Where to Stay in the Finger Lakes in 2024 • 6 TOP Spots

A vibrant hot air balloon floats over Letchworth State Park with autumn-colored foliage, a waterfall, and the historic Portageville Bridge in the backdrop.

Welcome to wine country! With gorgeous lakes and outstanding natural beauty, let’s explore where to stay in Finger Lakes.

The Finger Lakes region in New York State is home to more than 130 wineries, over 200 waterfalls, and the 11 long and narrow lakes that give the region its name. The Finger Lakes are a geological anomaly formed by receding glaciers, creating deep lakes and stunning gorges. 

The lakes are surrounded by many quaint towns and villages, so deciding where to stay can be a bit complicated. To help you plan the perfect trip, I compared all the areas around the Finger Lakes and went through all the hotels on offer. Then, I handpicked the very best accommodation options and organized them into price categories for all types of travelers. 

The top spot for your stay in the Finger Lakes region is the city of Ithaca on the South end of Cayuga Lake, offering stunning lake views, great dining, shopping, sightseeing, and accommodation. What more could you want?

Once you know which town you’ll choose, make sure you book your stay in advance because this area is packed with tourists every year, and good hotels are quick to go!

Quick Picks for Your Stay

If you want to book now, quickly browse this list of the top hotels in Ithaca, NY:


Watch my video, it will give you a visual explanation of all the areas:



Here’s a map of all the areas in the Finger Lakes region I will be talking about in this post:

A colorful map highlighting the best areas to stay in The-Finger-Lakes, with numbered locations and labels for easy navigation
  1. ITHACA : for first-timers
  2. WATKINS GLEN : for nature lovers
  3. GENEVA : for the local atmosphere
  4. AURORA : for a relaxing vacation
  5. CANANDAIGUA : for families
  6. CORNING : for culture

1. Ithaca – where to stay in the Finger Lakes for first-timers

The grandeur of Taughannock Falls State Park is captured in a photograph showcasing the towering waterfall surrounded by rocky cliffs and lush greenery

Ithaca is located on the Southern tip of Cayuga Lake, the second-largest of the Finger Lakes. This stunning area is only a half-day drive from major cities like NYC, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia and 30 miles (50 km) from Seneca Lake. 

Besides its convenient location, the city boasts picturesque landscapes, wineries, wine trails, and great lodging options – a great place for your first trip to the Finger Lakes. 

The first thing to know about Ithaca is that it’s a college town, home to the Ivy League Cornell University and Ithaca College, so don’t be surprised if you see young crowds or even a bachelorette party around town – the nightlife is pretty lively! 

When in Ithaca, the one thing you absolutely have to explore is the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, the oldest wine trail in the US. This trail is home to many vineyards where you can have plenty of fun wine-tasting the various wines native to the region, making it a top destination for a romantic getaway to the Finger Lakes!

Some of the main attractions in Ithaca are the parks. Buttermilk Falls State Park offers many hiking opportunities and is home to as many as 10 waterfalls. Robert H. Treman State Park is another unmissable park spanning over 1,110 acres, where you’ll see a gorge with waterfalls (over 150 in the park) and even a swimming hole to cool off after your hike. 

A couple hours’ drive away, you’ll find Letchworth State Park or, as people like to call it, the ‘Grand Canyon of the East.’ This gorgeous area boasts numerous hiking trails, campgrounds, and magnificent nature. Taughannock Falls State Park is just a 15-minute drive away, and I highly suggest you make that trip, too!

You’ll also find many restaurants that offer amazing food and drinks – I suggest Moosewood – but I wouldn’t miss the Ithaca Farmers’ Market (map), which takes place every weekend!

Thanks to the popularity and the college proximity, Ithaca has a variety of lodgings to offer. Let’s see them:

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in the Finger Lakes: an expansive dining area with wooden tables and large windows, a cozy bedroom with neat bedding and ambient lighting, and a classic living room featuring an ornate green sofa and vintage chairs.

I love the design of this boutique hotel that’s located in a historic building. Every room is decorated with both antique and modern elements, and it’s equipped with air conditioning. For the perfect end to your day, spend the evening at Bar Argos and try some of the local wines and beers.

