The 20 Best Lakes in New York State for Your Next Getaway

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Every once and awhile, New York City residents get the urge to flee the hustle and bustle of the big city for a quiet and serene escape. Look no further than these 20 beautiful lakes in New York State to help you unwind and enjoy all that Mother Nature has to offer. Whether you’re into hiking, boating, fishing or camping, all of these lakes and their surrounding towns offer outdoor recreation you won’t want to miss. On the other hand, if you’re looking to just kick back with some locally sourced wine while enjoying lakeside views, we’ve got you covered there too. Enjoy!


lakes in new york seneca lake
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1. Seneca Lake, Ny

As the largest of the Finger Lakes in New York, Seneca Lake is a must-visit for wine-lovers. This region is known for its Riesling and Chardonnay varieties and due to its cool climate, there are more than 50 wineries to visit. The Seneca Lake Wine Trail includes 27 of these wineries where you can sample over 600 types of wine. Stop by Bagley’s Poplar Ridge Vineyards for a laid-back vibe and unpretentious wines while taking in views of the lake. Or for a more upscale feel, head to Belhurst Estate Winery where you can sip on wine, craft beer and cider with the Belhurst Castle right at your feet. Hikers will want to stop by Watkins Glen State Park at the southern end of the lake for various paths that lead you through waterfalls, stone steps and gorges. Another reason to visit? Seneca Lake is host of the National Lake Trout Derby—anglers can find these sought-after species while spending a day fishing on the lake.

best lakes in new york state cayuga lake ny
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2. Cayuga Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: waterfalls, wine tasting, museums
  • Getting There: 5 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Relaxing Cayuga Lake House

Located right next to Seneca Lake, Cayuga Lake is the longest of the Finger Lakes with the city of Ithaca sitting at its southern tip. Visit this charming town and stop by Cornell University and Ithaca College campuses or spend a few hours at one of their popular museums. Head to The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art where you’ll find amazing views of Ithaca and Cayuga Lake as well as year-round art exhibits. The Museum of Earth should be your next stop where you can learn about the planet and its prehistoric past while viewing fossils and science-inspired art. If you are looking to spend time outdoors, the waterfall scene in Ithaca is a must-see. Get your Instagram feed ready because the views at Buttermilk Falls State Park, Cascadilla Gorge Trail and Taughannock Falls State Park will leave you in awe. And it wouldn’t be the Finger Lakes region without another wine trail, would it? The Cayuga Wine Trail is the first and longest running wine trail in America and has over ten different wineries. Take your wine tasting to new levels on a boat with Water to Wine Day Tours that stops at local wineries while you enjoy the views of the lake.

best lakes in new york state lake george ny
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3. Lake George, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: family friendly, hiking, outdoor adventures
  • Getting There: 4 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Waterfront Home on Lake George

Nicknamed “Queen of the American Lakes,” Lake George is located on the southeast base of the Adirondack Mountains. Your first stop? Head to Kayak Lake George where you can rent kayaks, canoes and standup paddleboards. For those who don’t want to break a sweat, book a cruise with Lake George Steamboat Company that offers several charter options including a Champagne brunch cruise or sunset dinner cruise. Adventure seekers will find their thrills at Wild Waters Outdoor Center for whitewater rafting and Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course for ziplining. Spend even more time outdoors at Million Dollar Beach or head to scenic hiking trails such as Shelving Rock Falls for birdwatching or Buck Mountain Hiking Trail for a moderate climb. Stop by Log Jam Restaurant where you can dine in an authentic log cabin while indulging in American comfort food.

best lakes in new york state chautauqua lake ny
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4. Chautauqua Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: family friendly, outdoor activities, quaint
  • Getting There: 6 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Peaceful Lakefront Cottage

