Fun in The Finger Lakes!

owasco lake fs

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.


A Small Town with Big History!


History's Hometown
History’s Hometown

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.

15 Winter Fun Activities in the Auburn Area

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 Theater is 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.


5. Cross Country Skiing: Strap on the skis, and hit the trails for one of the best exercises in the great outdoors! Lots of cross country skiing trails can be found in the area, including: the Auburn-Fleming Trail, and popular trails at Bear Swamp State Forest and Fair Haven State Park.





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.