Hammondsport, NY is a charming lake town on the southern shores of Keuka Lake in Upstate New York. Part of the southern Finger Lakes region, Hammondsport offers the perfect combination of family adventure and relaxation.
Where to Stay in the Finger Lakes: Hammondsport, NY
Keuka Lakeside Inn is a charming property right on the southern shore of Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes. The recently renovated rooms are clean and comfortable and include a mini-fridge, free wi-fi, and television.
Owner Ron personifies the friendly, small-town vibe of the area. He explains that visitors are very loyal to the Inn, coming back year after year, getting to know other guests and arranging repeat meet-ups, and booking their favorite rooms often a year in advance. Room #8 is the most popular, by the way, as it’s closest to the lake – though every room is really just steps away. Ron rents boat slips at the dock in front of the Inn but also keeps spots open for people to pull in with their own boats.
A beautiful patio, gazebo, and fire pit sit right next to the dock. In the evening, guests gather to drink wine, make smores, share stories, and watch the moon rise over the lake – an experience Ron said we shouldn’t miss. We sat by the water and watched the sky get lighter and lighter on the horizon of the hill above us. Suddenly, a bright light popped out from behind the trees. Ron told us the story of the first time he saw the moon rise – and how he had his phone in his hand to call 911 because he thought it was a huge fire!
Quintessential American Lake Town
The next morning I took a walk to the Village Square – just one block from the Keuka Lakeside Inn – for coffee and a breakfast sandwich at Keuka Bakery Company. The Village Square is just that – a park-like square lined with a handful of restaurants and shops. There’s a bandstand in the center, providing a quintessential, lake-town feel.
Walking the streets, I noticed plaques on the houses with numbers such as “1833.” At first, I thought they were house numbers, but couldn’t figure out how the houses went from 1833 to 12. I chuckled as it finally dawned on me that the larger numbers were the years the houses were built.
Recently voted “America’s Coolest Small Town” by readers of Budget Tavel magazine, Hammondsport is exactly what I’d want a visitor to experience if I were trying to describe small-town America.
Back at the Inn, I sat on the dock with my coffee. Fish kept splashing out of the water, though I never seemed to catch them with my eyes. Fisherman arrived and went out on their boats. There was a distinct lack of bugs, considering the humidity and my proximity to the lake. I savored the quiet moments of the morning.
Water, Wine, and Whipped Cream
Soon, it was time to kayak. Keuka Lake Kayak and Bike Rentals dropped off kayaks, PFDs and oars right at the dock in front of the Inn.
My daughter and I had a peaceful paddle around the lower portion of the lake and even had an encounter with some adorable baby ducks. There was a beach nearby if we had wanted to swim, but we had other plans for the afternoon.
My husband took my daughter into the Village Square, while I drove up the road to Dr. Konstantin Frank’s winery.
Dr. Frank pioneered the successful growth of Vitis Vinifera vines – which produce spectacular Reislings – in the cold climate of upstate NY. Dr. Frank’s tasting room is open daily and the views of Keuka Lake from the hilltop are as delicious as the wine. I tasted, bought a few bottles, then met my family for dinner.
I highly recommend Union Block Italian Bistro for dinner. The food was fantastic and don’t skip dessert – they make an incredible whipped cream. My whole family was fighting over it so our server brought us a whole bowl to share!
Aviation History and So Much More
The next day, we visited the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum. Curtiss was an aviation pioneer who flew the first public, pre-announced flight in America right off Keuka Lake in July, 1908. Although the Wright Brothers had already made their historic flight, they had not done so publicly. Curtiss piloted his “June Bug” flying machine 5,090 feet, allowing the public to view aviation for the first time. He also built bicycles and motorcycles, and the museum houses an eclectic variety of antique planes, bikes, cars, boats, fire engines, home furnishings, tools, toys and many other unique items. It’s a fascinating place chock-full of memorabilia and history.
Day-trips from Hammondsport
While you enjoy the peacefulness of Hammondsport and Keuka Lake, there are several day-trips you can take for more adventure.
- Heavenly Sunset Farm, Woodhull, NY: By appointment only, this working Alpaca farm welcomes visitors to get up close and personal with the adorable Alpacas.
- Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY: Spend the day at the world’s largest museum of glass, watch a hot glass demonstration, make your own glass souvenir.
- Watkins Glen State Park, Watkins Glen, NY: Hike along 200-foot cliffs that generate 19 waterfalls in this incredible park. If you have some extra time, also check out nearby Letchworth State Park.
- Harris Hill, Elmira, NY: Visit the National Soaring Museum and take a ride in a glider at The Soaring Capital of the World!
Whether you’re an adventure seeker, a history buff, an art lover, or a wine enthusiast, Hammondsport has something for you. It’s also the perfect home-base for exploring nearby attractions in the Southern Finger Lakes.