Chautauqua Lake is 17 miles long and is the ideal spot for a family-friendly vacation filled with recreational activities. Start your trip off at Long Point State Park for swimming, fishing, sailing, multiple hiking and biking trails and snowmobiling and cross-country skiing in the wintertime. About 15 minutes from the lake, you’ll find Panama Rocks Scenic Park for hiking, rock climbing, axe throwing and cave exploration. Kids will love Midway State Park where you can enjoy miniature golf, go-karting and traditional amusement park rides. For an educational experience in the summertime, head to Chautauqua Institution for lectures, concerts and performing arts activities as well as restaurants, shopping and live music. Locals love Guppy’s Restaurant & Tavern for a fun evening with great food options such as the famous Dagwood sandwich filled with salami, pepperoni, mushrooms, ham and provolone cheese. For fresh beers on tap, head to Ellicottville Brewing on Chautauqua or Southern Tier Brewing Company where you can sit back and enjoy a fresh brew.

best lakes in new york state lake placid ny
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5. Lake Placid, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: small town vibes, watersports, breweries
  • Getting There: 5 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: The Haus on Mirror Lake

Lake Placid is known for being a two-time host of the Winter Olympics but this picturesque town has much more to offer. Located in the Adirondack Mountains, snow lovers will flock to Lake Placid where you can ski and snowboard at Whiteface Mountain or cross country ski at Cascade Cross Country Ski Center. During the summertime, hikers will want to stop by Mount Jo or Brewster Peninsula Trails for panoramic views of the lake. If you’re visiting strictly for the lake, ADK Aquatics offers waterskiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, tubing and private boat tours. Take a break from all your planned activities and stop by one of the area’s many local breweries. Big Slide Brewery and Public House offers a farm-to-table menu with various sours, IPAs and ales to choose from. Next stop by Great Adirondack Brewing Company or Lake Placid Pub and Brewery for fun brews and outdoor seating. If beer isn’t your thing, The Boat Tasting Room has local wines, brews and spirits that will help you unwind after a long day.

lakes in new york keuka lake
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6. Keuka Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: wineries, hiking, recreational activities
  • Getting There: 5 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Lazy Loon Cottage

Due to its unique Y-shape, Keuka Lake is nicknamed the Crooked Lake. Hikers will want to spend a majority of their time at Keuka Outlet Trail for seven miles of wooded trails where visitors can bike, hike horseback ride or snowmobile and cross-country ski in the winter months. Head to Keuka Lake State Park where you’ll find a quaint public beach, a boat launch, campsites, hiking trails and best of all, the beautiful views of all the surrounding wineries. If you are a big fan of Riesling, head to Heron Hill Winery for seven different varieties. Located on the west side of the lake, you’ll also find Dr. Konstantin Frank Winery, a prestigious winery that started the winemaking renaissance in this region. For amazing views of the lake, visit McGregor Vineyard that offers a casual setting and delicious wines. And to experience the region like a local, check out The Windmill Farm & Craft Market located between Keuka Lake and Seneca Lake where you can enjoy vendors from homegrown shops and restaurants.

best lakes in new york state canadaigua lake ny
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7. Canadaigua Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: family friendly, wineries, beaches
  • Getting There: 5 and a half hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Modern Lakeview Condo

As the fourth largest of the Finger Lakes, Canadaigua Lake is an ideal getaway for nature lovers. Visit Bristol Ski Resort for an endless numbers of outdoor activities including snowboarding, skiing, ziplining and tightrope walks or Roseland Water Park, the largest waterpark in the Finger Lakes. If a beach day is on your agenda, stop by Onanda Park or Kershaw Park and get out on the water with boat rentals from Sutter’s Marina. Visit Sonnenberg Garden & Mansion Historic State Park for views of two public gardens. To fully experience the charm of Canadaigua, get your camera ready and stop by City Pier for waterside views of scenic main street and Boathouse Row, a group of over 80 boathouses. Last but certainly not least is The Canadaigua Lake Wine Trail, where you can sip world-class wines with the beautiful surroundings of the lake around you. Visit Inspire Moore Winery, known for its eco-friendly business and boutique wines. Arbor Hill Grapery and Winery is located at the southern end of the lake and offers a New England country setting with vintage buildings. After a day tasting wines, watch the sunset at Sand Bar at The Lake House while sipping cocktails and local beers. It doesn’t get much better than that.

best lakes in new york state oneida lake ny
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8. Oneida Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: camping, family friendly, outdoor activities
  • Getting There: 5 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Cardinal Cottage

