12 Fun Things to Do on Seneca Lake (Finger Lakes) for the Ultimate Wine Country Experience

by Jem
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Planning a trip to Seneca Lake? I’ll guide you through the top attractions and things to do around Seneca Lake. From award-winning wineries on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail to breathtaking natural wonders like Watkins Glen State Park, Seneca Lake’s diverse landscapes offer an adventure of a lifetime.

Imagine dipping your toes into the cool, crystal-clear waters of Seneca Lake, the largest of the Finger Lakes, where adventure and relaxation meet. Picture yourself sipping on exquisite wines, exploring breathtaking natural parks, or simply soaking in the serene beauty of the lake’s shimmering expanse. If you’re wondering what to do in Seneca Lake, you’ve hit the jackpot of experiences.

I’ve explored this New York gem, and trust me, it’s packed with more fun activities than you’d expect. From hidden hiking trails that lead to breathtaking waterfalls to cozy nights spent under the stars, Seneca Lake has it all. And the best part? I’m here to guide you through it, sharing insider tips and must-dos that’ll make your trip unforgettable.

Whether you’re in for some adventure, looking to unwind, or a bit of both, Seneca Lake delivers. I’ll take you through the countless experiences this stunning destination offers. Ready to discover all the fun things to do in Seneca Lake? Let’s get going!

The top things to do on Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes right now

Best places to visit in Seneca Lake

Ready to explore the stunning vistas of Seneca Lake? From the vibrant vineyards along the Seneca Lake Wine Trail to the serene beauty of Watkins Glen State Park, there’s no shortage of amazing things to do on Seneca Lake.

Whether you’re paddling the tranquil waters by kayak or savoring the local flavors at Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca, every moment here promises something unique. Here’s your ultimate guide to the best attractions around Seneca Lake—each one makes your New York trip unforgettable!

1. Wine Tasting at Seneca Lake Wine Trail

Ever thought about becoming a wine connoisseur, or at least pretending to be one for a day? Seneca Lake Wine Trail is your playground! Picture this: cruising down scenic roads with vineyard views that’ll have you stopping for photos more times than you can count.

I’ve meandered through quite a few of these wineries. If I had to pick just one spot that stuck with me, it’d be Lamoreaux Landing Wine Cellars. Their tasting room offers stunning lake views, and their Riesling is divine. It’s a great starting point, especially if you’re all about those crisp, refreshing sips. If you ask me, it’s one of the best wineries on Seneca Lake.

The cool thing about the wine trail isn’t just the sipping and swirling. It’s the people. Winemakers here pour their hearts into every bottle, and they’re eager to share their craft with you. You’ll learn a thing or two about wine, like why the Finger Lakes region is perfect for growing certain grapes, or how to properly taste wine (hint: there’s more to it than just drinking).

Don’t just stick to the wine, though. Check out the events on the trail. They’re the perfect excuse to enjoy great wine, meet fun people, and soak in some local culture.

So, what are you waiting for? Fun things to do in Seneca Lake definitely include losing yourself (and finding yourself) on the wine trail. It’s casual, it’s beautiful, and it’s a whole lot of fun.

It's not just the drinking and swirling that makes the wine trail fun—it's also the people.
It’s not just the drinking and swirling that makes the wine trail fun—it’s also the people.

2. Hike Watkins Glen State Park

If you’re hunting for breathtaking views and a bit of adventure, Watkins Glen State Park is where it’s at. Imagine walking through a canyon, surrounded by 200-foot cliffs, with waterfalls around every bend. It sounds like a scene from a fantasy movie, but it’s real, and it’s right here in Seneca Lake.

This park is a paradise for hikers of all levels. With trails that wind past 19 waterfalls, you’re in for a visual treat. The Gorge Trail is a favorite, offering views that’ll have your phone’s camera working overtime. And trust me, even if you’re not usually one for hiking, this place will change your mind.

Now, here’s a tip from me to you: wear comfy shoes. You’ll be walking a lot, and the last thing you want is sore feet when there’s so much beauty to explore. If you can, visit early in the morning or later in the afternoon. The light is magical, and it’s a bit quieter then, too.

One of the best New York State Parks, Watkins Glen State Park is a spot where you can chill with a picnic, listen to the water, and just be. It’s a reminder of how stunning nature can be and why taking a moment to soak it all in is so important.

For those looking for free things to do in Seneca Lake, this park is a gem. It’s an escape into nature that costs nothing but will give you memories worth a fortune.

Watkins Glen State Park has amazing vistas and a little adventure if that's what you're looking for.
In addition to amazing views, Watkins Glen State Park offers some adventure.

