Whether or not you like the weather, there’s still lots of fun to be had on those cold, winter days in and around Auburn! And you don’t have to go far to find it. For the year-round outdoor enthusiast, the beauty of an upstate New York winter provides some spectacular sights and exciting seasonal activities. And for those looking for something that doesn’t involve a warm hat and gloves, there’s still plenty to do.
1. Special Events:
Kick off the holiday season with Auburn’s annual Holiday Parade! The event, held each year the day after Thanksgiving, is the centerpiece of downtown special activities to celebrate the season. Early December, Cayuga Community College welcomes the annual Craft Day just in time to pick up some special decorations or gifts. Then in March, when you may be feeling like winter is starting to overstay its welcome, get out and IGNITE some more fun with an outdoor winter festival in downtown Auburn. Check the Calendar of Events for more details.
2. Harriet Tubman House: Newly designated as a National Park, the Harriet Tubman House is open all winter for tours. Auburn is proud to have been the home of one of the great women of history, Harriet Tubman. Often referred to as “The Moses of Her People,” after escaping slavery, this courageous conductor on the Underground Railroad reportedly made as many as 19 trips back into the South over the next ten years, to free a total of around 300 slaves. She also served as a Union spy during the Civil War years.
3. Ice Skating: Lace up the skates, and hit the ice for fun and exercise. The indoor ice skating rink at Casey Park offers public skating, as well as the opportunity to play hockey on a team. Open seasonally from mid-October 12th to the end of February. More information and the schedule for the rink can be found during the winter months at Auburn Hockey Booster”s website.
4. Theatre and more: Enjoy musical theatre, independent films, live music, off-Broadway plays, stand-up comedy, and even more at one of Auburn’s year round theatre venues! The downtown Auburn Public Theateris dedicated to presenting the performing arts, cinema, education, and community involvement. Theater Mack, located behind The Cayuga Museum, features a cabaret-style theater and stage, which presents original plays and also provides a venue for concerts, weddings, meetings, and private parties.
6. Dining and Entertainment: Warm up with a great meal, or meet some friends for a couple of drinks! With fashionable, upscale bistros, pubs, breweries, and cigar bars, you can wine and dine in the best big city style. Live music featured at many locations.
7. Sledding: All you need is a sled, a hill, and some snow for unbeatable, old-fashioned fun on a cold, winter’s day in Auburn! Most winters, there’s plenty of the last one. It’s a winter outdoor activity that’s been around as long as Jack Frost himself, and it continues to delight families when the snowflakes start to pile up. Bundle up the kids, and head for the hill behind Auburn High School, Casey Park, or maybe even your own backyard. Then top off the event with some delicious hot chocolate!
8. Explore Fine Art: View beautiful paintings, photographs, quilts and more! Or take a class and learn how to make your own masterpieces! The Schweinfurth Art Center is a non-profit gallery and multi-arts facility located within walking distance from downtown Auburn. Exhibits feature the work of local artists, students, crafters, and more. The Art Center also offers a variety of programs, studio classes, and workshops for youth and adults throughout the year.
9. Walking/Hiking: Upstate New York winters can be incredibly beautiful! Why not get out and enjoy the fresh, cold air and the sights of a winter wonderland? Bundle up and take a walk in Hoopes Park or Casey Park. Or stroll along the shore of Owasco Lake at Emerson Park; when the winter days have been really freezing, you may even get out on the ice — just be careful! If you’re hearty and adventurous enough, you might even hike some of the area’s trails that are open year round. Just dress warm!
10. Bowling: Bowling is a perennial favorite activity for people of all ages. Whether you’re looking for a family outing or to join a seasonal league, you are sure to find a lot of good, old-fashioned fun at Auburn’s bowling lanes.
11. Downhill Skiing/Snowboarding: There is nothing that quite compares to the exhilaration and thrill of downhill skiing or snowboarding! Upstate New York is famous for some of the best ski resorts in the world. You can plan a weekend trip to Lake Placid, the two-time site of the Winter Olympics, or just hit the slopes at one of the local ski resorts, like Toggenburg Mountain or Song Mountain, for some great fun for everyone!
12. It’s fun at the YMCA: Keep fit and active all winter long at Auburn’s YMCA! The facilities at the Auburn YMCA offer two swimming pools, two gyms with basketball courts, racquetball and squash courts, multi-room fitness center, indoor track, health centers, locker rooms, and golf net. There are programs for adults and children, including swimming lessons, volleyball, martial arts, racquetball lessons, aquatics, Zumba, and more.
13. Movies: When it comes to entertainment, a night at the movies is on the top of most people’s list. Can’t wait to see the latest blockbuster? Or are you more drawn to independent films? Whatever your taste may be, you will find movies of all genres at Auburn’s cinemas. Track Cinema at the Finger Lakes Mall, and Auburn Movie Plex feature the latest releases. And check out Auburn Public Theatre art house cinema for independent, foreign, documentary, classic, and family films.
