The village of Seneca Falls in upstate New York, reputedly the model for the town in Frank Capra’s classic film It’s a Wonderful Life, consists of a quaint village main street, the Cayuga-Seneca Canal harbor and historic homes and neighborhoods. It is also considered the Gateway to the Finger Lakes and Birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement. Along with bus tours of the wine region, you can visit the home of women’s rights movement leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the Wesleyan Chapel, the site of the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. Cayuga Lake State Park offers a magnificent view of Cayuga Lake, and the Cayuga-Seneca Canal and Trail provide boating and motoring opportunities. Visit the site of the Seneca Falls Heritage Area here for more information.
The people of Seneca Falls are articulate, involved residents, as evidenced by the gentleman I met along Main Street next to the Canal last fall during a torrential downpour. He regaled me with reports of the last town meeting where the subject of the dissolution of the Village of Seneca Falls in favor of merging services with the town of Seneca Falls was in hot dispute. He also provided me with a map of the Village and an umbrella!
WINE TOURS: Twenty-eight wineries in Seneca County produce world class wines and liquors. Bus tours leave the Village of Seneca Falls, visiting six wineries a day. Visit this site to choose and schedule a wine tour.
SENECA FALLS, BIRTHPLACE OF THE WOMEN’S RIGHTS MOVEMENT: In 1848, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott and 300 other women and men held the first Women’s Rights Convention, presenting The Declaration of Sentiments, modeled after the Declaration of Independence, which included the demand for women’s suffrage.
Women’s Rights National Historical Park: Start your tour of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park at the Visitor Center. Visit this website, or call 315-568-2703 for information on prominent sites.
Wesleyan Chapel: Part of Women’s Rights National Historical Park and operated by the National Park Service, Wesleyan Chapel is the site of the first women’s rights convention in 1848. Adjacent visitor center houses exhibits on the history of women’s rights;. (Website.)
National Women’s Hall of Fame: An historic bank building in the heart of the Seneca Falls Historic District houses artifacts of historical interest, offices and exhibits celebrating the social reform, politics, science, athletics and arts achievements of American women. Every October prominent women from around the world travel to Seneca Falls for the annual Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Visit this site for more details.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton House, 32 Washington Street: Women’s rights leader Elizabeth Cady Stanton described her house as the “Center of the Rebellion,” and her house is open for guided tours by National Park Service rangers. Stanton lived in Seneca Falls between 1847 and 1862, during which time she was instrumental in organizing the first Woman’s Rights Convention in 1848, which launched the reform movement for women’s rights. See website.
STATE PARKS, TRAILS AND WILDLIFE REFUGE
Cayuga State Park: Overlooking Cayuga Lake, the Park provides tent and cabin camping opportunities, fishing, boating, playgrounds, ball field and a recreation building. Visit this site for details.
Cayuga Seneca Canal and Cayuga Seneca Trail: The 12-mile long Cayuga Seneca Canal connects the Erie Canal with the Finger Lakes Region, and you may boat the canal or motor the trail leading to the wine region. Check this site for information on boating the canal. The Cayuga Seneca Trail, which will be mostly off-road when completed, will run from Geneva’s lakefront to Waterloo, up to Seneca Falls and over to the Montezuma Wildlife Refuge. The majority of the trail follows the Cayuga/Seneca River, and presently the trail travels the lakefront in Geneva through Seneca Lake State Park, along with a section called the Ludivico Heritage Trail from Seneca Falls that follows the canal. Check this site for information on the Cayuga Seneca Trail.
Montezuma Wildlife Refuge: Established in 1938 as a breeding ground for migratory birds and wildlife, Montezuma is located at the north end of Cayuga Lake. It is a major resting area for birds on their migration to nesting areas in east-central and northeastern Canada. Visit their website here for more information.
Seneca Falls Historical Society Museum: Located in a circa 1880 Queen Anne mansion, guided tours highlight the lifestyles of Seneca Falls’ famous industrialists. Website.
Seneca Museum of Waterways and Industry: The Seneca Museum contains exhibits on historic Seneca Falls, Seneca County and the Finger Lakes region of central New York State, and illustrations on how the Seneca River and the Cayuga-Seneca Canal were instrumental in the rise of industry and cultural development, which led to social reform movements. Visit this site for more details.
Seneca Falls Convention Days: Every July, the original Women’s Right Convention is commemorated with a festival of food, music and history. Visit this site for more information.
“It’s a Wonderful Life” Festival: Legendary film director Frank Capra was so taken with the village of Seneca Falls that he used it as inspiration for the town of Bedford Falls in his classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Every December, Seneca Falls celebrates its connection to the classic film with a festival highlighting the locations that inspired Capra during his visits to Seneca Falls in the early 1900’s, including the bridge that Jimmy Stewart’s character leapt from in the movie. Visit this site for details.
Directions to Seneca Falls; Sources: Seneca Falls Attractions; Women’s Rights National Park; Personal Experience