No one has written more lovingly about the Finger Lakes than Arch Merrill in Slim Fingers Beckon. This was his "tip to tourists" in 1951: "If your fancy runs to night life, strip teasers, Coney Islandish hubbub, glitter, garishness and a wild and woolly time, you won't care much for Skaneateles, N. Y." In one sentence Merrill had . . . well, he had put his finger on it, perhaps for all time.
From New York City, it's about a five-hour trip to the Finger Lakes via I-90, I-81, or Route 17. Or you can fly into Syracuse-Hancock International Airport, which is just 20 miles north of the city on Route 20.
Where to Stay
Sherwood Inn 26 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles; 800/374-3796 or 315/685-3405, fax 315/685-8983; doubles from $85; dinner for two $60. The enclosed summer porch is perfect for the sort of flirtations that inspired The Summer of '42.
Mirbeau Inn & Spa 851 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles; 877/647-2328 or 315/685-5006, fax 315/685-5150; doubles from $295; dinner for two $80. The food is exceptional, and only as rich as your waistline can reasonably bear.
Geneva on the Lake 1001 Lochland Rd., Geneva; 800/343-6382 or 315/789-7190, fax 315/789-0322; suites from $145 (three-night minimum stay); dinner for two $90. A 70-foot pool means you don't have to brave the icy lake waters.
What to See
Corning Museum of Glass 1 Museum Way, Corning; 607/974-8271. Adjacent to the Steuben factory, the sleek museum was transformed in recent years at a cost of $65 million, and does a remarkable job of capturing both the science and the art of glass.
Rockwell Museum 111 Cedar St., Corning; 607/937-5386. Great Western landscapes, a collection of firearms, and Indian artifacts.
Watkins Glen International 2796 County Rte. 16, Watkins Glen; 607/535-2486. This year the Zippo US Vintage Grand Prix is held the weekend of September 8.
Women's Rights National Historic Park 136 Fall St., Seneca Falls; 315/568-0024. Tours of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's home and the site of the first Women's Rights Convention.
Where to Eat
Doug's Fish Fry 8 Jordan St., Skaneateles; 315/685-3288; lunch for two $15, no credit cards.
The Krebs 53 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles; 315/685-5714; dinner for two $80. This 102-year-old restaurant hasn't changed its classic American menu of prime rib and pan-fried chicken since it opened in 1898.
Rosalie's Cucina 841 W. Genesee St., Skaneateles; 315/685-2200; dinner for two $50. Sets the standard for Tuscan cooking in the area. Right next to the Mirbeau Inn.
London Underground 69 E. Market St., Corning; 607/962-2345; dinner for two $75. Sophisticated fare in a busy multilevel restaurant, with eighties-style exposed brick.
Crossing Diner 5107 Rte. 14, Lakemont; 607/243-5454; lunch for two $10. A local hangout open for breakfast and lunch only.
Dr. Konstantin Frank's Vinifera Wine Cellars 9749 Middle Rd., Hammondsport; 800/320-0735 or 607/868-4884.
Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyard 3962 Rte. 14, Dundee; 800/371-7971 or 607/243-7971.
What to Read
Persons, Places, and Things in the Finger Lakes Region by Emerson Klees (Friends of the Finger Lakes Publishing). An indispensable guide filled with historical facts, practical information, and anecdotes. Klees is also the author of a guide to the region's wineries.
The 215-foot Taughannock Falls in the 1,000-acre state park near Watkins Glen. Admittedly, it's not Niagara, but it is 50 feet higher.