Want to spend a beautiful fall day in the Finger Lakes region of New York? I have some amazing ideas for you!
My husband planned a day for me to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary (soooo sweet!!), and he truly nailed it! Here’s how we spent the day on Keuka Lake.
Finger Lakes Rail Riders
We started out by going to Finger Lakes Rail Riders in the countryside of Penn Yan, NY! I’ve always wanted to do a rail ride, so I was so excited for this! This ride is on an abandoned railroad, is 5 miles down and back, and they allow 2 hours per ride. Make sure you book tickets – he got us the 10am spot.
The drive there was absolutely stunning! Once we arrived, our tour guide Kathy went through safety protocols as we buckled into the seats. They do provide bottles of water, but there is a basket on the back of your rider seat so if you’d like to bring snacks, a camera, etc, you’re more than welcome to! They also have first aid kids and these cool phone holders that attach onto your seat so that if you accidentally drop your phone, it stays with you! Woo!
Then we were off! You’ll want to have your phone or camera out because the scenery is so beautiful! The ride itself I found to be very easy, and straight and flat. As you pedal along, Kathy shares with you the fascinating history of the area, and how the abandoned railroad came to be! Kathy’s witty personality truly made the ride even more enjoyable! We saw beautiful golden fields, gorgeous wildflowers, and rode through dreamy canopies of trees. It was truly an awesome experience! I kept saying, “wow this is so cool!” and “I bet this is even more incredible during the fall!” This would be a must-do for the perfect fall day in the Finger Lakes.
Amity Coffee Co.
After our rail ride, we drove into Penn Yan and made a quick stop at Amity Coffee Co. Such a cool environment! My husband had the avocado toast, and I grabbed a big ol’ chocolate chip cookie! If you have more time I’d definitely check out the cute little shops along Main Street!
Then we were off again.. And I could never have prepared myself for the next stop! We were driving down a very wooded road on Bluff Point surrounding Keuka lake, and he stopped in front of a gate with a side that read: Garret Chapel. We parked alongside the road since the parking lot was roped off, and walked down a little winding path to unveil the most magical Norman gothic style church I’ve ever seen! It was like something out of a movie!
The grounds to Garret Chapel are open throughout the summer every Tuesday and Thursday 1pm-4pm, so if you are going during off-season, you can just walk around the exterior. That was enough to fill my cup! The stone arches overlooking the lake, the crypt door, and the stone paths made me feel like I was being transported back in time and walking through a fairytale.
The origin story behind the creation of the church is gripping.. It was built in 1931 by Paul and Evelyn Garrett to honor their 26 year old son after his death. Their family also happened to be the largest wine producer in the US from 1867-1962. I researched the chapel a bit afterwards, and found tales of spooky spiritual encounters! In 2001 it’s no wonder the building was added to the National Registry of Historic Places! It was just exquisite.
The Farm Sanctuary
After we left the chapel, we had a bit of a drive (45 min) to Watkins Glen to go to a location that I’ve been following on Instagram and have been interested in visiting for years: Farm Sanctuary! *it’s right in between Keuka and Seneca Lake
This is a 270-acre non-profit sanctuary for over 600 farm animals rescued from the abuses of factory farming. There is also a smaller location in California. As soon as you enter the premises down a very rural back road, a sense of peace washes over you.
My husband had scheduled a one-hour tour so before that, they share with you a short film detailing how the sanctuary came to be and what their mission is. After, our tour guide Jonas took us to see the animals! We met and pet cows, sheep, goats, pigs, and waved to the chickens (there was a bird flu going around so we were unable to meet them). It was incredible to witness their beautiful personalities, hear some of their stories, and watch them thriving on the farm.
I loved that stop because it was so eye-opening, and I never once felt shamed by them. They never said, ‘stop all consumption of animal products,’ but instead encouraged us to do more research, be more conscious of where we purchase animal products, and try to limit our consumption as we see fit. They truly gave faces to the billions of farm animals that endure horrific environments and earthly experiences for humans sake. I found the visit to be very moving. If you want your perfect fall day in the Finger Lakes to include animals, then put this on your list!
After we left the sanctuary, it was time to check out a winery! We swung by Weis Vineyards in Hammondsport and let me tell you… the VIEW!
We each chose a flight of wine, mine being FLX Favorites, highly recommend, and settle in outside at one of the picnic tables! The atmosphere was so peaceful, and you can see bluff point!
We slowly sipped our wines and after finishing, we were off to dinner!
The Switzerland Inn
We opted for The Switzerland Inn. It’s a cute little spot right on the water with a very laid-back feel, exactly what we were looking for! The weather was beautiful, so we sat outside on the deck and ordered a pizza. I loved the waitresses shirts that all said, ‘get Switzed!’ I’d love to have dinner there on the weekend, you can just tell that it would be such a fun vibe!
Then it was time to head back home. A perfect fun fall day in the Finger Lakes!
Have you been to the Finger Lakes? What’s your favorite way to spend the day here? Tell me in the comments!