Watkins Glen, New York, Travel Guide

The Finger Lakes region in upstate New York is known for its stunning scenery, world-class wineries, and charming small towns. (It was even named one of the 50 best places to travel in 2022 by Travel + Leisure editors.) At the southern tip of Seneca Lake — the largest Finger Lake by volume — is a hidden gem for visitors looking to explore the outdoors: Watkins Glen.

While many head here to visit Watkins Glen State Park — known for its 19 waterfalls cascading hundreds of feet down a winding gorge — the area is equally popular for its wine. The Seneca Lake Wine Trail, in particular, is one of the three unique wine trails in the Finger Lakes region and features 25 wineries.

Bruce Murray, who owns Boundary Breaks Vineyard, told T+L that the local community is tight-knit and highly collaborative, which leads to a welcoming environment. “Part of what makes coming to places like this feel different is that you can see the owner pouring wine themselves,” Murray said. “You can tell that people are committed, and they really care.”

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway or a fast-paced adventure, Watkins Glen is a great central town to kick off your Finger Lakes adventure.

Courtesy of Idlwilde Inn

Best Hotels

For luxury accommodations in town, the Idlwilde Inn is an 18-room retreat set in a renovated 1892 historic Victorian house. Less than half a mile away, the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel offers a stay right on the lake, with many rooms featuring waterfront balconies. Be sure to ask about their special package deal for the 2024 solar eclipse. (This upstate town is set to sparkle even more during the celestial event.)

A unique option is Grist Iron Brewery, which has an on-site guest house called the Farmhouse. It can accommodate up to 16 people and has a huge deck that boasts picturesque views of the sunset over the lake. Plus, it puts you within walking distance of the great beer and BBQ right up the hill at the brewery.

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