Operating a Visitor Center is what we love to do… and what so many visitors ask us is what you’d expect, “What is there to do?” and we often respond, “Everything!” But really, what does that mean? Here is our list of the top 10 things to do in Watkins Glen and Schuyler County:

  1. Wine, beer, cider and spirits tastings along Seneca Lake. Watkins Glen and
    Atwater Vineyards
    The stunning view at Atwater Vineyards


    Schuyler County are located in the heart of one of the premier cool-climate wine regions in the world! With an amazing concentration of wineries, the wine industry in the Finger Lakes offers incredible diversity. On the heels of the wine movement, craft beer and hard cider are adding to the libations offered in the region. Schuyler County is home to the region’s first standalone craft distillery. Beer enthusiasts can try hand-crafted pale ale, amber, lager, or any number of specialty offerings at one of the many microbreweries in the area.

  2. Horseback riding through the Finger Lakes National Forest with Painted Bar
    Painted Bar Stables Trail Ride2
    Trail riding with Painted Bar Stables

    Stables. Experience the Finger Lakes on horseback. Painted Bar Stables is a community-oriented riding facility located just up the hill from Watkins Glen. Specializing in trail riding, the stable has reliable horses to guarantee a safe, secure adventure on horseback for riders of all ages and abilities. Experienced horses carry riders through the rolling landscape of the Finger Lakes Region on beautiful trails ranging from simple to rugged terrain. Each ride is carefully crafted through matchmaking of the horse and rider and selection of the perfect trail to give every individual the best experience possible. For a truly unique experience, take one of their moonlight trail rides.

  3. Drive The Glen. F1 came here in 1961, NASCAR came back in 1986 – and now it’s your turn! Give yourself a taste of what road racing is all about through Watkins Glen International’s Drive the Glen program which allows visitors to drive their own car on three paced laps around the historic Watkins Glen International 3.4 mile Grand Prix Course! Follow the pace car down the Front Stretch into the Ninety, twist, climb and claw your way up through the Esses and onto the Back Stretch, braking as you hit the Inner Loop and navigate the Carousel turn, then drop off the face of the earth into the depths of the turn-heavy Boot, climb your way out into Turn Ten, regain your senses and make a run for the finish line!
  4. Say cheese! No, really… we mean it! The Finger Lakes Cheese Trail winds its way
    sunset view creamery
    Cows at Sunset View Creamery

    through the Finger Lakes. Featuring destination farms that produce delicious artisan cheeses of all kinds, most have regular hours and welcome visitors throughout the year. We definitely recommend Sunset View Creamery in Odessa, which is also home to the Finger Lakes Cheese Festival in July. Lively Run Dairy, which is one of the longest operating commercial goat dairies in the country offerings tastings, tours, and an opportunity to play with the goats!

  5. Immerse yourself in local history at IMRRC. The
    Always something to see at the IMRRC

    International Motor Racing Research Center is located in Watkins Glen and features a 5,000 square foot facility housing a reading room, film room, exhibits, and worldwide racing archives. Famous drivers give talks periodically. A vintage car is on display in the atrium and the car changes every few months. Who knows, you might see a 1972 Indy Car Eagle or perhaps a 1929 35B Bugati.

  6. Chase waterfalls. TLC may have told you not to “go chasin’ waterfalls” but hey, this is Schuyler County… and we have 44 named waterfalls – you’d be crazy to miss them! Here are just a few of our favorites…

    Shequaga Falls in Montour Falls
    She Qua Ga Falls
  • Shequaga Falls in the village of Montour Falls are a hallmark of the Finger Lakes. They tumble 156 feet and empty into a large basin.
  • Havana Glen Park, located just south of the village of Montour Falls features Eagle Cliff Falls. To access this beautiful waterfall, it’s just a short walk from the parking lot, only a few hundred feet. Hector Falls, located right next to State Route 414 appear seemingly out of nowhere, running directly along the road. There is a small area for parking along the road but be alert, traffic can be heavy in this portion of highway.
  • Aunt Sarah’s Falls are located just north of the village of Montour Falls and are also directly along the road. Sometimes, during the peak of summer or during dry spells, this waterfall will slow to a trickle and sometimes stops its flow completely. But when it is flowing, Aunt Sarah’s Falls is among the most accessible waterfall in the region.
  • Deckertown Falls are located in the western portion of the village of Montour Falls.
    Suits Deckertown Falls  MFalls
    Deckertown Falls

    There is a small parking area for a handful of cars. There are three waterfalls visible from just beyond the parking area and if you journey upstream, there are several additional, sizeable waterfalls. Traveling upstream is best in summer or fall, when the water levels are likely to be a bit lower.

  • Of course, there are also 19 waterfalls in less than 2 miles at Watkins Glen State Park. Because our area was carved by glaciers, there are countless waterfalls to be found along trails at Finger Lakes National Forest and Sugar Hill State Park as well.
  1. Hang with the locals at one of these hot spots:
  • GRAFT wine + cider bar is the area’s only wine and cider bar. Creative, simple,
    GRAFT wine + cider bar

    seasonal small-bites, snacks, salads, sandwiches and desserts are thoughtfully prepared in-house and designed to share and to pair, by popular regional chef, Christina McKeough. Christina. Favorite dishes include their take on grilled cheese – a crunchy, creamy Goat Cheese & Sun Dried Tomato Panini (featuring local goat cheese from Lively Run Goat Dairy, caramelized onion and a dried tomato olive oil puree on local focaccia from Village Bakery). Or the Brussels Sprout Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette (featuring local apples, parmigiana reggiano, and walnuts). You can finish your visit with a piece of their pie (a new offering every day!), and wash it all down with local wine or cider – talk about delicious! Oh, and you can enjoy live music there on Wednesday nights!

