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  1. #1
    Same but different Carpe Diabolus's Avatar
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    Finger Lakes, starting in Ithaca

    I've read the travelogues from Speedo and NeilFein about touring around the Finger Lakes. Great info!

    My wife and I are planning 3+ days of riding around the lakes starting in Ithaca. We're avid cyclists, but this will be our first "tour". The plan is to pack very light (we're likely to skip the camping this time around). It looks like we won't have to do much route planning ahead of time, with the exception of making reservations for lodging. I would guess with the light loads we'll be able to put at least 60 miles a day and still have time for some sightseeing. I've ordered some local travel books, but if anyone has any suggestions for "must-see/stay/eat/drink" locations that would be great.

    We're planning on staying in Ithaca the night before the ride begins, and leaving our car there. Can anyone suggest a safe place to leave a car? We're not committed to starting in Ithaca, but it seemed like a great landing spot after a drive from the DC area.

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    Senior Member m_yates's Avatar
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    You didn't say what lakes or your route. Last summer, I camped at Keuka Lake state park and biked around Keuka Lake. Hammondsport has a very pretty village square with a diner that has good food as well as an ice cream place and other shops. Watkins Glen is another village that is nice to explore. The state park there offers scenic easy hiking options, but will probably have lots of visitors. If you are headed north, Seneca Falls has a romantic bed and breakfast called the Van Cleef. I stayed there once and had the best souffle ever for breakfast. I camped at Cayuga lake state park near Seneca Falls during a bike tour on the Erie canal. The wildlife refuge north of Seneca falls has some options for quiet secluded hikes. Not many people visit the wildlife refuge and it is huge.

    Of course, you have the option of visiting many wineries. The wineries are ubiquitous in the area. My favorite was the Pompous Ass Winery. Not so much for the wine, but the labels on the bottles. Maybe it only seemed funny because I had several glasses of wine in me by then...

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    Same but different Carpe Diabolus's Avatar
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    The initial plan for now is to head north along the west side of Cayuga Lake, either go all the way up to Seneca Falls, or cut over to Seneca Lake about 1/2 way up. The route to Seneca Lake was somewhat arbitrary since we haven't identified any midday stops . Geneva looked like a good stopping point for the first night. After that we'd continue west to loop around Keuka, then return to Ithaca. At this point anything goes. We've planned for 3 days, but have time for 1-2 more.

    I'll definitely check out the Van Cleef (the trip is for our anniversary so romantic will go over well with my wife). Pompous Ass sounds good too...

    The more I read, the more I get the feeling that there's no need to over-plan this trip since there is so much to do!

    Thanks for the tips!

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    I have a two-week vacation coming up in the Finger Lakes. If I accept a new job it's absolutely essential that I have those two weeks off to visit the Finger Lakes.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carpe Diabolus View Post
    I've read the travelogues from Speedo and NeilFein about touring around the Finger Lakes. Great info!

    My wife and I are planning 3+ days of riding around the lakes starting in Ithaca. We're avid cyclists, but this will be our first "tour". The plan is to pack very light (we're likely to skip the camping this time around). It looks like we won't have to do much route planning ahead of time, with the exception of making reservations for lodging. I would guess with the light loads we'll be able to put at least 60 miles a day and still have time for some sightseeing. I've ordered some local travel books, but if anyone has any suggestions for "must-see/stay/eat/drink" locations that would be great.

    We're planning on staying in Ithaca the night before the ride begins, and leaving our car there. Can anyone suggest a safe place to leave a car? We're not committed to starting in Ithaca, but it seemed like a great landing spot after a drive from the DC area.
    Ha ha! You're welcome.

    We camped, so I don't have any lodging recommendations. A standout restaurant that we enjoyed on our first Finger Lakes trip, and made a point to revisit on our second Finger Lakes trip was the Flour Petal Cafe (34 Linden St.; Geneva, NY). Wonderful pies!

    Speedo

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    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carpe Diabolus View Post

    The more I read, the more I get the feeling that there's no need to over-plan this trip since there is so much to do!
    I think that's true. In general I would say, look at a map and head for anything that says "Falls". On the other hand, what I really liked about the Finger Lakes was that it was all just generally nice. Not a lot of specific high voltage places, but all just nice.

    Oh, another thing. You're already planning to go so this won't matter to you, but while planning another trip my wife and I made use of rainfall and temperature data to see what times of years to go to various touring destinations. We had already been to the Finger Lakes, so that was our standard for comparison. We were shocked to discover that the Finger Lakes in summer is pretty dry relative to other destinations, such as Penn Dutch country.

    Speedo

  7. #7
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carpe Diabolus View Post
    We're planning on staying in Ithaca the night before the ride begins, and leaving our car there. Can anyone suggest a safe place to leave a car? We're not committed to starting in Ithaca, but it seemed like a great landing spot after a drive from the DC area.
    Another another thing. We left a car in Seneca Falls. We called the town manager there. She arranged with the local police for us to leave it in their parking lot. You can try that in Ithaca, or one of the other larger towns. This is upstate New York. People are really, really nice.

    Another possible car drop is to look along the Erie Canal. There are various places where people park their cars long term to go on canal boat trips. Seneca Falls has such a lot, but we didn't make use of it.

    Speedo

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    Same but different Carpe Diabolus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo View Post
    Ha ha! You're welcome.

    We camped, so I don't have any lodging recommendations. A standout restaurant that we enjoyed on our first Finger Lakes trip, and made a point to revisit on our second Finger Lakes trip was the Flour Petal Cafe (34 Linden St.; Geneva, NY). Wonderful pies!

    Speedo
    Thanks (again) for the help. It's our first tour, we know we can handle the distance, tackling a lengthy self-supported tour seemed a bit ambitious. Taking camping (and hauling camp gear around) out of the equation seemed to make sense. We'll definitely call ahead to see if Ithaca provides similar parking.

    As for weather, we're keeping our fingers crossed. We do have 10 days off, so if rain threatens to dampen any of that week we should be able to rearrange the trip to get in some fair-weather riding.

    The trip is at the end of June. I'll share with the highlights of the ride.

  9. #9
    Senior Member m_yates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo View Post
    ....We were shocked to discover that the Finger Lakes in summer is pretty dry relative to other destinations, such as Penn Dutch country....
    Lake Ontario being cold relative to the land has a local stabilizing effect on the atmosphere. That makes for better local weather in early summer. In fall and early winter, the lake is relatively warm compared to the land, destabilizing the atmosphere locally, and causing lake effect snow and rain. (At least that's the explanation I read somewhere.)

  10. #10
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    I've toured the area several times & have used Tomkins Co. Regional Airport long-term parking. It won't be free but it is secure. That is a few miles north of Ithaca proper on the east side of the lake. There is beautiful country on the east side & you could cut over to Seneca Falls very easily. It's in general pretty hard to go wrong in the area, either hugging the lake or going inland through the farm country. Geneva offers several places to stay, some fairly upscale. Hammondsport is a pretty little village with a motel right on the lake, several B&Bs, and a nice tavern/restaurant right on the village green. Be aware that in general to travel east/west will almost definitely mean HILLS, especially at the southern ends of the lakes; going north/south less so. Ithaca itself has some very steep hills. Wineries abound along most of the lake shores. There is a road on the west side of Keuka Lake, 54A I think, way up on the ridge overlooking the lake with gorgeous views if you are willing to climb up there. The Finger Lakes Cycling Club has many cue sheets/maps on their website which I'm sure you would find helpful. Have a blast!

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