14. Visit Your Local Library: There is a world of learning and fun waiting for you at Auburn’s Seymour Public Library, and it’s free! Borrow the latest top selling books, find the most authoritative research on practically any subject (Google still can’t beat Dewey), enjoy the latest magazines, surf the web, or participate in one of the events or classes Seymour Library hosts. You can drop in for Family Game Night, bring the kids for Toddler Tango or Preschool Story Time, or join the Knitting Circle.
15. A Night at the Museum: History really does come alive every year with a full Victorian Christmas at the Seward House Museum. Dressed as members of the Seward family, guides share heart-warming holiday memories taken from the actual letters and diaries of the Sewards with visitors as they conduct the Candlelight Tours on weekend nights in December. The festivities end with all joining in to sing classic Christmas carols around the majestic 1872 Steinway grand piano. The William H. Seward House is closed for the month of January and open by appointment only in February. Regular tour hours begin in March.
Looking for the right place to take someone special for dinner, like the fine dining served at the most stylish bistros? Does the idea of joining some friends for great food and drinks at a trendy pub or sidewalk Café’ appeal to you?
Do you enjoy the arts? How about an evening at the theatre to be entertained by a hit musical or a more “Off Broadway” production? Or would you care to be among the first to discover that wonderful original production? Wondering where you might find an art house cinema to view an independent film or the revival of a classic? Do you like live music concerts or stand-up comedy in an intimate theater setting?
It might sound more like something you would find in the Big Apple than a small town, but you don’t have to fight the traffic of the big city to enjoy dinner and a show. It is all right here in the center of the Finger Lakes Region. For a city its size, Auburn’s nightlife is surprisingly diverse. It is at the same time upscale and cultured, and casual and unpretentious, providing a place where white-collar and blue-collar both feel at home.
Walk the streets of Downtown Auburn these days, and you find a city that has been revitalized. Teeming with new businesses and renovated buildings, you sense that the downtown district has been reborn in the last few years. Benefiting from a surge of local investors working with city planners, the area has become a center for the arts and entertainment, along with new upscale eateries and watering holes. Bistros loaded with ambience and sidewalk Cafés present award-winning fare from New York City chefs. Cigar and martini bars, microbreweries and pubs serve up grille favorites, along with a wide selection of wines, craft beers, and hard ciders – many made locally or even on the premises. Live music by top local musicians is performed at a number of the taverns, as well as city sponsored outdoor street concerts to add to the festivities.
Building on an established theatre tradition, throughout the summer, The Rev Theatre Company features professional musical productions at the beautiful Merry-Go-Round Playhouse, and the historic The Pitch. The Merry-Go-Round Playhouse located on the shores of Owasco Lake at Emerson Park has delighted theatergoers for decades with top-notch productions of Broadway musicals performed by talented, professional actors. Located at the historic Carriage House behind Cayuga Museum and Case Research Lab, The Pitch presents original play productions in an intimate cabaret style theater.
Auburn Public Theater, in the center of downtown Auburn, presents year-round entertainment with national touring acts, live music, non-musical plays, and stand-up comedy; along with their summer Off-Broadway productions in an intimate 200-seat theatre. Located in the same building, Auburn Public Cinema is an art house cinema featuring independent, documentary, foreign, classic and family films. While your there, enjoy the food and drink offerings at Auburn Public Theater’s latest addition, Cafe 108.
Whether you are looking to unwind after a hard day at work, enjoying a romantic evening for two, taking in dinner and a show, or keeping the party going; Downtown Auburn has become the destination for fun!
Auburn really is one of the “Best Small Cities To Raise A Family.” Besides all the other factors Forbes Magazine considered when it placed Auburn at the top of their list in the Northeast Region, it deserves the honor for having so many great, affordable family activities. Here’s a “Top Forty” list of hits for family day:
1. Concerts in the Park Grab a blanket and some lawn chairs; gather up the family, and head over to Hoopes Park for the free summer concert series. Enjoying a relaxed, pleasant summer evening with the family while listening to some great bands play in a picturesque park is what makes living in a small town something to sing about! You can bring a picnic basket or cooler, or keep it simple and grab a burger, hot dog, soda or ice cream from one of the refreshment vendors. And stick around after the concert ends to watch family-friendly movies under the stars. Check the Event Calendar for the Summer Concert schedule.
2. Auburn Doubleday’s Baseball Games Take me out to the ball game, buy me some peanuts and cracker jacks, a hot dog and an ice-cold beer – and don’t break the bank. Bring the whole family and enjoy all the fun and excitement of rooting for the home team at Falcon Park along with the rest of the friendly fans. The City of Auburn’s professional baseball team is named after Abner Doubleday, the famed (if not historically accurate) inventor of the game of the baseball, who spent his childhood years living in Auburn. It is a fun night of sports entertainment and socializing you are sure to enjoy with the Auburn Doubledays!
