The 8 Best Reasons To Visit the Southern Finger Lakes

Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes has everything you could want out of a Finger Lakes getaway. There is the charming city of Corning, world-class museums, incredible wineries, breweries, and lake views that will leave you breathless. From sipping on a glass (or two) of Finger Lakes wine, experiencing some outdoor adventures, or meandering through Corning’s Gaffer District, there is no shortage of activities to keep you busy.

After visiting Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes on various trips, I always find something new to discover. There are constantly reasons to visit. You could plan an entire trip centered around the city of Corning or spends days exploring the wineries and lake activities of Keuka Lake. Or, to get the whole experience of what the Southern Finger Lakes has to offer, spend some time doing it all! And the best part about this region is that there is truly something for everyone.

Stony Brook State Park in the Southern Finger Lake

Where is the Southern Finger Lakes Region?

Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes is an area or subregion of the Finger Lakes. Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes, also known as Steuben County, encompasses a substantial area of the Finger Lakes, with varying landscapes. This area includes Keuka Lake, Stony Brook State Park, the Chemung River, the city of Corning, and the charming town of Hammondsport.

This area is, as the name suggests, in the southern portion of the Finger Lakes region. It straddles the border of Pennsylvania and is nearby to both Tompkins and Schuyler county.

Point of the Bluff Vineyard

Getting Around the Southern Finger Lakes

To truly experience all that this area has to offer, you will need a car. A car is the easiest way to get around to the wineries and other experiences that are outside of Corning.

As for public transportation, Corning is only assessable by bus. If you choose to take a bus, you can get by in Corning without a car. However, you will need to rent a vehicle to visit the wineries and outdoor recreation spots for the day.

Reasons to Visit Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

Stony Brook State Park

Stony Brook State Park includes some of the best waterfalls in the Finger Lakes. This state park features three main waterfalls and a gorgeous gorge trail. The Gorge Trail is relatively easy to hike and is an excellent addition to your trip to Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes.

Stony Brook State Park in the Southern Finger Lake

Aside from the sheer beauty of this park, Stony Brook State Park is quite underrated compared to some of the other gorge trails in the Finger Lakes region. You can truly appreciate the park’s beauty without the hordes of visitors that some of the other parks in the region attract.  

In addition to hiking along the gorge trail, Stony Brook State Park also has a roped-off swimming area. Stony Brook has one of the best swimming holes in New York!

Stony Brook State Park in the Southern Finger Lake

Keuka Lake Wineries

The Keuka Lake wineries are some of the best in the Finger Lakes region. The list of wineries on Keuka Lake includes the oldest winery in the Finger Lakes, Pleasant Valley, the winemaker who ignited the Vinifera Revolution, Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, and new wineries such as Weis Vineyards and Point of the Bluff Vineyard that are changing the course of winemaking in the Finger Lakes.

Point of the Bluff Vineyard

Point of the Bluff Vineyard

Point of the Bluff Vineyard

Point of the Bluff Vineyard

The wineries on Keuka Lake are well worth a visit, whether you are having a wine tasting or sipping on a glass of wine with beautiful views of the vineyards and Keuka Lake. The wineries of Keuka Lake have some of the best views.

Weis Vineyards

Weis Vineyards

Weis Vineyards

If you can’t make it to the wineries on Keuka Lake or are looking to try even more wine from the Finger Lakes, be sure to check out FLX Provisions.

FLX Provisions is a wine and culinary experience in Corning. While I believe you should check out some of the wineries in the area, FLX Provisions is a great way to try various wines from different wineries throughout the region; in a sense, here you are getting a taste of the Finger Lakes wine.  

FLX Provisions in Corning FLX Provisions in Corning FLX Provisions in Corning

Lake Activities

Experiencing Keuka Lake is one of the top reasons to visit the Southern Finger Lakes. Due to its unique shape and the plethora of vantage points, Keuka Lake is considered one of the most beautiful of the Finger Lakes. There are so many ways to enjoy Keuka Lake. You can take in the views with a scenic drive or from one of the many wineries.

Keuka Lake

For the whole experience of Keuka Lake, spend some time near the water with water activities or lakeside dining. 

    • Visit the beach
    • Do water sports
    • Enjoy lakeside dining
    • Take a seaplane

One of the best spots for dinner is Snug Harbor, a wonderful Keuka Lake restaurant. Be sure to come for dinner and drinks at sunset. My recommendation is the seafood diablo, it was delicious.

Snug Harbor on Keuka Lake

Corning’s Gaffer District

The Gaffer District is the downtown area of Corning, which includes the beautiful tree-lined Main street, where you find various shops and restaurants. The Gaffer District has a small-town charm with a big city feel. While this area is relatively small, it has a lot to offer.

