Seneca Lake Area Vacation Rentals & Travel Guide

Finger Lakes / Seneca Lake


DISCOVER SENECA LAKE, NY

Seneca Lake is home to awe-inspiring views, stunning nature trails, and adventure. You can find popular Finger Lakes wineries, including Belhurst Castle and Winery, Three Brothers Wineries and Estates, Fox Run Vineyards, and more, which are perfect for visiting year-round and sampling the region’s wines. There are also breathtaking state and local parks teeming with waterfalls to explore.

Seneca Lake itself is located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. It is actually the largest of the Finger Lakes by volume and the second largest by length, falling only to nearby Cayuga Lake. The Finger Lakes region is one of the top New York destinations for a relaxing getaway, and Seneca Lake easily tops the list.

Besides being one of the best places to visit in New York, Seneca Lake is well-known for water sports, the Finger Lakes wine trail, and its close proximity to Watkins Glen, a historic state park with over 19 waterfalls. During the warmer months, the lake becomes a playground for water sport lovers and you can find everything from boating, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and canoeing in the glistening waters. Enjoy a beautiful journey through one of the region’s top hiking trails before settling in for a glass of wine at your favorite Seneca Lake winery.

Seneca Lake Vacation Rentals

The Best Places to Stay for Your Seneca Lake, NY Vacation:

Geneva:   Geneva, NY is a town located on the northern tip of Seneca Lake. It’s the largest town on the lake, but that’s not saying much as it boasts a population less than 15,000. You’ll still experience a small town vibe and it’s the perfect place to set up for your Seneca Lake vacation due to its close proximity to the major interstate that cuts horizontally through the state. If you want to enjoy time on the lake and still have easy access to popular Finger Lakes wine tours and a bit more civilization, Geneva is a great Seneca Lake destination for you.

Watkins Glen:  Watkins Glen, NY is a village located at the southernmost tip of Seneca Lake. This small town sits right on the lake and is just 5 minutes from the famous Watkins Glen State Park, which features a variety of hiking trails and 19 waterfalls. It’s the ideal spot for those who love hiking, biking and exploring the outdoors. Plus, it’s less than an hour from Pennsylvania so it makes visiting Seneca Lake feasible even for Pennsylvanians. 

Dresden:  Dresden, NY is a tiny town on the western side of Seneca Lake almost halfway between Geneva and Watkins Glen. Named after the famous city in Germany, this town is renowned for its ideal location along the Seneca Lake Wine trail. With a handful of wineries in walking distance, Dresden is ideal for those wanting to visit Finger Lakes wineries.  

Hector:   Settled along the eastern side of Seneca Lake, Hector, NY is a small town named after the firstborn son of one of the town’s founders. Located towards the middle of the lake right near Finger Lakes National Forest, it provides easy access to wineries on the north and southern end of the lake.  

Romulus:  Romulus, NY is a small town on Seneca Lake that was named after the mythical founder of Rome. It boasts premier Finger Lakes rentals, easy access to wineries, and a prime location between Seneca and Cayuga Lake.  

Lakemont:  Nestled in the southeast corner of Seneca Lake, Lakemont, NY is a hamlet in Yates County. It boasts easy access to Watkins Glen and numerous Finger Lakes wineries. Plus, it’s situated between Seneca and Keuka Lake.

Lodi:  Lodi, NY is located on the eastern side of Seneca Lake and provides easy access to nearby Cayuga Lake. Named after the Italian city of Lodi, this village boasts the ideal location for hitting the southeast portion of the Seneca Lake wine trail.

The Best Things to Do in Seneca Lake:

Seneca Lake Wine Trail:  The   Seneca Lake Wine Trail  consists of over 30 wineries and vineyards and is one of the most popular of the Finger Lakes wine trail. Some of the most well-known wineries are Belhurst Estate Winery, Fox Run Vineyards, Three Brothers Wineries and Estates, and Torrey Ridge Winery, but there are countless others to explore scattered all around the lake.

Watkins Glen International Speedway:  NASCAR lovers will be thrilled to attend a race at the Watkins Glen International Speedway . Known as “The Glen,” this popular Seneca Lake attraction draws thousands of visitors every weekend it hosts a race.

Watkins Glen Farm Sanctuary:  This 175 acre sanctuary is one of only three Farm Sanctuaries in the United States and is home to over 500 farm animals. Spend an afternoon taking a one-hour guided tour to learn more about the rescued animals before visiting the onsite gift shop.

Seneca Lake Boat Tour:  For a truly unique perspective of the lake, take a Seneca Lake boat tour. Seneca Lake Cruises offers affordable  one-hour sightseeing tours  on their Stroller IV. Aboard their 270 passenger vessel, the  Seneca Legacy , they also offer breakfast, lunch, and dinner cruises, as well as special events like conferences and weddings.

Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry:  Spend the afternoon learning how the Cayuga-Seneca canal impacted the local industry at this family-friendly interactive  museum .