Oneida Lake is located just northeast of Syracuse and is the largest lake entirely within New York State. Start you trip at Sylvan Beach where you can sunbathe on the sand, take a quick swim or rent jet skis, paddleboards, kayaks or pontoon and fishing boats. Campers will want to spend a few nights at Verona Beach State Park for various campground options where you can also, hike, hunt, fish and bike. For a little family competition, head to Sylvan Beach Amusement Park for classic rides and old school arcade games including miniature golf, skee-ball and bumper boats. Adults looking to test their luck should visit Point Place Casino where you’ll find slots, sports betting and table games. Now, where should you grab a bite to eat? About three miles from Sylvan Beach you’ll find Oneida Lake Brew Haus for a low-key meal with 32 rotating beers on tap or The Lakehouse at Sylvan Beach with amazing lakeside views and fancy cocktails.

best lakes in new york state skaneateles ny
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9. Skaneateles, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: quaint, small town vibes, restaurants
  • Getting There: 4 hours and 30 minutes via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Family Lake House

Skaneateles Lake is the sixth largest of the Finger Lakes at 16 miles long. If you are looking for a quiet escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, you’ll want to make the journey to this small town. The lake itself provides clean drinking water to Syracuse and Skaneateles residents and is one of six unfiltered water sources in the United States. Due to this fact, swimming is delegated to one area at Clift Park, but don’t let this deter you as boating, kayaking, canoeing, fishing and biking around the lake are permitted. Hop on a boat from Mid-Lakes Navigation for a sightseeing or dinner cruise or visit Charlie Major Nature Trail or Bahar Nature Preserve for hiking. The dining scene in Skaneateles will surprise you with various cuisines and restaurants to choose from including Bluewater Grill for lakeside views and fresh seafood, Elephant and the Dove for authentic Mexican food or Doug’s Fish Fry for casual eats. Stop by Anyela’s Vineyards for a glass of wine and appetizers then head to The Krebs for upscale American dining.

best lakes in new york state lake erie ny
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10. Lake Erie, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: beaches, camping, fishing
  • Getting There: 7 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Updated Cottage

As one of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie forms a boundary between the United States and Canada and also spreads across the states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and New York. For those looking to spend a lot of time outdoors, the New York portion of Lake Erie is filled with recreational activities. Head to Lake Erie Beach Park to spend time on the sand or check out a local marina to rent a sailboat, kayak or charter a boat. Lake Erie is also ideal for fishing where you can find species such as perch, rainbow trout and largemouth bass. Campers will want to spend most of their time at Lake Erie State Park that overlooks the water and offers over 100 campsites and a few cabins. While exploring the area, don’t miss the two picturesque lighthouses, Barcelona Lighthouse State Park and Dunkirk Lighthouse & Veterans Park Museum, for a little bit of local history.

best lakes in new york state owasco lake ny
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11. Owasco Lake, Ny

As the sixth largest of the Finger Lakes, Owasco Lake has plenty to offer visitors looking to get out on the water. Boaters will find four boat launches and two marinas and can stop by South Shore Marina on Owasco Lake for boat rentals and fishing supplies. For more outdoor fun, stop by Owasco Paddles where you can rent canoes, kayaks, pedal kayaks and standup paddleboards. Owasco Flats Nature Preserve has two hiking trails for all levels and Fillmore Glen State Park offers three hiking trails including a gorge trail that leads to a beautiful waterfall and is great for children and less experienced hikers. For a little bit of arts and culture, head to the Seward House Museum with its relics, original furnishings and artwork from the 1800s or visit the Harriet Tubman Home where you’ll find the home and grounds of the abolitionist and learn more about her life and accomplishments.

best lakes in new york state lake champlain ny
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12. Lake Champlain, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: breweries, small town vibes, historical sites
  • Getting There: 5 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Plattsburgh Home

Lake Champlain is tucked between the Green Mountains in Vermont and the Adirondacks in New York. The lake is 125 miles long and is ideal for boating, fishing, sunbathing and swimming. Many visitors flock to Fort Ticonderoga, to learn more about America’s military history through tours, demonstrations, boat cruises and programs or The Champlain Memorial Lighthouse which is part of history from the Revolutionary War. After a day of sun, sand and sights, explore the region’s local breweries. Ausable Brewing Company is run by two brothers and offers small batch beers in a barn setting while Oval Craft Brewing is located in a historical firehouse building and serves beer as well as ciders and local wines. Visitors can easily spend the day exploring nearby Vermont via ferry while taking in the panoramic views of the mountains.

