​​Escape The City Heat: 14 Best Lakes in New York State For Families To Visit During Summer

Summer is the perfect time for families to escape their busy lives and create unforgettable memories together – and what better way to do that than by renting a vacation home near one of New York State’s picturesque lakes? From swimming and boating to hiking and fishing, there are endless activities for families with toddlers or teens alike. Explore the Adirondacks at Lake George and marvel at its pristine beauty while enjoying water sports like kayaking and paddleboarding. Or, get in touch with history at Cayuga Lake as you tour nearby wineries and museums. In this article, we cover the best lakes in New York state for families, as well as some places to stay or areas to rent a vacation home. Keep reading to plan your next lakeside adventure to one of the best lakes in New York State for families! 

Best Lakes in Southern New York for Families

Families love spending sunny summer days on the lake! If you’re looking for a lake within a short distance of cities like New York City or Boston, these lakes in southern New York are perfect for a summer getaway with kids! In fact, Greenwood Lake is less than 2 hours from NYC, and less than 4 hours from Boston.

Planning a trip from NYC? Check out these Best Summer Lakes Near New York City for Families (All Within 4 Hours)

Greenwood Lake

Greenwood Lake is a shining example of the best lakes in New York State for families to rent a vacation home during the summer! Located half in New Jersey and half in New York, it’s a great short getaway from NYC (around 2 hours). Flanked by springs and brooks, Greenwood Lake is nine miles long and showcases boating, swimming, jet-skiing, and fishing, among other fun activities. 

Families can enjoy the sunshine at Town Beach, located at the end of Windermere Ave on the lake. Don’t forget to stick your toes in the sand! On the beach, you’ll also find a children’s play area, a volleyball court, and a picnic area. There is something for everyone! (Apply for a family season pass for a discount on beach fees!) Then, nearby Warwick offers a quaint downtown area featuring family-friendly restaurants, shopping, and more to explore! 

Or, visit nearby attractions like Stanley Deming Park, Wawayanda State Park, or Warwick Town Park if you want to spend more time in nature. History buffs may also be interested in visiting the Warwick Historical Society. In addition to stores like Newhards and Frazzleberries, there are also many cute restaurants in town! Finally, for food in the area, try Caffe a la Mode, The Helm, or Charlotte’s Tea Room.

Where to Stay Near Greenwood Lake with Kids

Families looking for somewhere to stay near Greenwood Lake can check out home rentals through Vrbo. Accommodations directly on Greenwood Lake are usually best, but you can expand into nearby areas to widen your search. For example, venture only ten minutes outside the lake’s main area, and you can stay in Warwick, New York. 

Best Lakes in Central New York for Families

Central New York features several amazing lakes for a family trip! Swim, hike, and explore your way around the area when you stay near fun lakes like Saratoga Lake and Lake Ontario – to name two! Most lakes within this area are about 5 hours from NYC, and about 6 hours from Boston. Keep reading to find our top picks for the best lakes in central New York with kids.

Lake Ontario

A view of Lake Ontario, including a small beach, on a sunny day, one of the best lakes in New York State for families.
Photo Courtesy: iTop Loveliness

Lake Ontario, the smallest of the five Great Lakes, is a perfect destination for families seeking to escape city life’s hustle and bustle! Bordering the New York and Canadian border, this sprawling, spring-fed lake has over 700 miles of shoreline, offering endless opportunities to create unforgettable memories.

Since the lake is so vast, it boasts plenty of beaches with calm waters perfect for swimming. Families can visit Fair Haven Beach State Park, Southwick Beach State Park, Ontario Beach Park, Hamlin Beach State Park, and Sodus Point Beach Park. There are also several rental shops along the lake that offer wakeboarding, water skiing, kneeboarding, tubing, wake surfing, and more motorized water sports.

For families who enjoy hiking together, Lake Ontario also has several scenic trails that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Visit Chimney Bluffs State Park to hike the 2.9-mile Chimney Bluffs Trail. Depending on where on the lake you’re staying, you can visit cities such as Rochester, home to the Rochester Public Market, Seneca Park Zoo, and the Seabreeze Amusement Park. Kids will also love seeing all the vintage boats at ​​the Antique Boat Museum in Clayton! 

Where To Stay Near Lake Ontario With Kids

If you need somewhere to stay near Lake Ontario with kids, check out Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park, which has a location on the eastern shores of Lake Ontario in Mexico, New York. Between fishing, tubing on Little Salmon River, and watching the fish swim upstream, there’s lots to keep kids entertained! Families can also rent a lakeside cabin on Vrbo.

Saratoga Lake

Saratoga Lake on a sunny day, one of the best lakes in New York State for families.
Photo Courtesy: saratoga.com

Saratoga Lake is an absolute gem that cannot be missed by families searching for an epic summer vacation! Located in eastern Saratoga County, this spring-fed lake is around 4.5 miles long and offers countless opportunities to soak up the sun and enjoy the water! 

