Exploring Upstate New York: My Vacation on Keuka Lake

If you’re lucky enough to vacation on Keuka Lake, you’re lucky enough.


Growing up in upstate New York, there were many things to marvel at. Fall is a breathtaking jumble of rusty colors and crisp air, winter lasts forever, and spring turns the rolling hills into a lush, green landscape worthy of any oil painting. But summer is the truly magical time when this little corner of the world really comes to life.


I’ve been fortunate enough to be raised on Keuka Lake. When I say raised, I mean that I spent every summer vacation at my family’s cottage on the lake. Painted in what was once a brilliant sunshine yellow that has dimmed over the years, our cottage was home to some of my absolute favorite childhood memories. I spent the summers of my youth sleeping on the porch with a pile of cousins, waking up to waves lapping and the smell of bacon in the air. The lake taught me to be fearless, to respect nature, and to appreciate beautiful sunsets.


With a childhood that magical, I try to get back to my little piece of heaven every chance I can get, which admittedly isn’t too often. However, I was lucky enough to steal away to the lake this past week and enjoy.


If you ever get a chance to visit Keuka Lake, affectionately known as Crooked Lake by the locals, there are some things you simply must do.


Visit Hammondsport Square

Crooked Lake Ice Cream Parlor

Crooked Lake Ice Cream Parlor

I think this might actually be the last town on earth to have an actual square. Four streets filled with antique shops, the mercantile store, an ice cream shop and a few pubs line a charming little park complete with a gazebo.  Stop by the Crooked Lake Ice Cream Parlor and grab a cone.


Taste Keuka like the Locals

And by that I mean sample the wine! The Finger Lakes are home to some of the most amazing wineries. Explore all that this wine country has to offer by visiting some tasting rooms and purchasing some bottles of your favorites. Summer doesn’t feel like summer without a glass of crisp Chardonnay from Dr. Frank.


Take a Hike

The Gorge at Watkins Glen

The Gorge at Watkins Glen

When you’re on Keuka, you’ll notice that the views are breathtaking! Don’t be afraid to get out and explore the lake. Depending on where you’re staying, there are walking paths and areas to admire beautiful cottages and views. You could even take a trip to nearby Watkins Glen and hike the gorge.


Feed the Ducks

I told you that some of my favorite things in life are simple, right? I remember as a kid sprinting up the cottage steps and begging my aunt for a few slices of bread to feed the mama duck and her ducklings. Watching ducks skim the surface of the water, swimming in little rows is another wonderful part of visiting Keuka.


Tell Stories by the Campfire

I guess this is a must for any camping adventure, but it’s much better at the lake. Stock up with all the essentials to make smores, gather your family and friends around, and hunker down for some stories and laughs. Whether it’s just chatting about your day or sharing ghost stories and jokes, a campfire with smores is the best way to make vacation memories. You’ll also learn which members of your family are absolutely nuts when it comes to roasting marshmallows. If the mellow isn’t charred from being engulfed in flames, it simply isn’t roasted properly.


Admire Your Surroundings

Evening Boater

Evening Boater

Spending any amount of time at the lake is so relaxing and calming, even if you grew up in a family the size of mine! Enjoy the peace and take it all in. Be sure to snap a picture or two to remind yourself later what a beautiful place it truly was.


I hope some of you are lucky enough to visit one day…



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