3. Apple Picking Upstate New York is famous for its apples, and some great orchards surround Auburn. Apple picking has become a full-fledged event over the years. One of the best times of the season is the annual family trip to the orchard. Sure you could just pick up some apples at the grocery store, but then you would miss out on the fun of sampling different varieties of apples, picking them fresh off the tree, and filling your baskets. But the fun doesn’t end there. Many orchards Half country stores where you can buy cheese, cider, baked goods, and assorted country crafts and gifts. There’s even more fun for the family at some orchards where kids can enjoy wagon rides or pony rides, and parents can sample a variety of hard apple ciders.
4. Harriet Tubman House Auburn is proud to have been the home of one of the great heroes of the Civil War era, Harriet Tubman. Often referred to as “The Moses of Her People,” after escaping slavery, this courageous conductor on the Underground Railroad reportedly made as many as 19 trips back into the South over the next ten years, to free a total of around 300 slaves. She also served as a Union spy during the Civil War years.
Her residence in Auburn, The Harriet Tubman House, alongside The Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged that she founded after the Civil War, was designated a National Historic Park by Congress in December 2014 and is open to the public.
5. Fourth Of July Celebration Start with the charming setting of Victorian-style buildings landscaped with beautiful floral Gardens located on the shore of Owasco Lake. Add a rousing patriotic concert by Syracuse University’s Brass Ensemble as the sun slowly sets. Then finish it off with the splendorous sights and sounds of a thrilling fireworks display lighting the night sky over the water. Spectators with blankets spread on the grass, comfortably seated in camp chairs on the lawn of Emerson Park, or watching from the deck of their boat delight in the spectacle of an Independence Day celebration to rival any.
6. Drive-In Movies It is a rare form of entertainment nowadays, which harkens back to a simpler time. There is much more to be found, however, than just nostalgia at the Finger Lakes Drive-In Theater. While only a handful of drive-ins remain throughout the United States, this oldest, continuously operating drive-in theater in New York State has it all. There’s the giant screen large enough to contain all the screens of an entire multiplex; there is the concession stand building, with all your favorite snacks; your listening choice of new FM transmitter or the old-fashioned fun of a speaker in your car window; and bargain of bargains, there’s always a double feature! Nothing beats the fun of putting the kids in their pajamas, making up a bed in the back seat, and snuggling up together to make family memories.
7. Hoopes Park It won’t cost you a dime, but the relaxation discovered as you spend your hours in beautiful Hoopes Park is priceless. Take a leisurely stroll around the pond. Stop and feed the ducks. Admire the variety of beautiful flowers and plants carefully laid in their garden beds. Or, if you are the more active type, “power walk” along the paved paths throughout the park. From the gazebo to the pavilion and fountain, from the stone bridge to the outdoor bandstand; Hoopes Park is a pleasant, peaceful, oasis for people of all ages.
8. Hiking There are some great spots to hike right in Auburn, and even more spectacular trails in the surrounding areas. For a short hike, the one mile nature trail found behind Cayuga Community College is a hidden patch of forest in the midst of schools and houses. For serious hikers, Auburn Fleming Trail is a 1.6 mile trail through scenic woods, wetlands, and farmland. At the southern end of Owasco Lake, Fillmore Glen State Park displays magnificent views of gorges and waterfalls in all of the Finger Lakes. Taughonack Falls State Park on the western side of Cayuga Lake will thrill hikers as they walk along the rock floor, wading through shallow waters in a corridor between the steep walls of the gorge.
9. Casey Park Ice Skating Rink Who says there is nothing to do in winter? Strap on some skates, and hit the ice for fun and exercise, and beat the winter blues. The indoor ice skating rink at Casey Park offers public skating, as well as the opportunity to play hockey on a team. Open seasonally from October 12th to February 28th, the rink is the home to the Auburn Ice Hawks, an organized league for youth ages 6 through teens. More information and the schedule for the rink can be found during the winter months at Auburn Hockey Booster”s website.
10. Pumpkin Picking Apple picking isn’t the only family-favorite, fun activity found on the farm in the fall. You can grab a wheel barrel and find that “perfect pumpkin” at one of the many pumpkin patches surrounding Auburn. And here again, there are other offerings and activities to be enjoyed — like finding your way through a corn maze.
11. Biking There are plenty of quiet streets and park paths throughout Auburn’s neighborhoods for the whole family to enjoy a bike ride. Casey Park and Emerson Park both offer paved paths throughout, and riding a bike through Emerson Park affords great views of Owasco Lake. For cyclist comfortable with taking it to the streets, the route around Owasco Lake allows incredible views of the lakes pastoral splendor! For a special family-fun challenge, combine biking with running and paddling and join The Great Race at Emerson Park at the end of summer.
12. The Great Race For some, it is a display of athletic prowess, but for most it is simply the friendliest of fun competitions. Each year, starting from Emerson Park, hundreds of participants run, bike, and paddle in the annual running of the Great Race: Captain Myles Keogh Paddle, Wheel, and Run. The nation’s largest team-only triathlon consists of 2, 3, or 4 person teams. The race begins with a runner (5k or 10k), who hands off to a biker (10 or 20 miles), who then hands off to their kayaker or two canoeists. There is also a half-distance short course and Kids Fun Run available. The great race is for everyone, with teams comprised of families, friends and a few serious contenders of all ages joining in the competition. Even if you don’t feel quite up to the challenge, there is always the fun of cheering on your favorite team as they race across the finish line or endlessly paddle in circles out on Owasco Lake.
