Budget Finger Lakes with Kids and Dogs Overview
Budget Finger Lakes with Kids and Dogs is a fun weekend trip or even a week’s budget vacation in Upstate New York. Finger Lakes is known for its vast number of wineries, hiking trails, and state parks. It’s a beautiful place to visit. There’s plenty to do with kids and dogs in the Finger Lakes and you can even enjoy some wineries.
Where to Stay in the Finger Lakes with Kids and dogs
Itaca is a great home base for exploring the Finger Lakes with kids and dogs. There’s a lot to do in Ithaca and family-friendly wineries you could easily spend the entire weekend in the area. However, it’s also not too far from many of the other finger lakes attractions.
Watkins Glen or Geneva would be the next best area to stay. We had changed our reservations last minute when we added our puppy to the family and ended up staying in Corning, NY. While it wasn’t our top pick it’s still close enough to most attractions and is a cute village to explore. It’s about the same distance to Watkins Glen and Letchworth State Park and you save the travel time to corning so not much travel time was added.
We stayed at the Radisson Corning NY. The hotel is pet-friendly and only charges $65 per stay for a dog. We booked our stay through the Chase Saphire Portal using points so our stay was free except for the $65 fee. I didn’t love the hotel to be honest but it was fine for what we needed. Being spoiled by Hyatt’s which are often new and include breakfast has made us a little pickier about our hotels. The hotel room itself was fine but the hotel has seen better days. Breakfast is not included and you have to pay to reserve a fire pit that was not being used by anyone because they were overpriced.
You can book free hotels using points through Travel Credit Card portals. There are also several Hilton Hotel options you can book on points for about 50,000 points per night with 5th night free you could stay 5 nights for about 200,000 Hilton points. A few are pet friendly and charge about $75 per stay pet fee. Book early for peak times as hotels tend to fill up quickly especially on weekends.
If you are looking to splurge Bellhurst Castle and Winery looks fantastic. The Inn at Taughannock Falls is quaint and ideally located 20 minutes from Ithaca and close to several wineries as well as the State Park.
Finger Lakes with Kids Itinerary
Spend the day finding out why Ithica is Gorges. Explore the many waterfalls and hiking trails. Spend the afternoon enjoying some wine on Cayuga Lake’s Wine Trail.
Morning in Ithica with Kids
- Buttermilk Falls Gorge Trail rim loop 1.6 miles about 1hr This trail has a lot of steps. While pets on leashes are allowed it’s not a great hike for pets. The Trail starts at the base of falls and you get the best views from the base. There’s also a fun playground just down the creek from the waterfall that the kids really enjoyed.
- Wells Falls .2 mi There’s parking on one side of the road after you cross the bridge. you then walk along the bridge and continue till you see a gate. the trail is short and it’s a pretty fall with an old factory. Kids and dogs will enjoy this easy hike with a big payout. Across the street from the trail is some interesting art a private owner has on display.
- Cascadilla Falls (9 falls) is 1.1 miles (upper falls are only .5) This is a great hike because it offers so many waterfalls. while there’s a lot of steps they are spread out gradually at each waterfall making it a fairly easy hike. This is pet-friendly on leashes. Pack a picnic for the base where there’s a grass area and edge to sit on along the stream
- Ithaca Falls trail only .2 miles
- Taughannock Falls is the tallest free-falling waterfall in the northeast is about 20 minutes from Ithaca. The Northrim and south rim trails moderate 2.9 miles and take approximately 1.5hrs. You can view the falls from the lookout if you decide to skip the hike.
With all this Hiking you are sure to need a break to have lunch. I recommend packing a portable charcuterie to enjoy at the bottom of Cascadilla Falls. there’s a nice grass area and a stone wall for seating options.
Afternoon Cayuga Lake Wineries and Dairy
- https://frontenacpoint.com/ ONLY 5 min from Taughannock Falls Your pets are welcome on the outside deck and they need to stay close to you. Please keep them leashed and 6 ft. from others. You can also walk them, on a leash, in the vineyard, or around the yard to the pond. always provided artisan bread as part of our tasting. Available for purchase are a selection of local cheeses from the award-winning Muranda Cheese Company in Waterloo as well as gluten-free and regular crackers. The kids were treated to fantastic juice which hopefully will be added to the menu because it was fantastic. Such a friendly place to visit with kids and pets I highly recommend a stop.
- Bellwether Hard Cider and Wine Cellars 2min away no info but they have a range of hard ciders dry to sweet carbonated or not. We didn’t have much time so we picked up a bottle to enjoy later.
- Lively Run Dairy Stop by and enjoy the animals in the barn including goats and the horses outside. Then stop in and enjoy a cheese tasting for around $6 per adult children free. Then order your favorites to enjoy at your picnic tomorrow. This was one of the highlights for our family. We loved seeing the animals and the kids and joy love trying the variety of cheeses and accompaniments. We picked up our favorites and since we had already planned a charcuterie we saved most to enjoy at home.
