A Road Well Traveled

What began as a footpath for Native Americans across the north end of the Finger Lakes region has evolved into a leisurely, if busy, east-west corridor that gives all who travel it a taste of Americana. Affectionately called “5 and 20” by Finger Lakes locals, it actually is two separate routes, but 60 miles of it are on the same pavement. That small stretch features five beautiful lakes, a number of impressive farms, vibrant communities, wineries and a variety of wonderful restaurant choices.

A tour of it could start in the east, on Route 20 in Skaneateles, about seven miles from Auburn, where the two routes converge into one. Skaneateles, known for its historic downtown with shops and galleries on Skaneateles Lake, dates back to 1796. Enjoy unique shopping, upscale lodging and dining, and locally grown food. Summer concerts are held in a gazebo by the lake.Heading west to Owasco Lake and historic Auburn, you’ll find the Schweinfurth Museum Art Center and the Ward O’Hara Agricultural Museum. Also there are the Harriet Tubman Home and the William H. Seward House. There’s lots to see in Auburn, from the architecture at Willard Memorial Chapel to the live stage productions at the Auburn Public Theatre. Sample some wine at Aurelius Winery.

If you continue west, you’ll cross the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. Look for the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge on the right, a resting area for thousands of waterfowl and other migrating birds. You might even see bald eagles in huge nests atop the electric towers on the highway. Stop for wine tasting at Montezuma Winery.

The next town, Seneca Falls, is home to the Women’s Rights National Historic Park and the National Women’s Hall of Fame. From here on the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, you could boat to Lake Ontario, the St. Lawrence River and the Atlantic Ocean. Visit Sauder’s Market with fresh produce and authentic Mennonite handmade furniture.

Ride on to Waterloo, home to the first Memorial Day celebration, hosted in 1866. Don’t miss the recently updated National Memorial Day Museum.

Next up is Seneca Lake and Geneva, home to Hobart and William Smith Colleges and the Smith Opera House. Soak up some sun and fun at Seneca Lake State Park and its “spray” ground. Take a stroll or bike ride along Lakefront Park, a beautiful 2-1/2-mile flat stretch. Wine tasting is available at Three Brothers Wineries, Belhurst Winery, White Springs Winery and Fox Run Vineyards, all just a short distance from 5 and 20. Don’t miss the view of Seneca Lake from Rose Hill Mansion.

Continue west to Canandaigua, with a beautiful lakeside park and pier. Stroll through spectacular Sonnenburg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park, and the Granger Homestead. Don’t miss the New York Wine and Culinary Institute with its restaurant, tasting room and hands-on culinary experiences.

Past Canandaigua are beautiful rolling hills of farmland that continue through the communities of Bloomfield, Lima and Avon near Conesus Lake. Lunch at Tom Wahl’s in Avon, a quintessential American drive-in.

That’s where 5 and 20 go their separate ways again. However, if you keep going on Route 5, you can visit Genesee Country Village, the largest living
history museum in New York. It features more than 60 historic homes and heirloom gardens. Keep going west to Batavia, Darien and Corfu for u-pick apple and berry farms, Kutter’s Cheese Factory and the JELL-O Museum.

Visit www.routes5and20.com for more information.


by Kristian S. Reynolds