Situated at the north end of Owasco Lake, Auburn is a historic city and the county seat of Cayuga County. Originally inhabited by the Haudenosaunee Native Americans, it was founded as Hardenbergh's Corners during the post-Revolutionary period as western New York was being settled and renamed Auburn in 1805.
Today, Auburn is a picturesque city that’s renowned for its historic residences, including the former homes of politician William H. Seward and abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Its proximity to family-friendly campgrounds and lakeside recreational reserves makes it the perfect place to rent an RV while exploring Cayuga County.
The Great Outdoors
Book an RV rental in Auburn and drive west to Seneca Falls and the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge, a 10,000-acre bird sanctuary at the northern end of Cayuga Lake. The Montezuma Marshes provide crucial habitat for migratory waterfowl along the Atlantic Flyway, with a visitor center where you can learn about the refuge’s ecological importance. Follow the 3.5-mile Wildlife Drive to spot a wide variety of bird species or explore one of the numerous hiking trails where you may be treated to sightings of raccoons, squirrels, and chipmunks.
If you’re a keen angler, head to the adjacent Cayuga Lake State Park where you can fish from the shores or launch your boat from the ramp. There’s also a swimming beach and playground that will keep young visitors entertained, together with a short nature trail and recreation programs during the summer months. If you’re visiting during the winter, the lake transforms into an ice fishing destination, and you can explore the shores while cross-country skiing.
Continue driving south, and you’ll arrive at the Finger Lakes National Forest, which nestles between Cayuga and Seneca lakes. It encompasses more than 30 miles of interconnected hiking trails that explore its woodlands, pastures, and gorges and is the only national forest in New York State. Follow the 3.8-mile long Burnt Hill Loop that traverses a variety of landscapes or the 12-mile long Interloken Trail if you’re after a challenging, all-day hike.
Pick up your motorhome rental in Auburn and make the short drive northwest to the Hejamada Campground & RV Park in Port Byron, which offers more than 200 sites around a scenic pond. There’s a laundry room where you can catch up on your washing, a recreational hall and a children’s playground, as well as an on-site general store if you need to pick up any essentials.
Farther north is the River Forest Park Campground in Weedsport, which enjoys a waterfront setting on the Seneca River. There are recreational courts and an arcade room, a large swimming pool, as well as a full-service bar and live music every weekend during the warmer months.
Alternatively, head south to the Twin Oaks Campgrounds, which nestles in a rural setting overlooking the Schoharie Valley. You can select between their wooded, lakeside, or valley view RV sites, then take advantage of the recreational courts, paddle boat rentals, and fishing lake.
Exploring the City
Park your RV rental near Auburn and stroll through the historic streets, which are lined with properties that have been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Stop in at the Seward House Museum, a historic residence that was once home to Abraham Lincoln’s Secretary of State and is still furnished with personal belongings of the Seward family. Other heritage-listed buildings include the William and Mary Hosmer House and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, as well as the historic factory of the Auburn Button Works and Logan Silk Mills.
Auburn is also home to the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park, which comprises three properties associated with this former slave and abolitionist. Join a guided tour of the Harriet Tubman Residence and the adjacent Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, which she created specifically for elderly African-Americans. The historical park also includes the Thompson A.M.E. Zion Church where she was an active member while playing an important role as “the Moses of her people” on the Underground Railroad.
If you’re after a cultural fix, spend a day hopping between the three buildings of the Cayuga Museum - the mansion, the Case Research Laboratory, and the Carriage House Theater. Browse the permanent exhibit about the Auburn Correctional Facility at the mansion and see where Theodore Case invented talking movies at the Case Research Laboratory, then step inside the recently renovated Carriage House Theater. The museum also showcases military artifacts and exhibits detailing the protest movements by women to get the vote.
Auburn is home to a handful of supermarkets where you can stock up on groceries, as well as restaurants and cafes if you want to dine out. There are also gas stations if you need to fill up your campervan rental in Auburn.
Whether you’re visiting Cayuga County for its historic residences or lakeside trails, book an RV in Auburn and start exploring!