Around Rochester: Erie Canal Night Cruise

By: Stefanie

The Erie Canal is a New York State man-made waterway which opened in 1825.  At the time, it was an engineering feat as no machinery was used – only the power of people and horses.  Even though I had frequently used the bike path that runs alongside the canal, I had yet to get a different view of the canal -from the water while on a tour boat cruise.  Well, I finally got the opportunity on a recent Thursday night, when I hopped aboard the Colonial Belle

My friends and I selected one of their many themed cruises – the Jimmy Buffet cruise.  This cruise departed at 7:30 PM, so we were able to see the canal both when it was still light out and also by moonlight.  The boat has an enclosed area on the main deck where the food and full-service bar are located and also an open level on top where most people sit to enjoy the view and the live music.  The cruise was about 2 hours and took us through the historical villages of Fairport (where the boat departs) and Pittsford, past parks and waterfront homes, and under many bridges.  In between songs, the captain would narrate the tour and give us canal history.  As evening turned to night, the canal became still and peaceful with only the moon and scarce house or street lamps lighting the way.

I thoroughly enjoyed my evening and highly recommend a cruise on the Erie Canal to anyone who enjoys good views and being out on the water.  The Colonial Belle also holds daytime tours and prices vary depending on length of cruise, theme, and whether food is served onboard.  For further details, check their website:

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