Southern Tier Balloon Tours

Spring Break is a great reason to escape to Finger Lakes Wine Country. The region is abuzz as the gardens begin to bloom and the vineyards are groomed and pruned. This Finger Lakes Spring Break Adventure Guide has great suggestions for your group gatherings and family trips. Including maple tastings, waterfall chasing, hot air balloon rides, bird watching, and more. 

Finger Lakes Wine Country has so much to offer groups of all sizes and people of all ages. Including three distinct Wine Trails that are open year-round, but really begin to sparkle in the spring. Just don’t forget to pack your rain boots and a few warm layers. April showers truly do bring May flowers and the vegetation in our local farms and vineyards. 

Finger Lakes Wine Country has many charming small towns to visit during your trip. Spend your mornings in our local coffee shops and bakeries, visit our museums and galleries, and enjoy the flavors of our region at local restaurants. Find even more suggestions in the Spring Travel Guide to Finger Lakes Wine Country



In the spring ice and snowmelt bring our waterfalls to life! It’s a great time to witness one of the region's greatest attractions, waterfalls. Driving along the east side of Seneca Lake on Route 414 you'll see a magical, cascading waterfall called Hector Falls. Hiking the Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park your group will get to witness 19 majestic waterfalls along the trail. Use the Finger Lakes Wine Country Waterfall Guide to help you plan your waterfall visits.

Maple Tastings
maple syrup season in the spring

If you’re visiting in early Spring, you can taste some of nature’s candy during maple syrup season. Many of our region’s farms and orchards produce pure maple syrup, and you not only get to sample this season’s tasty syrup but also bring it back home. Find maple syrup and more local ingredients to take home at some of our Farmer’s Markets and Farm Stores, like Parluski’s Farms in Bath, Chamberlain Acres Farmer’s Market in Elmira, Oak Hill Bulk Foods, and Apple Barrel Orchards in Penn Yan and be sure to visit Tioga County and explore their Maple Trail too!


Finger Lakes Wine Country has a rich connection to arts, culture, and history. We are proud to have some incredible cultural institutions and museums. Find the world’s most comprehensive collection of glass and glass-blowing demonstrations at the immersive and interactive Corning Museum of Glass. Which might look familiar if you watch Netflix’s competition series Blown Away. Your group can observe over 50,000 glass objects representing more than 3,500 years of history, or participate in a class or workshop. 

Visit the Corning Museum of Glass

The Rockwell Museum in Corning is the only Smithsonian Affiliate museum in upstate New York. Visitors to The Rockwell explore the people, land, and ideas that shape the nation through the eyes of American artists. Visit the KIDS ROCKWELL Art Lab, just around the corner from the Museum on Market Street, for fun, unplugged play if you’re traveling with little ones.

There are even more art galleries and museums that showcase the beauty of our growing community of artists. These are a great rainy day option, but we’re sure that they will complement your trip, regardless of the weather.

Tioga Gardens

Stop and take in the spring blooms at one of our local gardens. Stroll through 11 greenhouses at  Tioga Gardens in Owego. The Nursery is fully stocked with fruiting trees and shrubs. The “Glasshouse” is home to houseplants from Venus fly traps to 10-foot tall palms, orchids, bonsai, succulents, and more. Spring is a great time to bring home fresh-cut flowers or a new houseplant. 

Horseback Riding

One of the most unique ways for your group to see the region is on horseback. Your family can do a small group ride at Painted Bar Stables in Burdett, New York. Children 10 years or older are allowed to do trail rides, while children ages 8 and 9 are required to ride in a Trail Experience Lesson before trail riding. 

Painted Bar Stables also offers the only horseback-mounted vineyard tour in the Finger Lakes. The Vineyard Ride takes you on a scenic tour of the orchards and forest peaking with a breathtaking view of Seneca Lake. Upon dismount enjoy wine tasting, local bites, and walk away with a bottle of wine to drink at a later time. Visit our small-town guide for Watkins Glen for more ideas nearby before or after your horseback riding adventure.

Bird Watching
little boy taking a break from bird watching

Finger Lakes Wine Country is a haven for great blue herons, sandhill cranes, osprey, snow geese, wild turkeys, many species of songbirds, and even bald eagles. Some great places to visit for bird watching include Cold Brook Wildlife Management Area in Hammondsport, Urbana State Forest and Italy Hill State Forest off of Keuka Lake, Tanglewood Nature Center in Elmira, Brick Pond wetlands in Owego, Spencer Crest Nature Center in Corning, and the Finger Lakes National Forest between Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake.

Hot Air Balloon

Create a core memory for your group with a hot air balloon ride! Southern Tier Balloon Tours offers a year-round Owego experience that allows you to see get an aerial view of the region. This adventure is safe for little ones 5 and above. Prices start at $280 for kids, and $340 for adults, and private flights are available. 

*Passenger weight limit: 235 pounds each. For individuals over 235 pounds call for more details. 

Looking for more reasons to bring your family? Start with these fun Kid-Friendly Wineries + Activities in Finger Lakes Wine Country. Then check out this list of Free Things To Do In Finger Lakes Wine Country.


