Looking for peaceful and rejuvenating lake vacation in New York, away from the hustle and bustle? No matter where you live in our wonderful state, you don’t have to go far to find a fantastic lake vacation in New York. With over 7,600 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs scattered throughout New York, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from. Plus, many of these beautiful bodies of water are located near charming small towns and other natural attractions, making for an even more delightful getaway experience. To help you plan your perfect New York vacation, we’ve put together a list of our top favorite lakes in upstate New York. So, pack your bags and get ready to relax and recharge by the serene waters of these gorgeous lakes!
MORE OF OUR NEW YORK STATE TRAVEL GUIDES
Interested in exploring more New York gems? Here are some of our top New York travel guides to learn more:
- 42 Unique Things to Do in Upstate New York + Hidden Gems
- 35 Gorgeous Waterfalls in New York State + Local Gems
- 14 Special Beaches in Upstate New York
- 17 Delicious & Best Restaurants in Buffalo, NY (A Local’s Guide)
- 14 Chautauqua Wineries to Visit +Erie Wine Trail Highlights
BEAUTIFUL LAKES IN UPSTATE NEW YORK TO VISIT
1. Seneca Lake ★
Seneca Lake is an absolute must-see when you’re in the Finger Lakes region of New York! Did you know it’s not only the largest of all the Finger Lakes but also the deepest? And the best part? It’s right in the middle of all the most popular points of interest. There’s so much to explore, and one of the best ways to do it is by renting a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe. For a more guided experience, consider a kayaking tour that lets you see the stunning scenery around the lake, including waterfalls. Boat tours and dinner cruises are also available if you prefer to sit back and relax. Just keep in mind that if you’re a beginner, it may be better to try one of the smaller lakes first.
You can’t leave the area without experiencing the Seneca Lake Wine Trail! Make sure to check out the Seneca Lake South Wine Tasting Tour, which covers four different wineries and includes lunch at Tabora Farms & Café. The area surrounding the lake has the perfect growing conditions for grapes due to its cool microclimate. You’ll find some of the finest wines and some of the best views as you follow the Wine Trail.
Just north of Seneca Lake is the charming town of Geneva, where you can marvel at the stunning architecture of Belhurst Castle and Winery. Treat yourself like royalty at the Isabella Spa and spend a lazy afternoon meandering the gardens.
If you’re planning to visit the southern tip of Seneca Lake, Watkins Glen is the perfect gateway for first-timers to explore the amazing areas like Watkins Glen State Park (don’t miss the Gorge Trail!) and Catharine Creek Wildlife Management Area (see Aunt Sarah’s Falls!).
2. Lake Minnewaska – Near NYC! ★
Lake Minnewaska is a must-visit destination in New York, just two hours from New York City. It’s nestled in the heart of the Minnewaska State Park Preserve, offering plenty of exciting activities for both vacationers and day-trippers. One of the best things to do is to explore the numerous scenic trails that wind through the Preserve. Along the way, you’ll encounter the stunning Awosting Falls, which drops 60 feet into a natural pool. Although swimming isn’t permitted at the falls, you can take a dip in the refreshing waters of Lake Minnewaska to cool off.
Aside from hiking, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy at Lake Minnewaska. You can rent a bike, go kayaking, or stop by the visitor center to learn more about the park’s history and ecology. After a fun-filled day, you can settle down at the on-site campground to spend the night in nature. Alternatively, if you prefer a more luxurious stay, you can check in to the Minnewaska Lodge, a holistic hotel that connects guests with the surrounding nature. Whatever your preference, Lake Minnewaska is a great destination for a relaxing and enjoyable vacation or day trip.
3. Lake Placid & Mirror Lake ★
Lake Placid is a year-round destination that you won’t want to miss. This fun-filled lake town has so much to offer, whether you visit in the summer or winter. It’s important to note that the actual Lake Placid region is divided into three major sections – Lake Placid, East Lake, and West Lake. However, Mirror Lake, just south of the actual Lake Placid, is the most popular to visit. This charming lake is situated in the downtown area and is close to many of the area’s best restaurants and activities. For a truly unforgettable stay, we recommend booking a room at the Mirror Lake Inn. This picturesque hotel overlooks the lake and boasts an incredible restaurant that’s perfect for a romantic dinner.
