Aurora, New York

Photo: Visit Finger Lakes (Flickr: Sunrise overlooking a vineyard) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Visit Finger Lakes (Flickr: Sunrise overlooking a vineyard) [CC-BY-2.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons
Spring is teasing us this year. We keep getting excited over a few nice days in a row. Then the temperature drops and the flurries appear. Again. But slowly—painfully slowly—the real signs of spring are starting to emerge. Cherry trees are blooming. Daffodils are sprouting. And, in the Finger Lakes, the leaves on the vines are starting to grow. That’s all you really need to hear to plan a long weekend.

The 11 finger-shaped, glacial lakes in Central New York are some of the deepest lakes in the United States. They’re full of smallmouth bass, smelt, and lake trout. Pretty villages, lined with 19th-century buildings, sit on the shores. Little inns and vineyards dot the hillsides. Geese fly north overhead. And a lakefront Adirondack chair has your name on it.

You arrived at the Aurora Inn, on Cayuga Lake, last night. It was already dark outside, but the building was glowing with gas-burning fireplaces and candlelight. The brick, Federal-style inn may have white-column balconies, antiques, and oriental rugs, but it’s far from stuffy. Your comfortable room has down pillows and fluffy, terry cloth robes. Plus rocking chairs sit on your balcony.

Photo: The Inns of Aurora
Photo: The Inns of Aurora

You were tempted to light the fire and hibernate for the rest of the evening, but the delicious smells from the dining room made your hurry downstairs. While your Treleaven Cabernet Franc started breathing, you ordered pale ale fondue with house-made pretzels and wild mushroom manicotti. You finished the bottle of wine by the time your pear-ginger ravioli arrived, so you ordered a cozy sweater—made with Earl Grey tea and amaretto—with your dessert. Then, despite the chill in the air, you sat outside by the fire pit and watched the moonlight bounce off the lake.

You had planned to sleep in this morning, but you’re wide awake when the rays of sun start peeking through your curtains. Since the inn is silent and brunch won’t be served for another few hours, you grab coffee and a muffin, and head back outside to your new-favorite spot. If it were warmer, you’d go swimming off the dock or kayaking along the shore, but right now, you’re content to watch the fog roll over the water.

Spend the day driving along the Cayuga Wine Trail. Start at Varick Winery to sample a pear-scented Chardonnay and jams in their country store. Compare two dry Rieslings at Knapp Winery. Try a rare Pinot Noir Brut Rosé at Goose Watch Winery. Switch to a full-bodied Cabernet Franc at Buttonwood Grove. And cap off your tastings with a rich Cabernet Sauvignon in Cayuga Ridge Estate’s rustic barn.

Return to Aurora late in the afternoon. Walk down Main Street for a homemade ice cream sandwich at Dorie’s Bakery. Check out the schedule at the historic Morgan Opera House. Pick up greenhouse-fresh produce from Grisamore Farm at the Village Market. Then return to the inn for happy hour, sunset, and your chair by the lake.


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