3. Sail on Seneca Lake

There’s something about being on the water that just feels right, doesn’t it? Well, sailing on Seneca Lake is one of those experiences that sticks with you. Whether you’re a seasoned sailor or someone who just loves the idea of cruising on the lake, this is an adventure you won’t want to miss.

Picture this: the wind in your hair, the sun setting on the horizon, and the gentle waves of Seneca Lake guiding you along. You can enjoy various activities in the Finger Lakes region, such as renting a sailboat or joining a guided tour, offering a new perspective that is hard to beat.

I recommend checking out local charters for a sunset sail. There’s nothing quite like watching the sky change colors over the lake. Bring your camera, but also take a moment to just enjoy it. These are the kinds of views that make you appreciate the little things in life.

Sailing on Seneca Lake is also a chance to learn something new. Many charters offer hands-on experiences, where you can help sail the boat. It’s a fun way to dive into the world of sailing, and who knows? You might discover a new hobby. As one of the coolest things to do on Seneca Lake, it’s something I know you’ll love.

Seneca Lake sailing is one of those memorable moments.
Seneca Lake sailing is one of those memorable moments.

4. Kayak or Paddleboard

Kayaking or paddleboarding on Seneca Lake is like stepping into a postcard. The calm waters mirror the sky, cliffs, and trees, creating a tranquil scene that’s perfect for a day out on the water. If you’re a pro at paddling or trying it for the first time, this experience is a must-do.

You don’t need to be an expert to enjoy it. Local rental shops are dotted along the shore, offering kayaks and paddleboards, along with some handy tips for beginners. I remember my first time standing up on a paddleboard here. It was a mix of excitement and a tiny bit of fear. But once you find your balance, it’s pure bliss.

Gliding over the water, you’ll see Seneca Lake from a whole new angle. Keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the shores and fish below the surface. It’s a peaceful way to connect with nature, and on a clear day, the views are unbeatable.

One of my favorite parts? Paddling out in the early morning when the lake is like glass. There’s something magical about the quiet, broken only by the sound of your paddle dipping into the water.

If you’re looking for fun places to visit in Seneca Lake, getting out on the water with a kayak or paddleboard should be high on your list. It’s a chance to explore at your own pace, soak in the sun, and maybe even get a little workout in.

Seneca Lake is a place where you may go kayaking and paddleboarding.
Seneca Lake is a place where you may go kayaking and paddleboarding.

5. Explore the Seneca Lake Scenic Byway

Hitting the road along the Seneca Lake Scenic Byway is like flipping through the pages of a nature magazine, except it’s real and right outside your window. This route wraps around the lake, offering snapshots of vineyards, historic sites, and panoramic views that beg you to pull over and take it all in.

As you meander through this picturesque path, one spot you can’t miss is the stretch near Watkins Glen. Here, the byway hugs the lake so closely that it feels like you could reach out and touch the water. It’s a perfect example of places to go in Seneca Lake that showcase its natural beauty.

Halfway through the drive, make sure to stop at one of the many overlooks. They offer the perfect pause for a picnic or a quick photo session. The views from here highlight its serene beauty, making you want to stay in the Finger Lakes region.

The Seneca Lake Scenic Byway isn’t just about the drive. It’s about the stops along the way. From quaint towns to roadside stands selling local produce, each turn offers something new to explore. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the journey is just as important as the destination.

This drive is one of the best things to do in Seneca Lake for anyone who loves road trips, stunning landscapes, and the freedom to explore at their own pace. Whether you’re behind the wheel or riding shotgun, it’s an adventure that promises beauty at every turn.

The Seneca Lake Scenic Byway is like to leafing through a nature magazine.
The Seneca Lake Scenic Byway is like to leafing through a nature magazine. | Image Credit: Seneca Lake Scenic Byway

6. Attend the Finger Lakes Wine Festival

You haven’t truly experienced Seneca Lake until you’ve been to the Finger Lakes Wine Festival. Picture this: a sunny day filled with the chance to taste wines from across the region, all in one spot. It’s like a wine lover’s dream come true, with a side of live music and gourmet food.

Here’s a little insider tip: don’t rush. With so many wineries showcasing their best bottles, it’s tempting to try everything. But the real magic happens when you take your time. Chat with the winemakers, learn about the unique flavors, and savor each sip.

While wine is the star of the show, there’s so much more to the festival. The live bands are fantastic, creating a soundtrack for the day that’s as varied as the wine selection. Plus, the food vendors bring their A-game. You’ll find everything from gourmet bites to hearty meals that perfectly complement your wine choices.

One thing that makes the Finger Lakes Wine Festival stand out is the vibe. Everyone’s in a good mood, excited to share and explore. It’s one of those places where you go as strangers and leave as friends, bonded over the shared love of wine and fun.

