We got off to a slower start on Day 7 of houseboating the Erie Canal (and the Genesee River!) mostly due to our noisy neighbors the night before. But we got breakfast in our bellies and set out for Fairport, NY, which is only about three and a half hours from Rochester. We chose Fairport for our last full day because it looked like a super cute town with lots to do. Also…it’s the closest town to Macedon, and since you need to have your boat back to Mid-Lakes Navigation by 9:00 am on your last day, it’s about as close as you can get to the marina if you’re doing the trip to the west.
We twisted and turned the three miles back down the Genesee River and took another 90-degree turn to the left to get back on the Erie Canal! Less than an hour later we were passing back through Lock 33 and soon after Lock 32–our last two lock passages of our trip. We cruised back through Pittsford, where we spent our first night on the canal, and as we approached Fairport, we made our last radio call of the trip to request that the bridge be raised.
As we passed under our last lift bridge, we were surprised to see that both the north and south sides of the canal were packed with boats already at mid-day! There was one space open right by the bridge on the south wall, and though we weren’t psyched about the prospect of listening to the bridge bells or traffic all night, we snatched that last spot right up. Several boats did end up moving on after lunchtime, but it was pretty full again later in the evening so definitely plan to arrive in Fairport early in the day to snag a spot if you make this your last stop before returning your boat. (Or, if you don’t want to get up early on your last day, you can also just plan to stay in Macedon for your last night and not worry about motoring back to the marina in the morning at all.)
We had read and heard that there was a fee to dock in Fairport, and when we were requesting that the bridge be raised, we asked the bridge operator where to find the dockmaster. She told us not to worry, he’d find us. So, we waited around for about a half hour…but no one came by. We wandered along the south side of the canal and came across a little gazebo, which appeared to be a dockmaster station of some sort…but still no dockmaster. So, we figured we’d go explore town and he’d catch up with us later. And off we went!
First, we headed down Main Street on the south side of the canal, and there were lots of restaurants and tons of cute little shops. Fairport definitely has quite a bit more going on than most of the other towns we encountered on our trip, and we enjoyed popping into several different places while wandering around. When we were in Brockport, one of the ladies from the visitor center recommended we check out a couple stores near the canal, which are in a plaza just a couple blocks south of the canal and on the west side of Main Street. Mike went into a second-hand tool shop, while I scoped out the used bookstore. There is a craft store as well if you are looking for bargains on yarn and such. Most importantly, we found a cute spot to get ice cream later that day!
After doing some browsing, we were ready for lunch and headed to a place called The Landing Bar and Grill. This is definitely not one of the fancier places you’ll encounter in Fairport, but I had chosen it specifically because it had a pool table! It is definitely more on the casual side, but the people were nice, they had a decent-sized crowd for lunch, the pool table was in great shape, and the food was pretty good.
Lunch and several games of pool later, we were ready to move on and explore the north side of town. We crossed the lift bridge and checked out a couple restaurants near the water–there was a Mexican restaurant with outdoor seating, Lulu Taqueria, right on the canal near Main Street that looked really nice and the drinks looked great, too! There is definitely a lot more going on along the canal itself on the north side, so we were glad to be docked on the south side, which didn’t really have any foot traffic (on the south side there were what looked like condos but no businesses right on the canal). If you are on the north side, be prepared to have a lot of folks sitting on benches and hanging out right next to your boat, potentially late into the evening/night. We saw a lot of people sitting around eating ice cream later that evening and there was a guy playing guitar for a while as well.
While on the north side of the canal, we decided to go check out one of the breweries I had found in town, Triphammer Bierwerks. It was a really hot day, and we were super sad to discover that the address on their website doesn’t actually correspond to the entrance of their taproom, which is housed in the middle of a very long stretch of warehouses. If you’re looking at a map, turn left one block south of the street they say they’re on, and you’ll find yourself on the right side of the block (and not walking allll the way back around the building in the searing hot sun like we did). They do have flights, and we tried several beers, all of which we really liked. They also have free popcorn, and they’re dog-friendly! We were greeted at the front door by another patron’s huge old dog who seemed very eager to say hello to everyone who came inside.
Though it didn’t come up in my pre-trip research, we noticed on our way to the brewery that there is also a distillery right next door called Iron Smoke. And we figured since we were right there it would really be silly not to go in and check it out. And we’re so glad we did! It is such a unique place. They have all this antique furniture they picked up at estate sales, and it reminded me of a western saloon/steampunk sitting room. The place is huge, and there is a large room in the back with a stage where they also have live music. We shared a flight of four of their whiskeys (their bourbon and apple pie whiskey are so good!) and then we each got a cocktail afterward–I had an old-fashioned and Mike had one with pineapple juice. Both were amazing. We also bought a bottle of the apple pie whiskey for the road, too!