  • Nickels’ Pit BBQ is an authentic American BBQ located in the historic Watkins Glen fire department building. Their menu is homemade and locally sourced. Don’t miss their awesome Loaded Potato Tots, BBQ Mess Plate, and the classic Carolina Pulled Pork – our mouths are watering just thinking about it!
  • Montour House Café & Tapas Bar serves up delicious, fresh, chef-created foods, pastries, espresso drinks, and Finger Lakes wines and beers. We especially love the Slow-Roasted Veggie Wrap full of roasted red peppers, olives, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, hummus, sweet onion, and NY cheddar cheese, and their delicious Chicken and Cheddar Wrap stuffed with sliced chicken breast, Gouda cheese, mixed greens, tomato, onion, lettuce, and Kalamata olives. With a chef/owner who has served dignitaries and worked alongside internationally-renowned chefs and in some of the top kitchens in the country – the Montour House is definitely a can’t-miss stop!
  • The Harvest Café in Montour Falls offers up fantastic breakfast and lunch featuring wraps, salads, and our favorite – their quiche! Located in the heart of the Historic T district, with its idyllic dining room and beautiful exposed brick walls.
  1. Take a selfie at the iconic pier house in Seneca Harbor Park. This one is
    The iconic pier house at Seneca Harbor

    self-explanatory! It’s a must-do on your visit. If you’re not one for selfies, we understand… but you definitely don’t want to miss this incredibly photogenic spot. Walk the break wall to really get in touch with the water – literally and figuratively

  2. Unwind on a sunset sail with the Schooner True Love. Enjoy a lovely sail through the crystal waters of Seneca Lake aboard a 1926 John Alden Malabar VII Schooner. Schooner True Love has sailed the Caribbean waters of St.Thomas since the 1950s and was featured in the 1956 movie “High Society” with Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby, Louis Armstrong, and Frank Sinatra. Local wine is available for those who wish to imbibe and the friendly crew passes a fruit and cheese platter for snacking. You’re also welcome to bring your own snacks on board.
  3. Dine aboard Captain Bill’s Seneca Lake Cruises. A visit to Seneca Lake is not
    Seneca Legacy
    Captain Bill’s Seneca Lake Cruises

    complete without stopping at Captain Bill’s. The Seneca Legacy allows you take in views over a delicious meal. Whether enjoying a lunch among friends, or a romantic dinner, your time on the Seneca Legacy will be memorable. The Stroller IV, Captain Bill’s 50-foot mahogany vessel offers informative sightseeing excursions. This hour-long tour of Seneca Lake provides a brief look into the history of the lake and the surrounding areas – an educational and relaxing way to take in the scenery.

These are just 10 options… we could name dozens more. Want to hear them? Give us a call for expert -travel advice (800-607-4552) or visit our website to download your free official travel guide. The important thing to take away is that there are countless reasons to vacation here in the Finger Lakes, and in our opinion, out of all of your options, Watkins Glen and Schuyler County are the perfect place to call home during your stay.

3 thoughts on “Top 10 Things To Do in Watkins Glen & Schuyler County

  1. Seems things are out of order here… “Number One” seems OK… wineries and such… very popular… but number two… horseback riding… I’ve never known anyone to do that in Watkins Glen. “Walk the Glen” should be number one or two… “Driving the Glen” should be way down the list as so few people have the cars or inclination to do that. Watkins Glen is a great place for families to visit… so “Driving the Glen” might be like number 15. Now about cheese… really? I lived in Watkins Glen for over 30 years and NEVER saw for sale or ate any local cheese. This must be new. “Hanging out at the Lake” should be high on the list… I did not see it mentioned. And just doing downtown Watkins Glen at night… from Bleachers to Maria’s and the Crooked Rooster… fun for singles and couples… many restaurants and bars in a three block area or so… some with live music… nights in Watkins Glen are fun. I live in Florida now… but was back in Watkins Glen for a wedding last September… it’s a great place. Known for the best State Park ever… fine wineries… a fantastic lake… fun nightlife… but not horseback riding. Oh, NASCAR and now this year, again, INDY CAR racing! Oh yeah. But let’s get the priorities straight… 1: The Watkins Glen State Park 2: Wineries 3: Watkins Glen International Race Track 4: Seneca Lake 5: Downtown Watkins Glen day or night… 6: start your own list now… 7: here’s where you can include “cheese” and “horseback riding”… (which is really “horse riding” now… we all know that one only rides on the back of a horse… not the front or side…) and any other fun things and events that you fancy Watkins Glen is “famous for” and “visited for”. I’m done.


    1. Hi Dennis. Sorry to hear you are disappointed with our list. It’s not necessarily meant to be a catch-all or even in order of “importance”. These are just 10 (randomly listed) fun things to consider doing. Drive the Glen doesn’t require any special type of car, you can take any vehicle onto the track and enjoy it thoroughly (save motorcycles) and actually, I’ve driven the track myself in a vintage truck and had a blast doing it. I’ve even seen a travel writer take an RV on the track. They had a riot! As for horseback riding, well, our friend Erika at Painted Bar is doing a booming business and even offers moonlight rides. The local creameries are another great experience, as is the Finger Lakes Cheese Festival. But then again, everyone has their own personal preference of activities and the right to choose. We just wanted to offer up a few suggestions.


      1. Thanks for the response! There are MANY wonderful things to do in Watkins Glen… and I appreciate your suggestions… just saying my list of “Top Ten” would not mirror the ones you chose. STILL… there are so many reasons to visit Watkins Glen… we are not really arguing… it’s just about what one might want to see or do. There is so much. And hey… the new hotel is amazing! I stayed there in September for my daughter’s wedding at Wagner Vineyards… and Ginny Lee Café… GREAT!


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