Day 2: Letchworth State Park
Morning: Letchwork State Park
Letchworth State Park is about an hour’s drive. It’s a beautiful park and the trail around the rim of the gorge is fairly flat and easy. The NYS Parks map isn’t quite as clear as the National Parks Map so we weren’t really sure what to expect until we experience it. Inspiration Point and Lower Falls via Gorge Trail is a 4.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Portageville, New York that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate.
There are numerous parking spots along the trail so you can simply park at some of the scenic spots or hike in between them. If you park in the middle of 3 points you can hike up one way and back and then decide if you still have the energy to make it to the third point or just drive. I think this is much better than starting at the top and walking all the way down unless you know you can make it the full length and back.
Afternoon: Cayuga Nature Center
After heading back from Letchworth State Park Stop at the Cuyahoga Nature Center. Currently, the building is closed but you can visit the outdoor animals and the treehouse for free. The kids loved climbing through the treehouse and visiting the adorable animals.
Day 3: Watkins Glen, Cayuga Lake Wineries, and Corning Glass
Morning: Watkins Glen and Cayuga Wineries
- Watkins Glen State Park- just do Gorge trail with kids (1.5miles) At the end of your hike stop at the gift shop and enjoy a wine slushy or giant ice cream cones.
- Seneca Lake Wineries are only 30 minutes away. There’s a wide selection to pick from
- Wagners (22 min away Ginny Lee Cafe is only open for lunch Open Daily for Lunch 11 am – 4 pm dog-friendly deck as well as the lawn. Menu apps and pizza seem like the best options all reasonable. https://theginnylee.com/lunch-menus/ $20 for charcuterie only? Have lunch beforehand? Or just order sandwiches and pizza each?
- Falkerson Winery is another pet-friendly winery. Stop by and walk the vineyard trails with the dog.
Afternoon: Corning, NY Or Enjoy Seneca Lake
After you have enjoyed the wineries head over to Corning, NY, and enjoy the Glass museum as well as take a glass blowing class. The glass blowing class wasn’t exactly what we expected as the kids just pushed on a peddle to blow the glass up while a worker held the glass on a rod and did most of the work.
However, afterward, we quested what we actually thought would happen with hot glass and young kids. The kids LOVED the experience and it was like Christmas when the final pieces arrived home a few days later. We love our personalized glass pieces and the experience isn’t much more than the cost of a similar piece in the gift shop so it’s absolutely worth doing it at least once. The children also really enjoyed the Corning Glass Museum. I wish we had allotted more time for the experience. We only stayed about an hour and looked through the History of Glass area. We only had a brief time to look at the displays and probably could have spent a second hour there.
Corning Glass Museum and Glass blowing are not pet friendly so if you have your furry friend with you, consider doing this on a day that you can leave them at the hotel or where temperatures are safe enough to leave them in the car for an hour or two.
If you aren’t interested in Corning Glass Head to one of the many State Parks on the finger lakes. Lodi Point State Park located on Seneca Lake is a great place to stop and spend the afternoon. There’s a playground, picnic tables, and access to the water with a long stretch of shoreline to walk.
Finger Lakes with Kids Budget
Finger Lakes offers a lot of great affordable activities for kids. From Hiking to Museums. There are even Family Friendly wineries. The Corning Glass Museum is a great stop and the family can even take a glass class.
There are so many great places to picnic which will help keep your food costs down. Check out local BBQ and woodfire pizza for affordable dining options in fact the bbq could easily cover 2 meals. Pick up an Empire Pass which provides entrance to all New York State Parks for endless hiking and in the summer cool off the lakeside. Splurge on the Corning Glass blowing experience and/or museum or another excursion. Enjoy local wines and beers often costing less than bottles you would find at restaurants.
Using points to cover hotels will help keep your budget down and there are also campsites in the area that are an affordable option.
New York State Parks in the Finger Lake Region
- Allan H. Treman State Marine Park
- Black Diamond Trail
- Bonavista State Park
- Buttermilk Falls State Park
- Canandaigua Lake State Marine Park
- Catharine Valley Trail
- Cayuga Lake State Park
- Chimney Bluffs State Park
- Deans Cove Boat Launch
- Fair Haven Beach State Park
- Fillmore Glen State Park
- Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area
- Honeoye Lake Boat Launch State Park
- Keuka Lake State Park
- Letchworth State Park
- Lodi Point State Park
- Long Point State Park – Finger Lakes
- Mark Twain State Park and Soaring Eagles Golf Course
- Newtown Battlefield State Park
- Robert H. Treman State Park
- Sampson State Park
- Seneca Lake State Park
- Stony Brook State Park
- Taughannock Falls State Park
- Two Rivers State Park Recreation Area
- Watkins Glen State Park
Finger Lakes with Kids and Dog Summary
Finger Lakes with kids and dogs is a great weekend getaway or week vacation. There’s so much affordable family fun. We had put this trip off for a while thinking we wouldn’t get to enjoy wineries while visiting there but we found it was easy to balance family fun with family-friendly Fingerlake Wineries.
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