I’m a native New Yorker who grew up on Long Island and frequently visited Manhattan. It’s likely, then, that until recently I didn’t know western New York’s Finger Lakes region presented an incredible array of adventurous sports to participate in! The scenery adds to the magnetizing draw to the region and I found myself feeling grateful I was able to explore the area.
Adventure Awaits in the Finger Lakes!
Here are four of the ways I found to experience adventure in the Finger Lakes Region of New York:
Take a Sea Plane Ride
This ride was incredibly memorable because how cool are planes that take off and land on water but function like a regular airplane in the air? Yet it wasn’t just the sea plane ride that was memorable. The passion our pilot, Bob, was contagious and made us even more excited for the ride.
If you’ve ever had a dream you’ll be able to relate: he wanted a sea plane company that would show people a unique way to see the world (from the water and air). When a buddy called to say he had found the perfect plane for sale they agreed to purchase it and start Finger Lakes Seaplanes in Hammondsport, New York. I felt like I was co-piloting a dream as we soared above Keuka Lake. Interestingly, we learned sea planes need to uniquely abide by two sets of laws: maritime and Federal Aviation.
Glide Over the Trees
Gliders (not to be confused with hang gliding) are motorless two-passenger planes that soar in the sky, thanks to some physics. A tow plane quite literally carries the glider into the air as it trails behind it with the help of a connection cable. The glider pilot pulls a release cord when the glider reaches an altitude of 2,000 feet. The sound of the tow plane’s motor disappears and a peaceful hushhhh surrounds you. It really grabs your attention too because as the tow plane flies back to the airport for landing the noise disappears and you’re left soaring through the air like a bird.
Harris Hill in Elmira, New York is the location of the National Soaring Museum. It’s also where you can participate in a truly a one-of-a-kind experience. When else are you and just one other person gliding through the air with the help of some wind science and Mother Nature? Not often!
Try going first thing in the morning the weekend you want to enjoy this experience. My pilot, Ed, informed me they often sell out for the day’s available rides by 11:00am, especially during fall when leaf colors are at their peak. Check out Harris Hill Soaring Corporation for operating hours – they usually operate from April 1st to October 29th.
Kayak on the Chemung River
I am a lover of kayaking! Even if it’s a foreign concept and you’ve never done it before it’s incredibly easy. You sit in a small boat and use a double-sided paddle to row yourself down the river.
We enjoyed a relaxing five-mile tour paddling down the beautiful, tree-lined body of water with Southern Tier Kayak Tours. Our guide taught us about the area: the natural landscape Palisades, carved by glaciers before us and about millimeter sized critters in the water beneath us. We even learned how it’s possible to judge the quality of water we were in based on what organisms lived under the rocks and such. (It was given an excellent water-quality grade!)
Walk Through Watkins Glen State Park
Rumor had it that this was one of the most beautiful parks in New York State. But WOW – I had no idea it would turn out to shock me with it’s beauty. I hesitate to say we went for a “hike” because the park’s paths make it very accessible and easy for anyone to do, from children to senior citizens. It was truly a picturesque walk through waterfalls, rock formations, and flowing creeks. You could spend about 3 hours or so here if you’re stopping along the way to admire nature and take photos. Be sure to bring sunscreen, a bottle of water and your camera!
Enjoy a Sailboat Ride Aboard True Love
A romantic sunset ride aboard True Love, the Schooner sailboat featured in 1956 movie, “High Society” with Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong, awaited our arrival. Shortly after boarding we were treated to a lovely ride around Seneca Lake.
We were treated to a smooth ride, cheese and fruit, and beer or wine for purchase. Even if you’re solo, or with your partner, a best friend, family or a group it’s a great way to end any day. You simply board, sit back, relax and enjoy the ride. Be sure to bring a light jacket in case it’s chilly on the water.
True Love and its fleet is available to charter for private events too in addition to their daily public sailings.
For more about the Finger Lakes Region, check out Mikkel’s Complete Guide to a Day in Corning, New York!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mikkel Paige is a travel writer and professional photographer spotlighting Europe, Southeast Asia and the United States. When her wedding photography business began to take her all over the globe she set out to make her travel site into more than a hobby. Her articles focus on the mid-size budget traveler who vacations one to three times a year. Find her at Sometimes Home
Keep this post for later or share with others on Pinterest – just hover over the image below & click “Pin it”! If on MOBILE, tap the photo below & click ‘Pin It’ when it appears!