A Day in Auburn, NY

E has been researching interesting places to visit in the Finger Lakes area, and, as a result, she has been advocating for a day or two in Auburn, NY. On a recent rainy Saturday we decided to go check it out.

First stop: Farmer’s Market. It was really small; there wasn’t much there. We speculated that maybe many of the regulars were somewhere else. There is a “Tomato Festival” taking place in another part of town today, so maybe many vendors are there instead.

Next stop: Check out the “Tomato Festival.” Unfortunately, to even check it out, you have to first pay for parking, then pay a per-person admission fee. Not likely to happen when we’re in town to see as much as we can.

Third stop: Across the street from the festival grounds is the Ward W. O’Hara Agricultural Museum. I know, you’re thinking, a farm museum? Great.

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Actually, it was amazing! First of all, it was enormous! A person could spend hours in here. The displays ranged from a complete kitchen from the early 1800’s to a dairy to a general store to many, many farm implements. There were cars. There were things I’d never seen before. Can you believe there was a dog treadmill that used one dogpower to pump water for washing clothes? (They said the dog used to hide when he saw the people getting the clothes ready for laundry day.)

The most amazing thing of all was to learn about Ward O’Hara himself. Just about all of this stuff had been his own collection, and when he died he turned it over to the county. He was a writer as well as a collector. He wrote a column for the local paper called, “The Storyteller.”

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Fourth stop: The Auburn Diner. I had read about this place on TripAdvisor.com, and it sounded perfect. Since we had already enjoyed one diner meal earlier this summer, it seemed like a good idea to continue to explore old diners. This one wasn’t restored with period décor, but it was very nice just the same. I wrote this as a review for TripAdvisor after our lunch there: “If you sit down in a diner at lunchtime, what do you want? A burger with mushrooms and Swiss cheese, of course? Do you want one made with the freshest ingredients, cooked just right, and served up quickly with a friendly smile? Then this is the place for you. We loved it!”

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Fifth stop: The Harriet Tubman home. We already knew some of the “basics” about Harriet Tubman’s life, but this was still an eye-opening experience. I had not known that William Seward, the same William Seward who had negotiated the US purchase of Alaska, had sold 11 acres of land in Auburn to Harriet and that’s how she ended up here. I found myself thinking about those two land transactions of Seward’s in justaposition to each other.

Sixth stop: Reese’s Dairy Bar, just west of Auburn, for a late afternoon snack of an ice cream cone. I did something here I’d never done before. I “returned” my ice cream cone. They had a quality guarantee posted on the wall. When they served my ice cream, they were literally scraping the bottom of the barrel. The ice cream was old tasting and had a lot of ice crystals in it. I wonder how long it had been in that tub? In any event, they gave me a free replacement with a different flavor, and that was much better.

Then, we headed for home. We didn’t have time to see the William Seward House, the Willard Chapel, or the Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center.I guess we’ll have to go back another day.

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One thought on “A Day in Auburn, NY

  1. Interesting to read your story. We spent an overnight there on an anniversary a bit ago. but less deliberate and planned. We went to the Seward House – the basement selterd those of the underground railroad. We stumbled on the pro baseball field to which we have returned for games a couple times. It was on the way to the current New Hope Mill, the original being at sound end of Owasco Lake which I deliberately turned aside to one day returning from PA daughters.

    You might enjoy the taxidermic animals throughout the Bass Pro Shop, though it is not as extensive as the new shop we toured nearly Calagry, Alberta on our Canadian tour.

    Exploring is always fun. I’d like to go to the Harriet Tubman Home but missing it provoked me to read about her.

    Fun to explore and learn.

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