FLakes on the Finger Lakes

This is a summary of recommendations about the Finger Lakes region of New York. The recommendations have been provided by no less than 20 different list members from the Rootsweb New York Finger Lakes mail list. When a recommendation has been made by more than one person it is marked with an asterisk. Thanks to all of the list members who contributed to this compilation. Compiled by Sarita Cook-Kelly.

Dresden Restaurant: Located on Main Street in Penn Yan. It "features the best fresh Seneca Lake perch in the area along with a very extensive menu, and their prices are very reasonable. They do have a children's menu also."

Avon Inn: Outside Avon on route 20. Good food, good ambience.

Holloway House: on Routes 5 & 20 in Bloomfield, NY (Ontario County just west of Canandaigua.) Great food. > Tell them Guy Hawkins sent you. Great food. *

Tom Wahl's Drive Inn, E, Main St., Avon, N.Y.

Pioneer Restaurant: Located just east of Auburn on Rt. 20 heading toward Skaneateles. Jim Mazzeo runs his family style restaurant with a specialty that just has to be tried more than once!!! Crispy fried turkey !!! They have been here for at least the last 50 years and are still going strong. Only open for dinners (no lunches) and closed on Mondays. Very reasonable $ and cater to families and seniors. I live just about a 1/2 mile from there and it's always busy around dinner time.

Colonial Lodge: The locals rave about the food at the Colonial Lodge on Rte 41A *

Christy's Lake House: At the south end of Owasco lake at Casowasco, just a few yards off Route 38 down near the water is a newly renovated restaurant with some VERY good food.

Tom Thumb: On East Lake road about 3 miles after you leave Auburn, is Tom Thumb. It's an ice-cream and hamburger stand. They have a gorgeous view of Owasco Lake and their Texas Hots (hotdog w/ onions and sauce) are delicious. *

Bluewater Grill: Located in the village of Skaneateles with reasonably priced food. *

Aurora Inn: Located in Aurora, it is a local upscale dining establishment with class. The Inn has one of Wells and Fargo's original stage coaches on display.

Springside Inn: Located at the north end of Owasco Lake, it is a very famous upscale dining establishment. (an old mansion alongside Owasco Lake on rte 38). http://www.springsideinn.com/ Don't miss this spot! The food is good and the setting and atmosphere is from yesteryear.

Nancy's: Also located in the Owasco Lake area. It is a very good local area restaurant with excellent food that everyone within miles is flocking to. It is located in North Lansing, NY on route 34 between Genoa and South Lansing. Just down the road a half mile is Baker's Acres Of North Lansing, another good spot.

Belmont Castle: Located in Geneva. It's really special.

Cam's: diner type food located on Jordan Road headed towards Skaneateles Falls.

Triangle Restaurant: Where state route 90 turns east to meet route 34B, there are two area restaurants worth mentioning. First is the Triangle Restaurant on route 90 one mile west of town (King Ferry). It was started in the late 1950s by some close friends of mine. The Triangle still serves a fair fare, but not like it used to. Stop anyway, if you go that route, and enjoy the local ambiance.

King Ferry Hotel: Down over the hill towards Cayuga Lake is King Ferry Station where Mr. King's ferry used to dock between its trips across the lake to Kidders Landing. To the east of the Triangle one mile, in the center of the huge metro-center of King Ferry, you will find the historic King Ferry Hotel on the left side, just before you reach route 34B. This has been restored and is under new ownership and management. I understand the food is good.

Rogues' Harbor Steak and Ale: In South Lansing at the corners of 34 and 34B -- 7-8 miles north of Ithaca-- you will find the Rogues Harbor Inn, a land mark with a lot of history. I was through the area and ate there a few times last year (Spring of 1999). It has been renovated back to it's old luster and the food and ambiance is nothing less that memorable. Stop in and see/taste for yourself! All sorts of old area photos grace the walls.

Chef's: Located in Watkins Glen. "Good food, not to expensive, nothing fancy" *

Jerlandos: Located in Watkins Glen on the corner of 4th street. Also located in Montour Falls on Main Street.


The Arbor House Inn: Located on Fennell Street near downtown Skaneateles Falls.

