“The Finger Lakes region of New York offers an ideal combination of museums, outdoor activities, and yummy local food, wine and beer . . . it’s the perfect destination.” – Eileen Gunn, Family Go!

It Can Feel Like Having Your Very Own Small Town All To Yourself

Centerway Black & White Winter Evening
Winter Evening Corning courtesy Brian Maloney

Winter in the Southern Finger Lakes is a magical time.

A winter stroll in a picturesque small town illuminated by old fashioned street lights, perhaps a dusting of snow on the sidewalks, makes everything seem even more cozy and charming. 

Pleasant Valley Wine Company Tasting 5
Great Western Champagne courtesy Stu Gallagher

Winter means little-to-no lines for indoor activities like museum visits, or wine and beer tastings. That translates to more personal experiences and a sense that everything is there just for you. 

It also offers refreshing and rejuvenating outdoor activities, making winter in the Finger Lakes a balm for the soul!

Fun, Affordable Outdoor Adventures

Winter Hike at Spencer Crest Nature Center
Winter Hike at Spencer Crest Nature Center courtesy Kevin Peterson

There’s nothing quite as invigorating as breathing in the crisp air and listening to the crunch of snow under your feet or the hushed peacefulness that comes when you stop moving long enough to take in the special beauty you only find in winter. 

While the Finger Lakes Trail totals at nearly 1,000 miles of wilderness footpaths, there are a number of other accessible trails through the woods that make winter hikes a great way to spend an hour or two, or a couple days depending on your experience level and interest. With trails through bogs, along gorges, beside streams and into vineyards, as well as hilltop overlooks, and quiet paths just outside town, a winter hike is Nature’s therapy.

Lake Trout Winter Fishing on Keuka Lake
Lake Trout Winter Fishing on Keuka Lake courtesy Bob Magee

With four rivers, over 120 streams and brooks, plus a handful of lakes (large and small), there are fishing options all year long. Whether you prefer to cast from a riverbank or a dock, or you’re angling to get out on the ice for some frozen fun, fishing in wintertime can be very peaceful, and well as challenging. 

Most years, you can glide around the outdoor rink at Nasser Civic Center in downtown Corning for some ice skating fun just minutes from shops, galleries, exceptional food, and more. In order to provide safe social distancing, the rink has been limiting the number of people who can skate at any one time. Reservations are required ahead of time.

Bring Your Own Gear

Ice Sailing
Ice Sailing courtesy Bill Banaszewski

Although winters in the Southern Finger Lakes tend to be much milder these days than they were decades ago, when weather conditions provide just the right snowy or frosty conditions, grab your gear and take advantage of the remarkable landscape snowshoeing, cross country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, or even ice sailing.

Whether you’re looking to get outdoors for a few hours, or spend a weekend making the most of a world blanketed in snow, bring your own gear for fun traditional winter activities

Snowshoeing Winter
Snow Shoeing courtesy Bill Banaszewski

Parts of the Finger Lakes Trail and other hiking trails like Spencer Crest, also allow snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, but not motorized transportation like snowmobiling. Trails at Birdseye Hollow State Forest are also open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing during the winter. To learn more, visit the DEC’s website (Region 8).

Snow Mobile
Snowmobile courtesy Bob Magee

If you’re looking for snowmobile paths, check the DEC website. Some trails are maintained by private groups or clubs (some of which you can join), so be sure to do some research prior to going. Learn more here.

You can reach out to private groups (like the Bath Sno-Flakes Snowmobile Association, and Quad County Snowmobile Club) to learn more about membership and involvement in Steuben County or contact the New York State Snowmobile Association for information about membership.

Indoor Activities

“. . . ice wine season can mean an intimate look inside the operations of one of New York's prime wine regions. . . . There are often only a handful of people in the tasting rooms, allowing the sales staff — frequently including the winemakers and vineyard owners — to guide visitors through their various vintages.” - Tatiana Boncompagni, The New York Times

Domaine LeSeurre Romantic Couple Tasting Barrel Room
Romantic Tasting Barrel Room at Domaine LeSeurre courtesy Cagwin Photography

Wintertime is typically even more chill here in the Southern Finger Lakes than the rest of the year. While tasting rooms aren’t usually crowded during winter, new tasting routines are focused on smaller, more private experiences offering you a safer and also a much more personal time. 

Hot Glass Show Glassblowing Demo
Hot Glass Demonstration courtesy The Corning Museum of Glass

Museums like the world renowned Corning Museum of Glass and The Rockwell Museum, upstate New York’s only Smithsonian Affiliate, offer the chance to do some exploring indoors. The combination of world-class art and up-close glimpses into different cultures provide a unique sensual experience that can’t be found just anywhere.

Winter Shopping Market Street
Winter Shopping courtesy Cagwin Photography

Shopping is fun any time of year, and Corning’s Historic District, as well as village squares and main streets in other small towns throughout the region offer quaint boutiques and speciality shops, art studios and galleries, antique stores, as well as museum shops and other unusual opportunities.

Curbside and To Go Options 

Steuben Brewing
Steuben Brewing courtesy Cagwin Photography

“These days, however, the Finger Lakes are not just for wine lovers. Tastemakers of beer and the harder stuff can discover new breweries and distilleries in the FLX mix. And my oh my, is the food getting good.” - Malerie Yolen-Cohen, Huffington Post

We’re not sure why folks seem surprised to discover Finger Lakes cuisine is so exceptional. After all, we have already established ourselves with world-class wine and award-winning craft beverages. Add in our long history of agriculture, and you have the making for great culinary experiences.

Market Street Brewing Company
Dinner at Market Street Brewing Company

And while the pandemic has certainly interfered with dining options around the country, one thing that has continued to allow the incredible food and beverage offerings of the region to be shared are Curbside and to Go Options.

Many of the craft breweries, wineries, and restaurants in the Southern Finger Lakes offer Curbside Pickup and To Go Options which means you can enjoy some of the best brews, vintages, and grub to be found safely and in the comfort of your own home (or hotel room). Talk about a great way to spend some quality time with the people you love. 

Some wineries and craft beverage producers are also shipping their products directly to customers these days. It doesn’t get more convenient than that. 

Weis Vineyards Wine Tasting1834 courtesy Molly Cagwin Photography
Wine Tasting at Weis Vineyards

Winter Versions of Summer Faves

While fall might be the best time of year to get a true taste of the region thanks to an abundance of farm markets and farm stands, the Winter Farm Market in Corning offers the chance to acquire delicious in-season veggies, as well as a variety of locally grown, locally-made products ranging from naturally-raised meats, eggs, maple, honey, as well as fresh baked goods, handmade soaps, and so much more.

Winter Veggies
Winter Veggies

The market runs every Thursday through March from 10am to 2pm at the Nasser Civics Center offering an open, outdoor space, that is still covered to keep away the elements making it an ideal spot for social distancing.

Order your own Experience Guide or enjoy the interactive online version to learn more about fun ways to make the most of winter and other seasons. Or download the new Explore Steuben Trip Planner app which allows you to access information about all the awesome activities available in Steuben County right from your phone.

Winter Centerway Square Corning Family
Winter Centerway Square Corning Family courtesy Kevin Peterson