By Camille Zess
Cayuga County and the Finger Lakes region in general, is a place steeped in history and is an exceptional destination to relax, unwind and have an array of memorable experiences. There are many exciting, educational, delicious, and fun things to choose from in this beautiful part of New York State, depending on what you want to do. Regardless of what’s on your itinerary, everyone agrees that lodging is one of the is most important parts of a trip.
The city of Auburn, NY is known as “History’s Hometown” for its amazing list of historic treasures including the Harriet Tubman Home and the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, where you can learn about this famous conductor on the Underground Railroad known as the “Moses of her people.” It’s also home to the Seward House Museum, former home of William H. Seward, the leading figure in the purchase of Alaska, secretary of state to Abraham Lincoln and a staunch abolitionist. And of course, as you would expect in a place such as this, there are beautiful historic inns ranging from 5-star luxury accommodations to perfectly restored and elegant properties.
Staying at a historic accommodation provides a meaningful experience. Traveling is one way you can see new places and make life-long memories. Staying somewhere that is unique to an area and has a story, offers something you can’t find anywhere else and will give you many years of fond reflection. Whether you travel often or not, the last thing you want is for every experience to be the same. If you’re a history buff or not, having a chance to go back in time can be pretty cool. Staying at a historic accommodation gives you the opportunity to share history in the current day.
Here are some places where you can fully indulge yourself in a piece of history in Cayuga County.
Springside Inn. Located in Auburn, the Springside Inn, is a charming location across from Owasco Lake in Emerson Park. Dating back to the 1850s, it’s believed that this building was used as part of the Underground Railroad and the thickets surrounding Springside’s backyard are where Harriet Tubman hid previously enslaved individuals on their journey to freedom. The beautifully restored accommodation offers seven spacious, uniquely designed guest rooms. Think four poster beds, claw foot tubs, exposed brick walls and original fireplaces. Start your day enjoying a continental breakfast on the veranda or in front of the fireplace. Spend your time relaxing by the pond, kayaking on the lake or visiting the local wine trails. For dinner, you won't have to go far for a fantastic meal! Oak & Vine, their modern gastro pub, is located on property, offering locally grown, organic foods and several local micro brews. This family-owned establishment will focus on catering to you and your individual needs, as they do with each and every guest.
Inns of Aurora. Just down the road from Auburn, is the quaint village of Aurora, which is designated as a National Historic District. At just under one square mile, you can enjoy a peaceful respite from the busy world.
Pleasant Rowland is the creator of the beloved American Girl Dolls and is also the creator and owner of the Inns of Aurora. Here you will be immersed in a luxury experience with unique accommodations. Set on Cayuga Lake, each of the five Inns of Aurora provide lake views, and bygone charm. The Federal style Aurora Inn, built in 1833 by Colonel E.B. Morgan, was once a stop along the Erie Canal and truly provides a glimpse into the past. If you want a more modern twist, E.B. Morgan House has seven updated guest rooms all adorned with modern art. Rowland House, built in 1903, has spacious modern rooms, each with its own distinct character. Originally built as a school for girls in 1909, Wallcourt Hall merges the past with the present, offering 16 guestrooms, all decorated in stunning style with contemporary art and furnishings. Built one year after the Rowland House (1904) for the same family, Zabriskie House offers many similar gracious gathering spaces: a double parlor with cozy fireplaces, a 14-person wood-paneled dining room, and a stunning three-story grand staircase.
During your stay you won’t want to miss out on the many complementary activities such as: paddle boards, kayaks and canoes; bicycles and yoga classes. If you really want to pamper yourself, be sure to schedule a treatment at the Inns of Aurora spa. With two hydrotherapy circuits, single and co-ed spaces, therapeutic treatments provided by Rasa Spa, and a complimentary grazing table located in their seasonally-inspired café, you won’t want to leave!
Don’t forget to continue your journey into the past by taking a stroll through the historic village. Grab a bite at the Fargo Bar and Grill. Enjoy American favorites as a classic, or with a twist as the chefs put their talents on display at this restaurant and tavern. A walk down Main Street will bring you to boutiques and shops you’re sure to enjoy. Find a local delight or take-home treasure in the heart of Aurora, at the Village Market. Here you will find a selection of Inns of Aurora-branded gifts, freshly brewed organic coffee, morning pastries and desserts, and a fitting selection of craft beer.