Every time I drive around the lakes, I realize just how blessed we are to live, work or vacation here in the Finger Lakes! Longtime residents each have their favorite views. Visitors are looking for that special spot. As a professional photographer, I’ve taken over 20,000 images and logged over 60,000 miles in search of the most spectacular vantage points. So, on the next few pages, you will find some of my favorites. For most locations, you’ll barely need to get out of the car to enjoy. I apologize, in advance, for leaving out your favorite one. I’m sure you can name several spots on your single favorite lake! But hopefully, you might find a new destination for your next scenic adventure.
1. Cayuga Lake from Meyers Point, Lansing
Meyers Point not only has one of the best views of Ithaca to the south, but it has views to the north and west as well. For dining/cocktails, head up to Rogue’s Harbor Inn in Lansing. No view of the lake, but get some shots of this beautiful 1830 building.
BONUS: In Lansing, don’t miss the view from Lakeview Drive or Sperry Lane. In Ithaca, both Cornell University and Ithaca College have awesome views as well.
2. Canandaigua Lake from West Lake Road, Canandaigua
Not all of the great views are from high above the water. Head for Canandaigua Lake as an early morning sunrise frames sailboats along the northwest shore.
3. Skaneateles Lake from Route 41A, Skaneateles
A few miles south of the village are some tremendous views of the lake. The northbound lane is best. For dinner and a view, try the Sherwood Inn or the Bluewater Grill.
BONUS: Another great view is from the Route 41 parking area on the southeast end of the lake, just north of Scott.
4. Keuka Lake from Pleasant Valley Wine Co. Vineyards, Route 76, Hammondsport
With its steep hills, vineyards, the unique “Y’ shape of Bluff Point, and lots of water, this is truly one of the most stunning spots in the Finger Lakes. For dining, Heron Hill Winery has a nice outdoor patio, or head down to the water across from Bluff Point on Route 54A where there are several wonderful restaurants right on the lake.
BONUS: You’ll also be dazzled with the views from Bully Hill Road., Hammondsport, just north of Bully Hill Vineyards; and from Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Wine Cellars on Middle Road, Hammondsport.
5. Honeoye Lake from Harriet Hollister Spencer Park, Honeoye
This state park has a breathtaking view of Honeoye Lake from high atop Canadice Hill, as well as picnic tables, hiking, cross-country skiing and biking trails.
6. Keuka Lake from McGregor Vineyards, Dutch Street, Dundee
Your GPS may get confused, but just follow the signs to the winery from Route 54, about halfway between Penn Yan and Hammondsport. For another great view of Bluff Point, just head down the hill for food on the deck of the Switzerland Inn. If you are in Penn Yan, there is good food and a great view from the Top of the Lake Restaurant as well.
BONUS: Choose almost any of the wineries dotting the hills overlooking Keuka Lake for additional spectacular views.
7. Seneca Lake from Lamoureaux Landing Wine Cellars, Lodi
There are great views at several of the wineries along Route 414 north of Watkins Glen, but don’t miss the view from Lamoureaux Landing Wine Cellars. It faces north and shows the widest part of Seneca Lake. They say that you can see Geneva on a clear day, some 20 miles away! Two local restaurants have great views: The Ginny Lee Café at Wagner Vineyards (and brewery) and Dano’s Heuriger on Seneca, both in Lodi.
BONUS: Other great views are from Wagner Vineyards, Standing Stone Vineyards, Leidenfrost Vineyards, Chateau Lafayette Reneau and Atwater Estate Vineyards.
8. Owasco Lake from Ensenore Road, Casowasco
Just off of Route 38, north of Moravia, is one of my favorite spots. Open the car windows and listen to the quiet. Then, take Route 38 South to the end of the lake for a meal and a view on the outdoor deck at the Cascade Grill.
BONUS: If you are in Auburn, don’t miss the view from the pavilion at Emerson Park.
9. Seneca Lake from Glenora Wine Cellars, Route 14
From its high perch, the lake stretches for miles to the north and south, with extensive vineyards showing on both sides of the lake. The food is great at Veraisons Restaurant at the Inn at Glenora, or try the beer across the street at Starkey’s Lookout.
BONUS: Head south to Watkins Glen to the village pier, one of the most photographed landmarks in the Finger Lakes.
10. Canandaigua Lake from Route 21, Canandaigua
Route 21 has many exciting views, especially looking across to Bare Hill, former meeting grounds of the Seneca Indian nation. Once in Canandaigua, enjoy dinner and a view at the Inn on the Lake. And don’t miss the New York Wine and Culinary Center right next door.
BONUS: For another incredible view just north of Naples, head south on County Road 12.
So that will get you started on seeing some of the best views in the Finger Lakes. I encourage you to do your own exploring and to create your own list of favorites. Enjoy!
Kristian S. Reynolds produces photos and video for industry, and travel and tourism agencies throughout the Northeast. His two coffee-table books, Finger Lakes Panoramas and Wine Tour of the Finger Lakes are local favorites. For more information, visit KristianReynolds.com.
by Kristian S. Reynolds