So, when you’re compiling your Seneca Lake things to do list, mark your calendar for the festival. In 2024, it’s being held from 26-28 July. It’s a perfect blend of delicious wines, great music, and even better company. Trust me, it’s an event you won’t want to miss.

Attending the Finger Lakes Wine Festival is a must-do for anybody visiting Seneca Lake.
Attending the Finger Lakes Wine Festival is a must-do for anybody visiting Seneca Lake. | Image Credit: Finger Lakes Wine Festival

7. Fish on Seneca Lake

Fishing on Seneca Lake feels like hitting the pause button on life’s hustle. If you’re a seasoned angler or someone who can barely tell a rod from a reel, fishing here is about the chill vibes and the thrill of the catch.

Seneca Lake is teeming with fish. We’re talking trout, bass, and even the elusive landlocked salmon. And the best part? The feeling of calm that washes over you as you wait for that bite. It’s nature’s own meditation, with the added bonus of possibly catching your dinner.

For those diving into fishing for the first time, local guides are worth their weight in gold. They know the best spots and will have you feeling like a pro in no time. Plus, they’re full of stories about the lake and its aquatic residents.

And don’t worry about gear. There are plenty of spots around the lake where you can rent everything you need. My advice? Make a day of it. Bring some snacks, maybe a cold drink or two, and soak in the serene beauty of Seneca Lake. Whether you catch a big one or just enjoy the peace and quiet, it’s a day well spent.

Fishing here is a chance to connect with nature and maybe even snag a brag-worthy photo. It’s one of the best Seneca Lake attractions that reminds you to slow down and enjoy the moment.

Seneca Lake fishing is like pressing a pause button on the hectic pace of life.
Seneca Lake fishing is like pressing a pause button on the hectic pace of life.

8. Relax at Clute Park & Beach

If you’re anything like me and love a good day by the water without venturing too far into it, Clute Park & Beach is your spot. It’s that perfect mix of sandy shores and grassy spots where you can lay out a blanket, open a book, or just soak up the sun with the serene Seneca Lake as your backdrop.

I recommend packing a picnic. There’s something special about munching on your favorite snacks while the lake breeze keeps you cool. And if you’re feeling a bit more active, the park has plenty of space to toss a frisbee or kick a soccer ball around. It’s laid-back fun at its best.

Here’s something cool for those looking for places to visit in Seneca Lake: Clute Park & Beach also has a playground and volleyball courts. So, if you’re up for a little friendly competition or need to keep the kids entertained, you’re all set.

Wondering where to go in Seneca Lake for a relaxed day out? Clute Park & Beach is a gem. It’s proof that the best things in life (and at Seneca Lake) are often the simplest.

Clute Park & Beach is the place to go if, like me, you enjoy spending time by the ocean without going too far.
Clute Park & Beach is the place to go if, like me, you enjoy spending time by the ocean without going too far.

9. Tour the Seneca Lake Brewing Company

Ever wondered what it’s like behind the scenes of a brewery? Well, Seneca Lake Brewing Company is your chance to dive into the world of craft beer, right by the stunning Seneca Lake.

The tours here are super relaxed. You get to walk around, see how everything’s made, and yes, taste the goods. Their cask ales are absolute must-tries. They’re smooth, flavorful, and something a bit different from the usual brews you might be used to.

I’d recommend popping by when they have an event on. There’s something about sipping a freshly brewed ale while there’s a bit of a buzz in the air that just feels right. Plus, it’s a great way to meet locals and travelers alike. Everyone’s in a good mood, and why wouldn’t they be? Good beer, good company, and the backdrop of Seneca Lake.

Don’t skip out on chatting with the brewers if you get the chance. These folks are passionate about what they do, and they love to share it. You’ll walk away not just with a favorite new ale but with cool insights into the brewing process.

Adding a visit to Seneca Lake Brewing Company to your list of fun places to visit in Seneca Lake is a no-brainer. It’s laid-back, it’s educational, and most importantly, it’s a lot of fun. Just remember to bring your ID and your sense of adventure.

Seneca Lake Brewing Company offers you the opportunity to explore the world of handcrafted beer.
Seneca Lake Brewing Company offers you the opportunity to explore the world of handcrafted beer.

10. Visit the National Women’s Hall of Fame in Seneca Falls

Next up, let’s take a turn towards something inspiring. Ever heard of Seneca Falls? This town is steeped in history, especially for women’s rights. The National Women’s Hall of Fame is a must-visit here. This museum celebrates women who’ve changed the world.

Walking through the Hall of Fame is like walking through history with each exhibit. You’ll meet pioneers, from activists to scientists, who’ve paved the way for future generations. It’s incredibly moving and surprisingly uplifting. You leave feeling like you can take on the world, or at least be more informed about the incredible contributions women have made.