13. Boating Owasco Lake offers excellent opportunities for recreational boating. The generally quiet, calm waters make the lake perfect for paddling a kayak or canoe. The eleven-mile long lake is also great for sailing, cruising along in a pontoon boat, skiing, tubing, and jet skis. Although the lake reaches a depth of 177 ft., the shoreline tends to be shallow, making deep keel boats impractical. Multiple public boat ramps may be found at the northern end of the lake at Emerson Park. Private ramps also exist at the southern end. Marinas are located at both ends of the lake as well, offering various types of boats for rent. Canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, and paddleboards are also available to rent at Emerson Park.
14. Tomatofest The end of the summer festival, TomatoFest, is another great event focused on family fun. Since its inception in 1986, families have found great food, entertainment, crafts, live music, and kid’s activities at this festival held annually at Emerson Park. TomatoFest MusicFest 2015 will include continuous Americana, Country, Bluegrass, Blues, Folk and even a touch of Jazz music on three different stages. Tomatofest will be held on Saturday, September 12th, and Sunday, September 13th, 2015 from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is only $3.00 for adults and free for children with the donation of a canned good. Proceeds from the event are donated to help feed the hungry.
15. Fishing With more fresh water coastline that any other county in New York State, the area is a favorite destination for anglers. The Finger Lakes of Owasco, Skaneateles, and Cayuga are all less than ten miles from Auburn; and on the northern border of Cayuga County, one of the Great Lakes, Ontario, is less than 30 miles away. Emerson Park on Owasco Lake offers plenty of spots for fishing with long shorelines and large, attractive seawalls on both sides of the Owasco Outlet, which leads from Owasco River into Owasco Lake. Public boat ramps at the park also provide access to fishing for boaters. New York State also provides numerous additional fishing access sites throughout the area. A detailed map of those locales can be found at the NY DEC Bureau of Fisheries website page: New York DEC Fishing Access. Lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, walleye, northern pike, pickerel, bluegills, rock bass, bullhead and yellow perch may all be found in Owasco Lake. The lake is stocked annually with trout.
16. Case Research Lab The Case of the talking pictures — everybody loves movies, but did you know they have one of Auburn’s own to thank for the talkies? Thanks to Theodore Case, Auburn gave birth to talking movies. In the 1920’s, Theodore Case invented the first commercially successful system of recording sound on film at Case Research Lab in Auburn. The history of his work and exhibits from his lab and studio; including the first sound camera, the darkroom, chemistry lab, and recording studio are on display at The Cayuga Museum and Case Research Lab close to downtown Auburn.
17. Swimming at Emerson Park and Fair Haven State Park Ready to hit the beach and cool off? You’ll find public beaches and bathhouses at both Emerson Park on Owasco Lake and Fair Haven State Park on Lake Ontario. The shallow waters at the southern end of Owasco Lake warm up fairly early in the season and allow for a large swimming area of safe depth for little ones. Emerson Park has two beaches: one in the main part of the park and the other on Deuville Island. Swimmers of all ages will love Lake Ontario’s waves and sandy beach, along with the State Park’s diving board into the channel.
18. Picnics Summer just isn’t summer without the good times found at a family picnic! Pack the cooler and a picnic basket, charcoal, and some camp chairs and head on over to Emerson Park for a day of fun on Owasco Lake. Or take the short drive to one of the area’s many State Parks for even more activities in the great outdoors. It’s more than just a meal when you smell the burgers cooking on the grill, slice the watermelon, and grab a cold one.
19. Neighborhood Playgrounds No matter where you live in the family-friendly community of Auburn, a place for the kids to play is not far away. With thirteen neighborhood playgrounds and parks throughout the city, they can swing, climb, and slide on the playground; ride bikes, scooters, and skateboards; swim in the summer and ice skate in the winter; play baseball or soccer in the playing fields, or basketball or tennis on the courts. See Auburn’s Parks and Recreation Map for park locations throughout the city.
20. Tennis Tennis is a great game for fitness and fun that the whole family can enjoy! It doesn’t require an expensive membership or a lot of expensive equipment. All you need is a racket, a couple of tennis balls, and one of the numerous outdoor tennis courts spread throughout the city. There are public courts located at Casey Park, Auburn High School, Lincoln Park, and Clifford Park. Indoor courts are also available for year round play at Champions for Life Sports Center.
21. Casey Park Swimming Pool Dive in and beat the heat this summer at the public swimming pool at Casey Park. Times for family swim and laps are available daily throughout the summer. Swim lessons are available on weekdays. For information and a detailed schedule, see the Casey Park Pool Schedule. New this summer – all residents of Auburn swim free!