best lakes in new york state saratoga lake ny
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13. Saratoga Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: family friendly, boating, restaurants
  • Getting There: 2 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Saratoga Lake Waterfront

Only a few miles south of the City of Saratoga Springs, Saratoga Lake is an ideal destination for a summer weekend getaway with lake activities such as swimming, picnicking, fishing, hiking and boating. Start your trip at Brown’s Beach where you’ll find a launch for pontoon boating, paddle boarding and canoeing (stop by Kayak Shak or Salvi Aquatic Boat Rentals to rent equipment for hourly or daily rentals). For even more boating options, hop on a cruise from Adirondack Cruise & Charter Company for sunset, coffee and private dinner cruises. After a day at the beach, stop by Dock Brown’s patio for upscale pub food and views of the lake. Or unwind at 550 Waterfront where you can put your feet in the sand while sipping cocktails and watching the sunset.

best lakes in new york state otsego lake ny
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14. Otsego Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: camping, recreational activities, small town vibes
  • Getting There: 4 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Luxury Accommodation

At only ten miles long, Otsego Lake offers a variety of recreational activities for visitors to choose from including swimming, fishing and boating. Head to Glimmerglass State Park at the northern end of the lake for pristine beaches, great swimming areas and various hiking trails. The village of Cooperstown is located at the southern tip of the lake where you’ll find an adorable main street with quaint and colorful shops and restaurants. Camping is a must at Otsego Lake with plenty of campsites and cabins to choose from (Cooperstown KOA Journey offers regular camping, glamping and RV site options, or for easy access to the Baseball Hall of Fame, pitch your tents at Cooperstown Beaver Valley Cabins & Campsites.) The best way to spend time on the lake is on The Glimmerglass Queen Tour Boat, that gives you a relaxing tour of the lake and surrounding greenery that departs from the tranquil Lakefront Park.

best lakes in new york state mohonk lake ny
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15. Mohonk Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: family friendly, secluded, endless activities
  • Getting There: 2 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Mohonk Mountain House

Only 90 miles north of New York City, you’ll find Lake Mohonk. Situated in the Hudson Valley, this lake is completely operated by Mohonk Mountain House, a resort that offers several accommodations, activities and events. If you are looking for a trip that has everything you need in one place (because, why not?), Mohonk Lake is the perfect destination. Visitors can swim, fish, kayak and paddleboard, plus enjoy a private beach on the lake or take advantage of the 85 miles worth of hiking trails around the resort. Other recreational activities include golfing, tennis, horseback riding, biking, tomahawk throwing, an indoor pool, archery and disc golf. After spending time outdoors, head to the spa or wind down with a yoga or meditation session. There are several dining options to choose from including a casual outdoor restaurant, a breakfast buffet, three different dining rooms and an old-fashioned soda fountain where you can indulge in ice cream, coffee and sodas.

16. Tupper Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: quaint, family friendly, nature
  • Getting There: 5 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Tupper Lake Riverside House

Located right in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains, Tupper Lake is a quiet lake town with plenty of things to offer. Loved by locals and tourists, The Wild Center is a natural history center where visitors can walk through wildlife exhibits, experience nature trails, watch otters swim and take pictures at the popular Wild Walk, a walking trail among treetops. Check out Little Wolf Beach and Campground where you can sunbathe, swim, paddleboard, kayak and spend the night camping under the stars. Speaking of stargazing, you’ll want to spend an evening at the Adirondack Sky Center & Observatory for breathtaking views of the stars or the sunset. After you’ve built up an appetite, head to Well Dressed Food for classic and comforting American diner food or stop by Raquette River Brewing for a low-key evening of sipping local craft beers and nibbling on snacks from local food trucks. A trip to Tupper Lake would be incomplete without a visit to The Washboard Donut Shop & Laundromat (yes, you read that correctly), a unique combination of businesses that serves delicious coffee and sugary treats along with laundry services.

