If you’re planning a Finger Lakes vacation, be sure to spend at least a day in the adorable small town of Hammondsport, New York!

When I say Hammondsport is small, I mean small. Like the downtown area is situated around Pultney Square and then there’s a road that leads down to Keuka Lake. That’s pretty much it.

However, this tiny place packs a huge punch and is well worth a visit for anyone who wants easy access to wineries and lake activities. Check below for a full guide on where to stay, eat, and play!

An Overview of Hammondsport

Where is it?

As mentioned above, Hammondsport is literally right on the southern tip of Keuka Lake. It’s about 30 minutes from Watkins Glen at the southern tip of Seneca Lake and 45 minutes from Elmira Regional Airport.

Where does the name come from?

The name comes from its founder, Lazarus Hammond. (Hammond’s Port – Hammondsport).

A Brief History

Hammondsport as we know it today began in 1827 and was officially incorporated in 1856.

Glenn H. Curtiss

Its biggest claim to fame is because of Glenn H. Curtiss, aka the founder the U.S. aircraft industry and fastest man on earth.

He was born here back in 1878 and is said to have been interested in “learning about how things worked” from a young age. By adulthood, he had his manufacturing company based in Hammondsport and was a key pioneer in early aviation development.

Taylor Wine Company

Once upon a time the Taylor Wine Company was one of the biggest American wine producers and the most important winery in the U.S. Northeast. It all began in 1880 with Walter S. Taylor who started a commercial grape juice company in Hammondsport and later established the wine production in the 1920s. They company managed to weather the Prohibition and was a huge part of the local economy.

Unfortunately, it went public, quality dipped, and it was sold to Coca Cola in 1977. Not even two decades later it was completely dissolved.

While Taylor Wine Company no longer exists, you can see it’s legacy in many of the wineries around Keuka Lake today (more on that later).

Plan Your Trip to Hammondsport

The Best Time to Visit Hammondsport

I would say the best (and also busiest) time to visit is in summer so you can take advantage of all there is to do on the lake. Autumn is quite pretty but a lot of places will start closing down towards the end of the season, and I imagine winter and early spring are very, very quiet.

Where to Stay in Hammondsport

The Park Inn

We stayed at the super cute Park Inn, which is about as central as it gets in Hammondsport. Located above their restaurant, the inn has five suites that managed to feel both spacious and cozy. As a bonus, they have a bunch of drinks and snacks lining the hallway in case you get a midnight craving!

Check-in is contactless, but if you have issues someone from the restaurant should be able to help. Also keep in mind, only children 13 and older are permitted to stay.

Book here

Other Places to Stay Downtown

Besides Park Inn, there are a number of other historic inns and bed and breakfasts downtown. 18 Vine Inn & Carriage House, which is about three blocks back, goes back to the 1860s and features a number of different rooms named after famous figures important to Hammondsport’s history.

On the short road to Keuka Lake, you’ll walk by the Historic Champlin House Bed and Breakfast and colorful, ink-bottle J.S. Hubbs Bed & Breakfast. I swear the exterior of Champlin House looks like a fancier version of Green Gables and was once home to several generations of the Champlin Family. I couldn’t find too much about J.S. Hubbs and their website no longer seems to exist! Try calling (607) 569-2440 to make a reservation or ask them more.

Places to Stay Nearby

If you venture a little out of the main part of town, there’s Black Sheep Inn & Spa and Vinehurst Inn & Suite. Black Sheep is British-owned and operated and offers a 100% vegan menu. They manage to keep things intimate with only five guest rooms in their historic home and the on-site spa also means you can fully zen out. Vinehurst, meanwhile, would be the kind of fun roadside inn you’d find along Route 66 if Route 66 went into the Finger Lakes. It features standard rooms, whirlpool suites, and family suites.

Parking in Hammondsport

Benefits of tiny towns – free street parking! You should have no issues finding parking around Pultney Square and down by the lake beaches.

Where to Eat in Hammondsport

Verns Bakery

Formerly Shethar Street Patisserie, Verns Bakery is an absolutely delightful bakery with all sorts of sweet treats. The titular Vern was also very friendly when I met him and his dog was adorable. You can eat here, but I’d also recommend taking things to go and sitting in the little park area next door.

Note: You do need cash! There’s a bank and ATM right by the church.

Burgers & Beers of Hammondsport

We ate at Burgers & Beers before beginning our fall trip, and it’s perfect for classic American dishes. I especially loved the fried mozzarella and buffalo fried chicken salad.

Park Inn Restaurant

For those that love a farm-to-table restaurant, you’ll love Park Inn’s seasonal offerings! The menu shifts constantly with what’s available from locally sourced and produced ingredients. Whatever you get, start with the deviled eggs!

