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Yates County

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Overview - Yates County

Nestled in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country, Yates County is a mostly rural, wide-open area county that contains parts of three of the Finger Lakes and is known for its natural beauty. With just over 25,000 residents, Yates is one of the least-populated counties in the area; the biggest town, Milo, only has about 7,000 people. What you get instead is mostly undeveloped land with access to and sweeping vistas of Canandaigua Lake, Keuka Lake and Seneca Lake.

The county has four villages. The largest, Penn Yan (mostly in Milo), is the county seat. The wine industry is huge here; tourists stop and dozens of vineyards that dot Route 14, which runs north-south along the shoreline of Seneca Lake on the eastern edge. The surrounding counties are Ontario (the biggest around, to the north and west); Seneca, to the east; Schuyler, to the south; and Steuben, to the southwest. Keuka College is within county’s borders; Keuka Lake State Park, popular with campers, is near the college. Penn Yan has a small airport.

Recreation & Entertainment

People flock to Yates County, plain and simple, because of the Finger Lakes. Seneca, about 37 miles long, is one of the largest. Keuka is Y-shaped, with branches in Branchport and Hammondsport (in Steuben County). Canandaigua Lake is one of the most desirable for lakefront homes. Besides outdoor activities, many of the attractions in Yates County are in Penn Yan, including an outdoor seasonal market called The Windmill, the Arts Center of Yates County, and a movie-theater multiplex.

Yates County is small-town living, but there are bigger municipalities with more attractions nearby. To the north is the city of Geneva in Ontario County, which has a busy downtown district, a Wegmans supermarket and the Smith Opera House, which draws national acts. Ontario County also has an outdoor performing arts center that attracts even bigger touring acts (in the town of Hopewell). To the south in Schuyler County is Watkins Glen, a busy tourist area known for its racetrack and the lovely Watkins Glen State Park, with its spectacular gorge trail. Watkins Glen draws thousands of visitors every summer when NASCAR makes its annual tour stop.

Between Geneva and Watkins Glen, along Route 14, is Yates County. Route 14 offers scenic panoramic views of Seneca Lake. (And don’t forget the dozens of wineries.)

Yates County has several historic sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, particularly in Penn Yan and in Dundee. Most of the sites are old farmhouses, barns and churches that are indicative of the rural character of the county.

Unspoiled natural beauty is a big reason why people like Yates County. You can’t beat the tranquility and charm of the Finger Lakes.

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