Cayuga Lake Area Vacation Rental & Travel Guide

Finger Lakes / Cayuga Lake


 DISCOVER CAYUGA LAKE, NY 

Cayuga Lake is located in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. At just under 40 miles long with an average width of 1.7 miles, it is the longest of all the eleven Finger Lakes. As one of the top destinations in New York, the Finger Lakes, especially Cayuga Lake, has something for everyone.

Cayuga Lake is a quaint destination that offers fantastic hiking trails, stunning views, and fun! You’ll find great local wineries like Cayuga Ridge Estate, Montezuma Winery, Varick Winery & Vineyard, and Six Mile Creek Vineyard. In total, wineries along the Cayuga Lake wine trial have captured over 6,000 national and international medals so you won’t be disappointed.

Aside from being one of the top destinations in New York State, Cayuga Lake is one of the best places in New York for a relaxing getaway. Whether you’re looking for a fun weekend escape or a romantic week-long getaway, you’ll love enjoying a cup of morning coffee overlooking the scenic lake or venturing down the highly touted Cayuga Lake wine trail before enjoying a meal in one of the area’s quaint restaurants.

cayuga vacation rentals

The Best Places to Stay for Your Cayuga Lake, NY Vacation: 

Aurora:

Cayuga: Located on the northeastern side of Cayuga Lake, Cayuga is a small village right on the lake. Its name is derived from the indigenous people whom the lake is named after. Cayuga is a charming town with easy access to the major interstate running through New York so it’s a great place to stay for your Cayuga Lake vacation.

Seneca Falls: Also providing easy access to the highway, Seneca Falls is located on the northwestern side of Cayuga Lake. Its location along Route 20 also makes it the gateway to Seneca Lake, so if you’re planning to hit both wine trails, this is the perfect place to stay in Cayuga Lake.

Ithaca: Located on the southernmost tip, Ithaca is the largest city on Cayuga Lake. Home to Cornell University and Ithaca College, this city features a bohemian vibe that borders on eclectic. The area is famous for its stunning waterfalls like Cascadilla Falls and Buttermilk Falls. Plus, Ithaca is a great restaurant town with something for every palate.   

Interlaken: Interlaken is located on the western side of Cayuga Lake towards the middle. Its name is derived from its position between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes. Conveniently, this is also where most of the wineries along the Cayuga Lake wine trail are located.

The Best Things to Do in Cayuga Lake:

 Cayuga Lake Wine Trail: The Cayuga Wine Trail is one of the best in the area. With a collection of wineries that have gathered over 6,000 national and international awards and a variety of stunning views of the lake and surrounding scenery, this should definitely be on your to do list.

 Explore Ithaca, NY: Located at the southernmost tip of Cayuga Lake, Ithaca is a unique college town that is home to Ithaca College and Cornell University. Wander around their bohemian themed shops or check out the nearby waterfalls that the city is famous for.

 Cayuga Lake Boat Tour: One of the best ways to explore the lake is by boat. There are countless charters and companies that will take you out on the water. Check out Water to Wine Tours or Cayuga Excursions for Cayuga Lake cruises.

 Fishing: Fishing is another popular activity on Cayuga Lake. Trout fishing, especially for rainbow, lake and brown trout, is great on Cayuga Lake. You can also catch large-mouth bass, small-mouth bass, pickerel, and northern pike in the warmer, shallower areas of the lake. Named in the Bass Master's magazine for "The Best Bass Lakes of New York"

 Tuaghannock Falls State Park: Located on the western side of Cayuga Lake near Interlaken, Tuaghannock Falls State Park features one of the tallest waterfalls east of the Rockies. There’s a $7 admission, but you can spend an entire day hiking, biking, swimming, boating and exploring.

 Cayuga Nature Center: Overlooking Cayuga Lake, this nature center boasts miles and miles of hiking trails, space for special events, and even an indoor educational center. It’s a great Cayuga Lake attraction to explore with the family.

The Best Things to Do Near Cayuga Lake:

 Corning Museum of GlassLocated between an hour and half an hour away depending on where you stay, the Corning Museum of Glass is a great attraction near Cayuga Lake. Not only can you view some amazing blown glass and see live performances, but you can also try your own hand at glass making!

 Hiking Watkins GlenWatkins Glen State Park is another one of the top things to do near Cayuga Lake. This is the Finger Lakes’ most popular park for good reason. The Gorge Trail offers stunning views and the ability to wander amongst 19 waterfalls.