Crooked Lake Ice Cream Company

Despite the name, Crooked Lake Ice Cream Co. also serves a mean breakfast in addition to its full ice cream menu. The interior is a fun 50s-style diner and you can choose all the classics from avocado toast to buttermilk pancakes. I like their Hammondsport-themed options like Glenn’s Favorite or The Fastest Man on Earth.

Hammondsports Grocery

One of the days, we picked up some picnic supplies from Hammondsport Grocery. It’s a pretty simple, no frills stop but it’s right in town on the way to the lake so perfect for snacks and treats.

Other Places to Eat in Hammondsport

While we didn’t get a chance to try them, I’ve heard good things about Timber Stone Grill, Luca Italian Bistro, and Aroma Coffee Art Gallery. Literally all these restaurants are within 5 minutes of each other on foot, so you’ll have plenty to choose from!

Wineries & Breweries Near Hammondsport

Considering Hammondsport is also known for being at the center of the wine industry, just know you’re within 20 minutes of at least a dozen world class wineries. Don’t be surprised if there are even more! Here are just some nearby.

(Please note: I don’t really drink, so I have no idea what the wines themselves really taste like. I’m going off the general atmosphere and what else they offer.)

Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery

I swear Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery has been on my to-visit list for ages now but I’m always running out of time! Dr. Frank is credited with elevating the entire New York wine industry and was a pioneer of the vinifera movement for East Coast winemakers. Hailing from Odessa, Ukraine, he actually earned a Ph.D. in Viticulture and was known as an expert through Eastern Europe long before he immigrated to the US in 1951. He was the first to plant European grapes in the Eastern U.S. and only a decade later his Vinifera Wine cellar was known for its rieslings.

In addition to tastings, they have a cute outside eatery known as Eugenia’s Garden, which is open from Memorial Weekend through October. Choose from a number of a la carte menu options while overlooking Keuka Lake.

Point of the Bluff Vineyards

Point of the Bluff Vineyards is run by Mike Countryman, who has 30+ years of experience in the industry. One of the fun things about them is that they’ve expanded their winery to feel almost like a community space so there’s plenty to enjoy for us non-drinkers!

In the summers, you’ll catch different live music events and they have a bunch of games like bocce ball and corn hole. They even offer yoga classes and painting workshops in their pavilion, and their tasting room is in a former schoolhouse. Don’t miss their canned wine brand – Hangar 17.

Keuka Lake

Keuka Lake Vineyards is also known for their dry wines, particularly Riesling, Vignoles, and Cabernet Franc. It’s situated along a steep slope with views overlooking the lake and focuses on sustainable practices including no herbicides and minimal intervention.

Its story began with owner and manager, Mel Goldman, who visited the region on a family camping and college trip to Cornell. Mel, who spent his career working in industrial and agricultural development from places like Michigan all the way to Nepal, purchased an old Taylor vineyard in 1997 to turn it into what is today. In addition to Mel, Margo Federkiel works as the winery’s winemaker and Carla Lederman works as the tasting room manager.

Bully Hill Vineyards

Bully Hill Vineyards is another winery that has a gorgeous location along the lake. Its history is actually part of the Taylor Wine Company history as it was founded by Walter S. Taylor in the seventies. After watching his family’s company get so large its quality and practices took a severe dip, he and his father started Bully Hill to recapture the philosophy the ancestors once had. There may be no Taylor Wine Co. today, but that’s only because Coca Cola forbade the family from being able to use their own last names!

You can actually learn more about their history at the Greyton H. Taylor Wine Museum on the property. Not only does it have the cool history of Taylor Wine, but it has a fantastic gallery with over 200 pieces that celebrate New York artists.

As another bonus, they too focus on sustainable practices and seem to have a restaurant full of delicious food options for those not interested in wine tasting.

Heron Hill Winery

The story of Heron Hill Winery starts as a collegiate love story all the way over in Denver, Colorado. John and Jo Ingle met across the room of a party in 1969 and only three years later began Heron Hill with 20 acres of grapes. Despite the hardships in the beginning, they eventually moved to their current location between Bully Hill and Dr. Frank’s and have been in business for over forty years.

The architecture of their winery is the real stand out. Designed by NYC architect, Charles Warren, the Greek Revival style is unique for the region. Their tasting room has been named among the most spectacular in the world, and I bet they’re booked up like crazy for weddings and events!

Living Roots Wine & Co

Living Roots is actually winery in the Finger Lakes and a winery in the Adelaide Hills of South Australia! If you’re wondering about the locations, you can thank the partners, Seb and Colleen.

Seb grew up in Adelaide Hills and winemaking in his family goes back to the 1850s when his 3x great-grandfather, Thomas Hardy (different from the author) moved to Australia and planted the family’s first grapes. Seb grew up in his dad’s vineyards and worked across Australia and Europe before getting a Viticulture and Oenology degree.

Meanwhile, Colleen grew up in Rochester and spent a ton of time around the Finger Lakes before studying marketing and working in corporate America. She eventually left to pursue winemaking and became a cellar hand at Tintara Winery.

