When you join one of our trips, we want you to have peace of mind. In response to COVID-19, we’ve:
This summer, float along the Erie Canal by private houseboat, tracing two centuries of history as you go.
Stretching for 363 miles between America’s Great Lakes and the Atlantic Ocean, the canal offered the first direct water route from New York City to the Midwest, ushering in new waves of immigration and commerce. Aboard your houseboat, you’ll have the chance to delve into this history up-close, moving at your own pace and stopping to dock wherever your curiosity leads you. After an orientation equipping you with all you’ll need to pilot along the canal, the adventure will be yours to steer. Cruising along in the privacy of your floating home, this is slow travel (and social distancing) at its best.
Note on Safety
You’ll have a private houseboat for the duration of this experience. These boats are owned and operated by Erie Canal Adventures, which has implemented additional health and hygiene protocol. They ensure third-party cleaning services, professional laundry service, and a CleanStay Boat Seal placed on the entrance door, which indicates that no one has accessed the boat after its last cleaning. Their full commitment to safety is available on their website. Visit our Trips FAQ for more information, and feel free to contact us directly with any questions.
See here for New York State's most up-to-date policies for visitors traveling from out-of-state.
The total cost of this trip is $2,430, based on two participants. The Lockmaster 34 Foot houseboat can accommodate up to two adults and two kids (one full-size bed, one convertible bench, plus one pull-down bunk). Each additional participant will be $175, in order to cover their costs for the special programming. Note that there are two options for your houseboat. The current prices are for the Lockmaster 34 Foot. If you’re interested in reserving the Lockmaster 41 or 42 Foot, please inquire for adjusted rates and availability. (See both boat layouts here.)
If there’s something in the area of particular interest to you, let us know—we’d love to tailor the experience however possible. Please keep in mind that such arrangements will be subject to additional cost and availability. As local businesses will be responding to evolving health and safety protocol, plans can be subject to change.
Your houseboat will have one full-size bed, one convertible bench, and one pull-down bunk, accommodating up to four passengers. The boat is outfitted with a full kitchen (including a small fridge), a bathroom with showers and hot water, and a deck with cushioned seats, among other amenities. You can take a closer look at the boat layouts and interiors here. Boats can be docked overnight at landings along the canal. Most town docks have a small overnight fee, which range from $7 to $40 per night, though in some cases, depending on where you tie up, there won’t be a fee at all.
The pricing for this trip is for the Lockmaster 34 Foot. Erie Canal Adventures also offers the Lockmaster 41 or 42 Foot, subject to availability.
Your trip begins at 2 p.m. on Day 1 with a boat orientation at Erie Canal Adventures. We recommend you arrive in Macedon, New York by 1:30 p.m. in order to leave some time to check in. Your boat must be returned by 9 a.m. on the final morning. From there, return home or head to your next destination. If you’d like to extend your trip, we’re happy to provide suggestions for additional things to do and see in the area. You’ll notice that Macedon is less than a two-hour drive from Niagara Falls, three hours from Toronto, and 90 minutes from Mexico (the town, that is).
Since this is a boat trip, participants should be comfortable on and around water. Daily activity on land is entirely up to you, but we’d recommend that travelers feel comfortable walking two to three miles and spending time in nature in order to gain the most out of the experience.
While helpful, it’s not necessary to have any boating experience to pilot one of these houseboats. (Note that they move very slowly!) Shortly after you arrive, the Erie Canal Adventures staff will train you on how to pilot the boat safely, travel through locks, and more. Part of this orientation takes place on the water, and will involve traveling through a nearby lock. Additionally, their team will be available for phone support during your journey.
Your party of two to four people will be guiding yourselves through this journey; you can tailor each day’s pace and activities to your own preferences. You’ll be responsible for most of your own meals—and, needless to say, the steering of your houseboat. We’ve made several special arrangements for you over the course of the trip, and we’re here to help you tailor the experience to your interests however we can.
Keep in mind that every few hours you’ll be passing through a town where you can stock up on groceries and other necessary items, grab takeout, or settle in for a meal if restaurants are offering dine-in options. Often these grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, diners, and breweries are within walking distance of the canal, but ride-sharing apps are available if it’s easier to drive. (You can use the bikes provided with your rental!) Your houseboat will be outfitted with a small refrigerator and cooler, so you’ll be able to keep perishables and beverages cool.
The houseboat's electrical system works a lot like it would in an RV. There’s a set of batteries (that charge while the engine is running) that operate the appliances inside the boat. There is an inverter that converts the battery power to 110v power, which means that you can plug in chargers, fans, and smaller items just like at home. The inverter will not operate anything that uses more than 900 watts of power; this means that while using the boat's power, you can't use any appliance that gets hot (hair dryer, curling iron, coffee pot, toaster etc.) However, when you are at a dock, most often Shore Power will be available. The boat has a cord that you run to a power pole on shore which bypasses the battery/inverter system. While using Shore Power, you may use any appliance that you want to. And note that this and more will all be covered during the first afternoon's orientation!
August is one of the warmest months in Central New York State. Daytime temperatures hover around 80°F, dropping to the low 60s in the evenings, while the average relative humidity is around 75 percent. The water is warmer than in early summer, and you can expect some rain during any given week.
Travelers will be responsible for their meals during the trip, with the exception of dinner in Bushnell Basin on Day 3. As part of your registration for the trip, we’ll be asking for any allergies or dietary restrictions and will take that into consideration when arranging your dinner in advance.
As part of your houseboat rental, each boat actually comes with two bikes, which are stored right on the boat's roof. These are more basic bicycles—they have just one speed and pedal brakes—so if you'd prefer to bring your own, you're more than welcome to do so, and swap yours out with the ones on the roof. There are also places in the area where you can rent bikes, if preferred.
There are two houseboats (one 34-foot and one 41-foot) that are designated for pets. If you are looking at specific dates and hoping to bring a pooch, please send us an email and we can look into whether one of the pet-friendly boats is available for those or similar dates. Note that there is a $300 pet cleaning fee.
Visa requirements for the U.S. vary depending on traveler citizenship. Please check requirements for travel to the U.S. and any countries passed through in transit. A passport is required for international travel. We recommend your passport expire at least six months after your return home.
In addition to contributing to small businesses and local economies in under-touristed areas, your trip helps preserve and celebrate an important part of the region’s history: the remarkable Erie Canal. As the region begins its summer reopening, restaurants, museums, and other establishments are eager to welcome new visitors.