Adrenaline junkies can indulge in kayaking, paddle boarding, or canoeing on the lake while taking in picturesque views of the surrounding mountains. For those seeking a more relaxing experience, you can take a leisurely boat ride around the lake while soaking up some sun. Kids who want to play in the sand and swim in the lake can do so at the only public swimming spot, Brown’s Beach, which also features a boat launch for non-motorized watercraft. To explore beyond the lake, check out the nearby town of Saratoga Springs.

Horse racing fans can’t miss the famous Saratoga Race Course, which kicks off its summer season in July. Or, learn more about the city’s racing history at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame. Kids will also love the Saratoga Automobile Museum, exploring Congress Park, or visiting Saratoga Spa State Park, which has an on-site pool. For dessert, don’t forget to stop at Mrs. London’s Bakery for sweet pastries, fire bread, and lavishly decorated cakes!

Saratoga Springs is one of the 20+ Best Places For Families To Visit During Memorial Day Weekend From NYC; find out who else made the list!

Finger Lakes

A setting sun over the pier on the lake in Skaneateles, NY, as part of the Finger Lakes region.
Photo Courtesy: John Hoey

When it comes to the best lakes in New York State for families, one destination that simply cannot be missed is the Finger Lakes region. This area boasts eleven pristine freshwater lakes that are perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing. From Cayuga Lake, known for its stunning waterfalls and gorges, to Seneca Lake, where you can sample some of the finest wines from local vineyards while cruising on a boat, there’s truly something for everyone here. Keep reading to learn more about the Finger Lakes region with kids.

Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake is the largest of all Finger Lakes in New York State, and it offers an abundance of family-friendly activities! With its picturesque views and vast shoreline (around 75 miles), this freshwater lake provides ample opportunities for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding, and fishing for families. 

Seneca Lake’s shores are home to several state parks that offer picnic areas and playgrounds for children, including Seneca Lake State Park, which features a pretty sandy beach with a concession stand. Plus, kids can’t get enough of the park’s Splayground, which features over 100 water jets – perfect for cooling off on a hot day! There are also two marinas in the park, and motorized boats are allowed. For families looking to explore the lake’s waters, there are many boat tours available at various ports around the lake. Families can also visit the famous Watkins Glen State Park, which is nearby, to check out its beautiful waterfalls. If you’re staying near Geneva or Penn Yan on Seneca Lake’s northwestern shorelines, be sure to check out some of the nearby wineries while enjoying breathtaking views from their decks. 

Where To Stay Near Seneca Lake With Kids

If you want vacation rentals in Seneca Lake, NY, you’ve come to the right place! Lodge at Grist Iron Brewing Co. is around 15 minutes away from the lake and offers a prime location along the area’s Wine and Brewery Trail. Geneva On The Lake is another fantastic option for families because it features spacious rooms, plus an outdoor pool. You could also find vacation rentals on Seneca Lake using Vrbo

Keuka Lake

A dock sits above the water on Keuka Lake, one of the best lakes in New York State for families.
Photo Courtesy: See1,Do1,Teach1 via Wikimedia

Keuka Lake is undoubtedly among the best lakes in New York State for families! One of the most major Finger Lakes, it’s famous for its distinct Y shape, which makes it stand out from the other long and narrow lakes. It also features around 20 miles of shoreline and has plenty of swimming, boating, and fishing opportunities. 

In Branchport, families can visit Keuka Lake State Park, which offers a family-friendly swimming beach plus activities like fishing, hiking, and more. On the lake’s southern end, you’ll find Depot Park, which features a lifeguard on duty and a safe area for swimming. Nearby Champlin Beach is a bit more developed, featuring picnic areas and places to rent water sports equipment like kayaks, canoes, paddle boards, and other non-motorized watercraft.

In addition to water activities, Keuka Lake also boasts numerous hiking trails where families can take in breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and forests. Families who want to visit a museum can check out the Glenn H Curtiss Museum (great for motorcycle or airplane lovers). 

Where To Stay Near Keuka Lake With Kids

Families searching for vacation rentals on Keuka Lake can browse Vrbo for cozy options! 

Cayuga Lake

An aerial view of Cayuga Lake, one of the best lakes in New York State for families.
Photo Courtesy: Cayuga Nature Center

If you’re searching for the best lakes in New York State for families, look no further than Cayuga Lake. With 95 miles of shimmering water and scenic surrounding landscapes, this freshwater lake is a family-friendly oasis that offers countless activities to keep everyone entertained.