 Seneca Lake Wine Trail: If you haven’t gotten your fill at the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, the Seneca Lake Wine Trail is just a stone’s throw away. It features over 30 wineries that offer a mix of atmospheres and stunning scenery to explore while sipping fresh, crisp wines.  

 Watkins Glen International Speedway: Located on nearby Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen International Speedway is a NASCAR lover’s dream. Known to locals and car enthusiasts as simply “The Glen,” this popular Finger Lakes attraction brings in thousands of people every time there is a race.

 MacKenzie - Childs:  A 65-acre farm located just north of Aurora in Cayuga County. Visit by touring the beautifully restored 15 room farmhouse and well landscaped gardens that are located directly on the property. No visit is complete without shopping and visiting their famous studio. You will find a large selection of handmade ceramics, pottery, furniture, glassware and more. The company is well known for their annual summer barn sale. Be sure to check it out. 

 There is always something to do in Cayuga Lake no matter when you arrive, but summer and fall are the most popular times to visit the area.

The Best Things to Do in Cayuga Lake in Summer:

The Best Things to Do in Cayuga Lake in Fall:

  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Kayaking
  • Boating
  • Fishing
  • Hunting
  • Trapping
  • Wine Tasting

Annual Events in Cayuga Lake Region:

There are many annual events hosted in the Finger Lakes area. Some of the top annual festivals and events for Cayuga Lake include:

 Bacon on the Lake: This weekend event includes souvenir wine glasses, bacon and wine pairings at participating wineries, and a chance to wine BBQ themed baskets at all 14 wineries. The bacon alone is worth it!

 Finger Lakes Cheese Festival: Held every summer, the Finger Lakes Cheese Festival brings together the best Finger Lakes cheeses. Members of the Finger Lakes Cheese Alliance attend, as well as other vendors with baked goods, salsas, jellies, and more.

 GlassFest: Enjoy four days of glassmaking demonstrations, live music, entertainment, local food vendors and more at GlassFest! Held in Corning, NY this free party is hosted by Corning Museum of Glass.

 Finger Lakes Wine Festival: Held every July, Finger Lakes Wine Festival is the largest showcase of wines produced in the state. Typically, more than 80 wineries participate and there’s also live music, entertainment, culinary classes, regional artisans, and other vendors.

Getting to the Cayuga Lake Region:

Cayuga Lake is located in the Finger Lakes, which is a more rural and remote area of the state. Despite that, it’s not difficult to reach.

  • Plane – There are three airports that are close to Cayuga Lake. Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) is about 2 hours to the west but is typically the cheapest. Rochester (ROC) and Syracuse (SYR) are both about 1.5 hours away. Tiny Ithaca/Tompkins County Airport is right on the lake, but it is typically more expensive with limited routes.
  • Bus – Greyhound bus lines run to Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse from other major cities. From there, you can take a Greyhound bus to Ithaca.
  • Train – Railway access via Amtrak is available into Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. From there you will need to take a bus or rent a car.
  • Car – The best way to get to Cayuga Lake is by car. It’s only a couple hours from most major cities in New York and the drive is scenic. Rental cars are available in major cities like Buffalo, Syracuse, and Rochester.

Travel within the Cayuga Lake Region:

Once you’re at Cayuga Lake, it’s easy to get around town.   

  • Uber/Lyft – Uber and Lyft operate in the Finger Lakes, but their availability in Cayuga Lake can be hit or miss. 
  • Taxis – There are always taxis available at Cayuga Lake, but they do get varied reviews so you may want to do some research before calling a company.
  • Car – The best way to get around Cayuga Lake is via your own car or rental car. Cars can be rented at major cities in the state.
  • Licensed Transportation Companies – If you need transportation from your rental property to and from the wine trail, there is also a variety of licensed transportation companies. Offering everything from cars and limos to full party buses, they can accommodate groups large and small.

When to Visit Cayuga Lake:

New York is a four season state and the winter and early spring months can be quite brutal. That is why the best time to visit Cayuga Lake is during the summer and fall. During these months you will have full access to all of the attractions and amenities that Cayuga Lake and the surrounding lakes have to offer. Winter and spring are quieter times to visit and while there are some unique festivals and events during this time, the frigid temperatures and snow mean closed hiking trails and no water sports. Still, it’s picturesque to enjoy a cup of coffee or tea from your enclosed patio overlooking Cayuga Lake blanketed in snow!

 

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