22. Baseball and Softball Leagues There are several youth baseball and softball leagues in the area. You will find information about the leagues and registration information from the links provided at Youth Activities. But why let the kids have all the fun? Join one of Auburn’s organized softball leagues for adult men and women; and enjoy the fun, camaraderie, exercise, and competition. Games are played at Casey and Clifford Parks. Rules and schedules may be found at Auburn Softball League Information.
23. The Cayuga Museum of History and Art Read the personal letters from some of history’s famous people. See the uniforms civil war soldiers wore into battle. Break into the background of the oldest continually operating prison in the United States and learn about the model for all American prisons. Just be careful where you sit—Auburn was also the first prison to use the electric chair. You can find all this and more of the rich local history and culture on display at Cayuga Museum of History and Art.
24. Cheerleading Your kids will cheer! Children can participate in the sport of cheerleading at Champions for Life Sports Center, and on the Pop Warner Auburn Indians cheerleading team. The team cheers at football games and participates in cheerleading competitions.
26. The Schweinfurth Art Center Your family can enjoy the fine art exhibits and gain hands-on experience at Schweinfurth Art Center. The Art Museum is a non-profit gallery and multi-arts facility located within walking distance from downtown Auburn. The Art Center also offers a variety of programs, studio classes, and workshops for youth and adults throughout the year. For visitor information, visit: Schweinfurth Art Center
27. Casey Park Skatepark Riders can develop their skills and have fun on skateboards, BMX bikes, and scooters at the free outdoor skatepark located at Casey Park in Auburn. The skatepark includes metal ramps, half pipes, decks, stairs, handrails, and flat rails.
28. Gymnastics There is a reason why the phrase, “doing handsprings,” is a used to express fun and excitement! The sport of gymnastics builds strength, balance, coordination, and flexibility while having a great time. Champions for Life Sports Center offers classes for all ages and levels.
29. Martial Arts The martial arts promote self-defense, discipline, confidence, and fitness. Adults and children can find martial arts programs teaching many different styles in Auburn, including taekwondo, jiu-jitsu, karate, kung fu, muay thai, judo, thai chi, and mixed martial arts.
30. Williams H. Seward House America’s history comes alive as you tour the beautiful, historic Seward House. Home to Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Henry Seward and his family, the Seward House Museum contains an extensive collection of Civil War era artifacts, documents, photographs, and gifts from foreign dignitaries displayed among the well preserved original furnishings of this stately house. Seward ranks high among historians for his skillful diplomacy during the Civil War, as well as his visionary expansion of U.S. territory achieved with the purchase of Alaska, derogatorily referred to as “Seward’s Folly” at the time.
31. Racquetball It’s fast paced fun and competition that’s sure to be a great workout! The Auburn YMCA has 5 racquetball courts available for members. Group or private lessons, as well youth racquetball lessons for ages 7 to 18 are available. Court reservations can be made one day in advance.
32. Ward O’Hara Agricultural Museum Take the family on a trip back in time as they learn and experience the history of the region’s farming community. History comes alive as they tour the carpenter and blacksmith shops, complete rural kitchen, bedroom, one room schoolhouse, country mercantile and dairy room at the Ward O’Hara Agricultural & Country Living Museum. Exhibits include handheld tools, horse drawn implements, tractors and other large farm equipment that were made in the 1800s and 1900s. The museum is located at Emerson Park, across from The Merry-Go-Round Playhouse and admission is free.
33. Basketball Whether you are looking for a simple game of one-on-one, meeting up with a bunch of friends for a full-on game, or looking to join a league, there are plenty of opportunities to shoot some hoops at one of the outdoor or indoor courts in Auburn. Outdoor courts can be found at many of the neighborhood Parks throughout the city. Indoor courts and leagues are available through the YMCA and CCYO.
34. Theatres An evening at the theatre will delight the family! From May to October, the Finger Lakes Musical Theatre Festival features professional musical productions along with new musicals at three different remarkable theatres. Experience musical theatre in the delightful setting of the renovated, historic carousel building located in Emerson Park Merry-Go-Round Playhouse. For the less traditional theatregoer, The Main Stage at Auburn Public Theater provides the Off-Broadway experience in Downtown Auburn. Theater Mack, another unique historic locale, hosts THE PITCH, which provides a showcase for original plays.
35. Football Get together with family and friends for a friendly game of touch football at one of Auburn’s many sports fields. Or sign the kids up for the Auburn Indians, a Pop Warner football league for children ages 5 to 14, and cheer them on to victory!
36. Bowling Bowling is a perennial favorite activity for people of all ages. Whether you’re looking for a family outing or to join a seasonal league, you are sure to find a lot of good, old-fashioned fun at Auburn’s bowling lanes.
37. Movies When it comes to entertainment, a night at the movies is on the top of most people’s list. Can’t wait to see the latest blockbuster? Or are you more drawn to independent films? Whatever your taste may be, you will find movies of all genres at Auburn’s cinemas. Track Cinema at the Finger Lakes Mall, and Auburn Movie Plex feature the latest releases. And check out Auburn Public Theatre art house cinema for independent, foreign, documentary, classic, and family films.