One of the best places for enjoying the shoreline is Taughannock Falls State Park, which has a family-friendly swimming beach, picnic areas, and a boat launch for motorized watercraft. For those looking for some adventure on the water, there are numerous water sports options, such as boating, kayaking, or paddle boarding. The calm waters make it easy even for toddlers to enjoy a little time on the water! In terms of fishing, Cayuga Lake has plenty of trout and bass waiting to be caught. In fact, it’s considered one of the best fishing lakes in New York State for families!

And if you prefer land-based activities, take a hike along one of many scenic trails surrounding the lake, like the Cayuga Lake Loop via the South Rim Trail and North Rim Trail, which is around 2.9 miles. Cayuga Nature Center is another great stop with kids! Another great feature about Cayuga Lake is its location near several charming towns such as Ithaca and Seneca Falls, where visitors can sample local wines from vineyards dotted around and visit places like the Museum of the Earth (for science and nature lovers).

Where To Stay Near Cayuga Lake With Kids

Need somewhere to stay near Cayuga Lake with kids? Check out the Inn at Taughannock Falls, a historic inn located on the shores of Cayuga Lake. The inn features beautiful grounds, a restaurant, and a bar, and offers a variety of accommodations, including rooms and suites. You can also check out Vrbo for rental options. 

Canandaigua Lake

A boat moves across the waters of Canandaigua Lake, one of the best lakes in New York State for families.
Photo Courtesy: Laura H-B via Wikimedia

Families searching for one of the best lakes to vacation in New York can’t miss Canandaigua Lake! It’s the fourth largest Finger Lake (around 16 miles of shoreline) but still features lots of things to do with kids, whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation! 

On the lake’s northern end is where you’ll find the actual city of Canandaigua, home to Deep Run Beach. In the summer, this beach has lifeguards on duty, calm waters, and soft sand for little ones to enjoy. There’s also a smaller pebble beach inside Onanda Park, which also has lifeguards and a picnic area. From fishing to motorized boating to hiking, there are many other outdoor activities that both kids and adults can enjoy.

Take a stroll along the scenic walking path at Kershaw Park or rent paddle boats for some fun on the water. For a mix of history and scenery, check out the lovely houses and gardens at Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Park.

Where To Stay Near Canandaigua Lake With Kids

If you want to stay somewhere near Canandaigua Lake, consider The Lake House on Canandaigua Lake, which features spacious rooms and an outdoor pool. Or, visit Vrbo to browse rental options along the lake. 

Silver Lake

Silver Lake, New York looking Northeast toward Silver Lake Mountain.
Photo Courtesy: Realtrain via Wikimedia

Silver Lake is a bit underrated and overlooked when it comes to the best Finger Lakes to visit with kids – but it shouldn’t be! Nestled among the rolling hills and lush greenery of Wyoming County, this freshwater lake is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by anyone looking for some fun in the sun with their little ones. Plus, at only 3 miles long, it’s relatively quaint compared to the other Finger Lakes, though it still features plenty to do as a family.  

Along the shores of the lake, families can relax at Perry Beach. Though there’s no swimming allowed here, you can launch motorized boats and enjoy other water sports. Plus, during the summer, the beach even hosts live musical performances throughout the month of August! Silver Lake State Park also has a public boat launch. Plus, the lake is only a short drive away from Letchworth State Park, where families can go hiking and see some beautiful waterfalls. Or, explore the small town of Perry, which features antique shops, restaurants, and even its own drive-in theater!

Oneida Lake

People jet skiing on Oneida Lake, one of the best lakes in New York State for families.
Photo Courtesy: volarejohn

Oneida Lake is the ideal summer vacation spot for your kids! With over 22 miles of shoreline to explore, there are endless opportunities for outdoor activities like swimming, boating, and fishing on this family-friendly, spring-fed lake in upstate New York. Though it’s not technically considered a Finger Lake, it’s often grouped in with them because it’s nearby. 

One of the many kid-friendly beaches you can visit along the lake is Sylvan Beach, which offers a safe swimming area that’s shallow enough for young children. For thrill-seekers, there’s also kayaking, paddleboarding, canoeing, and more fun water sports. On the south shore, families will also find Oneida Shores Park, which features a playground, volleyball courts, picnic area, and boat launch for non-motorized vehicles.

Nearby Syracuse also has plenty of other attractions that promise fun experiences for families, like mini-golfing at Fairmount Glen Miniature Golf or taking part in interactive exhibits on display at the Erie Canal Museum. Families can also explore the New York State Fairgrounds during August (when they host famous events such as the Great New York State Fair). 

Where To Stay Near Oneida Lake With Kids

If you need somewhere to stay near Oneida Lake with kids, The Lodge at Turning Stone is less than 5 miles from the lake and offers spacious multi-bedroom suites with kitchens, fireplaces, saunas, etc. Families can also look for vacation rentals on Oneida Lake using Vrbo.