Super 8 in Canadaguia: "Mom and I stayed in the Super 8 in Canadaguia last Oct and it was fabulous. It is on RT 5 & 20. The hotel has continental breakfast, very, very clean, and the staff was really nice. It was very convenient to a Walmart, and there was a Wegmanns Super Store across the street that was open 24 hrs. a day."

Canandaigua Inn right on Canandaigua Lake is wonderful. It is only a few minutes off the NYS Thruway down route 332. There are stores, McDonalds, marinas, etc. nearby. You also pass by the Ontario County Courthouse coming down 332.

Waterloo Holiday Inn: Recommended several times. Has heated pool.

Microtel Inn: Economical, new, on Routes 5 and 20 between Waterloo and Seneca Falls.


Fillmore Glen State Park: In Moravia, is on the south side of the village off Rte 38. Camping, picnicking, 3-4 mile hiking trail, waterfalls and a stone bridge are the highlights here. Near the end of July, Fillmore Days are held one weekend in Moravia. Stop by then and you'll get to see bathtubs racing each other down Main Street! It's all in honor of President Millard Fillmore who installed the first bathtub in the White House. Sunday of Labor Day weekend there's an antique auto show at Fillmore Glen.
"Fillmore Glen (south end of Moravia) is one of my favorite spots. When I'm in the area and want to get alone for refreshment and/or reflective thought, I drive up the south-side access road (on the right side) that runs along the right side of the huge Fillmore Glen gully and leads to one of the upper-falls areas -- the other upper falls picnic area access road is on the north side. Once on the upper flats -- reached from the south-side access road well beyond the upper falls picnic area -- there is a road-side parking area on the left hand or gully side of the road. A short walk down the trail will bring you to an overlook spot. This spot is hard to describe with its raw virgin beauty, enhanced by the sound of the wind breathing through the pines and many rushing waters somewhere out of sight below."

Letchworth State Park: A very scenic place to visit just about due west of Penn Yan. It is a place of incredible beauty--ravines, waterfall(s), wildlife. Our entire family loved it (we camped there, and found the facilities very good). There is no direct route from P.Y., but you could wend your way over on back roads, or head up to Rte 20 and then south on 390. Known as the "Grand Canyon of the East". Mary Jemison's, "White Woman of the Seneca", cabin is located here and there is also a museum.

Montezuma Wildlife Sanctuary and Preserve: Located at the north end of Cayuga Lake. From there, take either state route 89 (west side) or state route 90 (east side) to Ithaca, NY, at the south end of Cayuga. (Actually, 90 south to 34B junction in King Ferry, NY, south to 34 in South Lansing, etc.)

Ithaca Area: In Ithaca, the amphitheater-like hills around the city offer some very unique views from "high above Cayuga's waters," as Cornell University's alma mater goes. You might even go to Cornell and ask to see the view out of the clock tower or from one of the taller buildings there. Ithaca College campus on the south hill offers some very good views as well. Ithaca has a lot of worthwhile attractions and some good eateries as well. *

Ithaca area parks: Taughannock (tuh-gaen-ik) Falls State Park: ". . . the 215 foot falls plunges through a rock amphitheater whose walls reach nearly 400 feet."
-Robert H. Treman State Park (Enfield Glen - upper and lower): "Beautiful falls with swimming in pool below. Diving board, lifeguards, safe and spectacular. Hike in Enfield Glen through post-glacial gorge to 115 foot high Lucifer Falls." and "Enfield Glen is the scenic highlight of this park. This is an area of rustic beauty with craggy gorges and winding trails."
- Buttermilk Falls State Park: "Buttermilk Creek descends more than 500 feet in a series of cascades and rapids. A natural pool at the base of Buttermilk Falls provides swimming with the feel of an old swimming hole."

Scenic Routes:
Starting east to west, especially scenic are roads like: route 41 or 41A along the east and west shores and banks of Skaneateles Lake; route 38A and Rockefeller Road along the east shore of Owasco Lake between Auburn and Moravia or route 38 along the west side; state route 90 and 34B along the east shore of Cayuga Lake between Montezuma and Ithaca or route 89 along the west side of Cayuga Lake between Seneca Falls and Ithaca; route 14 along the west side of Seneca Lake between Geneva and Watkins Glen; route 54 along the east side of Keuka lake, or 54A along the west shore...

