The Finger Lakes are a great location for any relaxing weekend getaway; they’re secluded but not too rural, exciting but not overwhelming. Hammondsport, on Keuka Lake – one of the only Y-shaped lakes in the world and considered by many to be the most scenic of the Finger Lakes – has become a hot destination spot for LGBT couples and their friends.
THINGS TO DO
Keuka Lake is the perfect spot for any water activity, and has great opportunities for kayaking and canoeing. If rowing isn’t quite your speed, you can always hop on a 67-foot schooner with 22 other sailors to relax on the water.
Hammondsport is home to the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum, which celebrates Curtiss’s contributions to the development of the motorcycle, automobile, and airplane. The museum features many of his engines and artifacts, along with other rotating exhibitions such as the current “Boldly Exploring the Universe: Movie Adventures in Space,” featuring screen-used props from well-loved sci-fi flicks and TV shows. Hammondsport also features the new Finger Lakes Boating Museum, which showcases over 150 boats and works to preserve the Lakes’ boating culture. Visitors can view demonstrations or take classes on boat restorations, sailing, and more.
Just thirty minutes away in Corning, visitors can enjoy the Rockwell Museum of Modern Art and the Corning Museum of Glass. The Rockwell Museum features American artists making work that captures the spirit of America. The Corning Museum of Glass has no shortage of things to do, including workshops where you can make your own glasswork or watch demonstrations in The Amphitheater Hot Shop, the largest area to view a glass demonstration in the world. Tickets for general admission last for two days, so you can come back to explore anything you didn’t the first time around.
There’s other ways to explore the wilderness outside of the lake. Voted third best National Park in the USA Today Readers’ Choice Poll for Best State Park in the United States, Watkins Glen State Park features nineteen waterfalls within two miles of stream. Visitors can camp in the park in either tents, trailers, or campers.
The Finger Lakes Trail is also in prime location for Hammondsport visitors for hiking. The train is 580 miles long, and while some more serious hikers might attempt the whole thing, it’s also available for more casual hiking and visiting.
PLACES TO EAT
Hammondsport has no shortage of cute places downtown to eat. If you’re looking for a place to grab dinner, look no further than the Union Block Italian Bistro. This italian-style restaurant is small and cozy, but has a downstairs lounge where diners can drink local wine and listen to live music while they wait to be seated. While the restaurant doesn’t take reservations, diners can use the app Nowait to get on the waiting list. The wide selection of entrees can also be ordered in half-size portions, and there’s no shortage of vegetarian and gluten-free fare.
Just down the road is the Timber Stone Grill, which features salads, meat, flatbreads, sandwiches, pasta, and more. The restaurant prides itself on having locally sourced ingredients and providing regional cuisine to the Finger Lakes. They also have a selection of Finger Lakes beer and wine.
If you want to stop in at a cafe, Aroma Coffee Art Gallery is the place to go. This cute cafe features Middle Eastern fare, including falafel sandwiches, flatbreads, and salads. You can also just stop in for a quick coffee or tea. The space doubles as an art gallery, featuring local artists. During the warmer months, Aroma has a selection of bikes to rent outside.
PLACES TO DRINK
Hammondsport prides itself on its wineries and breweries, which visitors come from all over to experience and taste-test.
Among Hammondsport’s wineries is the constant favorite Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Vinefera Wine Cellars, which has beautiful views of Keuka Lake and offers free tastings to guests. The wines are also available at some restaurants in town. With three tasting rooms, Heron Hill Winery also sits on the lake and offers a wide variety to guests. A smaller winery, Keuka Lake Vineyards is always promising, along with Ravines Wine Cellars and Bully Hill Vineyards Winery. Going on a wine tour is the best way to explore all the wine that Hammondsport has to offer.
When it comes to beer, Hammondsport has a surprising number of breweries. Keuka Brewing Company, a quaint brewery with outdoor games, was named the Best Craft Brewery at the New York Craft Beer & Food Festival in 2014. The Finger Lakes Brewing Company down the road has live music, decorative growlers hanging from the ceiling, and free popcorn every day. The brewery won a Silver Medal for Best Craft Beer at the same festival in 2015. The Brewery of Broken Dreams is also a stand-out, with great customer service.
PLACES TO STAY
When staying in Hammondsport, the best option is to stay at one of the town’s numerous Bread and Breakfasts. One highlight is the Black Sheep Inn, owned by Debbie Meritzky and Marc Rotman. The historic 1859 stone house has been restored entirely, and features the art of the owners, who are intrinsic in the Finger Lakes art scene. They even have their own studio, called F.L.A.V.O.R. (Finger Lakes Art Vintage Old Restored) on-site, where visitors can take a workshop and make their own original piece.
“It’s part of who we are as individuals as well as innkeepers,” Rotman says. “It’s driven by our art and our creativity, but it carries over into our guest experience because it’s something really interesting and fascinating for them to enjoy while they’re here.”
The Inn also offers special packages, where visitors can have all-inclusive experiences to wine or beer tastings, massages (also on-site), art classes, or all-inclusive passes to the area’s museums.
Besides art, the owners are passionate about locally sourced food, and it shows in their breakfast. Meritzky studied at the New England Culinary Institute in Montpelier, Vt. which is where the couple fell in love with rural living. She cooks the breakfasts at the inn each morning, which Rotman estimates are sourced 80-90% locally. Debbie comes up with unique breakfasts depending on what their local providers give them each week.
“We’re really fortunate in this region that we have such great local food services. You’re not going to get the typical breakfast fare here necessarily, it’s all inspired by what’s local, what’s fresh,” Rotman says.
Other inns of note include the Moonshadow Inn, which has beautiful views of the lake and the sunset, and the charming Amity Rose Bed & Breakfast.
You can find more about Hammondsport and how to plan your visit at their official website.