Sometimes a town seems so small you might not give it much consideration. But don’t be too quick to dismiss a place based on its size or you might miss out on something unique, something special. Even some of the smallest places have more than charm to offer.
With a population of less than 3,500 residents (not many more than it had been back in 1905), Canisteo isn’t going to wow you with its size. But you might be surprised to learn that it is home to the Canisteo Living Sign, recorded in Ripley's Believe it or Not! as the World’s Largest Living Sign, and also found on the Registry of Historical Places. Consisting of 260 Scotch Pine trees that spell out the name “Canisteo” on a hillside behind the school, the sign was replanted in 2015.
Looking to fish or to do some paddling? You can access the Canisteo River at the boat launch on Dineen Road just outside of the village (please note, hand launch is required).
If hiking is more your thing, you can hop on the Finger Lakes Trail. As a matter of fact, where the trail crosses a quiet farm road just outside of town you’ll find Cider Creek Hard Cider, the country’s most awarded farm cidery in 2017. Serving several of their own delicious hard ciders, as well as craft beer and wine from around New York State, Cider Creek is a weekend destination for craft beverage lovers from near and far.
Just a few minutes way, in the town of Howard (smaller still) you can encounter delicious goat cheese and maple ice cream made from goat’s milk, as well as locally-produced meats, cheeses, honey, and more at Stewart’s Family Farm and Store. Looking for unique accommodations, check out Farmer Phil’s Cabins which are also in Howard. Once featured on The Today Show, Farmer Phil’s Cabins have become a popular haven for people looking to get away for a few days or longer. With several hand-built log cabins scattered among the trees on the expansive property, Farmer Phil’s offers a wonderful secluded getaway for everything from weddings to hunting excursions.
Cohocton is a small town where the past still lives on. Celebrating its 170-year history, The Olde Country Store and More is evidence of a bygone era. While the store is a popular spot for kids with its wide selection of candies, the Wells family combines the nostalgia of Cohocton’s yesteryear with their own personal history having lived in Germany for years. As a result, they offer a number of wonderful German candies, foods, and products, including glass holiday ornaments and Lauscha Glass figurines. They also sell a number of Green Heart of the Finger Lakes products.
Cohocton is the site of wind farms (and other farms) and its back roads make for scenic bicycle rides. For over 50 years now, the folks here have celebrated the splendor of autumn with the Fall Foliage Festival.
A great spot for outdoor recreation, you’ll find two state parks and a state forrest in the small town of Addison.
While Pinnacle State Park offers hiking and camping options, Indian Hills State Park is a great spot for avid or beginner golfers. Located just outside Corning, Indian Hills runs alongside the Tioga River and has a wonderful mix of holes with regards to length, doglegs, water hazards, sand traps, and other on-course obstacles that aren’t overly concerning, but do make for a fun and scenic round. As part of the New York State Parks system you can also find rate benefits for seniors, veterans, and golfers with disabilities.
At nearly 800 acres, McCarthy Hill State Forest offers rustic experiences ranging from hiking and camping to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing as well as hunting and trapping. With access to the Canisteo River (Boat Launch Off Route 417 in the Village of Addison). Please note, this is a hand launch. Other forms of outdoor adventures like paddling and fishing are available. If music is more your thing, you’ll want to check out the schedule at Moe-Town Music Venue which features local, regional, and national acts in a rustic setting.
One of the most historic females born in the Southern Finger Lakes was a woman you probably never heard of, Narcissa Prentiss Whitman. Born in the small town of Prattsburgh in 1808, Narcissa decided at age sixteen to become a missionary. Years later, she became one of the first two white women to journey across the continent and cross the Rocky Mountains on foot, opening the way for future emigrants who journeyed on the Oregon Trail.
Prattsburgh is also home to Sommerville Pottery, a working studio and gallery that offers beautiful pieces, as well as pottery classes. Monica Sommerville produces functional wheel-thrown and hand-built pottery in a wide range of blue, green, and red glazes.
Each spring, riders from all over the East Coast to compete in gravel road racing descend upon this small town for the Prattsburgh Gravel Classic which is part of a three-race series called The Durty Bikes Gravel Series and has been going on since 2008. In recent years, the race has featured some of the fastest racers in the world.
The small town of Avoca offers a variety of interesting farm experiences.
Take a class on making your own teas at Healing Spirits Herb Farm, and learn a lot in the process. Healing spirits also offers classes in making tinctures and in identifying medicinal herbs (that’s right, you’ll get the chance to learn which which “weeds” in your yard are actually healthy herbs). Not far away is Hemlock Ridge, a certified organic farm that sells beef, chicken, cheese, honey, maple syrup, and vegetables. Also the go to spot for flowers if you’re planning a country wedding.
Want more of a hands-on farm experience? Button’s Creekside B&B is a working farm where you can feed the goats and take on some farm chores during your stay for an authentic glimpse at farm life. Button’s also offers special packages for hunters. With roughly 300 acres of land, which includes a working sheep farm surrounded by forested hills, Button’s Creekside Bed & Breakfast offers seclusion, an authentic taste of farm life, and a special package for hunters.