10 Top Museums to Visit in the Finger Lakes

By | Wine & Travel Writer, Consultant & Marketer
Last Updated: July 6, 2023
Best Finger Lakes Museums To Visit

Since there’s so much to do in the Finger Lakes, we want to be sure to have you covered no matter when you’re there. While our top 10 things to do outdoors in the Finger Lakes is fantastic, the weather in this cool climate wine growing region isn’t always going to cooperate. Thankfully, whether you’re an art lover and want to ponder the works of renowned glass artisans, or you’re into American history and want to visit a few iconic sights, there are Finger Lakes Museums with a little something for everyone – including kids!

10 Best Finger Lakes Museums To Explore

The National Museum of Play

Rochester, New York

A great stop with young kids that need time to run free. The Museum of Play is a highly interactive, collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play. It boasts the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of historical toys. Adults may even find the history and research behind toys of interest. 

Corning Museum of Glass

Corning, New York

Nearly 50,000 objects representing more than 3,500 years of history are displayed in the museum’s galleries all dedicated to glass! You can watch daily demonstrations of contemporary glassworking, learn about the science and technology of glass in the Innovation Center, and participate in “Make Your Own Glass” sessions. And wandering the Contemporary Art + Design Wing is a must as it’s the largest presentation of contemporary art in glass in the world. And if you’re in need of a special gift for someone, the gift shop here is incredible!

The Rockwell Museum

Corning, New York

A diverse and unique art collection housed in Corning’s Old City Hall, The Rockwell Museum hosts activities for both adults and kids from innovative arts education for children and parents to exceptional lectures by leading scholars. You can also wander the galleries at your leisure or take children to make their own art in the craft area designed just for them. Ask about the resident ghost while you’re there!

The Mark Twain Study

Elmira, New York

Originally located on Quarry Farm on a knoll overlooking the Chemung River Valley, this octagonal building is where Mark Twain wrote major portions of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Life on the Mississippi, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Prince and the Pauper, A Tramp Abroad, and many short pieces. In 1952, the Mark Twain Study was moved from Quarry Farm to the Elmira College campus where it is now staffed by trained student guides daily throughout the summer and by appointment in the off-season. For any literary buff or Mark Twain fan, the copies of Twain’s handwritten manuscripts are a treat!

The Finger Lakes Boating Museum

Hammondsport, New York

The Finger Lakes Boating Museum is dedicated to the education and preservation of the boating activities and the boat building heritage of the Finger Lakes. The Museum Collection has now grown to more than 200 boats built throughout the Finger Lakes Region during the last century. And the main museum building, built in 1886, was the former Taylor Wine Company headquarters.

The Finger Lakes Museum & Aquarium

Branchport, New York

Educational programs, interactive exhibits, and informational play can all be found at this small museum dedicated to the ecological evolution of the Finger Lakes.

Women’s Rights National Historical Park

Seneca Falls, New York

Women’s Rights National Historical Park tells the story of the first Women’s Rights Convention held in Seneca Falls on July 19-20,1848. Visitors are welcome to tour the Women’s Rights National Historical Park’s visitor center, historic homes including the Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, the M’Clintock House, the Richard Hunt House, and the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel.

The Museum of Earth

Ithaca, New York

This is for the dinosaur buffs, archaeologist fans and anthropologist aficionados or anyone interested in early world history. You will journey back 540 million years in time and then travel into the future with special exhibitions, lectures and family-friendly programs.

Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park

Canandaigua, New York

This 50-acre estate is a serene respite in Canandaigua, gifted to the community by Frederick Ferris and Mary Clark Thompson. This couple of the Gilded Age created Sonnenberg as their Victorian summer home. It is now a beautiful summer escape and one of the few “Country Place Era Estates” remaining in the United States. It is distinctive for its extraordinary collections of period architecture, garden statuary, themed gardens of the world including a Japanese Garden and Teahouse, and the Lord & Burnham Greenhouse Complex.

Harriet Tubman Home

Auburn, New York

Harriet Tubman was an American abolitionist and political activist. Born into slavery, she escaped and subsequently made some thirteen missions to rescue approximately seventy enslaved people, family and friends, using the network of antislavery activists and safe houses known as the Underground Railroad. The Harriet Tubman Home is an independent non-profit dedicated to sharing Harriet Tubman’s core values and history with visitors through a guided tour of the property and The Harriet Tubman National Historical Park was established here in 2017.

Winetraveler Bonus Tip: Stop in at Hector Handmade to make your own beaded jewelry or any number of handcrafted items from local artisans.

More Tips, Tricks, Education & Itineraries on the Finger Lakes Wine Region

Barnstormer Winery – A Unique Approach To Winemaking in the Finger Lakes

5 Amazing Seneca Lake Wineries To Visit If You Love Dry Red Wine

3 Historic Wineries To Visit on Kueka Lake

Seneca Lake Wine Country Itinerary & Guide (Hotels, Transportation, Wineries & Activity Recommendations)

How To Explore the Finger Lakes Wine Region According to a Master Sommelier

9 Outstanding Wineries in the Finger Lakes if You Love Sparkling Wine

How To Spend a Relaxing Weekend in Aurora New York

FLX Weinery – A Finger Lakes Restaurant Destination

10 Exciting Finger Lakes Outdoor Activities To Experience

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Featured photo courtesy Corning Museum of Glass.

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