A tiny Finger Lakes community on the eastern shores of Cayuga Lake, Aurora is a village revived through a simultaneous commitment to the past and to the future.
In recent years, millions of dollars have been poured into renovating this 1-square-mile village. The funds came from Pleasant Rowland: a philanthropist, educator, founder of the American Girl brand and alumna of Aurora's own Wells College. Some here vehemently opposed her work in the village; others saw her financial backing as both a blessing and an opportunity. Legal battles between the two sides made it all the way to the State Supreme Court.
Walking the main street in Aurora, though, you might never know the story of Pleasant Rowland if you didn't talk to the locals. Heated arguments of the past were of no consequence to its quiet lakefront setting, with a community of locals who greet each other by first name as they pass on the street. There is ample ambience for a couple's getaway, a picturesque wedding, or a vacation worlds away from home, just a short drive down Route 90.
What to do
During your visit to Aurora, it’s a given that you’ll want to visit MacKenzie-Childs, a home décor company and farmhouse that is so much more than … well, a home décor company and farmhouse. Take the free guided tour of the three-story farmhouse, decorated floor to ceiling in the company’s famously whimsical furnishings and fixtures designed to make you smile.
The dining room at the MacKenzie-Childs farmhouse features a three-dimensional landscape, inspired by the local scenery, built into its tabletop. Colorful furnishings, and the brand's signature six-color checked pattern, are found throughout the property.
Where to eat
For a casual lunch with the locals, visit the Fargo Bar & Grill on Main Street, famous for its burgers and salads (and the fries aren’t bad, either). Admittedly, I never thought I'd write this in a blog post, but check out the bathrooms for an unexpected decorating touch that's sure to amuse.
Where to stay
At the end of your day in Aurora, rest your head at the Aurora Inn or the E.B. Morgan House, pictured at top. It's so hard to pick a favorite. Both are AAA Four Diamond properties. Both offer a waterfront setting, luxurious linens, immaculately appointed bedrooms with private baths and outstanding service.
A gas fireplace and balcony, furnished seasonally with rocking chairs and a swing, make the Aurora Inn's Room #2 a special retreat. The spacious room features a queen-size bed, an elegant marble bathroom, a sitting area, large windows and spectacular lake views.
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Photos by Dawn Gibson
Have you ever visited Aurora? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.