Corning Gaffer District

This district has over 50 shops and 45 dining options. There are plenty of things to see and eat while roaming through the Gaffer District. Exploring the Gaffer District is one of the best things to do in Corning.

Corning Gaffer District Corning Gaffer District

Amazing Museums

Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes has some of the most incredible museums in New York. These museums include the Corning Museum of Glass, the Curtis Museum, and the Rockwell Museum.

The Corning Museum of Glass is a must-visit while in Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes. Visiting the Corning Museum of Glass is reason enough to plan a trip to this area. This museum features various exhibits on glass, including contemporary art pieces and pieces from historical collections. Additionally, there are interactive experiences at the Corning Museum of Glass. Here you can watch glass blowing demonstrations, and you can even Make Your Own Glass!

Corning Museum of Glass

Located in Corning is the Rockwell Museum, which is a Smithsonian affiliate museum. The Rockwell Museum showcases artwork depicting the American experience.

In Hammondsport, you’ll discover the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, a transportation museum focusing on its namesake Glenn H. Curtiss, a famous aviator from the Finger Lakes.

Unique Food and Beverage Trails

In addition to the wine trails that this region is known for, other trails may tempt you to visit the Southern Finger Lakes...and I’m not talking about hiking trails. In addition to the Keuka Wine Trail, three other trails in this region are dedicated to food and beverages. 

Craft beverage lovers can drink their way through the region with Craft Your Adventure, the Southern Finger Lakes beverage trail, including breweries, cideries, and distilleries. I stopped at Liquid Shoes Brewery in Corning for its great beer and even better ambiance.

Iron Flamingo Brewery

Liquid Shoes  Brewery

Iron Flamingo Brewery

Liquid Shoes Brewery

And if you’re hungry, there is the Steuben Burger Trail and the Steuben Ice Cream Trail. You probably won’t be able to stop at all these locations on one visit to the Southern Finger Lakes, but these trails serve as an excellent guide to keep on hand if you’re looking for the best spots to grab a burger or ice cream. I can attest to Butcher’s Sons from the Burger Trail, and Dippity Do Dahs from the Ice Cream Trail.

Butcher's Sons burger in Corning NY

Butcher’s Sons

Farm Experiences

Perhaps it’s the fact that I’ve lived in cities and suburbs my whole life, but I love a good farm experience. And Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes have plenty of ways to have a unique farm experience. These experiences are more involved than simply stopping on the side of the road to view the cows and horses from your car ( which I do every time I’m driving through the countryside).

Take a self-drive tour of Mud Creek Bison Ranch to view bison. This was a great way to get a close-ish encounter of the bison while still maintaining a safe distance from the comforts of your own car. Or try your hand at some goat yoga to get an up-close and personal experience with farm animals.

Mud Creek Bison Ranch Sovona NY Mud Creek Bison Ranch Sovona NY

If you love fresh produce or simply love the atmosphere of a good farmers’ market, the Southern Finger Lakes has farmers markets to boot! The Corning Farmers Market is next to Centennial Park, which is the perfect backdrop to browse for produce or grab a donut. One of my favorite experiences in the Southern Finger Lakes was at the Point of the Bluff Farm Market, which combined a farmer’s market, live music at the winery.

Corning Farmers Market

Corning Farmers Market

Point of the Bluff Farm Market

Point of the Bluff Farm Market

Fun Activities for Everyone

The things to do in the Southern Finger Lakes are seemingly endless. There are so many activities to do, attractions to visit, and towns to discover. And there is truly something everyone will enjoy in this area. When you’re not visiting museums or sipping on wine at the vineyards, sprinkle in some of these favorite fun activities that will truly bring your trip to the next level.

    • Mini Golf– If you’re looking for a fun way to spend some time in Corning, check out Park Avenue Sports Center. There is a fantastic mini-golf course here that is well worth a visit. In addition to Mini Golf, there is also a driving range, batting cages, and water wars.
  • Mini Golf at Park Ave Sporting Center Corning 
    • Pottery– If your artistic skills weren’t tested enough while glass blowing, try another hands-on experience such as pottery at heART Studios. Pottery is such a unique activity to add to your trip, and you get to bring home your creation as a reminder of your time in the Southern Finger Lakes.

Pottery at heART Studios in Corning

Where to Stay in the Southern Finger Lakes

If you’re visiting the Southern Finger Lakes, the best place to base yourself in is Corning. Corning has plenty of accommodations and is centrally located within the region. Corning also has a wide variety of things to do and dining options.

Here are a couple of hotel options in Corning:

Hilton Garden Inn Corning Downtown

I stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Corning Downtown on my recent stay and thought it was such an ideal location. The hotel is located adjacent to Corning Museum of Glass and is within walking distance to downtown Corning.

This new, modern hotel also has stunning views of the Chemung River. 

Check Rates | Read Reviews 

Hilton Garden Inn Corning Downtown

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