Cayuga Lake, the longest of the Finger Lakes, reaches across three counties (Seneca, Cayuga and Tompkins counties) and stretches for nearly 40 miles from Seneca Falls to Ithaca. Cayuga Lake feeds into the Seneca and Cayuga Canal, which connects to the Erie Canal. Ithaca, population 29,287 (2000 census), is at the southern end of Cayuga Lake. As host to Cornell University and Ithaca College, Ithaca has a gentle, bohemian vibe and plenty of associated culture. The area around Ithaca is known for its exceptional waterfalls and gorges. Small communities line the shores of the lake, including Myers, King Ferry, Aurora, Levanna, Union Springs and Cayuga on the eastern shore and Sheldrake, Poplar Beach and Canoga on the western shore.
Cayuga Lake also features one of the two islands in all of the Finger Lakes: Frontenac Island, visible from the lakefront shoreline at Union Springs. If you have an interest in paleontology, you'll want to check out the stromatoporoids on Frontenac.
Visit Eleven Lakes, the newest winery in the Finger Lakes. They have a spacious tasting room, delicious wines and they're open for visitors daily!
From fresh flowers and produce to handmade crafts and furniture, the Ithaca Farmers' Market is a must-see when traveling through the Ithaca area.
Cayuga Lake Wineries - Take a tour of the wineries around Cayuga Lake and get a taste of the local viticulture.
Cruising - Cayuga Lake is the perfect spot for a cruise. Champagne brunch, anyone?
Ithaca - Plenty of dining, arts and entertainment options in this boho college town. Build up an appetite by exploring Robert Treman State Park.
Like most of the Finger Lakes, the area around Cayuga Lake is good for bicyclists, provided that they are experienced with road riding. There are no marked biking trails on the lake, but the 101-mile circuit around the lake is a popular road route. Several organizations host annual rides.
Cayuga Lake is very popular for sailing and other recreational boating. If you are based near Ithaca, Allan H. Treman State Marine Park (607-273-3440) is the best place for public boat launches and dockage. Call ahead: the park is popular, and transient slips go quickly.
Boat Marinas, both public and private, are located all around Cayuga Lake.
Beacon Bay Marina
Cayuga Marina & Campground
Finger Lakes Marine Service
Hibiscus Harbor Marina
Ithaca Yacht Club
Johnson Boat Yard & Marina
Lansing Town Park & Marina
Whether you are looking for a calm canoe ride, want to kayak a canal, prefer a jetski or powerboat adventure, or if you want to set sail at sundown on one of the Finger Lakes, you will find hourly, daily, and weekly rental options available to you.
If you're looking for someone else to take the helm, consider a boat tour or a cruise on Cayuga Lake that includes lunch or dinner and cocktails. Cayuga Lake Cruises (607-256-0898) is a big operator on the lake; their three-hour dinner cruise is especially popular with visitors to Cayuga Lake.
Farming is big business in the area around Cayuga Lake, as agriculture is the single largest land use in the region. Because of environmental regulations designed to minimize the impact of industry on the Cayuga Lake watershed, farms are held to a high standard of environmental management, and the most eco-friendly farms proudly display "Lake Friendly Farm" signage.
Many farms offer tours. On the western side of Cayuga Lake, you'll find you-pick farms like Silver Queen Farm and specialized cheese makers like Farmstead Cheese. You'll also find alpaca farms! On the eastern side of Cayuga Lake, there are orchards and organic farms, as well as a highly regarded creamery.
Local produce can be found at the Ithaca Farmers Market.
Cayuga Lake is popular with anglers. Trout fishing (especially brown trout, lake trout and rainbow trout) is particularly good on Cayuga lake. Pickerel, large-mouth bass, small-mouth bass, and northern pike can be found in the warmer waters of the more shallow areas of the lake. The northern and southern ends of Cayuga Lake feature shoals that make for great fishing. Check out the area around the southern end of the lake, especially the waters near Ithaca and Cayuga Lake State Park. You're likely to find plenty of pike, bass, bullhead and perch.
Learn more about Cayuga Lake Fishing...
There are some great places to hike around Cayuga Lake, many of which afford the opportunity to see breathtaking waterfalls. Robert Treman State Park, just five miles south of Ithaca, offers some of the most scenic hiking trails in the area. The waterfalls, gorges and rock formations in the the park are well known with outdoors enthusiasts. Use the upper park entrance and check out the Old Mill Falls, among others, and follow the Gorge Trail to Enfield Glen.
Check out Taughannock Falls State Park for a great hike with a reward at the and–an incredible waterfall!
Cayuga Nature Center overlooks Cayuga Lake. They have miles of hiking trails, an indoor education facility and plenty of space for special events.
Some of the best hunting and trapping around Cayuga Lake can be found in the Northern Montezuma Wildlife Management Area, a New York State-managed spread that includes uplands, wetlands, hiking trails and signed nature trails.
Many parks surround the Cayuga Lake area. Cayuga Lake State Park, in Seneca Falls, is a lake-front park with fishing, camping, picnic tables, a public boat launch and a playground for the kids. This park, on the north-western shore of Cayuga Lake, is popular with locals and visitors alike. The Cayuga Lake State Park campgrounds are highly rated.
The Cayuga Wine Trail is the oldest wine trail in the United States. Started by Mary Plane of Cayuga Vineyards (since renamed Cayuga Ridge) in the early 1980s, the Cayuga Wine Trail has blossomed into a string of highly regarded vineyards. As the winemaking industry has grown, so has the Cayuga Wine Trail.
There are plenty of places to stay when visiting Cayuga Lake, with the most options centered in and around Ithaca, where you'll find hotel chains to fit every budget, as well as a wide selection of charming country inns and B&B's.
The towns and villages that line the lakefront also provide some hospitality options—mostly B&B's geared towards couples or private rental homes catering to families and groups. Check out Aurora, Dryden, Interlaken, Lansing, Ovid, Romulus, Spencer, Trumansburg and Seneca Falls for B&B's and small inns with local flavor.
Ithaca is a great restaurant town—you'll find dining options to suit every palate and budget in this somewhat bohemian college town.
Cornell University and Ithaca College contribute to the youthful vibe, but eateries are in no way limited to student fare. Fine dining, international flavor, gastropubs—you name it, Ithaca has it.
Good restaurants can be found up and down Cayuga Lake—Seneca Falls, Ovid and Interlaken are all host to noted waterfront restaurants.