If you visit in the winter, don’t miss the opportunity to walk on the frozen lake! Additionally, we recommend checking out the Stagecoach Inn, a charming bed and breakfast that offers rustic elegance and cozy accommodations.
For those looking for a more luxurious resort experience, Whiteface Lodge is a perfect choice. This cozy mountain lodge offers all the amenities you could want and serves as an excellent base camp for exploring the nearby lakes. And, if you’re looking for an ultra-luxurious and secluded experience, consider spending a night at Lake Placid Lodge. Though it’s on the pricey side, this quiet and sophisticated retreat is well worth the investment.
4. Skaneateles – Hidden Gem ★
Skaneateles Lake, the cleanest lake in New York, is a must-visit destination for your lakeside vacation. Surrounded by beautiful towns, Skaneateles is a popular spot for boating, from kayaking to sailing. If you’re looking for a serene lakeside retreat, consider booking a stay at a secluded house with a stunning open view of Skaneateles Lake. The property also provides a dock with two kayaks, paddles, and life jackets for your use during your stay!
While you’re in the area, make sure to check out some other great activities and sights. Take a hike through Bear Swamp State Forest, or indulge in some retail therapy at the village boutiques. If you’re feeling adventurous, explore Dickinson Conservation Area, only accessible by boat. You can also experience Finger Lakes wine country with a visit to Anyela’s Vineyards. For a more active day, bike the 32-mile circuit around the lake.
And for a hidden gem bonus, make sure to check out Staghorn Cliffs. This area boasts stunning water views reminiscent of Alaska or the Caribbean and is one of the state’s best paleontological sites. It’s only accessible by water and located at the south end of Skaneateles Lake. With so many exciting things to do and see, a visit to Skaneateles Lake will leave you feeling crisp and refreshed, just like the lake’s pristine waters.
5. Saranac Lake ★
Saranac Lake is a charming town that we absolutely love to visit in the Adirondacks. There are so many hidden gem lakes in this region, it’s hard to explore them all in one trip! One of the highlights of Saranac Lake is the three Saranac lakes – Lower, Middle, and Upper, which are all connected by the Saranac River. If you enjoy kayaking, this is paradise! You can rent or bring your kayak, paddleboard, or canoe and begin your adventure. If you’re new to kayaking, a guided tour with Adirondack Lakes & Trails Outfitters is a great way to get started. Alternatively, save your energy for some epic hiking trails in the area.
When it comes to food, you must make a reservation at Fiddle Head Bistro. They use fresh and locally sourced ingredients, so their menu changes every day, but it’s always delicious. While it’s a pricier restaurant, it’s well worth the investment for your taste buds! If you’re in the mood for some amazing beer and chicken wings, head over to Ray Brook Brew House. It’s the perfect spot to unwind after a day of lake exploration.
For a relaxing stay, we recommend The Point, a luxurious wilderness resort that offers picturesque lake views and top-notch amenities. Alternatively, you could stay at the Saranac Waterfront Lodge, which is located within walking distance of Lake Flower and a short drive from the three Saranac lakes. Whatever you choose, Saranac Lake is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories!
6. Green Lake (Green Lake State Park)
Green and Round Lake, located in Green Lake State Park, are two of the most breathtaking lakes in upstate New York. Their clear turquoise waters are mesmerizing and make for a great backdrop for any outdoor adventure. These glacial lakes have unique features that support a variety of ancient plant and animal life. Green Lake is particularly special with its coral-like reef known as “Deadman’s Point.” Formed over thousands of years by microscopic organisms, this fragile freshwater reef is a vital habitat for plants and fish. To protect its ecosystem, the park has strict boating regulations. Renting from the park’s Boat House is the only way to kayak or row on Green Lake.
If boating is not your cup of tea, don’t worry! You can still enjoy the lakes’ beauty by visiting the beach area or taking a 4.6-mile hike around both lakes through the lush forest. It’s important to note that for your safety and to preserve the lakes, swimming is not allowed outside of the designated beach area. Remember to leave no trace when exploring these natural areas.
