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5 Reasons Why Winter Might Just Be The Best Time to Experience the Magic of the Finger Lakes


This is the perhaps the biggest (and best) secret of all.

While the remarkable lakes themselves, and the wine you’ll find being made around them, are among the biggest draws to the region (and why it is renowned as a world-class getaway destination), one inescapable byproduct of the expansive and magnificent landscape and the relaxed, slower pace of small town life is the way it makes you feel just being here. (Photo courtesy of: Brian Maloney)

That sense of relief that settles through your whole body. That sense of calmness and feeling of serenity experienced even when doing exhilarating activities is not something you can find in too many places and one of the main reasons folks who come here return year after year.

Sure it’s also about the wonderful things below. Those are all somewhat expected these days. They speak for themselves.

But it’s the restorative aspect of a visit to Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes that catches most people by surprise. Of course, now you have an advantage. You already know.

Best part. During wintertime, you can savor the bliss of slowing down without too many other folks around.

Whether you stop by a winery for a tasting or a museum for a little exploration, you might just feel like everything is open just for you. It’s not. Our wineries, breweries, museums, and shops are open to everyone all year long. But the intimacy of the experience and the likelihood that it’s the winemaker or brewer doing your tasting all certainly add to the wonderful sense of being in the right place.



Want a different view of  “wonderland?” We’ve got the perfect suggestion.

Why not visit the small town where Finger Lakes Wine Country first blossomed. And where it grew up and turned into an overnight sensation (after about 150 years of fine tuning). And where it continues to lead the way when it comes to extraordinary wines. (Heron Hill Riesling, photo courtesy of: Stu Gallagher)

Back in 1829, the first grapes in the region were planted in the small town of Hammondsport, near beautiful Keuka Lake. In 1860, the first winery in the region was founded, Pleasant Valley Wine Company, which a few years later became the first American winery to win a medal in Europe for its sparking wine.

Of course, it took another century for anyone to figure out how to grow viniefera grapes in the northeastern United States (the sort used to make fine wines like Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cab Franc). Guess where the Vinifera Revolution was sparked? Yep! In Hammondsort, thanks to Dr. Konstantin Frank. (Weis Vineyards Rustic Barn Tasting, photo courtesy of: Cagwin Photograhy)

Today, you can visit these historic wineries, as well as a dozen others located in Steuben County, learn the unique and impressive history, and sample some of the best wines being made. Anywhere!

And wintertime means no crowds. It means a more one-on-one experience. It means you can take your time and savor the experience.


Visitors in 2020 have been reminded about just how awesome the outdoor adventures are in the region.

With nearly 1,000 miles of hiking footpaths on the Finger Lakes Trail alone, as well as smaller local trails like Spencer Crest and the Houghton Land Preserve, this has been a year for people to walk through the wilderness and experience nature first hand.

Many of these very same hiking trails make for beautiful winter hikes. There’s something about breathing in the crisp fresh air on a winter day, and immersing yourself in the silence found in the woods, that makes a winter hike one of the most rewarding winter activities. It’s a chance to move, to experience solitude, and maybe even catch a glimpse of the diverse wildlife found throughout the region. (Finger Lakes Trail Hike, photo courtesy of: Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes)

And if there is snow, strap on your snow shoes or cross country skis for a whole other level of winter fun. (Winter Snow Shoeing at Spencer Crest, photo courtesy of Cagwin Photography)

Looking to add some great payoffs to your outdoor recreation, why not try some of the fun Adventure Pairings found on the Craft Your Adventure Trail. For example, enjoy an exhilarating winter hike along the Mitchellsville Gorge Trail followed by tasty brews at The Brewery of Broken Dreams. Or warm up with some delicious spirits at Krooked Tusker Distilling. There are over 30 craft beverage producers and over a dozen different outdoor adventure pairings on the CYA trail to choose from. Get the CYA app and make it even easier to enjoy winter.


One thing you learn from living here. Sometimes the coldest weather offers the most unusual experiences and the most spectacular sights.

Ice can bedazzle a landscape in such a way that it seems transformed into a truly fantastical setting. Even with gorge trails closed at state parks during winter, views from rim trails and even along the side of many roads can reveal frozen waterfalls that are truly captivating. (Ice Wine Grapes, photo courtesy of Finger Lakes Wine Country)

And while the larger lakes don’t usually freeze all the way, the northern and southern tips of Keuka Lake often do, as do smaller lakes like Waneta, Lamoka, and Loon Lake making them excellent spots for ice fishing and other winter sports. Though even if the water isn’t frozen solid, you can still get your fishing fix from the docks at Depot Park or along the shores of one of our four rivers. (Keuka Lake Winter Trout Fishing, photo courtesy of Bob Magee)

And let’s not forget the tastiest blessing ice offers. That’s right, we’re talking about Ice Wine.

Another bonus of cold weather, true ice wines require consecutive days of frigid temperatures which make conditions ripe for picking. And the few wineries that focus on ice wines, harvest by hand. They’re willing to take these extra steps to create some of the most delicious dessert wines around. Wineries like Heron Hill and Weis Vineyards are two of only a handful in the region that offer these speciality wines.

TURNING UP THE HEAT (We’re Talking Romance and Art)

There’s no sense feeling cooped up any more than you have to. Luckily, Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes doesn’t get all that lake-effect snow that people often associate with upstate New York. We tend to find winters much milder here than the northern reaches of the Finger Lakes region. Also, luckily for you, we’ve got one surefire way to turn up the heat that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

We’re talking The Corning Museum of Glass. The largest museum in the world devoted to glass with remarkable art and artifacts dating back over 3,500 years. CMoG, as it’s known locally, isn’t just an indoor space where you can keep warm. You’ll find yourself blown away by the historic and the contemporary displays of glass.  (Photo ~ Helen Tegeler courtesy of: The Corning Museum of Glass)

And each day there are live glassblowing performances by master artists who shape and transform molten glass (which is hotter than lava) right before your eyes. The best part, though, are the classes where you can make your own glass keepsake. Spots and projects are limited, so you need to sign up ahead of time.

Touring an art museum can be quite a sensory experience and very romantic. Keep that artistic spirit fresh with a visit to The Rockwell Museum just half-a-mile away and explore breathtaking paintings and renowned sculptures depicting the story of America. (Photo coursey of Cagwin Photography)

Talk about a great time for a romantic getaway. During winter, you’re more likely to get one of the spots for a glassblowing workshop. And there’s still incredible food to be devoured in Corning’s Gaffer District. Stop by The Cellar for a great meal and make your very own S’mores right at your table. Enjoy an extensive cocktail menu and craveable food at Hand + Foot or taste delicious hand-crafted brews at Liquid Shoes Brewing. (Liquid Shoes Brewing, photo courtesy of Cagwin Photography)

With the new Ageless Skin Bar, you can enjoy massages and other spa treatments on historic Market Street.  (Photo courtesy of: Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes)

Exceptional meals. Romantic strolls, shopping and sipping. Overnight in a beautiful B&B for the ultimate romantic getaway. There are so many ways to keep the sparks flying during winter.

(Photo Courtesy of: Cagwin Photography)

For more ideas, or to start planning your winter escape, visit

Article written and submitted by: Dave DeGolyer ~ Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes

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In this article:   Finger Lakes | ice fishing | winter | Pleasant Valley | The Cellar | Corning | Ageless Skin bar | craft trail | winter sports | Liquid shoes brwing | Corning Museum of Glaa | Keuka Lake | wineries |
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