With glistening glacial lakes, vast expanses of pristine forest, bountiful family farms, and charming towns, the Southern Finger Lakes region of New York is the ideal place for a one-of-a-kind health and wellness getaway. In the Southern Finger Lakes region, it’s easy to combine fresh air and exercise with fresh farm-to-table cuisine for serious relaxation. Slow down and spend a weekend soaking up the restorative serenity of this scenic region of the state.
No visit to the Finger Lakes is complete without some time on the water. Spend a morning gliding over the crystal water of Keuka Lake on a stand-up paddleboard in the company of ducks, loons, and grebes with a rental from Keuka Watersports in Hammondsport. The sinuous, Y-shaped lake stretches for nearly 20 miles, and for newbie paddlers still mastering the art of balance, there are plenty of sheltered nooks and crannies to explore.
If you prefer moving water, trade the quiet waters of Keuka Lake for the Chemung River. Formed by the Cohocton and Tioga rivers just outside Corning, the Chemung River flows eastward eventually meeting the Susquehanna. Once a vital trade artery, today the river offers plenty of picturesque paddling. On the Paddle the Palisades tour offered by Southern Tier Kayaking, kayakers float past rolling hills, woodlands, and the namesake Palisades on the 6-mile trip between Corning and Elmira. Experienced paddlers can explore even more of the waterway along the Chemung River Trail, which forms part of the Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network, a massive conglomeration of regional water-trails covering the eastern United States.
Spencer Crest Nature Center offers a peaceful place for the whole family to explore. Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
The vast forests and rolling foothills of the Southern Finger Lakes are laced with scenic trails that are perfect for a hike, run, or leisurely stroll. Trail runners love the leafy footpaths through the Spencer Crest Nature Center, just outside Corning. The 7-mile trail network moseys through tranquil woodlands surrounding a cattail-edged pond. Rather cover a few more miles? Head to the Erwin Wildlife Management Area, just west of Corning. Runners can tackle more than 16 miles of trails rambling through forests filled with maple, oak, and hemlock.
If you’re not a runner, don’t worry—head to Stony Brook State Park, just south of Dansville, and explore one of the stunning, glacier-sculpted gorges. On the park’s appropriately named Gorge Trail, hikers are treated to views of three stunning waterfalls. The trail ends at the park’s stream-fed swimming pool, perfect for a refreshing, post-hike dip.
Take to Two Wheels
Cyclists have almost unlimited options on the quiet country routes and scenic byways covering the Southern Finger Lakes region. Roll past nationally renowned wineries, historic towns, and the clear waters of Keuka Lake on the 36-mile Hammondsport Circle Tour. Or try the shorter Savona-Sonora-Sanford Lake Loop. The 9.2-mile circuit includes a ride through the Birdseye Hollow State Forest, taking cyclists past the idyllic picnic spots perched beside Sanford Lake.
Check out the Corning Farmers’ Market for seasonal fruits and other local foods. Corning and the Southern Finger Lakes
The family farms dotting the tumbling foothills of the Southern Finger Lakes region are known for their seasonal yields, producing everything from sweet summer berries to crisp, autumn apples to delicious, artisan-crafted cheeses.
Round out the health and wellness weekend with some nutritious, locally sourced fare, and pick up provisions at one of the thriving farmers markets scattered throughout the region. The Corning Farmer’s Market takes place in Riverfront Centennial Park, in the heart of the historic Gaffer District, on Thursdays from June 7-October 25. You’ll find local delicacies including seasonal produce, wildflower honey, fruit preserves, and naturally raised meats. In Hammondsport, the farmers market occurs twice a week (Wednesday and Saturday) beside Keuka Lake from June through October.
After a session at the farmers market, delve further into the local agriculture scene with an insightful visit to Healing Spirit Herb Farm and Education Center in the cozy hamlet of Wallace. The 30-acre family farm specializes in producing medicinal herbs, crafting a wide array of products, including everything from tinctures and salves to healthful teas. The location also regularly offers hands-on educational opportunities for visitors, hosting events like farm walks, classes, and informative seminars.
Enrichment for Body and Mind
Recharge mind and body—and meet some adorable four-legged locals—with a Goat Yoga session at the ZiegenVine Homestead in Savona. During the 45-minute session, held in the middle of a grassy meadow, curious members of the homestead’s goat herd make the rounds to mingle with practicing guests. Tranquility-seeking visitors can also get centered at Keuka Peaceful Roots in Hammondsport, just a few blocks from Keuka Lake. Aside from yoga, the studio also offers Pilates classes, rejuvenating massages, and Reiki.
Take a local yoga class with baby goats for a fun way to get your practice in while on vacation. Allison Lavine
After spending your day hiking, biking, and paddling, schedule some well-earned pampering at one of the region’s restorative spas. In Corning, the Four Feathers Massage & Wellness Center offers a range of massage options, including chair massage sessions as short as 5 minutes, and extensive therapeutic massages stretching for an hour and a half. Also in Corning, A Touch of Tranquility also has a buffet of health and wellness treatments, including custom-massages, body scrubs, exfoliating wraps, and even private yoga sessions. For a whole weekend of pampering, book a stay at the historic Black Sheep Inn & Spa, offering an array of rejuvenating treatments, including deep tissue, hot stone, and Swedish massages. There’s no better way to recover from a weekend exploring the natural beauty of the region.
Written by Malee Baker Oot for RootsRated Media in partnership with Steuben County.