Carved by deep glaciers, Cayuga Lake in New York State is the longest and second deepest of the Finger Lakes. This magnificent lake stretches just over 38 miles from the marshes in the north to the towering gorges in the south. Grab a beautiful vacation rental on Cayuga Lake as your family home-away-from-home and enjoy a full range of fabulous outdoor activities that are close to your vacation rental. On rainy days when the vacation rental starts to feel too small, or when you feel it’s time to exercise your kids’ minds as well as their bodies, the area around the city of Ithaca sports a range of fun, educational attractions.
1. Go Fishing
Whether your kids are dangling a line off the edge of your very own private mooring, or you’re charting a fishing boat to take you to the center of the action, Cayuga Lake has much to offer fishing fans. The clear waters are teeming with fish such as large- and small-mouthed bass, lake trout and inland salmon – all just waiting to be caught – so make sure you pack your gear.
2. Go Kayaking, Canoeing or SUP’ing
Many vacation rentals include a set of kayaks or canoes so take advantage of the opportunity to get out on the lake. Make sure to take and wear life-saving jackets. Alternatively, drop by one of the area’s rental companies to hire a canoe, kayak or SUP, but make sure to reserve in advance as they can get busy on weekends and fine days.
3. Hike Some Trails
Your vacation rental is surrounded by stunning scenery, and you have many choices when it comes to hiking trails. Visit Taughannock Falls State Park and take a gentle hike along the rugged canyon to view the eponymous falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the east, as it tumbles 215 feet into Cayuga Lake.
4. Go for a Swim
Taughannock Falls State Park is also a great place for families to access the lake for a swim. The water gets deep quite quickly here, sloping to three feet deep as soon as you’re 15 feet out, so it’s more suitable for older children. Buttermilk Falls State Park offers more shallow areas. Why not pack a picnic for a great day out. Both of these lake swimming areas are kitted out with changing rooms and restrooms for added comfort.
5. Go Geocaching
An exciting way to learn more about the lake’s geography, culture and history is to get involved in geocaching and follow the Cayuga Lake Scenic Byway GeoTrail. This modern-day treasure hunt gets your family using a GPS or compass and following clues to search for 20 caches hidden along the east and west sides of the lake. Find at least 15 of the official CLSB Geotrail caches and gain a free commemorative geotrail coin, while stocks last. Find more about this fascinating hobby by visiting Geocaching.com.
6. Spot Bald Eagles
Look out for bald eagles and osprey at the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. This haven for wildlife includes a visitor center where you can watch amazing live video feeds of an osprey nest, pick up a Let’s Go Outside backpack and borrow some binoculars to continue your wildlife journey along the trails. The refuge includes a six-mile driving loop with stops along the way for those days when you are all too tired out from your physical activities. The refuge also allows hunting, fishing and boating. Admission is free.
7. Meet Steggy the Stegosaurus
Visit the Museum of the Earth (officially known as the Paleontological Research Institute) – a great little museum that is the proud owner of one of the countrys largest collections of fossils. Kids and adults alike enjoy seeing the massive skeletons of a whale and a mastodon, and meeting Steggy – a model of a full-size stegosaurus. There are also hands-on activities to keep youngsters amused.
8. Meet the Butterflies and Climb a Huge Tree House
Combine your visit to the Museum of the Earth with the nearby Cayuga Nature Center for its peaceful butterfly garden, live animals, reptiles and bird collection and a huge six-story tree house. The Center also includes five miles of scenic trails through natural gorges.
9. Go Birding
Officially named the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, this 230-acre sanctuary offers trails, viewing areas with scopes, and a fascinating museum to learn all about the birds. If you and your family are new to birding, download the free Merlin Bird ID app on your phones to help you identify the birds as you venture through more than four miles of beautiful trails, exploring forests, ponds and swamps. Put your newfound skills to use when you get back to your vacation rental. Free admission.
10. Take Command of a Mars Rover
From astronomy to zoology, there is something to interest every member of the family at the Sciencenter. Hands-on exhibits include taking command of the Mars rover to carry out scientific missions on the planet’s surface. Brain teasers keep adults and older kids intrigued while toddlers enjoy a semi-soft play area. Check out the program of activities online.