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5 Great Finger Lakes Day Trips for Nature Lovers

5 Great Finger Lakes Day Trips for Nature Lovers  

Photo by Joshua Harvey on Unsplash

The natural beauty of the Finger Lakes draws thousands of visitors from across the country and around the world each year, especially during the summer season. From pristine glacier-carved lakes to wooded hills and everything in between, the region offers some of the best sight-seeing and outdoor activities in the Northeast.

With so much to experience, it’s easy to plan a great Finger Lakes day trip. Here’s a look at our favorite warm-weather ways to enjoy the great outdoors:

1. Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge

Stretching 9,809 acres across Seneca, Wayne and Cayuga Counties, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge was created in 1938 and is a designated Audubon Important Bird Area.

Located in one of the most active flight lanes in the Atlantic Flyway, Montezuma is a must-visit for nature lovers and bird watchers of all skill levels. Hundreds of species of local and migratory birds, waterfowl and wildlife can be found on the refuge.

The refuge features a Visitor Center and miles of well-maintained trails through a variety of terrain including wetlands, fields and wooded areas. There are also observation areas, photography blinds and picnic benches scattered throughout the facility.

The unique Wildlife Drive is open Spring through Fall and is a 3.5 mile driving trail where you can take in the sights and sounds from the comfort of your own vehicle. With so much to explore, it’s easy to spend a whole day enjoying Montezuma.

Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge is open to the public year-round; admission is always free.

Bald Eagle Montezuma Wildlife Refuge
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash

2. Fillmore Glen State Park

Created and enhanced by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s, 94-acre Fillmore Glen State Park is located at the South end of Owasco Lake in Moravia, New York.

Breathtaking natural formations including a long, narrow gorge, five waterfalls and lush glen are the perfect subjects for budding and professional nature photographers alike. A replica of President Millard Fillmore’s childhood log cabin is located inside the park, commemorating his nearby birthplace in the town of Moravia.

For those looking to stretch their legs and explore, more than 3 miles of well-maintained hiking trails lead you through the beautiful wooded scenery, with footbridges dotting the creeks that wind throughout the park.

In summer, cool off after your hike with a dip in the crisp and refreshing stream-fed natural swimming pool.

Fillmore Glen State Park is open to the public year-round; admission varies by season.

Fillmore Glen State Park
By Oydman (talk) - I created this work entirely by myself., CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18560246

3. The Bristol Hills Bike Trail

Challenging and engaging landscape combines with some of the best vineyard and lake views in the world to make bicycling in the Finger Lakes unlike anything you’ve experienced elsewhere.

The scenic Bristol Hills surrounding Bristol Harbour Lodge & Golf Club offer some of the best bicycling in the region. The rural Bristol Hills bike trail covers 34.6 miles in Ontario County, traversing steep hills and rough terrain to create an exciting and challenging trip for regular cyclists. There are plenty of spots along the way to stop, catch your breath and soak in the panoramic views of fertile valleys, sprawling vineyards and dazzling Canandaigua Lake.

If you’re looking to venture off the trail to explore more of the Bristol Hills, be sure to stop by Bristol Harbour Lodge & Golf Club on Seneca Point Road. Refuel with a fresh, modern meal and delicious hand-crafted cocktail from our Tavern at the Point Restaurant while you relax on our outdoor dining patio overlooking Canandaigua Lake.

Bike Ride in Wine Country
Photo by Riccardo Chiarini on Unsplash

4. Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium

Immerse yourself in the rich history and natural wonders of the region at the Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium, located along the north end of Keuka Lake.

With its mission to inspire appreciation and stewardship of the cultural heritage and ecological evolution of the vast Finger Lakes region, it’s the perfect place to spend a day under the sun exploring over 15 acres of wetlands known as the Townsend-Grady Wildlife Preserve, or hike the trails around the 29-acre campus.

A wide array of seasonal programs and events cater to nature enthusiasts of all ages. Sign up for nature photography classes, art lessons, kayaking lessons, yoga classes, camping and outdoor skills workshops, and much more.

Admission fees for programs and events vary.

Nature Photographer
Photo by Joshua Harvey on Unsplash

5. Painted Bar Stables

Nestled among the waterfalls and verdant hillsides on the south end of Seneca Lake, Painted Bar Stables offers a unique way to experience the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes - on horseback!

Guided trail rides are available to the public and can be enjoyed by riders of all ages and skill levels. Rides are carefully crafted for each group through horse and rider matchmaking and trail selection to guarantee a fun, exciting and safe equine adventure. From rolling hills to rugged terrain, small groups of up to 15 riders will explore the landscape and connect with nature in a personal, memorable way.

Lessons, boarding and educational programs are also offered at Painted Bar Stables.

Horseback Riding
Photo by José Alejandro Cuffia on Unsplash



Nicole Morgan

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