If you want to stay overnight nearby, the Green Lakes is accessible to Fayetteville. The Craftsman Inn offers spacious apartment suites and a cozy restaurant on site.
7. Tupper Lake
Tupper Lake is a charming town located in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. The region offers plenty of outdoor water activities, including fishing, kayaking on the lake itself, and beaches. The most popular, Little Wolf Beach, is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing.
For hikers, I recommend Mount Arab, which offers stunning views of the surrounding wilderness. For a longer hike, try the Tupper Lake Triad, which includes three nearby peaks that offer great views of the region.
For history and culture, you can explore the Wild Center, a natural history museum that focuses on the wildlife and ecology of the Adirondacks. Or, The Adirondack Experience is a fascinating museum that showcases the region’s rich cultural heritage, including exhibits on the Adirondack guideboat, logging industry, and Native American history.
8. Cayuga Lake
Cayuga Lake is truly a gem in the Finger Lakes region. It is the longest and second deepest of the Finger Lakes, and it’s also home to the wonderful city of Ithaca: one of the best lake towns in New York, located at the southern tip of the lake. Ithaca boasts some of the smartest students in the country, since it’s where Cornell University and Ithaca College are located!
For outdoor lovers don’t miss the following:
- Cayuga Lake State Park offers a flat beach for swimming during the season and has campsites that slope up the landscape for a scenic view.
- Allan H Treman State Marine Park is a great choice if you’re looking for a trail hike or public boating access.
- Taughannock Falls State Park offers live concerts in the summer and swimming in designated areas.
- Lastly, Buttermilk State Park is a personal favorite of mine!
For wine lover, don’t miss the Cayuga Wine Trail or take a wine-tasting boat tour or rent a private boat to enjoy the lake at your own pace.
9. Lake Ontario
New York state is home to some of the most magnificent lakes in the world, and the Great Lakes are no exception. If you’re planning a lake vacation in New York, Lake Ontario is the perfect destination. With 712 miles of shoreline in upstate New York, you’ll never run out of things to do. While kayaking or canoeing is a great way to explore most lakes, it may not be the best way to experience Lake Ontario since it’s almost like a mini ocean. So, leave your boat at home and instead, relax on one of the many beaches or explore the many attractions and natural wonders along its shores.
Here are some of the top things to do and see along Lake Ontario:
Visit Old Fort Niagara, a historic site that’s open year-round with live interpreters acting out the livelihoods of those who once lived and worked in the fort.
See the lighthouse at Golden Hill State Park, which is now a museum featuring information on the lake’s maritime history.
Hike along the spiky drumlins of Chimney Bluffs State Park. With about 10,000 unique formations throughout the park, the best place to view them is from below along the shores of Lake Ontario. This is one of our favorite beaches in New York State!
Stop into the town of Oswego for some food at Rudy’s while watching the sunset, or take a ghost tour and learn about Oswego’s haunted history. This is where we went to school! You can stay at the Beacon Hotel while visiting this lively town.
Visit Rochester, which has a lot of great museums, including the Genesee Country Village Museum and the George Eastman Museum. Go shopping at Rochester’s City-run Public Market or grab a bite to eat at the Swan Market German Deli.
With so much to see and do, Lake Ontario is the perfect place for a New York lake vacation.
10. Keuka Lake ★
Are you looking for the perfect lake vacation spot in New York State? Look no further than Keuka Lake! This stunning lake is the third largest of the Finger Lakes and has a unique Y-shape. It is the only lake in the United States with a backward drainage flow, from South to North. The word “Keuka” comes from an Iroquois word meaning “Canoe Landing,” which perfectly describes the peaceful, scenic atmosphere of this lake.
One of the best ways to explore Keuka Lake is by paddleboarding, kayaking, or canoeing. You can spend a whole day taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Another must-see attraction in the area is Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, nestled among the rolling hills surrounding Keuka Lake. For a unique wine-tasting experience, you can take a Wine Barge History Tour from Hammersport, located south of Keuka Lake. This tour lets you sample wines made in the Finger Lakes area while learning about the local history of winemaking.
