AUBURN, N.Y. -- Overshadowed by Buffalo and Albany to the West
and East, the charming towns and villages of Cayuga County make for
diverting weekend destinations. From Locke in the south to Fair
Haven in the north, the region's 760 square miles offer visitors a
surprising variety of attractions. A rundown follows:
* Earle Estate Meadery. This enterprise produces the honey wine
of Norse legend, a fermented beverage that is smooth and satisfying
but still packs a wallop. How sweet it is! The meadery is run by
the affable Earles, John and Esther, who seem to enjoy explaining
the wine-making process. For more information, call (607) 898-5940
or (607) 898-3012; the Web address is http://www.meadery. com;
e-mail [email protected] .com.
* Wells College. Located across Rt. 348 from picturesque Cayuga
Lake, the college was founded in 1868 by Henry Wells, of Wells
Fargo fame, and is one of the oldest liberal arts institutions for
women in the U.S. Its 360-acre wooded campus as well as the town it
calls home are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Group planners can take advantage of the Conference Services
office, which accommodates groups of up to 500.
Net rates are available. Call (315) 364-3399; fax (315)
364-3423; e-mail [email protected]
* MacKenzie-Childs Ltd. Whimsical pottery, picture frames
incorporating shards of earthenware, one-of-a-kind glassware and
uniquely designed furniture are just some of the
housewares-cum-artworks created by the more than 300 craftspersons
who, if they don't actually whistle while they work, do seem to
enjoy what they are doing. A factory, gallery and showroom wrapped
into one, the complex is the brainchild of artists-entrepreneurs
Victoria and Richard Mackenzie, who have turned a derelict 19th
century farm into a showplace.
First-run products and seconds are on sale here, with prices
ranging from $1 or so for mementos to big bucks for furniture. As
one salesperson put it, "You should see the women who fly in here
from Dallas on the weekends. They don't leave 'til they've spent
thousands." Free studio tours are conducted Mondays through Fridays
at 10 a.m. The showrooms and shop are open Mondays through
Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (315) 364-7123.
* The King Ferry Winery. This boutique vintner, which bottles
its product under the name Treleaven Wines, is owned and operated
by Peter and Tacie Saltonstall, who pride themselves on selling
small quantities of premium wines that are the product of their
vineyard on the eastern shore of Cayuga Lake. The winery is open
Mondays through Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Sundays
from noon to 5 p.m. May to December and on weekends February
through April. Call (315) 364-5100; in New York, (800)
* Case Research Lab. The sound, if not the fury, of modern films
was born here in the process invented by Theodore Case and E.I.
Sponable in the 1920s, and it was not long before "Sunrise," the
first feature released with a sound track, and "The Jazz Singer,"
featuring the voice of Al Jolson, caught the public's eye -- and
ear, as well. The restored historic site displays the first sound
camera and projector, a 1928 Movietone newsreel and photographs.
Admission is $2.50 per person; groups are welcome. It is open
Tuesdays through Sundays, noon to 5 p.m. Call (315) 253-8051.
* The Seward House. William Henry Seward -- secretary of state
under Lincoln and Johnson and a prime mover in the purchase of
Alaska -- lived here for nearly 50 years. During that time, he
acquired a lot of stuff, and most of it, I'll bet, is still here
somewhere. Sixteen rooms, from polished wooden floor to ornate
ceiling, are crammed with the likes of a Russian samovar, china
from Emperor Maximilian of Mexico and Civil War memorabilia. Free
tours are lovingly conducted by docents who really care; admission
is nominal. The Seward House is open Tuesdays through Saturdays, 1
to 4 p.m. April through December. It is closed the rest of the year
and on major holidays. Call (315) 252-1283.
* Auburn Prison. Built in 1816, the fortresslike facility was
the birthplace of the Auburn System of discipline, which insisted
on enforced silence, lockstep formations and striped uniforms. Site
of the state's first electrocution, Auburn Prison is a
bed-and-breakfast (lunch and dinner, too) for 1,700 long-term
guests. The rack rate is 10 years to life; it is not
* Marinas, campgrounds, boat charters, traditional
bed-and-breakfasts and cottages as well as antique outlets attract
visitors to this beautiful maritime community that deserves to be
more popular than it is. For more Cayuga County information, call
the tourism office at (315) 255-1658 or (800) 499-9615; fax (315)