38. Parades It may not compete with the big balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the colorful floats in the Rose Day Parade, but there is something that Auburn’s parades have that they probably don’t – the smiling faces of family and friends waving at the crowd, thrilled to march down the street! Bring the family downtown to join in the fun and festivities and make the holiday something special!
Raising a child, or being one, is harder then ever in today’s rapidly changing world. The experiences and values discovered in the long-standing tradition of scouting, however, continue to help guide youth on their journey to adulthood. The fun, friendships, skills, and values forged as a scout Will be treasured a lifetime. Check out the local Boys Scouts and Girl Scouts.
40. YMCA Auburn’s YMCA offers so many activities that it is a center for family fun all by itself. The facilities at the Auburn YMCA offer two swimming pools, two gyms with basketball courts, racquetball and squash courts, multi-room fitness center, indoor track, health centers, locker rooms, and golf net. There are programs for adults and children, including swimming lessons, volleyball, martial arts, racquetball lessons, boxing fitness, golf lessons, aquatics, after school childcare, softball, Zumba, and more. The YMCA also serves the community by sponsoring special events throughout the year.
Paddle a kayak, as the early morning sunlight sparkles on the clear, still water of Owasco Lake. Drop your line in one of Central New York’s best fishing lakes for trout, bass, pike and more. Spend a summer afternoon enjoying the excitement of water skiing or just leisurely cruising down the shoreline surrounded by rolling hills. Or dive right in the warm, shallow waters at the public beach located at beautiful Emerson Park.
Auburn provides a perfect home to explore The Finger Lakes Region. Auburn is centrally located in Cayuga County – an area surrounded by lakes. The Finger Lakes of Owasco, Skaneateles, and Cayuga are all less than ten miles from Auburn; and on the northern border of Cayuga County, one of the Great Lakes, Ontario, is less than 30 miles away. But fun in the Finger Lakes doesn’t stop at the water’s edge.
You can hike the many trails in one of the area’s State Parks and lands, where you will thrill at the magnificent views of steep waterfalls and gorges; or watch the bald eagles soar through the sky along with the hundreds of other species of birds and animals at the 9,809 acre Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge. The natural attractions of The Finger Lakes Region offer a sportsman’s paradise year round.
The natural habitat of The Finger Lakes Region has produced another favorite attraction to the area. The deep waters and steep slopes surrounding the lakes has provided an ideal climate for grape growing, which has resulted in the largest and most acclaimed winemaking region in the Eastern United States. With over 90 wineries and three major wine trails to tour, tasting the area’s award winning offerings while soaking up the splendor of the setting has proven to be some folks favorite way to take in nature.
It is no wonder why The Finger Lakes Region has always been a favorite destination for everyone from presidents to pedestrians. Whether you’re looking for a quiet getaway or all the excitement to be discovered in the Great Outdoors, it is waiting for you in The Finger Lakes.
Do you enjoy relaxing as you gaze upon the tranquil scenery of gently rolling waves on a lake surrounded by lush, tree covered hills? How about exploring spectacular waterfalls hidden within steep canyon-like gorges?
Would you care to taste the award winning wines as you tour the wine trails along the shores of the picturesque Finger Lakes, which provide the best climate for wine producing in the Eastern United States?
Are you a student of history? Care to explore the homes and learn about the lives of two of the great champions in the fight for freedom from slavery?
How would you like a night out that begins with dining at a fine bistro, followed by an evening at the theater, and then topped off with a drink at a trendy pub or sidewalk café?
All of that, and so much more, can be found in Auburn and the surrounding Finger Lakes Region. Check out these area attractions:
The Harriet Tubman Home
Often referred to as “The Moses of Her People,” Harriet Tubman risked her life repeatedly after her own escape from slavery by returning to lead others to freedom through the Underground Railroad.
Her residence in Auburn, The Harriet Tubman Home, alongside The Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged that she founded after the Civil War, was designated a National Historic Park by Congress in December 2014 and is open to the public.