If you’re looking for more outdoor activities, visit Keuka Lake State Park, which offers spectacular views of the lake. Or take a hike along the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail, a scenic 7-mile trail that connects Penn Yan to the town of Dresden on Seneca Lake.
If you’re looking for a cozy place to stay near Keuka Lake, consider the Trimmer House B&B in Penn Yan. This charming B&B includes a free breakfast, a cozy fireplace in the lobby, and a library. Plus, it’s only a 9-minute drive from the Keuka Lake Outlet Trail, one of the best hikes in the area.
If you’re looking for more privacy, you could also consider booking a 3-bedroom house with a view of the lake and surrounded by beautiful countryside. This house is also dog-friendly, making it a great spot for pet owners. Whether you’re looking for outdoor adventure or a relaxing getaway, Keuka Lake is the perfect vacation spot in New York State.
11. Lake Champlain
Lake Champlain is popular destination for boating, fishing, and water sports. There are also several state parks in the area, including the historic Fort Ticonderoga, where you can learn about the Revolutionary War and enjoy stunning views of the lake. Near the town of Willsboro, about 15 miles south of Plattsburgh is Rattlesnake Mountain (pictured above) which offers panoramic views of Lake Champlain! Finally, Ausable Chasm is a privately-owned natural park where you can go rafting, tubing, hiking, and even ziplining.
Please note, while the Lake Champlain region refers to the area surrounding the lake, the actual lake itself spans 120 miles from the Canadian border down to New York and Vermont.
12. Canadice Lake
Canadice Lake, just south of Rochester, is the perfect destination for those looking for a remote lake vacation. As the smallest of the Finger Lakes, much of its shoreline is undeveloped, giving you the chance to truly unwind and enjoy the natural beauty of the area. You can rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboards, and other watercraft at one of the formal boat launches available. Just keep in mind that the lake is used as a water source for Rochester, so any watercraft longer than 17 feet, or with a 10-horsepower or more, are prohibited. Fishing is a popular activity here, as the waters and underwater ecosystems remain largely untouched. Additionally, there are plenty of trails around the lake for hiking and exploring.
If you’re staying in Rochester, be sure to try the famous local dish: the Garbage Plate! For accommodations, the Inn on Broadway is a luxurious hotel located within walking distance of many of Rochester’s attractions. It boasts a steakhouse and fitness center, making it a convenient and comfortable choice. However, if you’d like to stay near Canadice Lake, you could consider this peaceful woodsy cabin that sleeps up to six people. Set on 20 acres of private land, the cabin has access to a gas grill, game room, lawn games, and more. After a day of exploring the lake, you can relax in the beautiful woodland setting of this secluded private cabin.
13. Lake George
If you’re looking for a beautiful and convenient spot for your next lake vacation in NY, you should definitely consider Lake George. This stunning lake is located right next to the charming small town of Lake George, which makes it a great choice for those who want to enjoy both the lake and the town. For your stay, you can’t go wrong with Georgian Lakeside Resort. With 350 feet of lakefront and a private beach just for guests, this resort is the perfect place to relax and soak up the beauty of Lake George. The resort also offers lakefront dining and boat rentals, so you can make the most of your time on the water.
When you’re ready to explore the town, there are plenty of great options to choose from. Be sure to stop by the Adirondack Winery Lake George Tasting Room to sample some delicious local wine. History buffs will love the Fort William Henry Museum, which offers a fascinating look at the region’s past. And if you want to stay right on the lake, check out the Fort William Henry Hotel for stunning lake views. No matter what you choose to do, you’re sure to have an amazing time at Lake George.
14. Saratoga Lake ★
Saratoga Lake is a serene destination that should be on your radar for your next lake vacation in upstate New York. To get the most out of your experience, consider booking a vacation rental right on the water, like this cozy 2-bedroom cottage with a fire pit and kayak available for your use. Or, for a more traditional beach experience, head over to Brown’s Beach for some sun and relaxation.
When it’s time to grab a bite, be sure to check out the great lakeside dining options available in the area. Dock Brown’s, located at Brown’s Beach, is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. The Hideaway, nestled in the Saratoga Lake Golf Course, is another great spot for delicious food and stunning lake views. For breathtaking vistas of the Vermont mountains, head to Carson’s Woodside Tavern.