Fishing:  Seneca Lakes reaches depths over 600 feet and has the largest surface area of all the Finger Lakes. You can fish from the dock of your Seneca Lake rental, bring your own boat, rent a boat, or hop on a local charter. There are also sport fishing tournaments held year round. 

The Best Things to Do Near Seneca Lake:

Corning Museum of Glass:  Just ½ hour to an hour from Seneca Lake depending on where you’re staying, the  Corning Museum of Glass  is one of the top things to do near Seneca Lake. You can learn about glass making, view live glass blowing from local artists and even partake in interactive exhibits.

Ithaca, NY:  Located on nearby Cayuga Lake, Ithaca is a college town with historic charm and natural beauty. You can wander through the gorgeous Cornell Botanic Gardens, sight see at the multi-tiered Cascadilla Falls and Ithaca Falls, before exploring the small shops in the eclectic town.

Hiking Watkins Glen:  Watkins Glen State Park  is the most famous of all the Finger Lake State Parks. Hike the Gorge Trail for breathtaking views as you meander over and under waterfalls. There’s even a  shuttle  available to and from different trail heads to provide easier access to the park.

Tioga Downs Casino Resort:  Try your luck at gambling or betting on horses at nearby Tioga Downs . This Seneca Lake attraction has just under 1,000 slot machines available year round and horse racing from May to September.

You can find something to do year-round in Seneca Lake, but summer and fall are the most popular times to visit the area.

T he Best Things to Do in Seneca Lake in Summer:

  • Hiking
  • Water sports
  • Boating
  • Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Biking
  • Wine Tasting
  • Movies on the Lake
  • Waterfront Festival
  • Night Market
  • Finger Lakes Wine Festival

The Best Things to Do in Seneca Lake in Fall:

Annual Events in Seneca Lake Region:

The Seneca Lake region hosts a variety of annual events that are loved by locals and tourists alike. Some of the best annual events in Seneca Lake New York include:

Seneca Lake and Wine and Food Festival:  This is one of the best annual festivals in the Finger Lakes. Held at Clute Park every May, this annual event is designed to celebrate everything the area has to offer, including locally produced cheese, wine, and craft drinks.

Ice Bar:  Held at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel every February, this mid-winter event is one of the most popular events in the Finger Lakes. You can enjoy over 25,000 pounds of ice carved into sculptures, luges, thrones, and bars. There are live DJs and offerings from local breweries, wineries, and restaurants.

Falls Harvest Festival:  Celebrate Halloween in Montour Falls with a family-friendly annual event held in October. You can enjoy local food and beverages while viewing pumpkin carving contests and more.

Movies on the Lake:  Enjoy a movie right on the lake at Clute Park every Wednesday in July and August.

Deck the Halls on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail : This event is held the weekend before and after Thanksgiving week to celebrate the arrival of the holidays. Wineries along the Seneca Lake wine trail offer food and wine pairings, as well as an ornament to decorate the grapevine wreath you receive.  

Getting to the Seneca Lake Region:

Seneca Lake is in a more remote part of New York State, but it’s fairly simple to get there.

  • Plane –  There are three airports that you can fly into that are close to Seneca Lake. Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) is approximately an hour and 45 minutes to the west but is generally the cheapest option. Rochester (ROC) is about an hour northwest, and Syracuse (SYR) is an hour and 15 minutes to the northwest.
  • Bus –  Greyhound bus lines run to Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse from other major cities. From there, you can take a Greyhound bus to Geneva.
  • Train –  Railway access via Amtrak is available into Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. From there you will need to take a bus or rent a car.
  • Car –  The best way to reach Seneca Lake is by car. The drive is scenic, especially if you visit during fall when the leaves are changing. Rental cars are available in any of the major cities like Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse.

Travel within the Seneca Lake Region:

Once you’re at Seneca Lake, it’s fairly simple to get around town.   

  • Taxis –  Taxis are always available at Seneca Lake, but they do get varying reviews.
  • Uber/Lyft –  New York now allows Uber and Lyft to operate in the state, but their availability in the area can be hit or miss, especially depending on the time of year.
  • Car –  The best way to get around the Seneca Lakes region is by car. Whether you bring your own vehicle or rent a car for your stay, it is by far the most convenient option.
  • Licensed Transportation Companies – If you are looking for transportation to, from, and along the wine trail, Seneca Lake also has a wide variety of licensed transportation companies like  Quality Wine Tours  that can accommodate groups large and small.

When to Visit Seneca Lake:

The best time to visit the Finger Lakes and more specifically, Seneca Lake, is during the summer and fall months. This is when the temperatures are warmest and the scenery is superb. You will also have access to all Seneca Lake has to offer during these months. While you can still visit Seneca Lake during the winter and spring, it is a quieter time in the area due to the lower temperatures and snow prohibiting water sports and forcing the closure of hiking trails for safety reasons.  Need more Finger Lake information, read our guide, Discover and Explore the Finger Lakes

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Seneca Lake Vacation Rentals