"Route 414 down to Watkins takes you through Amish and other farms country. I know my granddaughters enjoyed looking at homes and farms that had no electricity and other modern equipment and seeing lots of horses!"

Otisco Lake: (oh-tis-go) Probably one of the most well hidden and distinctly beautiful mini-lakes is Otisco lake, tucked nicely out of view just east of Skaneateles Lake. Traveling south out of Skaneateles along the eastside of the lake on route 41, you eventually get to route 174 near Bordino, NY, which takes you to Otisco Lake. A dreamy little storybook lake with a cute little town called Amber. This little lake could be likened to the Finger Lakes' little "pinky finger."

Otsego: (aht-see-go) Further east, and well worth the trip if you have time, is Otsego Lake, with Cooperstown on the south end, home of the James Fenimore Cooper Mansion, the Farmers Museum and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Routes 31 and 80 flank the Lake. The best bet for getting to Cooperstown is take the NYS Thruway, get off at the Ilion-Mokawk-Herkimer exit and head south on route 28 (state route 20 goes just north of the lake, but it is a killer route). Otsego Lake is located far east of the actual Finger Lakes region (actually out of the region itself).

Owasco Lake: (uh-waas-go) Located between Moravia and Auburn New York. The view along E Lake Rd and Rockefeller Rd is best viewed driving north to south in my opinion. Either the west side (rte 38) or east side (take N. Main Street to Rockefeller Rd.) offer great views. The east side road is named Rockefeller Road, after John D. He was born in Harford Mills, NY, 37 miles south of Niles on route #38 and moved there (Niles vicinity) with his mother." JDR's mom was born and raised in Niles/New Hope area, northeast of Moravia. One of the best views of Owasco Lake is a well-kept secret. Take Tollgate Hill road off route 38 at the south end of Moravia. (It climbs towards the south and empties on to State route 90 in the hills between Locke and Homer, NY.) If you go up past the golf course and look back, you a will be looking back up the valley and beholding a magnificent view of Owasco lake.

Keuka Lake:(cuke-kuh) Keuka lake's Bluff Point (in the crotch of the "Y" on Keuka lake) offers a beautiful panoramic view and has a lot of history associated with it.

Seneca Lake: (cen-uh-kuh) Seneca Lake is the deepest of the Finger Lakes with a depth of 618 feet. The park at the north end of the lake at Geneva used to be really nice. Watkins Glen State Park in Watkins Glen, NY, at the south end of Seneca Lake is breathtaking with its trails and pathways down through the high but narrow ravines and cascading gorges.

Cayuga Lake: ("Q"-guh) Cayuga Lake is purported to be the longest of the Finger Lakes.

Skaneateles Lake: (skinny-atlas) Skaneateles Lake, with its white-sailed boats and deep blue waters, was called "the most beautiful body of water in the world" by William Henry Seward, after a trip around the world as President Lincoln's secretary of state. It is about 15 miles east of Owasco Lake (take state route 20 -- Genesee St -- east out of Auburn). Skaneateles, NY, on the north end is an upscale quiet little town and bedroom community for Syracuse executive types. And, to quote Laurel A (chips Mom) again, ". . . Skaneateles . . . quaint stores filled with typical tourist stuff, and the people love it, . . . and they are all having a good time. The Crowded streets have Horse drawn carriages, Plaid, Red and greenery is seen everywhere even on the Gazebo overlooking the lake.


Oliver House Museum Located in Penn Yan on Main Street, a few blocks from the courthouse. They have a research room with a card file on many residents of the area, compiled by an individual who wanted to preserve this information for posterity. The research room is quite small, so you may want to call ahead to reserve a time (315-536-7318, or e-mail: yeghs@linkny.com). I believe they request a small donation ($5-$10) from visitors. *

Cornell University (recommended several times) has a collection of regional history, etc. that would be of interest to any genealogist.

Coe-Genung Funeral Home: located in Waterloo. Mr. Roderick Coe is a wonderful person who assisted me in family genealogy information. They have been in the area since 1852 and are pro-genealogy. They are located on 46 West Main Street, Waterloo, NY and if you'd like to call ahead his number is 315-539-2931.

