Summer Seneca Lake Finger Lakes Trip

I recently got back from my 4th trip to the Finger Lakes region and feel like it is my DUTY to share this little slice of heaven with you all again! If you live within reasonable driving distance to this wine country in Upper State New York - you NEED to add it to your bucket list of places to visit.  After four trips, I still can't get enough of the region!  William and I had such a fun trip over the 4th of July so I thought I would share everything we hit up on our trip in case you want to plan your own visit!

We decided to drive up on Wednesday night, the day before July 4th and stayed in the Corning/Elmira area of New York which made it about a 3.5 hour drive for us from the Philly suburbs which was feasible to fit in after work.  When we got up Thursday morning then the bulk of our driving was done and we were ready to enjoy our vacation! We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Corning which had a GREAT breakfast buffet.  We ate up and then drove just about a half hour North to go hiking at Watkins Glen State Park. This park is SO beautiful: it has various gorges and waterfalls that you are able to hike through that were all formed by glaciers years ago.  It costs $8 bucks to park, but the views and nature is completely worth it.  

We hiked the "Gorge Trail" which had the most views of all of the water falls and other sites.  
We parked at the South Entrance and hiked down and then back up the Gorge Trail in just under an hour.  There are steps to climb and some slippery terrain, but overall it is not a super strenuous hike.  If you want a little more of a workout: we hiked Robert Treman State Park on our last trip and THAT was a hike!!!

It was still a great way to fit a little exercise in at the beginning of our trip with some gorgeous views along the way. At one point in the hike you actually walk right behind a water fall - you are so close that you can reach out and touch it! This park is definitely a must-do for your trip.

After hiking, we drove directly up north the Western side of Seneca Lake the to Air BnB we rented.  We were lucky enough to find a guest house on Air Bnb which was basically a bungalow directly behind a home on the lake for a pretty cheap rate.  We had access to the dock which was right on the lake which had the most BEAUTIFUL views.  It was my favorite spot to hang out! Unfortunately I do know the rental recently changed hands and the dock access is not normally available for those only renting the bungalow (and not the main house) but here is a link to where we stayed regardless.
You can sign up for Air BnB here to check out other rentals - I've found that to be a better option than staying in a hotel for this region.

We didn't stay at the dock too long though - after showing and getting ready it was time to hit up the wine trail!  We drove back down South on Seneca Lake to the furthest winery I wanted to visit that day (and by furthest it was only 20 minutes away - that's how close you can stay to wineries in this area!) which was Hermann J. Wiemer winery.  This is one the oldest and most established wineries in the Finger Lakes region and they are very well known for their Reislings. Hermann J. Wiemer was actually seen as being a major pioneer of viticulture and wine making in the Finger Lakes and it definitely shows in the wine! We were able to do their tasting flight for $8 at a private table in the winery and had a great experience.  I think this first stop was our most expensive stop of the trip in terms of how much wine we bought to take home...but it's honestly a great place to stock up with on quality wine so it was worth it!

Next up we went north just under 10 minutes away to Miles Winery. This was my first visit to this winery and I wanted to visit it since it is located directly on Seneca lake and is supposed to have stunning views for miles, as the name suggests! This winery actually has some pretty cool history and the tasting room is inside an a very old building that has some pretty crazy ghost stories attached to it.  Go read a few on their website - it legit just gave me goose bumps!!! Luckily for us we tasted in the middle of the day and had no ghost encounters ;)

I will say I wasn't not extremely impressed with the tasting room (pretty cramped and cluttered) and wasn't crazy about too many of the wines (I did enjoy the Cashe' bubbly wine though). What makes this winery worth the visit though is that they actually have a boat bar right on the lake! You can walk out the dock to a little bar where you can order beer, wine, and a few wine cocktails and then sit on the dock and enjoy the views. You can actually arrive by boat to the bar too - they have a bunch of places to tie boats up and there were many people there when we visited relaxing with some packed lunches and wine.

After two wineries, Bae was ready for some beer on his first day of vacation. On the way down to Hermann J. Wiemer we passed brewery I had never heard of called Climbing Bines Hop Farm & Brewery so on the way back towards our house we decided to stop in to check it out. It was BUSY and a really cool little place! Will tried a flight of 8 different beers and liked a bunch of them.  Since I don't like beer I tried their cider but it ended up being to dry and hoppy for my taste (it IS a hop farm after all) so I switched to some local wine. They had cans of Sparkly Catawba wine from Lakewood Vineyards there as well - if you like sweeter things and not beer that would be your best bet :).  They also had an AWESOME food truck there that we ordered some lunch from.  I just had to laugh - while we were waiting for our food and enjoying our drinks we started talking to another couple next to us.  We talked about jobs and hobbies and somehow my instagram account came up.  We were trying to explain to a slightly older couple how I had a larger instagram account on health and wellness, when a woman from the couple next to them butted in and said - "oh yeah! I thought that was you - I follow you!" And then I proceeded to go pick up our food and walk back to our table with mac and cheese and fried soft pretzels after explaining I was a "wellness influencer..." HAH! I always preach that there is a balance to be had in life though...and that definitely includes lots of carbs and cheezy goodness when you are out wine tasting all day!!!

After Climbing Bines we decided to stop at one last winery that was right on the way back to our Air BnB: Fox Run Vineyards. I had been to this winery once before and I forgot how much I enjoyed it! It's a pretty large winery and I like a lot of the wine.  You can pick between doing a dryer flight or a sweeter flight for a tasting and I LOVED the Ruby Vixen sweeter blush wine.

This was a perfect winery to end at and one I would definitely recommend spending some time at- more than just a tasting.  They have a big deck right off the winery that overlooks the lake that is the perfect spot to crack open a bottle and relax with. They are also open to 6PM while most wineries close at 5PM. As an extra plus: they also have a cafe where bae ordered some kind of buffalo tacos that were SO good that we inhaled them before even getting a picture ;)

Finally, we made our way back to our Air BnB and headed out to our dock to relax for the rest of the night. We got EXTREMELY lucky with our rental: it was located in a little community of homes on Seneca Lake and since it was the Fourth of July still, many of them were hosting parties! One party had hired a local acoustic artist to play music for their party which we got to enjoy from our dock, and then our immediate next door neighbors saw us sitting out on the dock and actually invited us to come to their party! They had a huge set up with tents, chairs, food and wine and a major firework show planned. The people in the Finger Lakes region are SO KIND - we have always had great experiences with everyone we met.  This is a perfect example of how hospitable they are. Well, that and mayyybbbeeeee a small liability issue too because if we were still on our dock when they set their firework show off from the dock next to ours, we totally could have been shot by a stray firework LOL.

Anyway - like I said we lucked and out were able to bring some of our wine purchases from the day over and mingle with the crowd and relax and enjoy the party.  Mother nature showed up with a stunning rainbow we caught off the dock before dusk fell and then when it got dark we were treated to an AMAZING firework show.  I wish they would tell you on future Air BnB bookings: "comes with friendly neighbors that will share their wine, cigars, deck chairs, and firework shows with you." SIGN ME UP. Hah!

Whew. Can you believe that all happened in only one day??? And it was only the first day of our trip! We still had two more days of adventures, but I'll finish this post off here for now and share the rest of those days soon :)

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