Owasco Lake at Emerson Park
The well-maintained, beautifully landscaped Emerson Park provides public access to Owasco Lake and a wide variety of recreational activities, including: swimming at two separate public beaches, boat launch areas, fishing, a long attractive pier, playground areas, several pavilions, a baseball field, a disc golf course. Directions and other park information may be obtained at: Emerson Park website
The Merry-Go-Round Playhouse
Located at Emerson Park on the shoreline of Owasco Lake, this beautifully renovated, early 20th century carousel building is home to the region’s largest professional musical theatre. From May to October, the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse welcomes both recent Broadway releases and revivals of stage classics. For the season’s schedule and ticket information, visit: Merry-Go-Round Playhouse website
6877 East Lake Road, Auburn, NY 13021
Box Office: (315) 255-1785 / 1-800-457-8897
Seward House Museum
Home to Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Henry Seward and his family, the Seward House Museum contains an extensive collection of Civil War era artifacts, documents, photographs, and gifts from foreign dignitaries displayed among the well preserved original furnishings of this stately house. The historic museum offers guided tours. More information can be found at their website: Seward House Museum website
Wineries, Distilleries, and Breweries
The deep waters and steep slopes of the Finger Lakes region has provided an ideal microclimate for grape growing, which has resulted in the largest and most acclaimed winemaking region in the Eastern United States. With over 100 wineries and three major wine trails to tour, tasting the area’s award winning offerings while soaking up the splendor of the setting has proven to be some folks favorite way to take in nature. Most wineries offer tastings and gift shops, many have restaurants with scenic views, and some provide guided tours of the wine making process. Increasingly in recent years, distilleries and craft breweries have been opening in the area, also set within scenic locales. Finger Lakes Wine
Cayuga Museum and Case Research Lab
Thanks to Theodore Case, Auburn gave birth to talking movies. In the 1920’s, Theodore Case invented the first commercially successful system of recording sound on film at Case Research Lab in Auburn. The history of his work and exhibits from his lab and studio; including the first sound camera, the darkroom, chemistry lab, and recording studio are on display at The Cayuga Museum and Case Research Lab close to downtown Auburn. Cayuga Museum and Case Research Lab website
Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge
The 9,809 acres at Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge provide a habitat for 242 species of birds, 43 species of mammals, 15 species of reptiles, and 16 species of amphibians. Thousands of visitors observe the migratory birds and other wildlife yearly by driving along the 3.5 mile road through the refuge or hiking along the miles of trails. It has been instrumental in reintroducing the once-endangered bald eagle to New York State. Visitors are able to observe six active eagle nests with as many as 60 mature and young bald eagles throughout the season at Montezuma. For more information, visit their website at: Montezuma Wildlife Refuge
The Auburn Doubledays
Join the fans at Falcon Park for a night of baseball that the whole family can enjoy! The Auburn Doubledays are a the only city owned professional baseball team associated with the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Grab a hotdog and a cold one as you enjoy the excitement of professional baseball at Leo Pinckney Field at Falcon Park. And with special weekly promotions like Dollar Day, you won’t break the bank. For information on tickets, schedules, and promotions, visit: Auburn Doubledays
Auburn Public Theater
Musical theatre, independent films, live music, off-Broadway plays, and stand-up comedy are just some of the offerings at Auburn Public Theater. The downtown locale is dedicated to presenting the performing arts, cinema, education, and community involvement. The Auburn Public Theater provides four different venues for these varied programs:
The Main Stage – a 200-tiered seat auditorium with raised stage and professional lighting and sound.
The Cinema – a 65-seat art house theater with HD digital projection and 7.1-channel surround sound.
Stage Right – a Bistro with seating for 100 people and raised stage and serving bar.
Auburn Public Studio – a 1,500 sq. ft. studio with dance floor, mirrored walls, piano and sound system.
Built in 1894 as part of Auburn Theological Seminary, Willard Chapel is an unaltered, rare work of Louis C. Tiffany and Tiffany Glass and Decoration Co. The original nine-panel rose window, three-paneled stained glass window, 14 opalescent nave windows, nine leaded glass chandeliers, and interior ceramics grace the historic building, which is open to the public for tours and available for events. For visitor and event information, visit: Willard Chapel
The Schweinfurth Art Center
The Schweinfurth Art Center is a non-profit gallery and multi-arts facility located within walking distance from downtown Auburn. The Art Center also offers a variety of programs, studio classes, and workshops for youth and adults throughout the year. For visitor information, visit: Schweinfurth Art Center
The Carriage House Theater
Located behind The Cayuga Museum, The Carriage House Theater features a The Pitch, a cabaret-style theater and stage, beautiful ballroom, and bar in an historic, unique setting. Originally constructed around 1850 as a carriage house, the charming, brick building first became a community theater in 1941. In 2011, the theatre was completely renovated and once again opened to the public. The Pitch presents original plays as part of The Rev Theatre Company. The Mack also provides a venue for concerts, weddings, meetings, and private parties. For the full history of the theatre and other venue details, visit: The Rev Theatre Company website
A Night On the Town
Before you take in a “Broadway in the Finger Lakes” show, enjoy the fine cuisine at one of Auburn’s bistros. Then round out your night with a drink or two at a trendy downtown pub. Downtown Auburn has ben revitalized in recent years with the kind of nightlife you usually find only in the Big Apple. With fashionable, upscale bistros, pubs, breweries, and cigar bars, you can wine and dine in the best big city style. And you don’t even have to fight the traffic.