Even in the wintertime, Saratoga Lake has something special to offer. Take a walk on the frozen lake and marvel at the ice fishing and snowmobiling that takes place. It’s a unique and unforgettable experience that will make you feel like you’re in a different country altogether. So whether it’s hot or cold outside, Saratoga Lake is a destination you won’t want to miss.
15. Lake Clear ★
While the resort does have its own hiking trails to explore, you can also hike at Paul Smith’s College VIC. You can also paddle the St. Regis Wilderness Canoe Area. This is the largest wilderness canoe area in the northeastern United States, so you’ll certainly have a lot to discover.
You could also stay nearby, at Saranac Lake (about 15 minutes drive from Lake Clear) in a Waterfront Lodge. This lodge has an indoor swimming pool and restaurant. It’s also well located, with many of of Saranc Lake’s sights within walking distance such as the Saranac Lake Riverwalk.
16. Owasco Lake
Owasco Lake is a Finger Lake surrounded by beautiful farmland and is a fantastic destination for a summer lake vacation in upstate New York. With its small and shallow waters, it warms up quickly, making it an ideal spot for swimming. Emerson Park is a popular spot and has a private boat launch for those who love waterskiing or tubing.
There are many historical sites to visit in the nearby town of Auburn, including the Harriet Tubman Home. At the southern end of the lake, the town of Moravia serves as the gateway to Fillmore Glen State Park, where you can explore five breathtaking waterfalls and deep gorges.
If you’re looking for a place to stay near Owasco Lake, consider Auburn, where you can book a charming 1-bedroom lodge that has access to a private beach area along the lake. Alternatively, you could stay at this beautiful 3-bedroom lodge, which is steps away from the lake and features a spa bath and gas grill. Whether you want to relax on the lake or explore the nearby attractions, Owasco Lake has something for everyone!
17. Blue Mountain Lake + Indian Lake (Hidden Gem)
Blue Mountain Lake and Indian Lake are two hidden gem lakes in the Adirondack Mountains. They are only about 20 miles apart, so we’re featuring them together.
Blue Mountain Lake is known for its crystal-clear water and stunning mountain views. One of the most popular attractions in Blue Mountain Lake is the Adirondack Museum, which features exhibits on the history and culture of the region. Visitors can explore indoor and outdoor exhibits, including a replica of a 19th-century Great Camp and a restored 1901 carousel. The lake itself is also a popular destination for boating, fishing, and swimming. Hiking trails in the surrounding mountains offer stunning views of the lake and the surrounding wilderness.
Indian Lake, on the other hand, is a more remote and secluded destination, offering an even more peaceful escape into nature. It is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing, and kayaking. The lake is also known for its clear water and excellent fishing for species such as lake trout, smallmouth bass, and rainbow trout. Visitors can also explore the nearby Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area, which offers miles of hiking trails through pristine forests and mountain peaks. The area is also home to the Indian Lake Theater, a historic venue that hosts a range of events and performances throughout the year.
18. Mohonk Lake
Mohonk Lake is a truly breathtaking and exclusive lake located just two hours from New York City. The lake is entirely operated by Mohonk Mountain House, a stunning resort situated right on its shores. If you’re looking for the ultimate lake vacation experience, you’re in luck – the resort boasts over 150 activities to choose from during your stay!
While enjoying the crystal-clear waters of Mohonk Lake, you can indulge in a range of activities, such as rowboating, fly fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and paddleboarding. The resort also has a beautiful beach area where you can go for a refreshing swim or relax while taking in the gorgeous views of the lake.
For those who prefer a more laid-back experience, Mohonk Mountain House also offers a luxurious spa, where you can enjoy a day of pampering and relaxation. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can hike to Sky Top Tower or try your hand at rock scrambling on the boulders and cliffs surrounding the lake. Feeling brave? You can even swim across Lake Mohonk!
Mohonk Mountain House is an all-inclusive resort, meaning that you can enjoy all of these activities and more as part of your stay. From the moment you arrive, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a world of relaxation, luxury, and adventure.