If you’re exploring the best attractions in Seneca Lake, this spot offers a unique pause from the outdoor adventures. It’s a reminder of the power of determination and the impact of standing up for what you believe in. Plus, it’s an educational experience that’s both eye-opening and heartwarming for all ages.

Don’t miss the chance to be inspired here. It’s a perfect blend of history, empowerment, and reflection. And honestly, it’s a refreshing change of pace from the usual tourist spots. It makes your trip to Seneca Lake not just fun, but meaningful too.

Seneca Lake's National Women's Hall of Fame is a must-see.
Seneca Lake’s National Women’s Hall of Fame is a must-see.

11. Savor a Meal at Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca

Have you ever walked into a place and felt like you’re exactly where you need to be? That’s Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca for you. It’s this cozy spot by Seneca Lake where every meal feels like you’re dining with family. They serve up this incredible mix of Austrian comfort food that’ll have your taste buds dancing.

Now, I’ve got to tell you about the view. Sitting there, with a plate of the best schnitzel you’ve ever tasted, looking out over the lake, feels like a scene from a movie. It’s the kind of place where you want to take it slow, enjoy every bite, and maybe sip on a glass of wine (or two).

The vibe here is just right. It’s warm, welcoming, and without a doubt, a place where memories are made. Whether you’re there for a casual lunch or a special dinner, Dano’s makes it an occasion. And if you’re into wine, you’re in for a treat. They pair their dishes with some of the finest wines around.

Here’s a tip: try the strudel. Trust me, it’s a game-changer. And if you’re looking for fun things to do in Seneca Lake, adding a meal at Dano’s to your list is a no-brainer. It’s not just eating; it’s an experience that captures the essence of the lake, the land, and the love of good food.

Every dinner at Dano's Heuriger on Seneca seems like a family meal in this quaint Seneca Lake restaurant.
Every dinner at Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca seems like a family meal in this quaint Seneca Lake restaurant.

12. Experience Racing at Watkins Glen International

If you’re hanging around Seneca Lake and itching for a bit of thrill, Watkins Glen International is closer than you think. Just a stone’s throw from the lake, this racetrack offers a rush unlike any other. It’s an experience that’s surprisingly accessible, even if you’re not a motorsport enthusiast.

Now, even if you’re not a die-hard racing fan, there’s something undeniably thrilling about watching cars zoom around the track. It’s the energy, the crowd, and that unmistakable scent of adrenaline in the air. And let’s not forget the sound—there’s nothing quite like the roar of engines to make you feel alive.

Check out the schedule before you go. Whether it’s a NASCAR weekend or a vintage racing event, each day offers something unique. There are even days when you can actually drive the track. Yes, you read that right. You, behind the wheel, taking on the same curves and straightaways as the pros. It’s an absolute must-do for the bucket list.

When you’re plotting out those Seneca Lake things to do, pencil in a day for speed at Watkins Glen. It’s an easy detour for an unforgettable adrenaline rush. And honestly, it’s just cool to say you’ve been to one of the most iconic tracks in the racing world.

There is no adrenaline like what Watkins Glen International has to provide when it comes to racing.
There is no adrenaline like what Watkins Glen International has to provide when it comes to racing.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the best things to do in Seneca Lake:

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Seneca Lake? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to the Finger Lakes.

What is the best side of Seneca Lake?

The best side of Seneca Lake? Honestly, both sides have their charms, but I lean towards the east side if you’re into wineries and stunning sunsets. The vineyards are spectacular, and the views over the lake as the sun goes down are something you don’t want to miss.

How long does it take to drive around Seneca Lake?

Driving around Seneca Lake can take about 2 to 3 hours without stops. But trust me, you’ll want to stop—whether it’s for a quick wine tasting, a scenic photo, or just to enjoy the view. So, budget a day to truly soak it all in.

Every moment spent in Seneca Lake promises to be unlike any other.
Every moment spent in Seneca Lake promises to be unlike any other.

Can you swim in Seneca Lake?

Yes, you can swim in Seneca Lake. The water is refreshing, especially on a hot summer day. There are public beaches like Clute Park & Beach where you can safely enjoy a swim and soak up the lake life.

Which is the cleanest Finger Lake?

The cleanest Finger Lake is often debated, but Skaneateles Lake is frequently praised for its crystal-clear waters. It’s so clean that it serves as a drinking water source for nearby cities. Definitely worth a visit for the pristine water alone.

Which Finger Lake has the most waterfalls?

When it comes to waterfalls, Cayuga Lake takes the crown, mainly because of the incredible Taughannock Falls State Park. It’s home to the stunning Taughannock Falls, which are even taller than Niagara Falls! Plus, there are plenty of other smaller falls to explore in the area.

The fun things to do on Seneca Lake, Finger Lakes for all types of travelers
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