The Cayuga Nature Center provides indoor and outdoor programs and exhibits that encourage visitors to explore and understand the natural history of the Cayuga Lake Basin as part of the regional and global ecosystems. The Nature Center’s 100 acres of woodland and old field overlooking Cayuga Lake are home to a six-story treehouse, live native animals, a gorge and waterfall, and more than 5 miles of walking trails. The historic main lodge, built by the WPA in 1939, houses the largest public aquarium in the Finger Lakes – highlighting the fish life of Cayuga Lake past and present – as well as exhibits on local forest ecology, wildlife, and climate.


The Cayuga Nature Center was founded in 1981 to provide nature education opportunities to area youth, principally through summer camps. In 2013 it merged with the Paleontological Research Institution and expanded its onsite exhibits and programs.


Plan your visit

Outdoor Animals, Trails & TreeTops Treehouse are open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Lodge is currently closed, but we plan to open it for the first time since March 2020 in late spring 2022!


While you’re in the area, also consider stopping by Smith Woods in Trumansburg, NY!

Henry A. Smith Woods is a 32-acre old-growth forest located in Trumansburg, New York. Henry Atterbury Smith (1822-1891) was a businessman from New York City who had purchased this parcel of land as a summer residence and although he visited the property sparingly, he was a well known member of the Trumansburg community. In 1909, this undeveloped forest fragment was left to the Village of Trumansburg by Henry A. Smith’s sons to be preserved as a public park forever. The purpose of the park is “to execute and carry out the terms of the trust in the spirit of the grant, namely the preservation of the park in its natural state and for educational and recreational purposes.”

In 2007, ownership of this forest was transferred to Cayuga Nature Center to continue its use as an educational site. Since the transfer, a loop trail was created and the Cayuga Nature Center staff have continued to uphold the mission of the park through school visits and public hikes. Smith Woods is open to the public year round.

Plan your visit:
Smith Woods are open daily, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

Please note: For the safety of our visitors, staff, and Animal Ambassadors NO PETS ARE ALLOWED on the grounds, trails, or in the buildings at the Cayuga Nature Center. Service animals are welcomed. Dogs are allowed on leash at Smith Woods, but please pick up after your pet.


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Instagram – @cayuganaturecenter