19. Greenwood Lake
Greenwood Lake is a hidden gem that offers a serene and peaceful environment for your upstate New York lake vacation. You can stay at the Waterstone Inn or the Villa Verde B&B, or if you prefer a hotel, the New Continental Hotel and Restaurant is a great option. The lake is perfect for boating, swimming, or just lazing around on the beach. And the best part? It’s less than an hour and a half from New York City, making it an ideal destination for a quick getaway. Trust us, once you visit Greenwood Lake, you’ll want to come back again and again!
20. Chautauqua Lake
Chautauqua Lake is a fantastic vacation destination located in western New York. Although it’s sometimes referred to as the thumb of the Finger Lakes, it was actually formed by separate glacial movements and is not one of the Finger Lakes. Being one of the highest lakes in North America, it offers breathtaking views that you won’t want to miss.
Make sure to visit Long Point State Park on Lake Chautauqua, where you can catch some of the best views. The peninsula, which juts out into Chautauqua Lake, has boat rentals and launches for those who want to spend the day paddling or fishing. With an accessible swimming beach, it’s also a great place for sunbathing or building sandcastles.
For more adventure, venture off the lake to explore Chautauqua Gorge State Forest. This 538-acre area has many miles of hiking trails and is a lovely place for a picnic. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can camp here in designated campsites or primitive, backcountry camping spots.
If you choose to stay in Jamestown, southeast of the lake, make sure to check out some of the local sights such as the National Comedy Center and the Lucille Ball Desi Arnaz Museum. Consider booking a lake-view room at the Chautauqua Harbor Hotel for a truly memorable stay. The hotel offers two swimming pools, a bar, and an amazing view of the lake where you can relax and watch the sunset.
21. Lake Erie
Lake Erie is a stunning Great Lake that shares a shoreline with New York state. There are countless exciting activities and breathtaking sights to take in while exploring this area. One of the best places to visit is Evangola State Park, where you can relax on a natural sandy beach while marveling at the stunning shale cliffs of Angola above.
For bird-watching enthusiasts, Lake Erie State Park sits on high bluffs above the lake and offers unbeatable opportunities for spotting a wide variety of feathered friends.
Make sure to also visit the Dunkirk Lighthouse, which is still in operation as a lighthouse and museum. For a refreshing swim, head over to Hamburg Town Beach, and after a day of exploring, enjoy a picnic at Wendt Beach Park (although swimming is not allowed). Stop into the Lake Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center for more information about all the exciting things to do near Lake Erie.
If you’re looking to stay by Lake Erie, consider booking a room at the Lakeview on the Lake Hotel near Erie. This hotel offers access to a private beach area, with stunning views across the lake and an outdoor swimming pool. With so much to see and do along Lake Erie, you’re sure to have a memorable and relaxing vacation.
Upstate New York offers an exceptional lake vacation experience, from the stunning shores of Lake Ontario to the picturesque Finger Lakes. You’ll be sure to enjoy the natural beauty, breathtaking scenery, and much-needed relaxation during your retreat. Don’t hesitate to plan a visit to the lakes in upstate NY – every minute will be worth it!
22. Canandaigua Lake
If you’re looking for a lake vacation with high-quality water and plenty of tourism, then Canandaigua Lake is a great option in upstate New York. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the downtown area and sample some of the local cuisine – we highly recommend Nolan’s on the Lake for their delicious seafood options and picturesque lakefront setting.
If you’re a beer or wine lover, there are plenty of tours available to explore the local breweries and wineries in the Finger Lakes region. But there’s more to Canandaigua Lake than just food and drink – there’s also some fascinating history to discover. Squaw Island, for example, is one of only two islands in all eleven Finger Lakes and has a rich Native American history. You can even kayak or canoe to the island for a closer look.
For a truly special stay on Canandaigua Lake, check out this incredible 5-bedroom lakehouse that can accommodate up to 14 people and 2 dogs. With a private dock, amazing views over the lake, and an acre of land to explore, this lakehouse has everything you need for an unforgettable vacation. On a lower budget? No problem – consider the cute and cozy Treetop Tiny House just minutes from the lake, nestled among the trees with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a terrace. You may even spot some deer or other wildlife during your stay.
