Winter is a picturesque season to plan your next getaway, and we want you to put Cayuga County on your bucket list! This area – which was home to key players and events that moved the needle on equality, women’s rights and civil rights – gives visitors a unique travel experience: walking the grounds that were an important backdrop in our country’s history, while making wonderful memories in this beautiful region of New York State.
We’ve compiled a list of educational and fun destinations in Cayuga County, to ensure an enlightened and well-balanced visit. You’ll kick off your journey at the area’s welcome and Equal Rights Heritage Center, expand your learning by touring historical sites and museums, and take in dining and outdoor activities that offer stories of their own.
Use this as your guidebook for a winter travel experience you’ll want to revisit and share with family and friends!
- Be introduced to Cayuga County and the city of Auburn’s remarkable past when you visit the New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center. Their educational displays bring the region’s history to life in an interactive way, and it’s a great place to grab maps and other helpful material to guide your experience in the area.
- Cayuga County is where Harriet Tubman lived for the last 50+ years of her life, and there’s no better place to truly walk in her footsteps than at the Harriet Tubman Home. Take a guided tour of her property, which includes her former residence and the Home for the Aged. You will hear about her core values, the story of her life and her heroic actions in freeing enslaved people after emancipating herself.
- The Seward House Museum is the previous home of U.S. Secretary of State, William H. Seward, and his wife, Frances Seward – both friends and confidants of Harriet Tubman. The Sewards were abolitionists, and their home was a “station” of the Underground Railroad. You can visit the room where freedom-seekers were sheltered during their journey to freedom when you tour this former residence.
- Stop into Café 108, which was created to support the Auburn Public Theater (APT), for a warm beverage of mouthwatering menu item. The establishment’s mission is to bring affordable arts education and access to the arts to all individuals, along with celebrating diversity. So you can enjoy a meal knowing you’re supporting a business that promotes access and equality in the present day.
- Breathe in the fresh air and reflect on the history you’ve experienced with a visit to the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway. During the winter months, you can look for birds on the birding trail for the opportunity to see a variety of species right on the lake.
- Experience the region’s art scene with a visit to the Schweinfurth Art Center. You’ll find thought-provoking exhibits on display throughout the year – many of which were created by local artists. Located right next door is the Cayuga Museum of History & Art, which provides a forum for the public to realize, interact with and appreciate Cayuga County’s shared past and unfolding present to help shape a better future.
- The Howland Stone Store Museum was owned by Slocum Howland, an abolitionist who used his shipping contacts to help people move along the Underground Railroad. Visit the store today and view an array of artifacts that are tied to abolition and suffrage, and observe the place that helped to free many people.
- Visit the Anne Frank Tree Project at Southern Cayuga School District, in nearby Aurora, NY. A horse chestnut sapling was planted from the very tree that grew outside of where Anne Frank and her family hid during the Holocaust. It is one out of 11 trees that have found homes at historical sites around the country and serves as a visual reminder that all people are of equal value. (Please note: This site is only accessible during non-school hours; winter break – typically the last week of December – would be an optimal time to visit.)