Other accommodation options in Ithaca

Mid-Range
Indoor hotel pool with surrounding loungers and large windows offering natural light

Guests at this hotel will enjoy an indoor pool, a spa, and a free roundtrip airport shuttle

Budget
Hotel bedroom with a large bed, green walls, patterned carpet, and a sitting area

This affordable motel is pet-friendly, boasts clean rooms and a garden, and offers a free breakfast buffet

Airbnb
A cozy and well-lit living room with a sleek black couch adorned with patterned throw pillows, a stylish arched floor lamp, and two large windows allowing natural light

Bask in the comfort of this cool house that has 2 rooms, a kitchen, and a bathtub

Things to do in Ithaca

2. Watkins Glen – where to stay for nature lovers

A stunning view of Watkins Glen State Park where cascading waterfalls are framed by a stone bridge and sunlit golden-hued autumn leaves

Welcome to one of the most scenic villages in the Finger Lakes region! Located on the Southern shore of Seneca Lake, NY, Watkins Glen is the perfect place to visit if you want to immerse yourself in the stunning nature this region offers. 

It’s a very quiet and serene place, ideal if you want to escape the city’s hustle and bustle. 

FUN FACT: A Native American legend says that the Finger Lakes were created when the Great Spirit laid its hands on the land to bless it and left its handprints there, which were then filled with water. 

Since it’s right on Seneca Lake (the largest out of the 11 Finger Lakes), there are many opportunities for water activities like kayaking and boating. The village is also home to Watkins Glen State Park, which offers breathtaking views of the famous waterfalls – there are 19 of them – and lots of hiking trails. Plus, admission is free!

If you want to hike in the park, I recommend the Gorge Trail (map); this 2.2 mile (3.5 km) trail follows Glen Creek and goes along stone steps, through tunnels, and even under 2 waterfalls! However, it can be a bit challenging, so I only recommend this for experienced hikers. 

This area is perfect for exploring the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, which is home to a community of 31 wineries situated along Seneca Lake. If you’re wondering which place to choose for a wine tasting, I highly recommend the Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard & Winery

Once you’ve had enough of sampling all the different wines (I’m not sure you’ll ever have enough, though), you might want a different experience. If so, I suggest you head along the Eastern shores of Seneca Lake and Grist Iron Brewery, which serves a very unique product – grape beer produced from locally sourced grapes in the Finger Lakes region! 

Last but not least, I suggest you embark on a cruise on Seneca Lake. You can choose from several options, as many boat companies offer cruise packages departing from Watkins Glen Harbor. Check out some of the options here.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in the Finger Lakes: a bedroom with an elegant four-poster bed and soft lighting, a traditional dining room with a large rug and wooden chairs, and a stately exterior view of a white house with a wide front porch.

Although this bed and breakfast is not a fancy, luxurious hotel, it has an authentic look and provides many comforts. In the morning, you can choose from several breakfast options and have your coffee in the garden, then hit the tennis court. Other amenities you’ll find here are free Wi-Fi and parking, as well as air conditioning.

Other accommodation options in Watkins Glen

Mid-Range
A waterfront view of a large multi-story hotel with boats moored at a marina in the foreground and vibrant red flowers

Enjoy the harbor views from the comfort of your room and enjoy the indoor pool, hot tub, and bar

Budget
A spacious dining area with large windows offering an expansive view of a serene lake and rolling countryside

Explore the small waterfalls and hiking trails at this resort, which has a shared lounge, a garden, and barbecue facilities

Airbnb
A rustic bedroom with wood-paneled walls featuring a bed with blue and sea life patterned bedding and a colorful surfboard decor on the wall

Ever dreamt of sleeping in a boat? The accommodation features a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a lovely patio


If none of these options are the best fit for you, and you are looking for something more unique – I’ve got you covered! Since you’ll be exploring the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, I recommend that you get the full experience of staying at a winery with lodging.

One of the most unique places to stay in the Finger Lakes is The Inn at Glenora Wine Cellars. Located in Dundee, 12 miles from Watkins Glen, this 3.5-star hotel has a tasting room and a vineyard – you can enjoy a glass of wine at any time while staying in one of the 30 rooms.

