The magnificent Cayuga Lake is the longest of New York State’s Finger Lakes. Stretching nearly 40 miles through scenic countryside, you can find many beautiful vacation rentals on Cayuga Lake to stay for weekend getaways or longer vacations. Rentals include sumptuous lakefront properties with their own moorings, secluded rural retreats for cozying up with a special someone, and your family home-away-from-home in quaint villages and towns. The lake’s crystal clear waters are perfect for fishing and boating with the whole family, and you’ll love exploring hiking trails of varying difficulties while following a wine trail. Wherever you stay, you’re always within a reasonable drive of charming villages and towns, where you can shop, buy groceries, and enjoy a special dining experience.
1. Cayuga Village
With many vacation properties right on the Cayuga Wine Trail, Cayuga village on the northeast end of the lake is the perfect location for those who appreciate a fine wine. Enjoy a fun day of tastings at some of the finest wineries and cheese producers followed by a fabulous five start meal in a restaurant. Family groups and outdoor enthusiasts find plenty of good hiking trails close by and families love cooling off at the public swimming beach at Harris Park.
Located down south at the opposite end of the lake from Cayuga Village, Ithaca is a cultural hub with restaurants, theaters, and a farmer’s market. The area is directly on the wine trail, and haseasy access to outdoor fun. Ithaca has two state parks – Buttermilk Falls and Robert H. Treman State Park – where trails lead you past towering gorges, waterfalls, and delightful swimming areas. Ithaca is also home to Cornell University, which has a gorgeous campus with interesting museums that you can visit. The Ithaca Tomkins Regional Airport is a convenient way to get into the area.
Known as the “Village of Constant Dawn,” Aurora sits on the eastern side of the lake in front of a low ridge that makes the sunrise longer, which is perfect for photography. As it faces west, this area also enjoys beautiful sunsets. The village has many award-winning restaurants as well as a farmer’s market to top up supplies. Indulge in some retail therapy at the specialty boutiques nearby, including the Aurora Shoe Company in King Ferry where artisans create incredibly comfortable handmade shoes. With antique stores and an abundance of history, art, and architecture as well as fabulous scenery, there’s plenty to see in Aurora.
4. Seneca Falls
The historic village of Seneca Falls is thought to have inspired Frank Capra’s classic film “It’s a Wonderful Life”. You can immerse yourself in a piece of film history and walk along the very same bridge from which Jimmy Stewart’s character almost jumped. The Heritage Area features a classic main street and many historic homes. Enjoy the beautiful waterfront along the Cayuga-Seneca Canal. There are plenty of trails in the area, and it’s a short trip to both the Cayuga Lake State Park and the Montezuma Wildlife refuge where you can watch bald eagles.
The town of Lansing on the eastern shore of the lake is a short distance from Ithaca and the Ithaca Tomkins Regional Airport. This is an ideal area for those who love their home comforts. The Shops at Ithaca Mall have a range of stores, entertainment, eateries, and a movie theater. For outdoor activities, Lansing has two beautiful parks. Myers Park has a swimming area in Cayuga Lake, and Ludlowville Park overlooks the Salmon Creek Falls, famous in the silent movie era as a popular filming location.
This historic village traces its history back over 200 years. Surrounded by stunning scenery, the area is home to Taughannock Falls State Park, which has stunning hiking trails and gorges. The village boasts a number of popular independent eateries and hosts farmer’s markets from May until late October. If you are in this area, be sure to check out the farmer’s market, because it is a fun event with live music, and craft items, and delicious local produce, so you can take home some gifts and mementos from your vacation.
7. Union Springs
Union Springs is named after the many mineral springs in the area. The two largest of the hot springs are dammed to create pools, and the North Pond is popular with bird watchers, as it offers a chance to view some rare species. In summer, its bass tournaments bring anglers from far and wide to enjoy fishing on the lake. The shoreline has a swimming beach and three marinas, while the village has charming shops, grocery stores, and restaurants.
This small community, named after President Jackson, borders the city of Ithaca and lies inland to the west of the lake amidst field and forests. This is a traditional, close-knit community with some beautiful historic homes and a village-like atmosphere. Jacksonville Park features a pond and popular trails to take a stroll along.
The safe, friendly community of Interlaken is set in rolling countryside inland from the lake. Take a slight deviation from following the Finger Lakes wine trails to visit Cider House and Good Life Farm. There, you’ll learn about food pairings, sample the cider, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
The town of Ovid sits between Seneca Lake and Cayuga Lake. Staying in this area gives you the chance to enjoy both Finger Lakes or simply kick back and appreciate the rural surroundings. Farms like Juneberry Farm offer vacationers the chance to pick their own fruit, garlic, and herbs, as well as scout around for free range eggs. Make your own farm-to-table experience a regular part of your stay.