In visiting the lesser-populated regions of America, one often has to choose between peace and quiet and, you know, things to do. This isn’t the case in Hammondsport, a small town located in the Finger Lakes region of New York. The hamlet boast wineries, museums, and more small-town charm than you can shake a travel guide book at.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan your own trip to Hammondsport, New York.
What to Do in Hammondsport, New York
Hammondsport was recently voted “The Coolest Small Town in America” by the readers of Budget Travel magazine, and it’s easy to see why. Though only 731 residents call Hammondsport home, the town teems with museums, restaurants, shops, and wineries, while its location on Keuka Lake makes for beautiful views and a slower pace of life.
Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars
The hills surrounding the Finger Lakes are particularly fertile ground for growing wine grapes, which has led to a rich history of wine-making in the region. Founded in 1962, Dr. Frank’s is the most award-winning winery in the state. If its superb and diverse sampling of wines available for tasting isn’t enough to draw you to this Hammondsport spot, then the gorgeous view might seal the deal…
Bully Hill Vineyards
If your taste in wineries skews a bit more eclectic, check out Bully Hill Vineyards. Founded on the philosophy of “wine with laughter,” the winery has been in business since 1970 when its founder, Walter Taylor, was fired from the Taylor Wine Company for stirring up controversy with complaints over alleged diminished quality in the company’s wine-making practices.
The winery is now run by Walter’s sons and boasts a restaurant, plenty of great wine, and scenic views of Keuka Lake.
Pleasant Valley Wine Company
Founded in 1860, the Pleasant Valley Wine Company has gone through many hands and some considerable ups and downs in its long history. As you can imagine, this makes for a fascinating tour of the facilities, which include a museum dedicated to the company’s history — complete with elaborate train set and Nicki Minaj cardboard cut-out. (You’ll have to visit to find out why!)
The Finger Lakes Boating Museum
Hammondsport has a rich boating history, and the newly opened Finger Lakes Boating Museum takes on the task of honoring that heritage. The museum is still a work-in-progress but already boasts an impressive and ever-growing collection that includes canoes, rowboats, iceboats, model steamboats, and more.
I am, admittedly, not a boating aficionado, but I still got a lot out of this visit. As a history and culture lover, the introductory video featuring locals reminiscing about their boating childhoods and exploring their families’ boat-making heritages was compelling.
The museum itself is located within the former building of the Taylor Wine Company (the same company where Bully Hill founder Walter Taylor originally worked!), which makes a tour of the building unexpectedly eclectic and Hobbit-like.
One of the coolest parts of the Finger Lakes Boating Museum? It houses a restoration shop where interested community members can help restore items from the museum’s collections and more general restoration, preservation, and building classes are held.
Cost: An adult ticket costs $10, while children under 13 are $5. Check the website for more information about admission hours and ticket discounts.
If you’ve never heard of Glenn Curtiss, then you are not alone. I had no idea who the Hammondsport native was before visiting this museum but was thoroughly impressed by the contributions he made to engineering. In addition to completing the first pre-announced public flight in America in 1908, Curtiss was an early motorcycle manufacturer, made the first long-distance flight in the United States, and was one of the founders of the U.S. aircraft industry.
The museum celebrates more than just Curtiss’ impressive legacy. It is also a stockpile of American history, housing an eclectic collection of elaborate dollhouses, Victorian furniture, an exhibit on women in aviation, and even some costumes from the Indiana Jones film franchise. Finding these unexpected treasures was my favorite part of the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum.
Cost: An adult ticket costs $10. Check the website for more information about admission hours and ticket discounts.
Where to Eat in Hammondsport, New York
The Village Tavern Restaurant & Inn is located just off of Hammondsport’s Village Square and only a block from Keuka Lake. The restaurant and bar have a Bohemian vibe, reinforced by the expansive beer menu (more than 130 beers to choose from). Food options include brie en croute, seafood paella, and this seriously delicious corn bread that came before my meal…
Where to Stay in Hammondsport, New York
McCorn Winery Lodging
Drop everything you’re doing, and book a room at the McCorn Winery Lodging. As the name suggests, this bed-and-breakfast is located in a former winery, completely renovated by owners Sandy and Jeff to feature modern comforts while still maintaining its earthy, eclectic charm.
I stayed in the River Room, the lower level of the property’s two-floor porch. The largest and most popular of the three rooms available within the bed-and-breakfast, the River Room’s features include a king-size bed, a claw-foot tub, a seasonal stream that runs under the room, and access to the sun porch through a trap door.
What do you love about the Finger Lakes? Share in the comments!