15 Best Things to Do in Auburn, NY

Auburn, NY
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New York City may be the most famous city in New York State, but Auburn is no slouch.

As the county seat of Cayuga, Auburn teems with life, culture, and history waiting for the average traveler to discover.

After the American Revolution, the city itself was founded in 1793, and it hasn’t stopped growing and changing.

Auburn was also home to two historical figures: Harriet Tubman and William H. Seward.

If you want to learn more about this bright and delightful city, then take a trip there and see what it has to offer.

Here are the best things to do in Auburn, NY:

Visit the Seward House Museum

Exterior of Seward House Museum
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The best way to learn about Auburn's long and complex history is by visiting the Seward House Museum.

Former governor of New York State William Henry Seward once lived in the house.

He also served as a US senator and Secretary of State during the Lincoln and Johnson administrations.

The museum itself seeks to foster and inspire curiosity about 19th-century America, specifically through the lens of the lives of William Henry Seward and his family.

Side facade of Seward House Museum
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You’ll find a spectacular piece of nineteenth-century history and collections of memorabilia inside the building.

You’ll see the different kinds of furniture used in this house alongside some of the family’s jewelry and personal accessories.

The diplomatic gallery also features 125 photographs of influential figures from countries with a diplomatic relationship with the United States during Seward’s tenure.

Catch a Show at the Auburn Public Theater

Start your trip with some fun and culture by attending a performance at the Auburn Public Theater.

The Auburn Public Theater wants to provide accessible and affordable access to live performances, cinema, arts education, and community events.

These events should promote their region's social, economical, and cultural growth.

They host all kinds of events for people of all ages, so get a ticket for the ones that pique your interest.

You can catch a theater performance, a concert, or even a movie.

Watch as many shows as you can to appreciate the skill of the performers and technical crew.

Whatever performance you see will surely be a memory you won’t forget anytime soon.

Explore the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park

Exterior of Tubman Residence at Harriet Tubman National Historical Park
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Harriet Tubman is a significant figure in the American Civil Rights Movement, and several places in Auburn celebrate her life and achievements.

One of those places is the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.

Exterior of Harriet Tubman National Historical Park's home for the aged
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The park comprises three sections: the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged, the Harriet Tubman Residence, and Thompson A.M.E. Zion Church.

Harriet Tubman lived in the historical residence when she moved her family from St. Catherines in Ontario, Canada, to Auburn.

In 1896, she purchased the 25-acre piece of land next door, which would become the Home for the Aged.

Exterior of Harriet Tubman National Historical Park's church
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Dine at Moro’s Table

Moro’s Table on 1 East Genessee Street is a great place to stop by if you want good food made with high-quality ingredients and prepared with a lot of care and love.

Every meal you eat would be a multi-sensual experience but balances their flavors with simple and pure mixes to give their patrons the best experience.

When you’re there, you can try out their oysters or salads.

They also offer grilled lamb and beef tenderloins, cooked to perfection and filled with juicy deliciousness, so why not give those a shot as well?

Visit the Harriet Tubman Home

Exterior of Harriet Tubman Home
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The Harriet Tubman Home should be your next stop if you want to dig into Harriet Tubman's life.

The place is cared for and managed by a nonprofit established African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.

The front door of Harriet Tubman Home
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Their goal is to share Harriet Tubman’s values with exhibits and guided tours.

These tours are by appointment only, so book a spot if you wish to visit during your trip.

Rusty old doorknob of Harriet Tubman Home
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Grab a Meal at Auburn Diner

If you’re looking for a meal while on your travels, go to Auburn Diner, where you can taste the local cuisine.

They offer an all-day breakfast menu, making it the perfect diner for a full and hearty meal.

Try their omelets or the different combinations of eggs and toast.

Or, if you’re looking for a classic, you won’t go wrong with a stack of pancakes or a plate of waffles.

Don't forget to add some cereal or oatmeal on the side to complete the meal.

Auburn-Fleming Trail

It's only appropriate that you finish your Auburn trip at the Auburn-Fleming Trail.

It’s a flat trail, over a mile long, that follows an old railroad that goes through the woods, wetlands, and farmland connecting Auburn to the town of Fleming.

Walk right to the border of Auburn, with the natural world all around you, and contemplate everything you’ve seen and all you’ve done.

By the end of your journey, you’ve made a lot of good memories and learned a lot, haven’t you?

Take a moment, let it all sink in, and take a breath before moving on to the next step of your journey.

Pay Respects at Harriet Tubman's Grave

The gravestone of Harriet Tubman
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Finally, you can visit the Grave of Harriet Tubman to honor her memory and the excellent work she did to help abolish American slavery.

Her gravestone is in Fort Hill Cemetery, shaded from the sun and rain by a large tree, with two bushes on both sides.

The Empire State Federation of Women’s Clubs put up the gravestone in 1937.

