New York City is undoubtedly one of the most iconic cities in the world. But if you don't live in New England, you probably didn't know that the Empire State is brimming with gorgeous natural beauty, too.
All 180 New York State Parks offer something unique, but the striking gorges, dramatic waterfalls, and tranquil blue water lakes in the state's Finger Lakes region will literally take your breath away!
About the Finger Lakes
Eleven long, narrow lakes in Central New York—less than one hour's drive south of Lake Ontario and two hours east of Buffalo—make up the Finger Lakes region.
Native Americans cherished the area’s pristine beauty. Using his hands, they believed their creator blessed the region, forming these finger-shaped lakes. A science perspective states that glaciers carved the region into the stunning landscape we see today during the Earth's most recent ice age—some two million years ago.
Today the Finger Lakes region is known for its supreme natural beauty, which acts as an idyllic backdrop for rustic wineries, quaint apple festivals and of course, some New York State Parks!
11 New York State Parks to Visit in the Finger Lakes Region
Whether you enjoy scenic views while hiking along rugged canyons or playing in crystal clear water, there's something for every preference in these New York State Parks!
Buttermilk Falls State Park
Follow Buttermilk Creek as it plummets over steep rock formations, making its way toward Cayuga Lake—the longest and second deepest of the Finger Lakes. Gorgeous blue-green water and lush woodland trails are waiting here for you!
Seneca Lake State Park
Encompassing the northern part of Seneca Lake is this appropriately named New York State Park offering ample water-based activities, including beach access, a "sprayground" for kids, boat docks, a marina and designated fishing areas.
Although camping isn't available in Seneca Lake State Park, this is a lovely place to picnic, go for a bike ride, swim or simply relax and enjoy the natural beauty of this magnificent lake!
Watkins Glen State Park
Stepping into Watkins Glen State Park is like being transported into a mythical storybook! With winding paths inviting you over stone bridges and behind wide cascades (19 in total!), you'll want to experience this park's natural wonders in every season.
Watkins Glen is located south of Seneca Lake, lovingly known by fishermen as the Lake Trout Capital of the World.
Robert H. Treman State Park
This New York State Park is home to 12 waterfalls—including a 115-foot dramatic drop known as Lucifer Falls. Hike along this park's rugged, untamed beauty, and you'll certainly be left standing in awe of Mother Nature!
Robert H. Treman State Park is south of Cayuga Lake and just a short drive east of Buttermilk Falls State Park.
Fair Haven Beach State Park
Although quite a ways north of the Finger Lakes, Fair Haven Beach State Park lies within the Finger Lakes region, nestled right up along Lake Ontario.
White sandy beaches may seem out of place in Upstate New York, but that's exactly what you'll find at this state park. Panoramic views of this Great Lake add to any boating, fishing or swimming experience!
Fillmore Glen State Park
South of Owasco and Skaneateles Lakes, you'll find Fillmore Glen State Park—an ecologically rich preserve with hiking trails offering magnificent views of five waterfalls and staggering rock formations.
Visit this New York State Park to experience a truly mystical retreat!
Keuka Lake State Park
Keuka Lake State Park is an incredibly tranquil park along Keuka Lake—the third largest of the Finger Lakes. Whether your visit includes boating, hiking, swimming or fishing, you're sure to find yourself totally relaxed as you take in the lake surrounded by vineyard-covered hills.
Fun fact: Keuka Lake is unique because its waters run both north and south—only a few others exist like this in the world!
Taughannock Falls State Park
If wanting to view incredible waterfalls is your motivation for heading to the Finger Lakes region, then Taughannock Falls must be on your list! Hike along a mountainous canyon to see one of the east's tallest waterfalls—dropping 215 feet before Taughannock Creek reaches Cayuga Lake.
Campsites and cabins at this New York State Park overlook the beautiful Cayuga Lake as well.
Allan H. Treman State Marine Park
At Cayuga Lake's southernmost tip, you'll find Allan H. Treman State Park, home to one of the largest inland marinas in the state. If boating or fishing on a prominent Finger Lake is what you hope to accomplish, then this New York State Park is for you!
Sampson State Park
Along Seneca Lake's west-central border, some 2000 acres of gently rolling hills and lush woodland make up the richly historic Sampson State Park. Camping, boating, hiking, fishing, and swimming are all popular activities here today.
History buffs will enjoy checking out an early American pioneer cemetery and military museum at this New York State Park, too!
Cayuga Lake State Park
Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes, totaling slightly less than 40 miles in length. Scenic lake views and excellent fishing draws visitors from far and wide to this state park located along Cayuga Lake's northwest shores.
Enjoy a day of picnicking or swimming or linger at Cayuga Lake a little longer and stay at one of the park's fully furnished vacation rentals!
Memories Made in New York State Parks
Making memories at these or any of the magnificent New York State Parks is easy to do. From spending days playing along a lakeside beach to exploring colonial history and hiking among ancient rock formations, you'll certainly step away with moments you wish never to forget!
A New York State Parks Bucket Journal is ideal for recording memories, insights, and adventures, whether you are packing up the kids for a day spent exploring the great outdoors or taking a solo hike in hopes of achieving a newfound sense of inner peace.
Your New York State Parks Bucket Journal will be there for you to relish for years to come—no matter how you utilize it!
So what are you waiting for—which of these New York State Parks is first-in-line on your bucket list?!