Things to do in Watkins Glen

  • Head East along Seneca Lake and stop by to see Hector Falls
  • Enjoy the views of Lake Seneca in Clute Park (map)
  • Hike up to Rainbow Falls (map) in Watkins Glen State Park

3. Geneva – most local area in the Finger Lakes, NY

Sunset view over a calm lake with a pavilion on the pier and dramatic clouds reflecting in the water

At the North end of Seneca Lake, you’ll find Geneva, “The Jewel of Finger Lakes”, a lively and charming town and the perfect place for history buffs.

As you’ll see, the town is all about local farming and agriculture, so it’s no wonder that most of the businesses in Geneva are based on producing fruits, vegetables, dairy products sold in farm markets, wineries, and craft microbreweries.

Possibly the best thing to do around Geneva is to explore Seneca Lake State Park, which has numerous trails for light hiking, a swimming beach, and many cute spots where you can have a picnic on the water. 

You also have to spend some time roaming the streets of this quaint town, its antique shops, and trying different dining spots. If you need restaurant recommendations, take mine and book a table at F.L.X. Table – they offer a one-of-a-kind interactive dining experience. But if you want something more laid-back, there’s no better choice than The Rusty Pig

To top things off, Geneva is also conveniently situated; not only does it lie on Seneca Lake, but it’s also quite close to Keuka Lake – just a 40-minute drive away! Keuka Lake is also a great destination for a day trip from Geneva, as there are many quaint towns to explore around the lake and, of course, the Keuka Lake Wine Trail.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in the Finger Lakes: a majestic evening view of a large, lit-up hotel building, a spacious bedroom with minimalist decor, and a comfortable lounge area with ample seating and a neat, welcoming entrance.

Situated within the historic Belhurst Castle on Seneca Lake, this charming inn is as luxurious as what I usually recommend, but it’s the most upscale property in Geneva. Some of the rooms boast lake views, and some feature in-room spa baths. Guests can also dine at the 2 on-site restaurants and buy souvenirs from the gift shop.

Other accommodation options in Geneva

Mid-Range
An indoor swimming pool in a recreation area with clear blue water, surrounded by lounge chairs

This 3-star property provides free bikes, access to a gym and a lounge, and free parking

Budget
Modern hotel room with a large bed, work desk, and flat-screen TV, featuring neutral tones and clean lines

A pet-friendly hotel for budget travelers that features a fitness center and offers complimentary breakfast

Airbnb
Two-story house with screened-in porch and lawn chairs, showcasing suburban living

Enjoy some peace and quiet in this spacious suite that boasts a patio, a queen bedroom, and a modern bathroom

Things to do in Geneva

4. Aurora – for a relaxing stay in the Finger Lakes

Scenic landscape with a solitary tree on a lush field overlooking a vast lake and cloudy sky

The village of Aurora, also called Aurora-on-Cayuga, is a small picturesque village on the Eastern shores of Cayuga Lake, 40 miles (65 km) away from Seneca Lake. Aurora is a very small and peaceful village, which makes it ideal for travelers who want to have a relaxing vacation. 

The main point of interest here is the Inns of Aurora Resort & Spa, which is also the place to stay in Aurora. However, even if you don’t stay there, I highly recommend you spend a day at the awesome spa. You can indulge in Ayurvedic treatments, relax in the spa, or get yourself a manicure!

You can spend the rest of your time walking along the lake or sunbathing on Lake Glass Beach (map). But if you want to explore a bit more of the region, make the 20-minute drive to Owasco Lake and discover some of the best towns around here, such as Owasco and Auburn.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in the Finger Lakes: a chic living room with a fireplace and abstract tree artwork, a modern bedroom with a canopy bed and light-filled windows, and a luxury exterior view of a hotel with an outdoor pool and expansive lawns.

Relax in this comfortable, upscale inn that offers its guests access to a full-service spa, a fitness center, and lakeside fire pits. The inn also has an amazing farm-to-table restaurant where you can try fresh local food, and when the weather is nice, you can get a kayak or a canoe and go out on Cayuga Lake.

