Hudson Valley Fall Getaways and Vacations 2011: The Inn at Aurora, Aurora, NY

Best fall vacations in the Hudson Valley: Aurora Inn and E.B. Morgan House, Aurora, NY (Cayuga County) near Finger Lakes in Upstate NY



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eb morgan house guest roomOne of two buildings that comprise the Inns at Aurora, E.B. Morgan House offers lakeside views and bedrooms with period furnishings

Originally named Aurora House, the Aurora Inn was built in 1833 by Colonel Edwin Barber Morgan, a native of Aurora and an original investor in the New York Times. The red brick, Federal-style structure retains the glamour you’d expect from such a house: original fireplaces, antiques, Oriental rugs, exquisite fabrics, rich woods, porches, balconies, and a gallery-worthy collection of local art. But it’s also been modernized for today’s travelers, with whirlpool baths, flat-screen TVs, high-speed Internet, and an environmentally friendly geothermal heating and cooling system.

There are 10 guest rooms and a gorgeous waterfront dining room offering stunning views of the lake and mountains. Executive Chef Greg Rhoad’s American cuisine features local produce — much of it organic — and a superb list of the Finger Lakes’ many award-winning wines. Dine outdoors, weather permitting. “Very few places outside of private clubs offer lakeside dining,” Edinger says. “And I guarantee that none have the beautiful sunsets that we have.”

Just north of the Aurora Inn is the Morgan House, former home of the famous colonel. He was a peer and business partner with local boldface names of the time like Ezra Cornell (yes, that Cornell) and Henry Wells (who worked with a guy named Fargo and cofounded American Express). As such wealth would suggest, the Italianate-style home was constructed for $50,000, which was a ton of money back in 1858.

It was donated to Wells College in 1961, serving most recently as a guest residence before it was restored. It now has seven exquisite guest rooms and — like its sister inn — period décor, local art, jaw-dropping lake views, and all the modern comforts of home.

As relaxing as the inns are, however, “people don’t want to come and sit anymore, they want to experience the area,” says Edinger. Along with the boating, hiking, and other outdoor activities the region offers, the inns have travel packages that literally help guests get their hands dirty. One lets you work at a local winery and make your own wine. Another sends you to the inns' produce supplier to perform seasonal duties and learn about organic farming. “You don’t just get a demonstration — you actually do it,” she says.

Whatever you do, it will be hard to keep your eyes on your task. “The number one draw here in fall is the color,” Edinger says. “It’s just incredible.”

What to do:

The picturesque village of Aurora is itself a treasure. In fact, it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Wander the streets, visit the specialty and antiques shops — and don’t miss the Morgan Opera House just a few steps away from the inn. Located on the second floor of the Aurora Free Library, this restored Victorian-era theater offers a variety of concerts, plays, and other cultural events.

  • MacKenzie-Childs Company, Aurora. Across the street from the Aurora Inn, you can check out the latest goods at this world-famous home and garden shop — or head about a mile to the north to tour the company’s studio.
  • The Cayuga Wine Trail. Organized in 1983, this is the oldest wine trail in the United States. Of the 16 members, sister wineries Swedish Hill and Goose Watch are perhaps the most highly regarded. Other stops, like Thirsty Owl, Sheldrake Point, and Montezuma Winery, all feature award-winning whites (the area is renowned for Rieslings) and spectacular lake-and-leaf views. If you’re hungry, pair your wine tour with a visit to one of the many farms that comprise the Finger Lakes Cheese Trail.
  • Harriet Tubman Home, Auburn. For those with a passion for history, the home of Underground Railroad abolitionist Harriet Tubman is one of Auburn’s finest museums.
  • Bear Swamp State Park, Roseboom. Unfortunate name notwithstanding, this park is great for hiking and mountain biking.

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» Visit the Inns at Aurora in Aurora, NY
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