Combine a vacation trip through scenic lake country with a tour of some of the best wine country in the East in New York state's Finger Lakes district.
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You can have your own wine country road trip with the help of four Finger Lakes Trails, tourist associations set up to guide you around the area's scenery and vineyards. And there is no nicer time of year to visit this mostly rural area than autumn, when apple orchards and pumpkin fields are bursting with produce and the region's rolling hills are ablaze with color.
The Canandaigua Wine Trail http://www.canandaiguawinetrailonline.com/ - the westernmost of the trails, meanders southward from the Erie Canal at Fairport along the western shore of Canandaigua Lake.
Slideshow: The Big Apple The Cayuga Trail - http://www.cayugawinetrail.com/ - hugs Cayuga Lake from the Cornell University city of Ithaca to Cayuga and Seneca Falls. Look under "Along the Trail" for attractions such as the local farmers' markets.
The Seneca Lake Wine Trail - http://www.senecalakewine.com/ - takes you past a wealth of wineries and sights such as the Rose Hill Mansion in Geneva, a national historic landmark. Follow their guide a little farther south to the Corning Museum of Glass - http://www.cmog.org/ - to see their colorful art and historical exhibits and glassworking demonstrations.
West of Seneca Lake, the Keuka Lake Wine Trail - http://www.keukawinetrail.com/ - passes only a handful of wineries, but the organizers argue that it is the most picturesque of the lakes.
There's plenty more to do and the Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance -http://www.fingerlakes.org/ - has links to everything from parks and festivals to wineries and places to stay. "Attractions" run the gamut from amusement parks to farm tours and nature centers, and "Recreation" will keep you busy trying to decide on fishing, balloon rides, skiing and golf.
Click on the Tourism Alliance's "Finger Lakes Seasons" for help deciding what time of year you want to visit, and don't forget "Vacation Packages" to see if you can save a buck or two. They also supply a directory of wineries if you want to make a list of spots to visit.
Fans of auto racing might consider planning a visit around the schedule at Watkins Glen - http://www.theglen.com - the track that has drawn competitors driving everything from sports cars to Formula 1 thoroughbreds to NASCAR boomers for more than half a century.
If you're making long-range plans, start getting ready now for next July's Finger Lakes Wine Festival - http://www.flwinefest.com/ - a celebration of the grapes grown around the region's lakes and rolling hills. Click on "Attending Wineries" for Web links for most of the wineries in the region.
If you want to explore a little more of the area, the official New York state tourism Web site - http://www.iloveny.com/ - has bags of information on attractions, destinations, recreation and places to stay.
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