It’s rare to find a quiet, unassuming town of less than 1,000 residents to have so profoundly impacted the world as Hammondsport, NY.
A destination for sports enthusiasts and leisure travelers since the mid-1800s, Keuka Lake is the most distinct of all the Finger Lakes thanks to it’s unusual Y-shape creating majestic panoramas and breathtaking views from the many vineyards found along its steep slopes.
Located at the southern tip of Keuka Lake, Hammondsport has long played an integral role in the development of the Finger Lakes region as a world class wine destination, for it was there that the first grapes in the region were planted by Reverend Bostwick back in 1829 and where Pleasant Valley Wine Company (the first winery in the region and the first bonded winery in the country) was founded in 1860.
While grapes and winemaking have been at the heart of the region for nearly 160 years, it wasn’t until the arrival of a Ukrainian immigrant nearly a century later that the delicate viniefera grapes required to make fine European-style wines were finally able to be grown here. Of course, Dr. Konstantin Frank did more than revolutionize winemaking in the Finger Lakes and northeastern United States, he also revealed an indefatigable spirit and determination that seems to be part of the very fiber of this small town.
Motorcycle and aviation pioneer, Glenn Curtiss put Hammondsport on the map in the early 1900s by becoming the fastest man on earth and later the "Father of Naval Aviation." You can learn about his myriad contributions to flight and even take a seaplane ride off the lake where he first helped develop them over a century ago. Thanks to Curtiss, several dirigible and aeronautical companies moved to Hammondsport between 1907 and the outbreak of World War I which is why valley just outside town became known as the Cradle of Aviation.
Voted "Coolest Small Town in America" by readers of Budget Travel, Hammondsport blends fun outdoor activities (like paddleboarding, seaplane rides, fishing), breathtaking scenery, award-winning wines and craft beverages, excellent food, and the chance to settle in and experience the best of lake life for yourself.
"At the base of Keuka Lake is my favorite of the Finger Lakes small towns, Hammondsport. Idyllic in every sense of the word, this village of 800 people boasts the most charming town square, veterans memorial &, like any good small town, both a tavern & ice cream shop. I love Hammondsport's small town friendliness & easy access to the chill-est of the Finger Lakes." – Christina Saul, View From My Middle Seat
One of the few Y-shaped lakes in the world and considered by many to be the most scenic of the Finger Lakes, Keuka Lake is large enough that you don't need to worry about crowds, but small enough that it's easy to access and navigate. Along its shores you'll find outdoor activities for any time of year, boat launches and places to rent canoes, kayaks, paddle boards, jet skis, sunfish sail boats, and more. Book a fishing excursion or a sightseeing tour, enjoy lakeside dining, or sip exceptional wines with panoramic views of the vineyards that surround the picturesque lake.
GLENN H. CURTISS MUSEUM
An aviation pioneer, Glenn H. Curtiss had his hand in everything with an engine: from motorcycles to dirigibles and airplanes, he held the title of "Fastest Man on Earth" for four years. Explore wonderful exhibits of vintage aircraft, motorcycles, automobiles, and more to learn how Hammondsport got its wings.
FINGER LAKES BOATING MUSEUM
The Finger Lakes Boating Museum is a nod to Hammondsport's roots, dating back to the rise of steamboats during the 19th Century, as well as various forms of boat building throughout the region. The museum is the perfect stop for the entire family.
"The Finger Lakes Boating Museum is a great treasure. The place is kid friendly, with a special children's section where youngsters can draw pictures of boats, construct rudimentary boats, or even stamp sailor tattoos on their arms. Education plays a key role in the function of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum. Seminars and workshops are scheduled regularly." – Don Knaus, Mountain Home
WINERIES & BREWERIES
We've spent more than 150 years building a reputation as a world-class wine destination. You'll find the first US Bonded Winery in Hammondsport, along with a winery founded by the man who revolutionized winemaking in the eastern US. Sipping wine along the shores of Keuka Lake is a breathtaking and relaxing experience you won't forget.
"Keuka Lake is home to Dr. Konstantin Frank, one of the oldest and most celebrated wineries in the region, as well as standout producers like Keuka Lake Vineyards, Ravines, and Heron Hill." – Anna Lee C. Iijima, Wine Enthusiast
If beer is more your style, you'll find some of the best breweries along the Keuka Lake. In 2014, Keuka Brewing Company was named New York State's "Best Craft Brewery" at the New York Craft Beer & Food Festival. The Finger Lakes Beer Company won a Silver Medal for "Best Craft Beer" in New York State at the 2015 New York Craft Beer & Food Festival, while Steuben Brewing has won several awards at the annual event including the John Calen Award for Best Brown Ale in NYS, and a silver medal for The Golden One (a pale lager).
What's better than sharing a pint with friends on a beautiful lake? Sharing a few, perhaps, and making new friends.
"The Finger Lakes in western New York State have long been a top destination for wine lovers, but the region is quickly becoming a haven for beer drinkers as well." - Ben Jay, NY Times
TRADITIONS AND EXCITING ANNUAL EVENTS
Celebrate this small town’s contributions to the world every September with the annual Wings & Wheels event that blends a vintage and exotic car show with a seaplane homecoming featuring seaplane competitions, fly-ins, as well as seaplane rides.
Other annual events, like Wintercycle Therapy and Wine Country Classic Boat Show pay homage to the past, while the popular Hammondsport Winter Stroll brings warmth to February with a little romance and locally crafted libations.
What to do in Hammondsport
- Spend a day strolling around the Shopping Village Square and take a piece of the Finger Lakes home with you
- Get out on the water on the Keuka Water Taxi, rent a bike, kayak, or a boat to enjoy all the lake has to offer
- Check out the wine & beer tastings at various vineyards, breweries, a cider mill and distillery
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