Skaneateles (pronounced Skinny Atlas) is an adorable little Finger Lakes vacation town located right on Route 20. There’s a garden supply store and an ice cream shop on every block, all the buildings look like little cottages, and the town is shoved up against the north end of the second eastern-most finger lake, Skaneateles Lake.
Don’t know much about Finger Lakes? You will soon! The Finger Lakes are an array of 10-ish long skinny lakes smack in the middle of New York state.
From left to right in this photo they are:
- Honeoye Lake (That’s the little one all the way on the left edge- it’s so small, don’t you feel like it shouldn’t even count? I kind of tried to crop it out of the image along with some other tiny ones I vetoed. Sorry… I don’t mean to be a jerk about lake size.)
- Canandaigua Lake (I think all those white puffs are clouds? Not sure.)
- Keuka Lake (The forky one near the bottom.)
- Seneca Lake (The second deepest lake in the country and host of the National Lake Trout Derby!)
- Cayuga Lake
- Owasco Lake
- Skaneateles Lake
- Otisco Lake
My parents brought me to the Finger Lake region on vacation when I was 10 or 11, and ever since then I’ve kind of clung to my memory of the area as this bastion for idyllic park benches and kitschy souvenir stores. A lot to live up to? Maybe.
As I drove towards Skaneateles, the farmland got more and more adorable, plush and British, complete with cushy meadows and short little stone wall remnants. So far so good! Parking in town was easy and cheap, and I was immediate confronted with an ice cream shop on the water where I got praline-flavored ice cream and wandered into a little park.
It was chilly and windy and perfect, and across the street I saw a sign for a Christmas decorations store called “Chestnut Cottage.”
OBVIOUSLY I had to go there, so I started walking over but then out of nowhere I heard the energetic invite of another nearby shop:
Pomodoro’s outdoor collection of wind-activated lawn ornaments and novelty signs hinted at an indoor potpourri-scented wonderland of artisan soaps and pastel baby-room decorations that I knew I couldn’t miss.
My assessment turned out to be DEAD on, and I was presented with my choice of kiwi bubble bath, hand-painted “My Little Man” mirrors, hanging plants or any number of monogrammed journals.
I chatted with Lauren (in the first photo) about my trip and about Skaneateles, and after apologizing for the cold weather she recommended that I check out one of the waterfront restaurants, a place called the Bluewater Grill. It was packed! And a little expensive, so I skipped it and instead got a peanut butter cookie from a nearby bakery.
Strolling through town nibbling on my dinner, I found a salon called Hairtique adverising its spa day packages:
And then I stumbled on some truly stunning lawn ornaments that I really hope were purchased at Pomodoro:
The Finger Lakes area and I think Skaneateles in particular is slightly fascinating to me. Geographically the area is beautiful. Everywhere I went the vistas were just perfect: rays of sunshine poking through clouds to shine on a small cluster of sailboats at a distant dock while on a hill above the water a little farmhouse sits with a couple cows quietly grazing. But then at the same time there’s this complete worship of kitsch and tourism and sillyness. You’d think that it would tarnish the experience but somehow it really doesn’t. The combination of colors and energy and unnecessary purchasing thrown against undeniably serene waterfront and woodsy hill scenes just seems to work. Neither side takes itself to seriously. “We’ve installed a couple papier-mâché bald eagles on our front lawn, but… whatevs! Be back soon, we’re gonna go fishing.” or “Is the beauty of this sunset washing over you right now? HAHA nerd! Relax- did you see that ice cream place down the street? SCORE.”