Norman Rockwell himself couldn’t dream up a more idyllic winter wonderland than the sparkling snow-covered hills of the Southern Finger Lakes region of New York. Not only is the area beautiful in the winter, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy your time here—both indoors and out. From wineries to museums and ice fishing to ice skating, you may need to visit a couple of times to experience them all. This list will help you decide what to do this season in this special place.
1. Get to Know Your Favorite Winery
The vines are nestled all snug in their beds—but winter may be the best time to have a more personalized experience at the region’s fantastic wineries. Without the summer crowds—and more time on their hands—owners, managers, and winemakers are more likely to be in the tasting rooms for patrons to have a chance to ask questions and get a deeper experience. We’ve noted a few events to get you started:
Vineyard View Winery is hosting an Ugly Sweater Party on December 21 which includes live music and food.
Crystal City Wine Festival on January 11, 2020 at the Corning Museum of Glass gives wine lovers the opportunity to try different wines from around the upstate New York region.
McGregor Vineyard offers a serious of special Red Wine Barrel Tastings throughout the winter.
In Corning’s Gaffer District, enjoy Cabin Fever in Corning on March 6, which includes wine tasting, craft beer sampling, and shopping and dining promotions.
2. Ice Fishing
Fishing isn’t just for the fair-weather folks in these parts, and there’s something special about the serenity found in ice fishing. While Keuka Lake, known as “The Lady of the Lakes,” doesn’t usually freeze all the way through, the tips of the Y often do and are often safe for ice fishing. Anglers try for lake, brown, and rainbow trout, pickerel, large and smallmouth bass, sunfish, and yellow perch, and there are several access points around the lake.
Another popular spot is Loon Lake, where yellow perch, sunfish, black crappie, and pickerel are on the menu. And Almond Reservoir allows ice fishing, and black crappie, brown bullhead, common carp, golden shiner, pumpkinseed, spottail shiner, white sucker, yellow perch, and largemouth bass are common.
3. Ice Skating at Nasser Civic Center in Corning
See just how good your balance is with a fun day of ice skating with group lessons at the Nasser Civic Center rink. Pre-registration isn’t necessary, and you can pay the day of your lesson at the rink, $8.50 per person with rental skates included if needed. Each lesson includes warm-up skate time, 30 minutes of instruction and practice time. Come once to give it a try or come back all season to have fun.
4. Crystal City Christmas Horse and Carriage Rides
Get in the mood for the holiday season with an old-fashioned horse and carriage ride through the decorated streets of The Crystal City. Hemlock Hidden Hames will provide rides in the Gaffer District weekends through December. The cost is $10 for adults and $5 for kids.
5. Taste FLXpo
Do you want to start looking forward to spring? At the Taste FLXpo presented by Finger Lakes Farm Country, you can take in a farmers market in the middle of the winter. Held on February 21 at Corning Community College, the expo will feature food made with locally produced ingredients at a cafe, educational workshops, and other locally produced goods for sale. More than 50 farmers will be exhibiting inside the Corning Community College Commons Building, and tickets are $5 per person if purchased before January 11, $10 after that and at the door. Children under 13 are admitted for free.
6. Hand-Make Some Glass Holiday Gifts
Looking for a unique gift for someone who means a lot? Dust off those art-making skills and craft something yourself in a glass-making class. Look to Corning’s Hands-On Glass studio for several different classes and experiences. Or pair a tour at the world-famous Corning Glass Museum with one of its holiday-themed classes that can include making a Christmas tree sculpture, a snowman ornament, or fused glass ornament. If not into the holiday theme, there are lots of other items available to make. After the holidays, there are still plenty of opportunities for glass-making projects in the area.
7. Corning Winter Farmers’ Market
Don’t pack up your string sacks and recycled shopping bags just yet. The farmers and artisans of Corning have teamed up to provide local fresh food, farm products, naturally raised meats, honey, gift items, and more all-year-round. The Winter Farmers’ Market is found at 1 West Market Street in downtown Corning, and it’s open every Saturday from November through March from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Painted Post also has a winter market offered on the 1st and 3rd Saturdays from November to March.
8. Snowshoeing at the Spencer Crest Nature Center
It’s like hiking but in a winter wonderland. Snowshoeing is easy to learn, and it’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the snow without having to learn to ski. It’s a sport that anyone can do, and in addition to those at Spenser Crest, there are miles and miles of snowshoe-accessible terrain on the Finger Lakes Trail.
9. Cross Country Skiing at McCarthy Hill State Forest
Don’t miss the peace and serenity of gliding through the woods with only the swoosh of the skis for company. There is no feeling on earth like getting a good long slide on cross-country skis and feeling that effortless motion. At McCarthy Hill State Forest, there are about 8 miles of marked ski trails that vary in difficulty with choices for every ability.
Try one, try them all, just be sure not to miss out on all of the unique winter fun that the Southern Finger Lakes has to offer. After a great day of adventure, pull off the boots, unwrap the scarf, and share a round of hot chocolate or mulled wine all around.
Written by Lisa Collard for Matcha in partnership with Steuben County.