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New York’s Finger Lakes Region feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of New York City or the tourist mecca of Buffalo/Niagara Falls. Nestled in the quiet woodlands surrounding each of the 11 narrow lakes are some of the best campgrounds in all of New York state.
Near the northern tip of Seneca Lake (the largest of the Finger Lakes) is Cheerful Valley Campground, which is one of the best places to base yourself for a motorhome camping adventure. It offers a good blend of amenities without being too developed. Sites have 20/50 amp electrical hookups, along with water. There are also restrooms with hot showers, and laundry facilities should you need to wash a load. There’s a camp store if you need to stock up on essentials.
For recreational activities, the park has volleyball and basketball courts, a swimming pool, horseshoe pits, and shuffleboard. There’s also a video game room for the kids. One of the best parts of choosing a rental motorhome near Cheerful Valley Campground is the communal activities. Events like ice cream socials and wine tastings are the perfect way to meet up with fellow travelers and swap stories about the area.
Camping in the Finger Lakes region is, unsurprisingly, all about getting out on the water. Whether it be through fishing, kayaking, waterskiing, or swimming, the important thing is simply to get wet and have fun. There’s no shortage of places to pick up a boat rental on Seneca Lake either, but you will need to decide between kayaks, canoes, pedal boats, or even a sailboat (take a lesson if you’ve never tried it before).
Another option is to grab a bike and hit the Erie Canal to the north. No, you can’t peddle in the canal itself, but there’s an extensive towpath that parallels the waterway for nearly 350 miles. The canal was once the engine of development in New York, so some of its most famous mid-sized and small towns sit alongside it – perfect for a bikepacking adventure.
The southern tip of Adirondacks State Park is also less than a three-hour drive away when you rent a camper near Cheerful Valley Campground. The Adirondacks are one of the premier hiking destinations on the east coast, if for no other reason than that the park is larger than Yellowstone, the Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon national parks combined. Literally hundreds of trails crisscross this massive protected forest, and there’s something for just about any skill or fitness level.
When you book an RV in Ontario County, New York, the closest town will likely be Seneca Falls. Most famous for being the birthplace of the women’s rights movement starting in 1848, there are a lot of great historical sites to visit here. To learn more about the formation of the suffragettes, visit the Women’s Rights National Historical Park – a three-story building packed with historical artifacts from the movement. There’s also the National Women’s Hall of Fame, which lays out the names and biographies of big and small players in the movement.
One thing that you probably don’t know about Seneca Falls is that it served as the inspiration for the fictional town of Bedford Falls in the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life. Watching the movie is a Christmas tradition for many families throughout America, but a trip to the It’s a Wonderful Life Museum will have most visitors discovering details in the film they never noticed before.
Another hidden gem of the Finger Lakes region is the extensive collection of vineyards that make their home in its valleys. The climate is perfect for unique grapes like the Cayuga variety that rarely make it into bottles of mainstream wine. Stop and do a tasting at a few of them while RV camping at Cheerful Valley Campground, and you’re sure to go home with some great bottles of vino.
If Seneca Falls feels too small for your RV rental, there’s always Rochester, one of the state’s largest cities, and it’s less than an hour's drive from the RV campground. As the home of some of America’s largest and most innovative companies, there’s a wealth of history to be explored if you’re fascinated by industry and how things are made. This is especially true if you’re a family with kids; Rochester’s Strong National Museum of Play is one of the most interactive museums in the country. Focused on games and all things fun; this is a great activity for little ones who may have spent too much time in the rental RV.