Other accommodation options in Aurora

Mid-range
Classic yellow two-story house with white trim and a front porch set behind a lush lawn

Stay in a 19th-century converted church featuring 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a gourmet kitchen, and a spacious living area

Budget
Compact and efficient tiny house interior with blue cabinets, wooden floors, and a loft bed

This cozy house is perfect for a couple’s getaway, with a comfortable sleeping area, a kitchen, and a bathroom

Airbnb
Attic bedroom with gothic window, freestanding bathtub, wooden floors, and a cozy bed

A private room in a restored farmhouse, with an en suite bathroom and queen bed, plus access to shared spaces

Things to do in Aurora

5. Canandaigua – best place to stay in the Finger Lakes with family

Colorful boathouses lined along a serene waterway with autumn foliage.

Located on the Northern shore of the Canandaigua Lake and 33 miles (53 km) West of Seneca Lake, this small town has a serene atmosphere and offers scenic views of the lake and hills. Super nice downtown area too!

Also known by the Native Americans as ‘The Chosen Spot,’ this historic location is one of the best places to stay in the Finger Lakes if you’re traveling with your kids.

You’ll find plenty of activities that will keep both the adults and the little ones entertained, plus you’ll be surrounded by many natural spots where you can go on walks or hiking! One of the top attractions in town is the amazing botanical gardens at Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park (map). 

Of course, we’re still in the wine country, so you can’t miss checking some of the wineries on the Canandaigua Lake Wine Trail. And if you have time, I suggest taking a day trip to Farmington, 12 miles (20 km) North of Canandaigua to explore this charming town. 

Finally, if you’re a skiing or snowboarding enthusiast, book a winter stay in Canandaigua and make the most of the Bristol Mountain Ski Resort. The ski resort is just a 20-minute drive from Canandaigua, so you can have a very comfortable stay and quick and easy access to the slopes.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in the Finger Lakes: a minimalist bedroom with a four-poster bed and warm natural light, a bright and airy lounge space with plush sofas and tall windows, and a serene waterfront hotel view with autumnal trees.

One of the best lakefront hotels in the Finger Lakes, this 4-star property has spacious rooms, a garden, and an outdoor swimming pool situated on the shore of Lake Canandaigua – try to book a room with a veranda to get the best views of the lake! They have a wonderful firepit too where you can sit back and relax after the day of exploring.

Other accommodation options in Canandaigua

Mid-Range
Hotel room with king-size bed and sitting area, featuring red patterned carpet and abstract wall art

Some of the perks of staying here include gym and pool access, a free breakfast buffet, and business facilities

Budget
Vintage living room with a floral patterned sofa, wooden coffee table, and decorative stairway

Get a free kayak and go out on the on-site pond or relax by the wood-burning fireplace

Airbnb
Cozy cabin interior with a wooden dining table, bed, and rustic decor, opening onto a deck

Within walking distance of the lake, this studio features 2 beds, 1 bath, and a lovely kitchen/dining area

Things to do in Canandaigua

6. Corning – where to stay in The Finger Lakes for culture

Aerial view of a town with a river, walking paths, and greenery, under a cloudy sky.

Corning, America’s Crystal City, has been an important player in the glass industry for a long time! Located on the Chemung River and between two lakes – Keuka Lake (30 miles / 48 km) and Seneca Lake (46 miles / 74 km) – and the ultimate spot if you want a lively small-town vibe and easy access to historic attractions. 

Start your day at the Southside Historic District; just walk around and admire the architecture before moving on to the Rockwell Museum (you can pre-purchase tickets online). Then, go across the river and find the Corning Museum of Glass! I highly recommend buying tickets in advance and taking a few hours to admire the world’s largest museum of glass art. 

This is a very quaint town, but it’s also quite small, so if you’re planning a longer stay, you may run out of things to do. Luckily, there are plenty of other places to explore in the region – you can always embark on one of the wine trails, hike in one of the state parks, or even plan a fishing trip on Conesus Lake.

Luxury hotel
A collage of three hotel photos to stay in the Finger Lakes: a standard hotel room with simple furnishings and a large window, an indoor pool area with clear blue water, and a welcoming hotel front with stone accents and flowering trees.

Conveniently located near the Corning Museum of Glass, this pet-friendly property features a pool and a business center. Even though it’s not super luxurious, this 3-star hotel provides excellent service, a free breakfast buffet, dry cleaning and laundry services, and free Wi-Fi. Each room in this property is air-conditioned and has an en suite bathroom.

