There’s not a ton to do in Skaneateles—at least in winter, anyway—but quality trumps quantity in the case of this small town on the Finger Lakes. If you’re looking for a low-key, easy-to-get-to destination with New England charm, good shopping, great eating and some little luxuries, Skaneateles is a great option. In summer, lake access opens up a full range of activities from sunbathing and swimming to dinner cruises.
Where to stay
Mirbeau Inn & Spa. Picture stepping into a Monet painting, and you’ll get an idea of what inspired the Mirbeau’s grounds. It’s a romantic option with a lovely spa and upscale amenities.
Finger Lakes Lodging. The vibe is motor lodge crossed with an Adirondack aesthetic (and high thread-count sheets) at this small motel right across the street, and owned by, the Mirbeau.
Sherwood Inn. Classic refined accommodations located right in the village, this inn offers across-the-street access to Lake Skaneateles. With both a formal dining room and a tavern, the latter inspires settling into the warmly-lit bar and nursing a good bourbon while gazing at paintings of hunting dogs...especially in the crisper months.
Where to eat
Rosalie’s. From the outside, you’d never guess that the menu is lined with endorsements from the likes of Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and Billy Fuccillo (who also happened to be there the night we visited). After a fabulous dinner, embraced by a lively energy and great service, we understood why. The pre-dinner warm, crusty bread (served with a side of fresh garlic) alone was worth the visit.
Doug’s Fish Fry. Casual in every sense, the namesake fish fry is reason enough to go—but there’s lots of other seafood options, too, including steamed clams and lobsters, delivered fresh five days a week.
Nest 58. We go to a lot of gift stores in our travels—this one stood out as a favorite anywhere, with a mix of classic and quirky pieces (linens, kitchenware, lighting, more), all beautifully presented.
The Local Branch. A warm, cozy space lined with homemade leather goods (purses, shoes, boots), carefully curated blankets, candles and books, all with a Western-meets-hipster feel.
What to do
Enjoy the lake. Warm months open up your options in Skaneateles, when you can add boating (including a romantic dinner cruise), swimming and outdoor concerts to the simple enjoyment of strolling the village. There’s an antique and classic boat show in July, and plenty of other events and festivals year-round worth traveling for.
Take a side trip. Around 15 minutes down the road, Beak & Skiff Apple Orchards is the home of 1911 Spirits, makers of locally sourced cider, vodka, wine and gin. The complex is a destination for all ages: there’s apple picking (in season), a tasting room, gift shop, general store and bakery—don’t leave without trying the homemade apple pie.