23. North-South Lake
North-South Lake is a fantastic and affordable destination for anyone seeking a fun weekend. It is the perfect spot for swimming, boating, and fishing, and has a small beach and playground where kids can have a blast. The lake is also beautiful and easy to paddle, making it an ideal spot for a leisurely day spent paddling boats or kayaks.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of hiking trails in the area that offer breathtaking views. Trails range from easy to challenging, so make sure to research the different options before you go. Additionally, the hiking trails are well-marked with signs posted at most intersections. For a unique experience, consider visiting the nearby Kaaterskill Falls!
The campsites at North-South Lake are well-shaded and offer modern shower facilities and clean bathrooms. However, keep in mind that the campsites are gravel, so bringing a blowup mattress can help make your stay more comfortable.
24. Black Lake
Black Lake is a must-see hidden gem of upstate New York, perfect for a weekend getaway or a peaceful retreat from city life. The lake is home to an abundance of freshwater fish, making it a popular spot for anglers. If you’re not into fishing – there are designated swimming areas off the main dock and on the shoreline for a refreshing dip in the water.
One of the best things about Black Lake is its untouched and pristine beauty. As one of the less popular lakes in the area, you can enjoy the serene and peaceful surroundings without the crowds. For those looking to extend their stay, there are beautiful cabins along the lake and a campsite available for visitors. It’s the perfect opportunity to experience the tranquil lake life firsthand.
25. North Lake
If you’re in search of a serene and remote destination, look no further than North Lake, located just 25 minutes from Forestport, NY. With stunning views of the Adirondacks, this picturesque lake is the source of the Black River and offers endless opportunities for hiking, camping, and exploring nature.
The best part? Primitive campsites are available free of charge, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility of the outdoors. North Lake is also a safe and peaceful spot for fishing, boating, and swimming.
Take a break from the busyness of everyday life and reconnect with nature, family, and friends at North Lake. With its peaceful and stress-free environment, it’s the perfect place to spend a day admiring the natural beauty that upstate New York has to offer.
26. Conesus Lake
Conesus Lake, located in the westernmost part of the Finger Lakes region, is a must-visit destination for those who love water sports, fishing, kayaking, and the annual 4th of July “Ring of Fire” celebration.
If you are looking for an energetic and lively lake experience, Conesus Lake has got you covered! The lake is a perfect spot for boating, kayaking, jet skiing, and water skiing, and anglers will enjoy the south end of the lake for fishing. Please note that ice fishing shelters are not permitted in the area.
Conesus Lake is a year-round destination that offers a variety of activities to enjoy. During winter, visitors can enjoy ice skating and snowmobiling. As spring comes around, the tranquil atmosphere of the lake provides a relaxing escape from the bustling city.
Don’t forget to explore the local dining options and nearby wineries, which serve delicious wines. The crystal clear water of the lake is well-maintained, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience for all.
27. Mason Lake
Mason Lake is a fantastic destination for anyone looking to enjoy fishing, hiking, paddling, kayaking, camping, or nature viewing in New York. Anglers will surely love this area as it is well-known for its Perch, Bullhead, and Bown Tout fishing.
If you’re planning to camp, there are six free camping grounds available on Perkins Clearing Road located on the north side of the lake. However, be aware that this area gets pretty crowded on weekends. If you’re planning to stay for more than three nights, make sure you obtain a permit from a ranger as there are no on-site facilities.
For those looking for a more relaxed experience, there’s a lovely picnic area on the shore of the lake along Perkins Clearing Road where families and friends can enjoy a slow, peaceful day surrounded by nature. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning views of the lake and its surroundings!
28. Schroon Lake
Schroon Lake, located in upstate NY, is a hidden gem worth exploring. This 9-mile-long lake, nestled within the Adirondack Park and northwest of Lake George, offers a unique experience that is perfect for your next lake vacation in NY. You’ll find a fantastic beach, a quaint small town, and a vibrant cultural scene.
Gone are the days of large resorts covering the shoreline of Schroon Lake. Nowadays, charming bed and breakfasts offer the perfect accommodations during your lake vacation. Consider spending a weekend at the Schroon Lake Bed and Breakfast, a cozy inn with stunning mountain views. Or, opt for the Rocky Acres Inn/B&B, which offers access to hiking and biking. If you prefer to book a lake home, this Waterfront lake home is right by Shroon Lake and features its own boat dock. You’ll be able to enjoy breathtaking lake and mountain views, lawn games, a piano, board games, and a cozy wood-burning fireplace.
