Ready for some fun in the sun along one of the most historical places in the United States? May 20 marked the start of the 2022 navigation season of the 524-mile-long New York Canal system. This is also the 198th straight opening of the waterway, coinciding with the ongoing bicentennial of the Erie Canal’s construction and completion, which took place between 1817 and 1825.
The original Erie Canal ran 363 miles from Albany to Buffalo and, at the time, was North America’s longest artificial Canal and largest public works project. This Canal helped establish New York as the Empire State, allowing it to become the nation’s principal seaport and opening up settlements in the interior of North America. All this history in one place simply cannot be missed regardless of whether you are a history buff or not.
Today the Erie Canal is still as important as it was back in the 1800s, with even more tourist attractions and places to stop along the way. In fact, you could probably spend the entire summer along the over five hundred-mile-long stretch and still have things you never got around to doing.
The entire 300-mile journey is littered with fascinating sights to view, places to visit, restaurants to try, and museums of all kinds. Explore the area by walking or biking the canal route, a long, flat walk that lets you see the sights at your own pace, take a drive, or rent a boat for the day and enjoy the Canal the way it was meant to be seen.
Want to scratch that historical itch? Check out the Harbor Visitor Center, staffed with the friendliest and most knowledgeable people with tons of information on the canals and local area. Drop by the Historic Mabee House and Museum, a tourable home, and museum that prides itself on being the oldest home in the Mohawk Valley.
If you’d like to explore Little Falls, you can dock at Canal Harbor and Rotary Park. They offer kayak and canoe rentals and overnight docking just outside of town and less than a mile from Canal Place.
Of course, no day on the Canal would be complete without dropping by the Canal Side Inn in Little Falls. This fun little inn is only a short walk away from the Canal itself, serves delicious food, and you can end your day staying in a delightfully spacious and well-appointed room. Or book a room for the night or make it a weekend at the elegant Inn at Stone Mill situated directly on the Mohawk River. And did we mention the canal’s proximity to tons of shopping opportunities, events, and other activities in Little Falls?
And best of all? There are no tolls or fees associated with recreational use of the canals this year. The typical operating hours are 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., but many of the locks will be open until 10 p.m. between now and Sept. 14, when boaters are most active, and these canals are available through Oct. 12.