After, we set out for the south side of town again to check out Fairport Brewing Company (which wasn’t open earlier in the day). Sadly, they only had one of their own beers on tap, which we thought was strange, and it was a kombucha beer (if you don’t know, kombucha is fermented tea, so yeah…ew, right?) I would have never thought that would be a beer flavor I’d be into, but it was surprisingly good and really refreshing in the hot weather. Despite the lack of their own beer on tap, they do have a nice outdoor space (which was packed!) and they have food trucks, so it was still a fun place to spend an hour. The truck there that evening was called Twist This, and they were serving up some interesting concoctions (gyrodilla anyone?). We made our dinner out of their chicken sticks, which were basically buffalo wings or chicken parm that came in the shape of a mozzarella stick. We had an order of each. Sooo good.
It was getting later and we had to be up early, so we started to mosey back toward the boat, but we first had to make a quick stop at the ice cream shop, Moonlight Creamery, to take some dessert back to the boat. While we were on the bow enjoying our treat, it started to sprinkle a bit and soon we were treated to a pretty rainbow over Fairport! Then we were set upon by about 100 ducks, who are apparently used to people feeding them because they wouldn’t leave us alone! I may have had to indulge them a little.
Oh, also. The dockmaster never found us and we never found him, so free night’s stay for us. Woo hoo! (Also, sorry Fairport. We tried!)
After it started getting dark, we went to work getting all of our belongings packed up so we would be mostly ready to roll in the morning. We were looking forward to getting home to our feline overlords and sleeping in our own bed, but we were still both a little sad that our week on the canal was ending. We joked that we’d just go ahead and keep the boat. No one would notice, right? (Yes, they’d notice!)
All packed up, we wandered off to bed and listened to cars drive across the bridge for a while before things eventually quieted down and we fell asleep for the last time on our sweet little canalboat, Canadice.
In my next post, we return our boat to Mid-Lakes Navigation (begrudgingly) and start the long drive back to NYC, with a bonus stop in Seneca Falls!
For more in the Erie Canal Houseboating series:
- A Week Houseboating the Erie Canal
- Day 1
- Day 2
- Day 3
- Day 4
- Day 5
- Day 6
- Day 7
- Day 8
- Top 10 Tips for Houseboating the Erie Canal
- Full 8-Day Itinerary for Houseboating the Erie Canal
Friday, July 13th
9:00 am Showers and Breakfast
10:00 am Head southeast to Fairport (3.5 hours)
- Travel 3 miles south on the Genesee River to the canal and head east
- Pass through/by:
- Lock 33 (mile 256.40) – free dock east or west of the lock on the south wall
- Lock 32 (mile 255.14) – free dock west of the lock on the south wall
- Pittsford (mile 253.47) – free dock on the north and south walls with shore power and water available
- Great Embankment Park (mile 251.81) – lots of wakes, the canal is 70’ higher than the north bank countryside (it’s not recommended that you stop here)
- Bushnell’s Basin (mile 250.66) – fee for docking, you can tie up west of Marsh Road to a floating dock. Power, water, and restrooms with showers are available.
- Perinton Park (mile 247.65) – free dock on the north wall at the park (5’ at the wall)
- Fairport Main Street Lift Bridge E-128 (mile 246.67)
- The bridge looks high enough to pass under, but it’s not – you need to radio the bridge operator to have it lifted!
1:30 pm Tie up in Fairport (mile 246.58)
- You can tie up east of the Main St. lift bridge on both the north and south walls, and power and water are both available. There is apparently a fee for docking, but we never found the dockmaster, so I’m not sure how much it is! (There is more activity and foot traffic on the north wall while the south wall is residential and fairly quiet. Try to dock away from the lift bridge if possible because the bells on the bridge, as well as the car traffic itself were a bit noisy. There is a train that goes through town pretty frequently as well, but we didn’t find this to be bothersome while spending the night here.)
2:00 pm Explore town
- *Fairport Village Landing: Little shopping center near the canal on the south side of Main Street with second-hand stores, coffee shops, a grocery store, and more
- Fairport Historical Museum: Museum featuring local history
- *Triphammer Bierwerks: Beer flights and free popcorn; dog-friendly!
- *Iron Smoke Distillery – Whiskey flights, cocktails, live music, store with clothing and bottles of whiskey to go
- *Fairport Brewing Company: Nice outdoor seating area, food trucks, limited beer selection of their own but plenty of other NY state beers on tap
6:30 pm Dinner in Fairport
- *The Landing Bar and Grill: Dive bar with a pool table
- Donnelly’s Pub: – Irish pub food
- Lulu Taqueria: Mexican food with patio seating on the canal
8:00 pm Dessert
- *Moonlight Creamery: All kinds of fun ice cream. With waffle cones and waffle bowls!
9:00 pm Get packed up!
Mileage – Rochester 260.55 (+3N) to Fairport 246.58 = 16.97 miles, 1 lift bridge, 2 locks
*Denotes places we actually went to ourselves.