best lakes in new york stategreat sacandaga lake ny
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17. Great Sacandaga Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: boating, hiking, golfing
  • Getting There: 4 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Renovated Lakefront Home

Plan your next getaway to Great Sacandaga Lake located at the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. There are several boat launches and marinas where visitors can get out on the lake to fish, water-ski, canoe and jet ski. For a unique experience on the water, charter a boat from Sacandaga Boat Charters for sightseeing tours, bald eagle sightings and tubing sessions. If relaxing in the sand is more your thing, head to Northampton Beach State Park to soak up the sun or pitch a tent for a night of camping. Hikers will find phenomenal views of waterfalls and rugged terrain at Auger Falls and Austin Falls. Golfers will want to tee off at multiple golf courses including Canajoharie Country Club, Lake Pleasant Golf Course and Hales Mills Country Club, among many others. After a day of fun in the sun, grab a bite to eat at Lanzi’s on the Lake for amazing lakeside views and a menu filled with comfort classics such as tacos, pastas, fish and burgers.

best lakes in new york state honeoye lake ny
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18. Honeoye Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: fishing, biking, nature
  • Getting There: 6 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Luxury on the Lake

At just 4.5 miles long, Honeoye Lake is the second smallest of the Finger Lakes and known for its excellent fishing. You’ll find several species of fish throughout the year and visitors can even go ice fishing in the wintertime. First, spend a few hours at Sandy Bottom Nature Park for beach access, two playgrounds, kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing. If you’re in need of a rental, swing by Canadice Lake Outfitters. Outdoor lovers will flock to Harriet Hollister Spencer State Recreation Area where visitors can hike, hunt, cross country ski and bike. The perimeter of the lake is 19 miles long so experienced cyclists will be able bike its entirety in just one day. Finally, sit back and relax with a craft beer at Twisted Rail Brewing Tap House with amazing views of the lake.

best lakes in new york state lake ontario ny
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19. Lake Ontario, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: family friendly, parks, museums
  • Getting There: 6 hours via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Peaceful Waterfront Getaway

Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes in North America with its shores based in Ontario, Canada and New York. The north shore of Rochester is where you will find a waterfront filled with activities and sites for any visitor. History buffs will want to stop by Old Fort Niagara State Historic Site where you will find a museum, daily reenactments and amazing views of the lake. Boaters will fawn over the Antique Boat Museum which features over 300 antique boats and artifacts. For kids (and adults!) wanting an interactive museum experience, visit The Strong National Museum of Play that is dedicated to the history and exploration of play and toys. If you are more interested in spending time outdoors, head to Selkirk Shores State Park where you can fish and swim or visit Lakeside Beach State Park for fishing, hiking and biking trails and a unique disc golf course. At Golden Hill State Park you can tour the Thirty Mile Point Lighthouse after spending the day fishing, boating and hiking. And of course, you can’t visit Lake Ontario without stopping by Niagara Falls State Park to take in one of the world’s most popular waterfalls.

best lakes in new york state conesus lake ny
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20. Conesus Lake, Ny

  • Why We Recommend It: fishing, family friendly, camping
  • Getting There: 5 hours and thirty minutes via car from New York City
  • Where to Stay: Lakeview Oasis

Looking for a low-key getaway filled with outdoor adventures? Book a trip to Conesus Lake, the westernmost of the Finger Lakes that is eight miles long and home to multiple fishing tournaments where anglers will easily be able to rent or charter a boat. Campers will find tranquility at Conesus Lake Campgrounds where you will find various RV and tenting sites. Located west of Conesus Lake is Letchworth State Park that is a must-see for those looking to spend time with Mother Nature. You can easily spend the day exploring the waterfalls and cliffs as well as hiking and biking. For some family fun, head to Minnehan’s Restaurant & Fun Center for outdoor go-karting, mini-golf, batting cages, outdoor laser tag and many other activities. Don’t miss lunch or dinner at The Beachcomber for fried fish and sandwiches or Fratelli’s Restaurant for delicious pastas and seven different martini flavors to choose from. Visit Deer Run Winery, the oldest operating winery on Conesus Lake for award-winning wines and mouthwatering charcuterie boards.

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