The Finger Lakes NY features the best Riesling wines in the US, an abundance of breweries, spectacular landscape views, and home to quaint small towns. There’s no shortage of things to do. Consider these seven small towns on the Finger Lakes if you’re planning to take a break from the norm.

1. Auburn

Auburn is a historical town made famous by William Seward, the Secretary of State during Lincoln’s administration. He is the man who purchased Alaska. Located in the northern Finger Lakes region, Auburn boasts of attractions like Seward House Museum, Willard Memorial Chapel, Harriet Tubman Home, and the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse.

Seward House Museum is the historic home of William Henry Seward. Tours are available in this well-preserved home.

The Willard Memorial Chapel is a State and National Register of Historic Places, and the only remaining structure of the original Auburn Theological Seminary established in 1818. It’s home to generations of Presbyterian missionaries, scholars, and ministers. The interior was designed by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York. It’s the only chapel that houses the rare early works by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Tiffany founder Charles Lewis Tiffany.

Stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany

History and architectural enthusiasts will like Auburn.

2. Skaneateles

Skaneateles is one of the most charming towns on the Lake. This affluent village has adorable shops, restaurants, and cafes, housed in restored buildings dating back to 1796.

Skaneateles Lake is the cleanest lake in the world and is where the famous Dicken’s Christmas happens every year right before Christmas.

For a relaxing vacation, stay at Mirbeau Inn & Spa. Get pampered in the spa retreats in the award-winning 14,000 square foot Spa Mirbeau. There are 18 treatment rooms with fireplaces, herbal infused steam rooms, dry saunas and more.

Skaneateles is the best small town for pampering and dining.

3. Elmira

Mark Twain and his family spent over 20 summers at Quarry Farm in Elmira where he worked on his literary classics. His summer study/writing room, now located on the campus of Elmira College, was named the number one Literary Attraction in America. You can visit the Mark Twain Study and Exhibit at 1 Park Place, Elmira.

Twain’s final resting place is at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Elmira is known as Mark Twain Country. Literary fans will enjoy Elmira.

4. Corning

The name Corning is synonymous with PYREX, the heat-resistant glassware created in 1914. Corning, also known as the Crystal City has the world’s largest museum dedicated to glass art and artifacts.

The Corning Museum of Glass offering live glassblowing demonstrations, 35 centuries of glass art and an innovation center is a fun place for kids of all ages to explore the art and science of glass making.

Another attraction is the Rockwell Museum, a museum housed in the Old City Hall showcasing the essence of the American spirit.

Corning is a suitable destination for families with children.

5. Hammondsport

Voted “The coolest small town in America” Hammondsport is close to the wineries and beaches of Keuka Lake. For those looking for antiques and rare collectibles, check out the antique and collectibles shops around the historic village square.


When in Hammondsport, take the Keuka Lake Wine Trail. There are five family-owned wineries on this trail where you can taste different types of wines and talk to the winemakers and owners.

Don’t forget to visit the award-winning Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinifera Cellars. Dr. Konstantin Frank fled Soviet Ukraine during World War II and started his winery in the Finger Lakes region. He produced some of the most exceptional Riesling, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay at his winery.

Beer lovers will enjoy the region’s best breweries near Hammondsport.

Go to Hammondsport if you like a quiet lakeside town and close to the wineries.

6. Watkins Glen

Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen International, and Farm Sanctuary are some of the attractions in Watkins Glen. Watkins Glen draws crowds during the Watkins Glen International racing season.

Every year the racing season starts with Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen (since 1948) and continues with NASCAR, IndyCar, Vintage Cups, and Watkins Glen Grand Prix.

It’s a great place to watch a racing event and also to have a personal experience on the wheels. Drive your car on three paced laps on the 3.4-mile Grand Prix Course with Drive the Glen.

7. Penn Yan

Penn Yan offers plenty of hotel options for those wanting to visit the wineries and breweries of Keuka and Seneca Lakes. The town’s historic Main Street has an array of shops, cafes, and restaurants.

Penn Yan

Located on the north end of the east branch of Keuka Lake, Penn Yan provides beaches for swimming and public boat docks. I would recommend staying in Penn Yan if you want to be close to Keuka Lake.

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  1. Auburn (New York)
    City in New York

    Auburn (New York) New York
  2. Skaneateles
    City in New York

    Skaneateles New York
  3. Elmira
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    Elmira New York
  4. Corning (New York)
    City in New York

    Corning (New York) New York
  5. Hammondsport
    City in New York

    Steuben County New York
  6. Watkins Glen
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    Watkins Glen New York
  7. Penn Yan
    City in New York

    Penn Yan New York