The Finger Lakes are a group of 11 relatively narrow, adjacent lakes that roughly resemble the digits of a hand when viewed on a map or satellite image. They are clustered within an area of west-central upstate New York spanning more than 9,000 square miles and measuring approximately 75 miles from east to west and 50 miles from north to south. Although they are all slender in appearance, the Finger Lakes vary greatly in length from the nearly 40-mile long Cayuga Lake to the brief 3-mile extent of Canadice Lake. Besides these 11 lakes, other bodies of water bounded by the region include Lake Ontario at its northern border; numerous navigable rivers; and more than 1,000 waterfalls, including Taughannock Falls.
Just as each of the Finger Lakes is unique, the municipalities within the area vary widely from small villages such as Seneca Falls, Penn Yan, and Hammondsport, to larger university towns and cities such as Ithaca, Syracuse, and Rochester. The entire region is often cited for its natural beauty, and the environment is suitable to year-round, seasonal outdoor activities. During the winter, the Finger Lakes region receives significant snowfall and is a popular location for winter sports. In the more clement months, fishing, kayaking, taking a lake cruise, hiking the area’s many gorges, and camping are all popular activities.
Most recognized for its wineries, the Finger Lakes region vintners are centered around Cayuga, Seneca, and Keuka lakes. The area’s temperate climate is conducive to the cultivation of grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Riesling. Visitors can sample the variety of wines available from local growers on wine tours or by walking one of the marked wine trails that trace around the lakes.