Top 10 Family-Friendly Activities in Finger Lakes, NY

To March Break and Beyond! I’ll be honest, despite living in Southern Ontario my whole life, I had never heard about the Finger Lakes region of Upstate NY.  If it wasn’t for the wonderful people at Holiday Valley in Ellicottville, NY, where we had our amazing ski adventure last year, I would probably have not been introduced to this gem of a destination, only a three to four hour drive from the GTA. The locals raved about all the things for us to see and do there, especially for families – so many things that the piece of paper I was writing their suggestions on started to look like a cheat sheet and was soon filled with a plethora of awesome excursions, activities and outdoor adventures.

Strong Museum of Play

The Strong Museum of Play in Rochester. Photo Courtesy of Rania Walker

With that in mind I contacted the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance to see if they could suggest anything to do over the March Break, or shoulder season, when tourism is quieter.  Turns out, Finger Lakes is a full-year destination, with indoor and outdoor activities to keep you busy for weeks at a time. And when they presented me with an itinerary of things to do over the Family Day weekend, I couldn’t resist and off we went!

Fingerlakes Vineyards

Fingerlakes Vineyards. Photo Courtesy of Rania Walker

Thanks to the insights of Jessica Robideau and Cindy Kimble, we were able to explore this expansive area, just a few hours from home. The Finger Lakes Region extends from Rochester to the West, Syracuse to the East, Lake Ontario to the North, and all the way to the Pennsylvania Boarder to the south.  Add in some of the finest wineries in the world – with Wine, Beer, Cheese and Culinary Trails across the region – we couldn’t possibly see and do it justice in a weekend – but we tried!

Herein is the first of our discovery series on the Finger Lakes Region, profiling activities for families and couples, and young and old alike! With March Break upon us, we’ve created a diverse list of the top 10 family activities:

  1. Wonderworks in Destiny U.S.A. (Syracuse) – this upside-down and mind-bending interactive adventure house is part science center, part playground, part tree-top walk and a full day of fun on its own! One of the best parts is its within the Destiny USA Shopping and Outlet Mall.
  2. The Melting Pot in Destiny U.S.A. (Syracuse)– We had an incredibly Fondue dinner– something the kids loved participating in, and actually ate! Consider a whole other experience. It’s definitely something everyone should try.
  3. Greek Peak Ski Resort and Indoor Waterpark (Cortland) – beautiful skiing trails, just the right length, for all abilities.
  4. Harriet Tubman’s home (Auburn) – a crucial link to the underground railroad, now a historical site.
  5. Cheese Trail – kids can see the creamery, pet the cows, help milk them and them participate in the cheese-making process. Sunset View Creamery in Odessa is just one of the many in this region.
  6. Spectacular Waterfalls and State Parks – Hillary Lake, Green Lake, Letchworth State Park, The Glen Iris, more to come in Part 2.
  7. Corning Museum of Glass (Corning) – kids can learn how glass is made and create their own.
  8. Strong Museum of Play (Rochester) – for kids of all ages – yes, all ages. With toys dating back to our pioneer days, early electronics (the kids giggled while playing the first Mario game), and a tropical Butterfly Garden.
  9. Rochester Museum and Science Center (Rochester)– we had a magical visit at this science centre, really we did. We loved it so much we went back the next day and found they had a Harry Potter day!  A true science centre and museum with a planetarium next door.
  10. Jello Museum (LeRoy) – visit the home where Jello was created and check out all the Jello-ware from inception until today.

To say we had a great family getaway would be an understatement.  We’re already planning for our next trip where we’ll get to really experience the outdoor majesty, just across the border. More to come, but to plan your own vacation, please visit

Author Bio:

Rania Walker is a busy mom of three kids who loves to travel and is always looking for deals and tips to allow her to explore, experience and bond with her “large” family of 5. Through SparQ Street Communications she offers Media Training and On-Air Presentation Skills; P.R., Branding & Marketing Consultation; Media Relations and Corporate Communications.  For more Tips and Ideas from WEplusTHREE…or more, go to: Facebook: and Twitter: @largefamilytrav.

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Where is your family planning on spending your time this March Break? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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