s Hall of Fame at Seneca Falls. Also some great lake views from the winery dining location.

  3. I like to get off the main motorways when I go on road trips as well. There is so much more to see when you avoid the fast, direct route. I like that you combined the visit to Geneva with plenty of activities in nature. I would have gone on the hike to find the different waterfalls as well. I have done for the first time a wine and chocolate pairing just last month, so I would also like to go to Glenora Wine Cellars and see how they pair this unique experience.

    • Whenever we can we take the small local roads and are amazed at what we find along the way. The drive is part of the fun! But we were sure surprised at all we found to do in the Finger Lakes region on our visit to Geneva. And of course we would not miss chocolate pairings!

  4. It looks like a lot of fun to explore and do a road trip around the Finger Lakes area, Thanks for the tour especially with someone that hasn’t traveled to your neck of the woods.

  5. You must have had an amazing time on this road trip! The lighthouses already looked really nice, but then also secluded beaches, fields of sunflowers and waterfalls? This road trip really had everything 😀 Plus nice food, wine and lovely fruit markets. Thanks for putting Geneva In Finger Lakes Region on my bucket list!

  6. Our daughter went to college in Ithaca, so we had four years to explore around there and simply loved it. Like you, we love the wine trail. I particularly like the women’s museum at Seneca Falls. Amazing history lesson.
    Thanks for sharing many more things to do in the area.

  7. Now look at this: There is another Geneva and it’s so different from the one I know in Switzerland! It looks absolutely gorgeous, especially the endless fields and madows and the waterfalls. And as always with you guys, there is great food involved and some booze 😀 You really know how to enjoy life to the fullest – good for you!

    • We too were amused when we first wandered into Geneva after visiting the one in Switzerland first. A great spot to use as a base to visit the Finger Lakes region. Tasting and interesting too!

  8. This sounds like the perfect summer road trip for families. Looks like there is plenty of great food and outdoor activities. I would love to explore the finger lakes one day.

  9. We used to live in New York but never made it to the Finger Lakes region. We were missing out! Geneva looks like the perfect base camp to explore.

  10. The lighthouse at Olcott looks stunning. Good to know that they had tourist information inside. Thanks for giving me a glimpse into your history and War of 1812 and about British vs USA and Canadian independence. Going along the south shore of Lake Ontario would be something I’d love because its a mix of history and nature. I really love these farm stands with the farm fresh produce. Good to know that you could spot many waterfalls in this region. I’d love that.

    • The trip to Geneva in the Finger Lakes region was half the fun of our visit. Lots to see and learn along the way. And we sure found a lot to see and do when we arrived.

  11. I love the way you do so many road trips. I have done only a few in India, primarily because they are so tiring due to the warmer climate. This Finger Lakes region looks so green and blue, it’s calming to see those shades. And you had so many waterfalls and wine tastings along the way. I would love to have some ‘me’ time by the waterfalls with lots of wine, I find the sound of water very soothing.

  12. Beautiful lakes and more wines is so much fun! Looks like you had a lovely and leisurely tasting of wines and the scenery at each location are such a view. A good food with a perfect view! Also the wine ice cream looks so delicious to try. How many bottles of wine did you bring home?

    • We brought home only 2 bottles of wine on this trip. Always interesting to find new wine regions. But hubby was very tempted by the dark beer offerings we found and we also went home with several of those.

  13. Road trips are the best – I can see that you found so many interesting things along the way. I have to keep in mind the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Love the Braddock Pt Lighthouse and the viewpoint of the Waterfall you found at Taughannock State Park. Its always a great idea to travel during fruit season too!

    • We always love to find the small roads and scenery along the way on our road trips. Makes the drive part of the adventure. And when we arrived in Geneva it was great to head out for shorter day trips in the region and discover all there was to see and do.

  14. Such a beautiful part of New York most people forget about! We’ve visited some of the same vineyards and agree- yay for wine slushies! But I missed the lighthouses.. beautiful! Think I might need a return trip!

  15. Never heard of this area but you’ve put it on our radar! From wine tasting at the stunning wineries to hiking the gorgeous trails, there’s no shortage of fun activities to do at Geneva in Finger Lakes. Also we’re history buffs so the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls is another great stuff. Finally, I think we’d also like to just take some time to relax and appreciate the beautiful scenery of the Finger Lakes.

  16. The food looks amazing! What a stunning area to explore! Also sunflowers are my favourite flower, so loved that! Does that area get any snow? (I’m from Australia). Great blog. Very informative.

  17. You say Geneva and I think Switzerland! But what a welcoming new destination this is! I’d love to visit and his straight onto my wishlist! Thanks for sharing this extensive post!

    • We too were amused when we first saw the sign for Geneva as we had visited in Switzerland too. It was a great spot to use as a base to explore the Finger Lakes region.

  18. It seemed like such an amazing journey throughout the entire trip. Each destination has something exciting and special to offer. Spending time admiring the various waterfalls is something

  19. This is a super interesting post — I love how detailed it is! Thanks for sharing and teaching me about a new destination 🙂

  20. I didn’t realize wine tasting was such a big thing in Geneva! I really want to do the chocolate and wine pairing tasting at the Glenora Wine Cellar, I’ve done a chocolate and beer tasting in Belgium but never with wine!

  21. The entire trip looks incredible. But what caught my eye the most was the Burnap Farm Market. The fruit looked delicious and I absolutely love sunflowers! That salad also looked good. I wish I didn’t live so far because it looks like a perfect spot to spend a summer day.

  22. There’s so much to see and do in the area! I absolutely wanna visit all the waterfalls, especially the one at Taughannock Falls State Park – thanks for sharing.

  23. This area looks like there’s a lot to see and do. I’ve been in the border region between Canada and the USA near Ottawa but not as far into NY as the Finger Lakes. The waterfalls in this are anmazing.

  24. I like the sound of the wine tasting! It certainly looks like a beautiful area to explore with many scenic spots.

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