Other accommodation options in Corning

Mid-Range
Indoor swimming pool with lounge chairs and accessible entry steps, enclosed in a wood-beamed space

Offering access to a gym, an indoor swimming pool, and a 24-hour snack shop, the hotel also serves daily breakfast

Budget
Modern hotel room with a queen bed, striped carpet, and earth-toned bedding with a vibrant throw

An affordable hotel with a 24-hour gym, a fireplace in the lobby, free self-parking, and a complimentary breakfast

Airbnb
Outdoor patio area with barbecue grill, fire pit, and seating, surrounded by lush greenery.

A lovely house that’s tucked away between the trees and has 2 rooms, a balcony, and a garden

Things to do in Corning

Other cool towns for your stay in the Finger Lakes

So far, I’ve shown you the best towns where to stay in the Finger Lakes in New York for a great vacation. However, there are so many great lakes in the area and even more quaint towns, so I couldn’t resist providing 6 additional recommendations:

A colorful map highlighting the best areas to stay in The-Finger-Lakes, with numbered locations and labels for easy navigation

👑 Luxury price:US$200
💵 Mid-range:US$140
🛏️ Budget:US$100
📍Best area:Ithaca
👪 Best area for families:Canandaigua
🛎️ Best luxury hotel:Argos Inn
🧳 Best mid-range hotel:Hilton Garden Inn
👛 Best budget hotel:Rodeway Inn And Suites

FAQs about where to stay in the Finger Lakes

Seneca Lake pier with a red boathouse, adorned with flower pots and offering a scenic waterfront view.

🤔 Where should I stay when visiting the Finger Lakes?

The best place for a stay in the Finger Lakes Wine Country is Ithaca, a college town on Cayuga Lake with lively nightlife and stunning nature. The top hotels for your stay here are Argos Inn and Hilton Garden Inn.

🌅 Which of the Finger Lakes is most scenic?

Seneca Lake is one of the most scenic spots out of all the Finger Lakes, as it offers some great views of the waterfalls and a few scenic drives along the lake that you will love. 

🍷 Where are the most wineries in the Finger Lakes?

The Seneca Lake Wine Trail has the largest number of wineries out of all the Finger Lakes. So if you’re going especially for that, I recommend staying near wineries, specifically in Watkins Glen at Hudson Manor Bed & Breakfast.

🛬 What is the closest airport to the Finger Lakes region in New York?

The nearest airport to the Finger Lakes is the Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport, located approximately 4 miles (6 km) Southwest of Ithaca, NY.

🛩️ What are the best hotels in Finger Lakes near Greater Rochester International Airport?

The Fairfield Inn Marriott and the Staybridge Suites are the 2 best hotels to stay near Greater Rochester International Airport.

🌊 What are the best hotels on the water in Finger Lakes?

Inns of Aurora Resort & Spa in Aurora and The Lake House on Canandaigua are 2 amazing hotels on the water that offer breathtaking lake views. 

💵 How much is a hotel in Finger Lakes for this weekend?

The prices for Finger Lakes hotels vary depending on the season, the type of hotel you choose, and the length of your stay. To give you a rough idea, a hotel room in the Finger Lakes during summer can cost between US$100 and US$400

Conclusion

Night scene of a galaxy above a waterfall and a red bridge, merging natural and cosmic beauty

What a stunning place! I hope this post helped you decide where to stay in the Finger Lakes in New York State! The lakes are a half-day drive from NYC, Washington DC and Philadelphia and you will get to see some gorgeous scenery on the way!

I know how hard it is to decide which hotel to pick, so here are my top 2 favorite ones to help you with your process:

  • Argos Inn – A historic, upscale hotel with an amazing bar and cozy rooms
  • Hilton Garden Inn – I appreciate the free airport shuttle and the friendly staff

Just keep in mind that many people want to visit this area, walk the wine trains, and see the Finger Lakes National Forest, so I highly recommend booking your hotel in advance to avoid any inconvenience and get the best rooms!

Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or suggestions for our readers, and I’ll make sure to answer!

Enjoy the good wine,

Hristina


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