Summer Travel 2013: Where to Play Outside in New York's Finger Lakes

There’s no better place to get out and explore your natural surroundings that in the Finger Lakes area. From water sports to golfing, this may be one of the best places to play outside.

Get outside …

One of the most beautiful trails in the Northeast, the Gorge at Watkins Glen State Park is home to 19 waterfalls, all within a less-than-two-mile hike that takes you over, under, behind and even through the waterworks. $8 per vehicle. Since the 1940s, Watkins Glen International racetrack has been a destination for those who crave life in the fast lane. Come for the thrill of watching a NASCAR race or, even better, find out if you and your ride are up to the challenge of this tricky track on a Thunder Road Tour. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is Aug. 8-11. $25. 2 N. Franklin St., Watkins Glen, (607) 535-2338,

Take a 1.5- or 2-hour daytime or sunset cruise on Seneca Lake in the 60-foot former racing vessel, Schooner True Love. Built in 1926, it was featured in the 1956 Sinatra film, High Society. $29-$49. 3 Franklin St., Watkins Glen, (607) 535-5253,

Get out on Keuka Lake with a rental from Morgan Marine. Jet skis are $100 (plus fuel) per hour. Daily fees are $95 for sailboats, $30 for pedal boats or stand-up paddleboards, and $40 for canoes or single kayaks; ski boats and pontoons begin at $295. 2 E. Lake Road, Penn Yan, (315) 536-8166,

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Seneca HarborCatherine Creek is known as a premier fly-fishing spot, and Summit to Stream Adventures can take you on an excursion there. Six hours $195 ($45 each additional person), four hours $175 ($35). (607) 535-2701, Also in Elmira, grab a picnic lunch (Charlie’s Café is close by) and head to Harris Hill Amusement Park, a 400-acre hilltop county park with a breathtaking view, plus playgrounds, a swimming pool and pay-as-you-go batting cages, driving range, mini golf and go-karts. Free admission. 557 Harris Hill Road, (607) 732 1210,

Kids will love meeting the rescued cows, pigs, turkeys and other residents of the Farm Sanctuary. Guided tours are $5 for adults, $3 for children. Private cabins—basic, but clean and comfy—are available for overnight stays ($120, double occupancy). Guests are welcome to hang out with the animals or pitch in with the daily chores. A vegan continental breakfast is included. 3100 Aikens Road, Watkins Glen, (607) 583-2225,

Rent a bike at the Savannah House. 3927 State Road 14, Himrod, (607) 243-7787,

Book an 18-hole round on the original Donald Ross-designed, circa-1937 Mark Twain Golf Course. Golf Digest magazine rated it the “Best Secret” in 2004. $25. 2275 Corning Road, Elmira Heights, (607) 737-5770,

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Our Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs Party is July 25!