You'll find Ms. Tubman’s name engraved on the stone.

Behind the marker is an inscription that honors her work on the Underground Railroad and as a Civil War scout and nurse.

Her religious faith is commemorated on the gravesite with the carving, “Servant of God, Well Done.”

Check Out the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center

Harriet Tubman wasn’t the only person who fought for equal rights in the United States.

Discover the long story of this movement at the NYS Equal Rights Heritage Center.

You’ll see everything New York State offers in terms of culture and history gathered in one place.

Explore the center and find several interactive and educational displays.

If you get hungry, you can also try some local dishes to taste the different flavors of New York.

The place also provides passport stamp services for people who need them.

The place hosts several events throughout the year to carry out its mission; feel free to join them.

Visit the Ward W. O’Hara Agricultural Museum

The Ward W. O’Hara Museum gives its visitors a chance to step back in time and experience a world that existed centuries before.

You can walk around a carpenter and blacksmith shop, a one-room school, a dairy room, and other historical sites.

You’ll even see the handheld tools and equipment people from the 19th century used.

Likewise, you might even touch some of them.

There’s also a doll display featuring thousands of dolls from that period.

And, if you go further in, you’ll find an herb garden that contains more than 40 different kinds of herbs.

Enjoy the Outdoors at Emerson Park

Aerial view of Emerson Park
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Emerson Park hosts some of the most significant events in Cayuga County.

Its pavilion sits on the shores of Owasco Lake, an ideal spot for a destination wedding or for some people who want to go sightseeing.

You’ll also enjoy the panorama of a gorgeous lake.

Metal benches at Emerson Park's pier
Zack Frank / Shutterstock.com

There are also beaches, playgrounds, and boat launches, so you’ll never run out of things to do or gorgeous sights to see.

Take a few pictures to preserve the beautiful memories that come your way while you’re there.

Likewise, take a deep breath and spend your time there enjoying yourself with your traveling companions.

Bask in their company alongside the magical beauty of your surroundings.

Admire the Masterpieces at the Schweinfurth Art Center

History isn’t the only thing that Auburn has to offer.

It also overflows with gorgeous and exciting pieces of art.

The Schweinfurth Art Center is a great place to sample these creations since it’s an organization that emphasizes the fine arts, architecture, and design.

You'll find the works of new and emerging artists that promote public participation from a large and diverse audience.

Besides art history, you’ll get a glimpse of what’s going on in today's art world.

The art center hosts many art exhibits at any given time, so make sure to plan accordingly if you’re waiting to view a specific work from a particular artist.

However, if you’re looking to appreciate contemporary art or want to be surprised, head there at the first opportunity.

Sample Brews at the Good Shepherds Brewing Company

You can find the Good Shepherds Brewing Company, also known as Shep’s Brewing Company, at 132 Genesee Street.

The place first opened its doors in 2014 in the basement of a department store, and now it’s a very successful brewing company at the heart of Auburn.

They have different beers and ciders on tap, so sample whatever you find interesting; after all, vacations are for letting loose, and there’s no comparing to some good beer alongside the great company.

For example, you can try their Lit Wit Beir, a traditional Belgian brew that’s great for people who want a light, sweet, and fruity drink.

On the other hand, if you’re into the harder stuff, you can check out the Pear Kitty Hard Cider, a certified organic and GF hard cider that packs a punch with its slightly sweet taste and pear and apple flavor.

You can also try the Far and Away IPA if you’re looking for something in between.

It has a lite and citrusy taste double dry-hopped with Simco, Citra, and Cashmere.

Sip Fine Wine at CJS Vineyard

CJS Vineyard is a family-owned estate winery with a lot to offer visitors looking for top-notch wine or a vineyard to explore.

The establishment’s journey in wine-making began way back in the 1950s when its owner was just a boy helping his uncle in their wine cellar.

The owner grew up and used this experience and love for winemaking to establish his winery many years later.

The vineyards found in the winery were first put up in 1995 and expanded over the years as the business grew.

Their tasting room and vineyard tours are by appointment only, so call ahead if you want to visit.

Spend the Day at Casey Park

Casey Park is an excellent destination if you want to do some entertainment activities in a relaxed and open space.

It has a 50-meter Olympic pool, outdoor basketball courts, a skating park, and many other amenities that you and your buddies will surely love.

During the winter, you can even play hockey or go ice skating.

There’s also a theater and a covered picnic area if you’re looking for a place to rest, relax, eat, and have a good time.

Final Thoughts

Auburn is a city that’s impossible to forget once you step foot in it.

It’s the perfect picture of the charm of upstate New York: full of history and culture but never losing that intimate charm missing from the big cities.

It’s a place to relax, broaden your horizons, and learn more about the world beyond your comfort zone.

Take your time when you visit and savor every moment while it lasts.