The major cities in the region are Rochester, in the region’s northwest corner, and Syracuse, in the northeast corner. Interstate 90 (the New York State Thruway) links the two cities. The region's western boarder is Interstate 390, which runs north–south through Rochester; Interstate 81, the eastern border, crosses Interstate 90 in Syracuse. Ithaca, at the southernmost tip of Cayuga Lake, is a southern Finger Lakes hub.
The Finger Lakes are strung across the heart of the region, south of Interstate 90. Parallel to Interstate 90, Route 5/U.S. 20 travels (from west to east) through Canandaigua, Geneva, Seneca Falls, Auburn, and Skaneateles. The historic Erie Canal, part of the state park system, meanders its way west to east roughly parallel to Interstate 90. To the north lie the high bluffs and sandy beaches of Lake Ontario; the Chemung and Susquehanna rivers border the region on the south.
The Seaway Trail along Lake Ontario makes for spectacular driving or biking. Other scenic routes wind along and around the lakes, passing through villages and farmland. Many wineries lie along these roads, which include Cayuga Lake's Routes 89 and 90, and Routes 14 and 414 on the western shore of Seneca Lake.
The region can be broken down into smaller areas and toured roughly from west to east and centered on the lakes, with Rochester and Syracuse serving as bookends. Another way to explore the region is to treat it as two halves, north and south; make your way across one half and then circle back across the other half.