When we told our friends we were heading to the Finger Lake region for the weekend, a lot of them did not even know where it was! The Finger Lakes is a group of 11 long, narrow lakes in the region of Northern Central New York. This popular tourist destination is the ultimate hub for fine food and wine, a day on the water, or a relaxing massage. The pristine lakes, forested hills, open farmland, and quaint small towns are only a few of the reasons why you need to visit this region with your dogs!
1. The Fruit Picking:
Summer is peak fruit season, especially throughout New York State. From strawberries to peaches, the Finger Lakes region is abundant with self-picking fruit farms that allow dogs to come along for the journey. TLC Blueberry Farm in Barton, NY can be found on your way up to the lakes and is the perfect spot to pick crates of fresh berries to enjoy during your trip.
2. The Hiking:
If you venture further north to Letchworth State Park, you will discover a park renowned as the “Grand Canyon on the East” complete with 14,427-acres and 66 miles of dog-friendly hiking trails. Letchworth State Park is known as one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the eastern United States. The Genesee River rushes through the gorges over three major waterfalls surrounded by lush forests. There are plenty of places to stop along the trails for water, food and even breathtaking photo ops. After your hike, stop by the Glen Iris Inn for lunch or dinner on their porch complete with a magnificent view of the middle-level falls.
3. The Waterfalls:
Some are surprised to learn about the numerous waterfalls within the Finger Lake region. The glacially scored out landscape of this area provides waterfalls in locations such as High Falls in Rochester to Buttermilk Falls in Ithaca. There are waterfalls, gorges, and the sound of rushing waters all around the area. From experience, we find that asking the local residents about hidden gems (such as smaller waterfalls) can lead to some of the best finds! Along The Genesee River, there are smaller waterfalls to be found that you can actually swim in. Watering holes, grottos and even small pools can be discovered if you’re willing to search hard enough, because many of them don’t have actual names.
4. The Wine Country:
With over 120 wineries, we were surprised at the legendary reputation this region (particularly Seneca Lake) has for delicious wines. Finger Lakes Wine Country is a year-round destination, but during the summer and fall, the wineries are definitely the busiest. We found that many of the tasting rooms and wineries were very dog-friendly, but one stood out the most: Miles Wine Cellars on Seneca Lake. One of the few wineries in the Finger Lakes that offers boat accessibility, this vineyard’s dock has it’s own bar where you can sit and enjoy wine on the water with your dogs. Can you think of anything more magical? Order their Ghost blend and just enjoy the view!
5. The Breweries:
If beer is more your thing, there happen to be several breweries along the wine trail. Grist Iron Brewing Company in Burdett, NY offers sunset views, live music and a dog friendly area on their back patio.
6. The Camping:
If you take your dogs camping, they will probably beg you to take them again. (Well, you know what I mean.) Most camp sites are dog friendly, the question is, which one is right for you? We discovered a family-friendly camp site called Adventure Bound Camping by Letchworth State Park that offers camp sites, cabins, personal fire pits, real bathrooms, a pool and an outdoor movie theater. Ok ok, so it’s technically glamping, but the dogs really loved it and so did we.
7. The State Parks:
Are you looking to explore nature during your time at the Finger Lakes? If so, look no further than Sampson State Park. Encompassing just over 2000 acres on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake, Sampson State Park features camping and boating as the primary recreational activities. A key feature of the park is the beautiful view of the lake at its center, and the most picturesque sunsets in the Finger Lakes Region. Activities include tennis, horseshoes, basketball and volleyball, a sandy beach with guarded swimming, playgrounds, and a scenic lake trail. Best of all? It’s dog friendly!
8. The Swimming:
Another great thing about Sampson State Park is that dogs are allowed to swim there! We discovered a private beach along the rocky shore with several dogs swimming and playing fetch. Our dogs joined right in and decided this was where we would spend the rest of the afternoon. They really know how to pick the best places!
9. The Restaurants:
Brunch is one of our favorite meals, so if we can combine that with dog-friendly accommodations, then already that location gets an A+ in my book. When driving through Watkins Glen, NY, we noticed how many restaurants the town had to offer with outdoor seating, and even lake views. The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel offers patio seating at their restaurant, Blue Pointe Grill (open seasonally and weather depending) where you can enjoy their stuffed French Toast while surrounded with flowers and water views.
10. The Boating:
Depending on the lake you visit, there are boat rental companies that will rent private boats or provide boat tours to dog owners. We found that the best way to discover same-day boat rentals is to visit the marina at each lake and choose the perfect fit for your party size and preferred activities.
For more of our travels and adventures with dogs, follow @puppynamedcharlie on instagram!