Don’t miss the chance to participate in exciting water activities on Schroon Lake, such as parasailing, waterskiing, or boating. And, if you’re in the area during the Seagle Festival season, be sure to attend and enjoy some opera and musical theatre performances in the evenings.
TRANSPORTATION AROUND NEW YORK STATE
If you’re a newcomer to Upstate New York, getting around without a car can be a bit challenging. However, there are various transportation options available to help you get from place to place, so don’t fret! Whether you prefer trains, buses, or car rentals, there’s a way to visit the many lakes in upstate New York.
Trains to Lake Towns in New York
One of the best options is to take the Metro-North or Amtrak train, which are excellent for planning New York getaways. You can easily plan your New York lake trip by train by checking out the Amtrak website’s regional maps or the Metro-North train routes. Additionally, towns like Saratoga Springs have Amtrak stations conveniently located right in the heart of town, making travel even more accessible.
If you’re looking to snag the best deal on train tickets, we recommend checking out Kayak. They offer fantastic recommendations on the cheapest times to travel and have a user-friendly search tool that allows you to see prices based on the station, number of connections, and more. So, hop on board, and let’s get started on planning your dream lake vacation in upstate New York!
Buses to Lake Vacations in New York
For those looking for a convenient and affordable way to explore small towns around Upstate New York, various bus companies operate in the area.
To find the right bus company and route for your needs, we suggest checking out Wanderu, which has a comprehensive listing of bus companies and their routes.
One of our top recommendations is Trailways, which services small Upstate New York towns located near beautiful lakes, such as Geneva (Seneca Lake), Lake Placid, Lake George, and Ithaca (Cayuga Lake). To score the best deal on Trailways buses, we suggest booking through Kayak, which offers a user-friendly search tool to find the cheapest dates and times.
Megabus is another great option for those wanting to explore larger towns in the area, such as Ithaca, Syracuse (near the Finger Lakes), and Rochester (north of Canadice Lake). Meanwhile, Greyhound is a reliable choice for those looking to travel to bigger cities in New York State, although we recommend checking their map to ensure they serve your desired destination.
So, whether you’re planning a solo adventure or a group trip, traveling by bus is an excellent way to experience the beauty and charm of Upstate New York’s small towns and stunning lakes.
Walkability When Visiting Lakes in Upstate New York
It’s no secret that the United States is one of the least walkable countries in the world. However, there are plenty of charming lake towns in New York State where you can still enjoy a stroll and explore the local sights. One such town is Skaneateles, which boasts beautiful views and a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere.
If you’re planning an extended stay in one of these walkable lake towns without a car, it’s essential to plan ahead for everyday necessities like groceries and outdoor adventures. In cases where you need to travel farther, Uber can be a convenient option, allowing you to get where you need to go without the hassle of driving or parking. Plus, don’t hesitate to ask your Uber driver or Airbnb host about pickup options, as many locals are happy to earn some extra cash by providing this service.
Overall, don’t let a lack of a car hold you back from exploring the beautiful lake towns of New York State. With a bit of planning and a willingness to be flexible, you can enjoy a fantastic, car-free getaway that you’ll remember for years to come.
Car Rental Road Trips in Upstate New York
If you’re planning to explore the beautiful state of New York beyond the bustling city, then renting a car is your best bet. With a car, you’ll have the freedom to travel to various small towns, stunning waterfalls, gemstone mines, and swimming holes at your own pace and on your schedule.
To get the most out of your car rental, we recommend considering a long-term rental for a week or a month, which can lower the daily rate significantly. Additionally, using a credit card like the Chase Sapphire can provide you with car rental insurance and save you some extra cash.
To find the best deals on car rentals, it’s crucial to book your rental online in advance as last-minute rentals can be expensive. With a bit of planning, you can snag the perfect car rental deal and be on your way joining in all the fun things to do and all the hidden gems Upstate New York has to offer.