Township Offices: You'll want to check the respective Township Offices for vital records. They're still kept locally in NY State. Check the NYGenWeb county sites for information on the local offices. http://www.rootsweb.com/~nygenweb will take you to the main site for NY and links for all counties.

Mormon Center: It is just off of route 96 (in Fayette, Seneca Co.) and well marked. Located on the Peter Whitmer Farm where the Mormon Church originated. You can have a free tour of the center and the reconstructed log home showing life in the early 1800s in the area. The Family History Library is in a separate building on the grounds.

Seneca County Court House: Located in Waterloo
Check the NYGenWeb county sites for information on the local courts. http://www.rootsweb.com/~nygenweb will take you to the main site for NY and links for all counties.

Seneca Falls Historical Society

Penn Yan Library

Waterloo Historical Society: Tel: 315-539-3313

Interlaken Library: On Main street has a wonderful genealogy section. They have a lot of info on the cemeteries, and church records and local family genealogy and much, much more.


"Rent-A-Wreck" company in Auburn, NY (10-15 miles east of Seneca Falls along 5 & 20) has some great deals by the day, week or month. They will even come and deliver the car to you and/or pick you up free of charge. (They drove to Geneva to pick me up, a 30 mile trip one way from Auburn).


Historical Building: Located in Montour Falls on Route 14.

Cooperstown: About 8-10 miles long, Cooperstown, a clean model little period hamlet, is located on the south end ofOtsego Lake. Cooperstown looks like the towns in Disney World. It is the home of America's first novelist, James Fenimore Cooper and the Baseball Hall of Fame. Along with these attractions is the Farmers Museum (which now has as an American Indian Wing). These are a MUST-SEE. You can take your pick. Although it will cost a bit for admission, you will never ever regret it. If you like endless roller coaster ride hills take State route 20 east, but I suggest taking the NYS Thruway east and exiting at the Mohawk/Herkimer exit and taking 28 south to 20 east and 80 south along the lake. http://www.cooperstown.net/nysha

Fenimore House: "Fenimore House Museum (James Fenimore Cooper's lakeside expansive mansion) is a showcase for American folk art and fine art, historic photographs, and items associated with America's first novelist, James Fenimore Cooper. Daily tours and media shows are offered, as are special events and lectures..."

Farmers' Museum: "The Farmers' Museum is an outdoor site that features rural life and trades of the mid-1800s. The museum presents the story of the settlement of upstate New York through exhibits, a working farmstead, and the Village Crossroads, an important collection of buildings representing an 1845 hamlet. Blacksmiths, weavers, printers and other craftspeople eagerly share the past and welcome questions from visitors of all ages..."

Sonnenberg Gardens: Located in Canandaigua, is a wonderful place to visit. It is an old Victorian Home, available for tours, with fabulous gardens. Sonnenberg Gardens

The Granger Homestead: Located on North Main St in Canandaigua is a beautiful federal style mansion if you like touring old homes. In the carriage house is a collection of my grandfather's wagons, farm equipment and a hearse (he was an undertaker).


Welcome to the Finger Lakes A great site to find all kinds of information on travel in the Finger Lakes. Also has links to the wine trails.

Geneva Area Chamber of Commerce

HotelsTravel.com - Hotel Information

Welcome to New York State

Ontario Co. Archives


Wegmans Grocery Store: If you are not from the NY/PA area, be sure to check out Wegmans grocery store right on Route 5&20. My family has worked for the company for generations. They actually bring tour busses to some of the stores! There are over 60 stores in the chain now, but apparently, there isn't anything like them anywhere else.

Lown's House of Shoppers: Located in Penn Yan. "It operates on the consignment basis and you will find many unique gifts which you might not not find elsewhere. Many of them are made by the Mennonites in the area."

Nest Egg: Located in Penn Yan just a few doors down the street from Lown's House of shoppers. This is a shop worth visiting.

The Windmill: "On Saturday morning, go north on Route 14 and take the turn for Dundee and Penn Yan. It's about 15 miles or so to the Windmill. It's a big farmers market-flea market. Amish baked goods and hand made items. It's absolutely wonderful."

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