Finger Lakes Drive-In
In the age of multiplex cinemas with noisy crowds, screens barely bigger than your television, and concession stand prices for popcorn and soda that cost more than a filet mignon and cabernet at a fine bistro, the Finger Lakes Drive-In still offers the old-fashioned fun of watching movies under the stars. Recent renovations of New York State’s oldest continually operating drive-in theatre feature a new digital projector, and a new FM transmitter for great sound through your car radio. If you really want the experience of a by-gone day, you can instead listen by placing the still operating drive-in speaker in your car window. For movie listings, visit: Finger Lakes Drive-In
Ward O’Hara Agricultural & Country Living Museum
Visitors can learn and experience the history of the region’s farming community as they tour the carpenter and blacksmith shops, complete rural kitchen, bedroom, one room schoolhouse, country mercantile and dairy room at the Ward O’Hara Agricultural & Country Living Museum. Exhibits include handheld tools, horse drawn implements, tractors and other large farm equipment that were made in the 1800s and 1900s. The museum is located at Emerson Park, across from The Merry-Go-Round Playhouse and admission is free.
It is hard to imagine a more perfect way to spend a summer evening. Experience musical theatre in the delightful setting of the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse! Located at Emerson Park amid the towering trees, sprawling lawns, and Victorian-style buildings on the shoreline of sparkling clear Owasco Lake; this beautifully renovated, early 20th century carousel building is home to the region’s largest professional musical theatre. The 501 seating capacity of the Preston H. Thomas Theater welcomes both recent Broadway releases and revivals of stage classics.
The picturesque locale is home to the The Rev Theatre Company, which features professional musical productions from May to October. It is Summer Stock at its finest!
You will find another charming and unique home for the The Rev Theatre Company productions at The Carriage House behind the historic Case Research Lab. In this intimate venue, The Rev Theatre Company hosts THE PITCH, which provides a showcase for original plays. Once known as The Museum Playhouse, the 19th century carriage house first became a home to community theatre in 1941. Doors closed on the theatre after productions were moved to the Merry-Go-Round Playhouse in the early 1970’s. In 2011, the theater was completely renovated and once again opened to the public, featuring a cabaret-style theater and stage and public venue.
Downtown Auburn, a city clearly dedicated to the arts, provides more theatre entertainment at The Main Stage at Auburn Public Theater. Located in the center of Auburn’s thriving nightlife, the theater presents national musicals, touring acts, live music, non-musical plays, and comedians in an intimate 200-seat theatre.
The venue is also the home to Auburn Public Cinema, a 65-seat art house cinema with the highest quality digital projection and HD sound that screens independent, documentary, foreign, classic and family films.
While many small cities across America continue to struggle to remain relevant and viable, Auburn is a city that has found an identity as a thriving theatre community. Combined with the natural beauty and recreation residing in The Finger Lakes Region, arts and entertainment make this scenic city a great place to call home – even if you’re new here.
From Freedom from Slavery to The Birthplace of Talking Movies
Auburn has been called “History’s Hometown.” Maybe that’s because it has been the hometown to some of history’s major players.
After escaping slavery, Harriet Tubman risked her life repeatedly by returning to lead others along the path to freedom. Often referred to as “The Moses of Her People,” this famous conductor on the Underground Railroad reportedly made as many as 19 trips back into the South over the next ten years, freeing a total of around 300 slaves. She also served as a Union spy during the Civil War years. Learn More
Her residence in Auburn, alongside The Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged that she founded after the Civil War, was designated a National Historic Park by Congress in December 2014.
It was also home to William Henry Seward, Lincoln’s famous Secretary of State, whose outspoken opposition to slavery may have cost him the Republican nomination for the presidency to Lincoln. Seward ranks high among historians for his skillful diplomacy during the Civil War, as well as his visionary expansion of U.S. territory achieved with the purchase of Alaska, derogatorily referred to as “Seward’s Folly” at the time. His residence in Auburn, now known as The Seward House Historic Museum, was the permanent home to Seward and his family. This beautiful, stately home welcomes visitors to discover the rare and historic Civil War era artifacts displayed among the original furnishings.
It was also William Henry Seward who was instrumental in Auburn becoming home to another key figure from the Civil War area in 1858 – his friend Harriet Tubman.
History’s Hometown is also the Birthplace to Talking Movies. In the 1920’s, Theodore Case invented the first commercially successful system of recording sound on film at Case Research Lab in Auburn. The history of his work, and exhibits from his lab and studio, are on display at The Cayuga Museum and Case Research Lab close to downtown Auburn.
Widely held to be the wealthiest American in history, John D. Rockefeller spent his early boyhood years in a home along the gently sloping hill that looks down on Owasco Lake. A plaque marking the site of the home can be spotted along the scenic drive overlooking the eastern side of the lake. According to his biographer, Ron Chernow, “For John D., this two-story clapboard house was a scene of enchantment and became his enduring emblem of pastoral beauty.”
Another historical figure, Millard Fillmore, the thirteenth President of the United States, shared similar humble beginnings in the area of Owasco Lake. A replica of the simple log cabin where he was born can be found near the southern end of the lake in the New York State Park named in his honor, Fillmore Glen. The park’s hiking trails offer spectacular views of five waterfalls found within the long, narrow gorge.
The rich history of Auburn and the surrounding area heightens the experience of exploring the Finger Lakes Region.