Finger Lakes Beckon Families With Fun and Fitness

by  Paul Eisenberg | Feb 14, 2012
Strong National Museum of Play
Strong National Museum of Play / Photo courtesy of the property

Around this time last year I suggested a family vacation to Rochester’s Strong National Museum of Play, “the best kids’ museum you never heard of” (to quote myself) and also noted briefly that the Finger Lakes region packed plenty of appeal for outdoorsy families.

It’s the latter idea that gets our attention this week, as New York State’s Ontario county – zestily rebranding its nine thousand square miles of goodness as “Nature’s Health Club”– is suggesting families try out a fitness trail studded with several local points of interest.

The trail in this case can be framed more realistically as a loose driving tour. The sites on the route – an historic site, creperie, sailboarding shop, water park, and apple orchard – lie south of U.S. 90, spanning a 25 mile area that bridges the Canandaigua and Seneca lakes. So the way I’d approach this trip is first spending a day or two in Rochester and then driving the 20 miles southeast to Ganondagan State Historic Site in Victor, NY, in whose vicinity you’ll find more than half a dozen inns and chain hotels hugging the south side of US 90 if you want to add an overnight or two to this tour.

Ganondagan has the distinction of being the only Native American Historic Site in the state – until its destruction in 1687, it was a thriving 17th-century Seneca town. After taking in the interpretive center and a replica of a 17th century longhouse, avail yourself of the site's 600 woody acres and hit a trail for a self-guided nature hike. All that walking will no doubt give you a hankering for crepes, so luckily Simply Crepes – which shrewdly includes gluten and lactose-free selections on its menu – is about ten miles southeast of Ganondagan, in Canandaigua.

After lunch, if you and your brood are up for some water sports, Canandaigua Sailboarding is about a mile southeast of the crepes place. Rentals and lessons for windsurfing and kayaking are available and if you haven’t settled on a hotel, The Inn on the Lake, down the street from the sailboarding shop, is an above-average full-service resort with both indoor and outdoor pools.

The next stop on the trail, Roseland Waterpark, is less than a mile northeast of Canandaigua Sailboarding. Like most waterparks, this one is seasonal, open June 25th through September 5th, so plan your visit accordingly. Whether you include the waterpark or not, head 16 miles east to the last stop on the tour, Red Jacket Orchards. While there’s no apple picking here, the apple eating – along with other kinds of healthy snacking – make it worth the trip.

See our Finger Lakes destination guide for more trip-planning information, then use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on flights, hotels, packages, and more travel deals.


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