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The Weekender: The Finger Lakes

Spend a winter weekend in upstate New York’s wine country

Upstate New York might be the Mecca of fall foliage and a go-to spot for summertime camping trips, but this increasingly trendy drinking and dining destination is still worth a visit during the winter months. With the wineries of the Finger Lakes still open for business and an abundance of winter sports to choose from, there’s fun to be had as long as you bundle up.

Here are a few spots you’ll want to hit during a weekend in the Finger Lakes.

Friday evening:

On the banks of Cayuga Lake, the four luxurious Inns of Aurora offer an array of lodging options housed in refurbished historic buildings including the mansion of original New York Times investor Colonel Edwin Barber Morgan. There’s the Aurora Inn, E.B. Morgan House, Rowland House and Wallcourt Hall, all of which boast rooms with fireplaces, picturesque lake views and more amenities.

Rowland House

Rowland House

Or, on neighboring Seneca Lake, check in to equally historic Belhurst Castle. Think four-poster beds, grand wooden bannisters, oriental rugs—and a rumored ghost for which the spa is named (but don’t let that stop you from booking a massage). By definition, a weekend in the Finger Lakes includes quite a bit of wine tasting, so get started upon arrival by heading to the free-flowing wine tap located in the lobby or booking a tasting at the hotel’s winery.

Belhurst Castle

Saturday morning:

The athletically inclined will want to head to Greek Peak Mountain Resort or Bristol Mountain for a day of skiing, snowboarding and other wintery adventures including zip lining (yes, in the snow) or Greek Peak’s indoor water park for the more snow-averse. For something even more off the beaten path, Finger Lakes Yogascapes offers “snowga” on select Saturdays at Bristol Golf Course—you’ll strap on snowshoes and trek past amazing views of Canandaigua Lake, stopping periodically for yoga poses and finishing the experience with an afternoon bonfire, appetizers and, of course, wine.

Bristol Mountain

Saturday afternoon: 

If winter sports aren’t quite your cup tea, opt for a day of drinking instead. There are well over 100 wineries as well as a growing craft beer scene in the region. Three Brothers Wineries and Estates in Geneva is a one stop shop with three wineries and a microbrewery all within walking distance of each other. You’ll sip an award-winning Bourbon-aged Barbara while looking out on Seneca Lake, try a wine slushie, hear live music and finally taste a seasonal beer at War Horse Brewing Co. The best part? Because crowds can be slow during winter, you just might wind up with a private tour.

Seneca Lake

Saturday night:

Start by enjoying a cocktail at The Linden Social Club, a recently-opened outpost with a speakeasy vibe located on pedestrian-friendly Linden Street in Geneva. The strip is closed to cars on weekends, making it easy to hop around to different bars and restaurants. After your aperitif, make new friends at Christopher Bates’ FLX Table, where you’ll enjoy a seasonal dinner party experience served at a communal table. Also in Geneva is Kindred Fare, where Proprietor Susie Atvell, and Executive Chef Samantha Buyskes also serve local, seasonal food at communal tables—and even butcher their own meats.

Sunday morning: 

After all that wine, the secret to detoxing just might be more of it, in the form of Mirbeau Inn & Spa’s two wine-based spa treatments, the Crushed Cabernet Scrub or Honey & Wine Wrap. Another upstate-inspired treatment sure to soothe winter skin is August Moon Spa in Ithaca’s maple walnut sugar scrub made with local ingredients.

Sunday afternoon: 

No trip to New York’s northern parts is complete without some sort of apple-centric activity, and in the winter, a tasting at Finger Lakes Cider House in Interlaken fits the bill perfectly. Sip Good Life Cider from the adjacent farm and orchard as well as other brands from the region like Black Diamond, Eve’s and Redbyrd Orchard.

Upstate New York

Or, head for the Corning Museum of Glass to witness live glass blowing, make your own glass objects and browse thousands of glittering items in the a new Contemporary Art + Design Wing.