Close To Home Travel: Finger Lakes and Thousand Islands

Close To Home Travel: Finger Lakes and Thousand Islands

Travelers Enjoy New York’s Beauty Amid COVID-19 Restrictions
Elizabeth Carey
Adirondack chairs

Travelers are looking to get out and enjoy new experiences while making summer memories with family and loved ones. Unfortunately, the global pandemic has limited the number of places where travelers can go as new hotspots interrupt interstate travel. Given the situation, many road trippers are seeking opportunities closer to home without ever leaving New York State.

From Niagara Falls to New York City, there are endless opportunities to enjoy summer with something for everyone, no matter your taste.

The Finger Lakes

One of this year’s popular destinations is the Finger Lakes where you’ll find sweeping views of farmland, grape vineyards and the water, and you’ll feel as though you are a world away. There are 11 lakes in all to choose from, and Keuka Lake is one of our favorites.


Hammondsport is the perfect spot to visit quaint shops and search for unique antiques, many tied to the region’s grape growing history. Stroll along the village’s streets to see what you can find and be sure to stop at Cider Creek where you’ll find local brews to quench or thirst along with a menu of home-cooked delights. Don’t be surprised if the chef steps outside to your curbside table asking if you enjoyed the food. It’s clear they take pride in their cooking.


Leaving Hammondsport, you can find many wineries on both sides of the lake, some are officially part of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, but you’ll also stumble upon others, along with many breweries. If you head towards Penn Yan, be sure to stop at Keuka Springs Vineyards, where they’re happy to conduct wine tastings on the patio with Keuka Lake as your backdrop. The Wiltbergers have been making award-winning wines since the 1980s.


The Finger Lakes are home to eight AAA Four Diamond properties. From quaint bed and breakfast options to full service hotels, there are many options that will give you peace of mind while traveling. AAA’s rating system is the oldest and most reliable in the travel industry. For more than 80 years, AAA’s professionally-trained inspectors have used strict guidelines to conduct unannounced hotel and restaurant evaluations, assigning diamond levels based on their findings.

The 1000 Islands

Another gem in New York with that’s easy to get to from all points is the Thousand Islands region. Situated along the St. Lawrence River, you’ll enjoy a wonderful breeze and picturesque scenery.


Alexandria Bay, or A-Bay, as it’s commonly known, is a tourist’s delight. Stroll from shop to shop looking for souvenirs and more. You’ll enjoy seeing historic signs now hanging over updated businesses. Lunch or dinner on the water is a must and be sure to check out Boldt Castle – you can see it from shore or enjoy a boat ride for a close-up view.


Just a short drive away you’ll find Clayton, which is home to many shops and restaurants, also along the St. Lawrence. The 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, a AAA Four Diamond property, is situated right along the river’s edge. Kick back on a beautiful patio surrounded by colorful flowers and enjoy well-appointed guestrooms. The staff is more than welcoming as they strive to make your stay enjoyable.

What to Do

There are two boat services, Uncle Sam Boat Tours and Clayton Island Tours, that offer guided tours along the river or, if you feel adventurous, rent your own and go exploring! To become one with nature, or simply to get some sun and take a swim, cross the bridge to Wellesley Island State Park where you can hike, picnic, camp and more. Sport fishing is very popular along the river and there are numerous guides to choose from, some who will even cook your catch. We chose to venture off in search of bass with Captain Glenn Van Hoesen from Small Mouth Adventures on Lake Ontario. If you’re a history buff, head over to Sackets Harbor to see the War of 1812 battlefield site and museum.

No matter what travel opportunities you choose, AAA is here to guide you along the way. Our Travel Consultants have up-to-date information on COVID restrictions with maps and can assist with hotels, activities, car rentals, tour books and more. As always, don't forget your pre-road trip checkup for your car at a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop to make sure everything is in working order. For more AAA road trips, visit and to find a AAA Approved Auto Repair shop near you, visit