Fall is the most popular time of year to visit Finger Lakes Wine Country for many reasons. Conveniently located 6 hours from Washington DC, 5 hours from New York City, and only 4 hours from Philadelphia, it's the perfect place to escape the big city buzz and ease into casual country living. This 3-day fall itinerary for Finger Lakes Wine Country allows you to taste the flavors of the region during harvest and explore the beauty of nature.
You can smell the grapes in the air as harvest season sets in. This is one of the most exciting times to visit to see the grape harvest in full swing. Fall foliage creates a speckled oasis of orange, red, and gold all around. Depending on the climate, the first grapes of harvest can be crushed as early as mid-August and can continue through November as varieties ripen. Some grapes used for ice wines can hang on the vine until the first frost, which gives them their name. With more than 100 wineries in the region to choose from, a great place to start planning is getting to know our Wine Trails.
Many of these businesses have seasonal hours. Some are only open Saturday and Sunday, so keep that in mind when utilizing this itinerary for a 3-day weekend.
Day 1: Harvest, History, and Wine
Depending on where you stay, there are a variety of choices for breakfast. Start your day at Amity Coffee Company in Penn Yan with a freshly-baked pastry or fuel up with a hearty breakfast bowl.
Next, hit the Keuka Outlet Trail, a seven-mile-long, multiple-use trail used for hiking, bicycling, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling in specific areas. You can also visit two waterfalls on this trail. Drive to Seneca Mills Falls then hike the relatively flat trail to Cascade Mills Falls for a 2.6-mile hike and morning leaf-peeping.
You’ll be exploring the Keuka Lake area today so freshen up and then grab lunch at Oak Leaf Cafe and choose from farm-fresh salads, sandwiches, and homemade soups.
After lunch, head to Keuka Spring Vineyards, recently awarded Best Red Wine at the New York State Wine & Food Classic for their 2021 Blaufrankisch. Take in their sweeping views of beautiful Keuka Lake while enjoying a guided standard tasting. Keuka Spring Vineyards is a member of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, as is Hunt Country Vineyard, the recipient of the 2020 Sustainability Award from the New York Wine & Grape Foundation for their sustainability practices. They have a portion of their vineyards certified organic and make several wines from their organic grapes.
After you explore the northern end of Keuka Lake, head down to one of the oldest wineries in the region, Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery. Dr. Konstantin Frank was the Ukrainian immigrant who revolutionized the winemaking landscape the region, successfully grafting European Vinifera grapes like Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir, to native rootstock. This historic achievement allowed the Finger Lakes to be a player on the world wine stage. Dr. Frank's offers a variety of tasting experiences, from the educational 1886 Tasting Experience to the casual atmosphere of Eugenia's Garden.
Just down the road is Heron Hill Winery. Known for their longtime commitment to sustainability, this estate winery has one of the most spectacular views in the region. With a variety of wines to try, we suggest trying their Ingle Vineyard series wines. Ingle Vineyard wines are crafted with great pride and passion, made from sustainably farmed, hand picked grapes grown at John and Josephine Ingle's estate. These high quality wines feature the top four Finger Lakes varietals produced at a single vineyard.
End your day at Union Block Italian at the Landing in Penn Yan where you can enjoy homemade Italian dishes, fresh-made pasta, and daily chef specials.
Day 2: Choose Your Own Adventure
There are plenty of Finger Lakes Wine Country farms that allow you to get your hands dirty and to do the work. U-pick farms are an opportunity to appreciate nature’s bounty from apples, berries, pumpkins, and a variety of other fruits and vegetables.
Begin your day with life-changing pancakes at Penn Yan Diner. This retro-licious old-school diner serves up flavorful food and a dose of nostalgia that allows you to take a step back in time.
Next, get ready to be blown away at the Corning Museum of Glass. Where you can explore 3,500 years of glassmaking history in the world’s largest collection of glass. Watch master glassblowers create art or even Make Your Own Glass pumpkin! For the best value, purchase a combo ticket to both the Corning Museum of Glass and The Rockwell Museum. The Rockwell Museum is a Smithsonian Affiliate American Art museum right in the heart of Corning's Gaffer District. The Gaffer District is home to a variety of shops, eateries, and galleries, and a perfect place to grab lunch and revel in quintessential small town charm. The best part? There is a free shuttle that loops between the museums and the Gaffer District.
Speaking of pumpkins, Smithome Farms Pumpkin Patch is the only local pumpkin patch that allows you to pick your pumpkin in the field. Enjoy a casual lunch of hot dogs, cider, fresh mini donuts, and kettle corn, along with a 3-acre corn maze, hayrides, and duck races for a day of family fun! Or take a scenic drive down to Iron Kettle Farm in Candor to enjoy their corn maze, hay rides, pumpkin displays, and much more!
Looking for unique ways to practice leaf peeping? Consider taking a Fall Foliage Glider Ride with Harris Hill Soaring Corporation for breathtaking aerial views. Named the #1 pick of Conde Nast Traveler’s list of Best Fall Foliage Adventures in the U.S., Harris Hill Soaring Corporation is open on the weekends after Labor Day until the end of October from 10 AM – 6 PM, weather permitting. Passenger weight limit is 245 pounds.
For dinner make your way to Ill Eagle Taphouse for a cool gastropub experience. Set in a historic former federal building you’ll find a mix of casual bites and an impressive beer list. Which spotlights the flavors of the season with their pumpkin beer flights.
Ready for a thrill? Tagsylvania in Big Flats is home to multiple haunted houses and other creep-tastic experiences just in time for spooky season.
Day 3: Leaf Peeping and Apple Picking
A crisp fall day is a perfect time to get grounded and explore the region on foot. From chasing waterfalls to picking Honeycrisp apples, your final day of exploring will be an active one!
Fuel up with a farm-fresh breakfast at Glen Mountain Bakery & Deli before a day of hiking and outdoor activity. Start your day at the gorgeous Gorge Trail in Watkins Glen State Park. With 19 waterfalls, caves, and stone bridges it’s clear why it was voted NY’s #1 state park by USA Today. The trail is 1.5 miles one way with over 800 stone stairs and tunnels chiseled through rock formations. Carve out at least two hours to complete this hike and expect to get wet. Wear comfortable hiking shoes and bring your camera!
Take a quick drive down to the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel and have lunch overlooking beautiful Seneca Lake at their Blue Pointe Grille. After lunch, get ready to take your pick of apples at Apples and Moore. With over 20 varieties available, stroll through fifty acres picking fruit with a wagon to haul them in. Fresh apple cider donuts are homemade every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Check in the store for apple cider, apple butter, jams, and jellies. Farm hours during harvest are 7-days a week 9:00 AM – 6:00 PM.
Continue your apple adoration at Graft Wine + Cider Bar. The only wine and cider bar in the area exclusively serving a variety of New York State hand-crafted wines, ciders, and beer. Simple, seasonal small-bites and snacks are served with the spirit of embracing all-things-local.
Rainy Day Suggestions:
When the weather isn’t cooperating there are still activities to experience in Finger Lakes Wine Country. Including these 5 Amazing Finger Lakes Museums to visit on a Rainy Day. Explore more of the region with a scenic drive. The Seneca Lake Scenic Byway will take you past wineries, cideries, distilleries, breweries, restaurants, and farms. Allowing for some great stops along the way. It also has great places to watch the sunset overlooking Seneca Lake.
If you’re feeling lucky head to Tioga Downs Casino for slots, Blackjack, Roulette or, Texas Hold’em. There are also 7 different restaurant and bar options to choose from. If you’re craving a taste of the city, go have a steak at NYC’s famous steakhouse PJ Clarke's.