Can’t put your finger on your next group travel destination? Look no further than the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. While the region is known, unsurprisingly, for its lakes, it also offers an expansive list of fun activities for everyone in the group. “When [visitors] leave, I want them to feel like they’ve had the most highly customizable trip they’ve ever had of their lives,” says Jason Jordan, manager of social media and communications at the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance.
One of the Finger Lakes region’s main draws is its wine. While some might think of wine country being primarily on the West Coast, the Finger Lakes is actually the third-largest grape producer in the United States and is home to the largest variety of grapes and wine in the country. Travelers wishing to imbibe shouldn’t miss sipping a riesling, for which the region is world-renowned. The area’s wineries offer tastings of their popular and award-winning wines, as well as in-depth tours into the winemaking process. Groups can choose one or all of the region’s wine trails, including the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, and the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail.
Nothing pairs better with a glass of wine than a delicious meal, and this region is a foodie paradise. Area restaurants serve up a menu of hyperlocal and seasonal creations. Gather the group for a meal at the New York Kitchen’s restaurant overlooking Canandaigua Lake, F2T Kitchen & Bar in Geneva, or the newest restaurant, Sapalta at Plum Point Lodge in Himrod—all offering regional and seasonal menus.
With wine and food as some of the area’s top draws, it’s no surprise that farms are abundant in the Finger Lakes region. Beyond the vineyards and wineries, groups can visit many types of farms producing artisanal foods and products like cheese and ice cream. Groups can stop at the Lively Run Goat Dairy in Interlaken to see how its goat and cow cheeses are made and then taste the end product. For a sweet treat, take the group to Crosswinds Farm & Creamery in Rock Stream, which offers flavored milk and gelato.
‘After sipping, tasting, and dining, round out the group experience with outdoor recreation. In the Finger Lakes, there’s no shortage of options, as the region is home to 11 lakes, two of which are considered “wild,” or free from commercial buildings. Schedule a boat tour to get the full Finger Lakes experience. Additionally, the area is known for its waterfalls, sprinkled through 26 state parks, where groups can also enjoy hiking trails and scenic views. Letchworth State Park and Watkins Glen State Park are rated among the top in the country.
Written by Danielle Devota
Main Image: SUP Yoga at Canandaigua Lake; Credit: Visit Finger Lakes