That’s where their paths crossed and they launched Living Roots to take advantage of the different climates and harvest seasons. Their location in the Finger Lakes is more focused on white and sparkling wines.

Shopping in Hammondsport

Park Pharmacy

Despite the name, Park Pharmacy isn’t actually a pharmacy but a fun souvenir shop for all things Keuka and Hammondsport. I picked up a hat here because why not! It’s also a good spot if you’ve forgotten anything random like sunscreen or Q-tips.

Cinnamon Stick

If you’re looking for a shop with all sorts of cute home goods and products than you’ll love Cinnamon Stick.

Best Things to Do in Hammondsport

Swim in Keuka Lake near Depot Park

Follow Shethar, William, or Lake Street down towards the lake and you’ll get to Depot Park and a whole swimming area. There’s a great ledge to jump and dive off of as the water can get pretty deep. The park is nice and grassy with plenty of benches and just places to sit if you want to spread out a blanket and relax.

Kayak from Champlin Beach

… And by kayak, I mean paddle out and then lay back and single all of “La Vie Boheme” from Rent. Ha!

Keuka Watersports is based on Champlin Beach and has boats, jet skis, paddle boards, and kayaks you can rent! They’re open mid-June to Labor Day and offer a very chill experience. Whoever’s working will help you get settled into the water and be able to answer any questions.

You don’t need water shoes for the lake but you do need to wear the life jackets they provide. Check here for all the prices and how to reserve.

Enjoy Pulteney Square

Right in the middle of everything, Pulteney Square is a cute little park in the middle of Hammondsport. You can’t miss the Victorian-esque pavilion right in the middle. When we arrived in the summer, there was actually a nice little concert going on! Keep an eye on their Facebook page for upcoming events.

Also if you see a ginger cat roamin’ about, tell him I say hi!

Visit the Glenn H Curtiss Museum

If you’re traveling with an aviation nerd (or are one yourself), than you won’t want to miss the museum dedicated to Hammondsport’s son. You’ll get to experience Curtiss’s aircraft collection and just learn all about a man who shows what curiosity and a willingness to learn can lead to.

Again, this is still on my list to visit! Each time I’ve driven past the airplanes outside of the museum, I’d wished I had time to stop.

Drive along Lake Road

One particularly scenic thing to do in Hammondsport is to drive along Lake Road and follow the coast of Keuka Lake. It’s absolutely gorgeous with all the vineyards and trees. I can’t remember where but somewhere on the way to Point of the Bluff, there’s a really pretty lookout you can stop at!

Nearby Hammondsport

The beauty of the Finger Lakes is the ability to explore nearby towns. If you plan to stay in Hammondsport, these spots are all roughly 30-40 minutes by car.

Penn Yan, Finger Lakes, New York

Penn Yan (~30 min)

Located on the northern side of Keuka Lake, Penn Yan is another ridiculously adorable own in the Finger Lakes. Fun fact: it’s name comes from “Pennsylvania” and “Yankee”!

There’s a lot to do in this tiny town whether you want to eat well (Amity Coffee for breakfast or True Roots Kitchen for lunch/dinner), stretch your legs along the Keuka Outlet Trail, or shop around the numerous boutiques.

Naples (~30 min)

Naples is somehow even tinier than Hammondsport and sits on the southern end of Canandaigua Lake. Stop into Old School Cafe for breakfast or lunch. It’s located in a refurbished primary school house and the whole interior design feels like, well, an old school!

Watkins Glen hiking

Watkins Glen (~30 min)

About thirty minutes in the opposite direction at the southern tip of Seneca Lake sits the popular Watkins Glen State Park and its town of the same name. The gorge trail is easily one of the prettiest trails ever and is open in summer and early fall. It’s only a mile long and relatively easy to navigate (I watched someone do it in flip-flops and a dress), so I strongly recommend spending the morning here!

You can grab a bite to eat at Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, and from there you can see the oft photographed Seneca Lake pier house. (Fun fact – if you ever watch “New Girl,” you’ll see a photo of this spot on the fridge in many, many shots!)

Corning, Finger Lakes, New York

Corning (~35 min)

No trip to the Finger Lakes is complete without a stop into Corning and the famous Corning Museum of Glass! I always see this as the Finger Lakes’ main “city” since it’s pretty big compared to other hotspots and has a lot going on. While here also check out the Rockwell and shop along all the cute boutiques. If you stay for dinner, one of my favorite restaurants so far is The Quincy Exchange.

And there you have it – everything you need to know about visiting the coolest small town in America – Hammondsport. If you go, please dive into the Keuka Lake for me!

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want to support?

I’m always grateful when friends and readereach out wanting to support There She Goes Again. Truthfully, I’m just happy my posts are helping people travel! If you’d like to support the blog, here are some companies and brands I’m affiliated with. Simply click the links, and I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

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