Wineries + Breweries 
spring blooms in the vineyards in Finger Lakes Wine Country

Finger Lakes Wine Country is the largest wine-producing region on the east coast with three different wine trails. Spring is a great time to visit our region’s celebrated wineries and tasting rooms offering award-winning aromatic white varietals, like Riesling and Gewürztraminer, as well as cooler-climate reds, including Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.

Lakeside Wagner Brew

Our scenic region offers a myriad of craft beverage options, including incredible breweries like Wagner Valley Brewing and Horseheads Brewing; distilleries like Finger Lakes Distilling, and Krooked Tusker Distillery; and even cideries like Eve’s Cidery.



In Corning, you’ll find the bright and modern Quincy Exchange, an American Bistro bringing fresh and some locally sourced fare to the historic Gaffer District. Make a reservation for dinner Wednesday - Sunday 5 - 8 PM. Or reserve a spot for Weekend Brunch where you can enjoy delicious brunch bites like Crab Benedict and Bread Pudding French Toast.

Women Having Lunch

If you’re traveling with a small group, GRAFT Wine + Cider Bar in Watkins Glen has a private room upstairs that’s perfect for you. Not only does chef and owner, Orlando Rodriguez highlight local producers with a rotating, seasonally focused bar and kitchen menu. GRAFT Wine + Cider Bar is the only wine and cider bar in the area exclusively serving a variety of New York State hand-crafted wines, ciders, and beer.

The people, the food, and the renovated location make Rye Bar and Restaurant in Elmira, New York the perfect place for friends & family to come together and have a great time. The bar and restaurant have been designed with individual touches unique to the region. The menu has items for all ages to enjoy. 

Located under the charming bridge on Liberty Street, Outlet 111 is Penn Yan, New York's hidden gem. Named after its unique spot on the outlet trail connecting Keuka Lake and Seneca Lake, this restaurant takes pride in curating a wine list that showcases the Finger Lakes region and highlights the talent of women producers. Currently serving an upscale pub fare-style menu, Outlet 111 prides itself on serving only the freshest ingredients for a culinary journey that promises to deliver. 


Family Friendly 

The Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, in Watkins Glen, New York was named America’s Most Beautiful Waterfront Hotel by USA Today readers. As the area's only AAA Four Diamond property, some of the amenities include spacious guest rooms and suites, an indoor swimming pool and hot tub, and a fully-equipped fitness center. Your family can also enjoy a meal on-site at the Blue Pointe Grille restaurant. 

Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel

This is the area's only AAA Four Diamond property and is within walking distance of Watkins Glen State Park, the most famous State Park in the region. It’s home to 19 waterfalls and 9 great walking trails.

Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen, New York is a bed and breakfast and shelter where you can bond with the rescued animals and enjoy a home-cooked vegan breakfast every morning. The 275-acre Watkins Glen farm is home to more than 600 rescued cows, pigs, turkeys, and other farm animals. The accommodations include 3 tiny houses and cozy cabins with shared bathrooms within walking distance. 

dog friendly hotel

There’s no need to leave your fur baby home, Finger Lakes Wine Country is extremely pet-friendly when it comes to accommodations and activities. Two pet-friendly properties near the Keuka Lake Wine Trail include the Best Western Plus Vineyard Inn & Suites and the 4 bedroom 2 bathroom House of Vines in Penn Yan. The House of Vines is located across the street from the Keuka Outlet Trail which has a paved walking path for walking or running with your pup. 

Group Stays 

If you prefer to rent a family-friendly vacation property take a look at the charming Seneca Lake Effect, situated on the eastern shore of Seneca Lake. This more than 4,000 square foot ranch-style house offers 6 bedrooms, 6.5 bathrooms, and full lake views throughout the common area. The recently renovated basement rec room offers a pool table, ping pong, foosball and a movie projection theater featuring a 122” screen and Dolby surround sound. 

Seneca Lake Effect

Blue Heron Shores Estate is just minutes away from award-winning wineries and lakefront restaurants on the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. This beautiful 6-bedroom estate features a main house and a boat house. Here your group will enjoy a hot tub, a pool table, an outdoor stone fireplace, and spectacular views. 

Stay + Play

The thirty-room Inn at Glenora offers stunning views and an atmosphere of simple elegance that make your stay a perfect soothing getaway. Beyond wine, you can enjoy regional cuisine, featuring seasonal, locally sourced menus, at Veraisons Restaurant, located at the Inn.

The Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars

The Inn at Grist Iron in Burdett, New York is the only lodging in the region to feature an onsite craft brewery, Grist Iron Brewing Company. Choose from 4 rooms in their traditional-style 1860s Farmhouse or stay in one of 10 spacious suites in The Lodge, which offers rustic, yet modern accommodations including their dog-friendly rooms. 

As a reminder: At most places well-behaved and well-supervised children are the norm. The suggested places are family-friendly, but kids can’t explore on their own. Feel free to explore these locations with your child and point out fun new things, but please don’t let them roam on their own.