The “middle-of-no-where” Lake
Cayuga Lake is what I like to call the-middle-of-no-where lake – yes, it has Seneca Falls on the north, and Ithaca on the South, and tons of really (really) great stops in between, but in order to get anywhere, you have to go through a lot of middle-of-no-wheres. It’s not a bad thing – the views are stunning (which Finger Lake doesn’t have stunning views? Don’t answer, it’s a trick question), the roads are well maintained, and there are farm animals around every twist and turn.
Cayuga is also the longest of the Finger Lakes, at around 40 miles long.
What to do near Cayuga Lake
When I think about Cayuga Lake, it’s hard not to think about the famous (?) 50-mile yard sale down Route 90 that takes place the last full weekend every July (from 9am-5pm rain or shine). If you want to do anything that weekend, other than yard sales and dodging pedestrians, avoid Route 90. Just, don’t do it. But, if you’re into antiques, used books & clothing, toys – ya know, all that yard saley stuff, then definitely check it out. Keep in mind – we’re talking County Route 90 (not Interstate Route 90 [a.k.a. the NYS Thruway]).
Ithaca (south end) is a pretty popular place in the Finger Lakes, but it’s a love it or hate it city. It has it’s own distinct character – college-town-crunchy-hippie-artsy-fartsy-techy. That’s a lot of characters, but that’s Ithaca. One of my faaaaavorite places in Ithaca (I’ve only been there once, and yes, it’s one of my favorite places ever) is Sarah’s Patisserie (what is a patisserie??), which just opened a new downtown location. Other popular spots are Purity Ice Cream and Ithaca Bakery.
Aurora is the most fantastic little town (middle/east side) in the Finger Lakes. It is. Officially. I declare it. Large historical (and beautifully restored and landscaped) homes, The Inns of Aurora, Mackenzie-Childs, aaah. So much lovely. Just… lovely. Do drive through and stop once and a while. It’s worth it.
I took this photo a couple years ago at the Wells College Boat house in Aurora.
On the western side of Cayuga Lake, you’ll find a lot of no-where. Miles, and miles of no-where. But Cayuga Lake Creamery and The Copper Oven (slowfoodonthego.com) make it worth venturing to no-mans-land. Also, white deer (seriously, google it.) and abandoned psysch hospital (yes, really). Truly, the patch of Earth on the west side of Cayuga Lake, is an adventure.
Let’s see, what else? Oh – you might want to check out the wineries (there’s an interesting mix, to say the least), make a stop on the Finger Lakes Sweet Treat Trail, or go geocaching on the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway. Heck, do all three!
Characteristics of Cayuga Lake
Did you know? Cayuga lake looks like the biggest on the map, but its surface area is actual just smaller than Seneca. It’s true, I read it on the Internet. Cayuga is 40 miles long, and at it’s widest point, 1.7 miles wide.
Frontenac Island (near Union Springs [north/east]) is one of only two islands in the Finger Lakes (the other being squaw island on Canandaigua Lake).
Claire Duffett writes on the Times Union (Albany, NY) Blog:
At the northern tip of Cayuga is Seneca Falls, famous for its role in the women’s suffrage movement. In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and her contemporaries convened there to sign a declaration demanding the vote. Though the tiny hamlet has few dining and accommodation options, it is still worth stopping in town to tour the Women’s Rights National Historic Park before indulging in tastings along the trail of wineries and dining at the cultural hub of Ithaca to the south. Guides offer free daily tours through Stanton’s home and the Wesleyan chapel where Stanton and contemporary rights activists such as Frederick Douglass first convened.
At the southernmost point of Cayuga is Ithaca, a haven for the young, urban professional but with enough small-town, rustbelt grit to keep it feeling down-to-earth. Ithaca Beer Co. occupies one of those post-industrial enclaves on Elmira Rd. near Buttermilk Falls. It is one of the best microbreweries in the area, with excellent pale and brown ales. It is also good place to stock up for all the BYOB restaurants in town, while paying a visit to its taproom and taking a tour of the brewery.
Have a missed something about Cayuga Lake that I should check out and share with my readers? Please, do let me know by commenting or leave a message on Facebook.
By the way… I pronounce Cayuga ‘Kay-uga’. Cay – Yooga. How about you?
Wineries of Cayuga Lake
CJS Vineyards – Auburn
King Ferry Winery/Treleaven Wines – King Ferry
Heart & Hands Wine Company – Union Springs
Six Mile Creek Vineyard – Ithaca
Buttonwood Grove Winery – Romulus
Cobblestone Farm Winery and Vineyard – Romulus
Goose Watch Winery – Romulus
Knapp Winery – Romulus
Lakeshore Winery – Romulus
Swedish Hill Winery – Romulus
Toro Run Winery – Romulus
Frontenac Point Vineyard – Trumansburg