This is part two of our adventure in the Finger Lakes. Did you catch part one about our stay in Corning?
I know I said this about Corning too, but Watkins Glen is just one of those places with such a wide variety of activities that pretty much everyone can find something they love to do. Maybe it’s just a Finger Lakes thing. If so, I can totally see why visiting the Finger Lakes is so popular. Speaking of lakes, while Corning is south of Keuka Lake, Watkins Glen is on Seneca Lake, the next lake east.
Our time in Watkins Glen began with a hike on the Gorge Trail at Watkins Glen State Park. The park has been around for generations, but if you happen to have visited years ago, you should make another trip soon. The entrance of the park is being completely remodeled to include new seating areas and green space!
Watkins Glen State park is known for its beautiful and abundant waterfalls, and September’s mild weather was perfect for enjoying the waterfalls’ mist without it being too muggy or too cold.
In the photo below is my favorite view from the park: a heart-shaped pool at the base of a waterfall! The heart formation is due to the waterfall stream shifting over many, many years, and has inspired some pretty interesting legends. If you take a guided walk on the Gorge Trail, ask your guide about the legend of Minnehaha Falls. 🙂
After a hike and some lunch, our journey took us around the bend of Seneca Lake to Burdett, NY, where we enjoyed a wine tasting at Atwater Estate Vineyards. As you can see, the view of the lake from the winery is simply breathtaking.
If you’re visiting Atwater, I highly recommend setting aside a whole afternoon. Once you see the view, you won’t want to leave — especially on a nice day when you can enjoy their abundant outdoor seating areas.
We sampled a number of Atwater wines, but my personal favorite was a special mulled wine created by their longtime wine steward, Mandy. It was warming, delicious and would make an excellent gift around the holidays. If you’re interested, you can order the mulled wine kit on their website, but of course I’d recommend you visit in person instead. 😉
Honestly, I didn’t want to leave. The weather was perfect, the wine was tasty, what more could we ask for?
Right down the road from Atwater Estate Vineyards was our next stop: Finger Lakes Distilling, one of few distilleries in the area.
We found out during the distillery tour that each liquor Finger Lakes Distilling makes is handcrafted in small batches, with all flavorings being added during the distilling process rather than after.
While we were there, they were making wildberry vodka and let us climb up the ladder to take a whiff right out of the tank. It smelled amazing!
We were even able to meet the owner, Brian McKenzie, and his adorable dog!
Our final Watkins Glen stop was to the the pier right outside the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, where we were boarding the Schooner True Love for a sail around Seneca Lake.
Sailing on the True Love would be perfect for a special occasion like an anniversary. Just imagine swaying on a sailboat watching the sun setting over the lake together, with a complimentary glass of wine or champagne in hand, no less! Swoon!
After our voyage, we enjoyed a candlelit dinner on the patio at the Blue Pointe Grille, the in-house restaurant at the Harbor Hotel and called it a night in our luxuriously large hotel rooms. A little note: Blue Pointe Grille is great about accommodating dietary restrictions — they were happy to bring out a gluten-free bread basket and have a robust vegan menu!
For a romantic Finger Lakes getaway for two, don’t miss Watkins Glen and the other nearby communities around Seneca Lake. Be sure to visit when the weather is warm so you can take advantage of outdoor activities like Watkins Glen State Park, the patio at Atwater Estate Vineyards, and sailing on the Schooner True Love.
For more ideas as you plan a trip to Seneca Lake, be sure to visit the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce website!