Best Lakes in Northern New York for Families

Those seeking a family getaway removed from the hustle and bustle of city life will love these lakes in northern New York! From Lake Geroge to Lake Placid, these fantastic lakes make the perfect backdrop to any summer lake vacation for families. Most lakes within this region are less than about 5 hours from cities like NYC and Boston.

Click here to plan your stay at one of the Best Family Hotels and Resorts in New York State

Lake George

Kids playing on a beach with paddleboard on Lake George
Photo Courtesy: Sheryll Pang Yu

When finding the best lakes in New York State for families to rent a vacation home during the summer, Lake George is an unbeatable choice. Spanning over 32 miles, this spring-fed lake boasts pristine waters perfect for swimming, boating, and fishing. Surrounding the lake are breathtaking views of towering mountains and lush green forests that offer endless opportunities for hiking, camping, and exploring nature’s beauty! 

Enjoy some fun in the sun at Ushers Park Beach, a popular public beach due to its shallow water and nearby playground. Lake George also allows motorized watercraft. Within driving distance, you’ll also find the Natural Stone Bridge & Caves. It’s an easy hike, even little kids will be able to enjoy its trails. Or, get your daily dose of history at Fort William Henry!

For some family fun, head to the downtown Lake George Village area to take kids on rides or other carnivalesque excursions! Children will also love The Around the World Golf Course, featuring popular landmarks as different holes. Bolton Landing is also a non-touristy alternative before enjoying dinner at places like Cate’s Italian Garden. Or, drive a bit south to Queensbury to visit Six Flags Great Escape! For those who love outdoor adventures, try zip-lining through treetops or take a scenic cruise around the lake.

Where To Stay Near Lake George With Kids

Families staying in Lake George can choose between vacation rentals, camping, and boutique hotels. If you’re feeling adventurous, try nearby sites like Adirondack Camping Village, Battleground State Campground, or Lake George Escape, with heated pools, sports fields, and organized weekend activities. Or, stay on your own specially reserved island campsite by booking in advance through Lake George’s official camping website!

For a hotel experience, try luxury resorts like The Sagamore. Families also love Sun Castle Resort, The Lodges at Cresthaven, and Trout House Village Resort. Or, look for vacation rentals on Lake George using Vrbo

Lake Placid

Mom and a son on a kayak in Lake Placid, one of the best lakes in New York State for families.
Photo Courtesy: Sarah Einhorn

Lake Placid offers everything you could want in a family-friendly vacation spot – pristine waters, breathtaking scenery, and endless opportunities for outdoor adventure. Nestled among the Adirondack Mountains, this spring-fed lake is surrounded by towering trees and rugged cliffs, creating an awe-inspiring backdrop for your family vacation. Plus, with over 20 miles of shoreline, you’ll find plenty of places to settle in! 

A world-famous ski destination and once home to two Winter Olympic games, Lake Placid is just as amazing to visit in the summer! On Mirror Lake, kids can canoe, paddleboard, kayak, or swim, lined by tiny picturesque cottages. Only non-motorized watercraft are allowed. At Lake Placid’s south end, families can also relax on Village Beach, featuring soft sand, shallow water for kids, and a tennis court. Nearby, you’ll also find a pier to stroll and take in views of the amazing Adirondack Mountains. Or, take a longer, half-hour hike along High Falls Gorge to see a stunning view of the falls! Kids visiting Lake Placid can also learn more about its history at the Lake Placid Olympic Museum or the Lake Placid Olympic Ski Jumping Complex

Where To Stay In Lake Placid With Kids

Lake Placid has something for everyone in terms of accommodations, including cabins, resorts, and hotels within walking distance from most attractions. For a hotel experience, consider the nearby Whiteface Lodge, Golden Arrow Lakeside Resort, Lake Placid Lodge, High Peaks Resort, Mirror Lake Inn & Spa, or the Placid Bay Hotel. Families visiting Lake Placid also opt to rent lakeside accommodations from places such as Airbnb or Vrbo. Both offer great options when searching for vacation rental homes on Lake Placid.

Lake Champlain

Two people canoe on Lake Champlain.
Photo Courtesy: Visit Adirondacks

Lake Champlain is one of the most unique and picturesque lakes in New York State! Nestled between the Adirondack Mountains in New York and the Green Mountains in Vermont, this beautiful spring-fed lake offers a stunning backdrop for those looking to rent a vacation home with their family. Plus, at over 120 miles long (even stretching into Vermont and the Canadian border!), it’s one of the biggest lakes in the United States! 

On the lake, families can indulge in a wide range of water sports, such as paddling, kayaking, and motorized boating, as well as fishing or simply lounging on the beach. In fact, there are over 50 public beaches along the Lake Champlain shoreline! Depending on where you’re staying, some of the most family-friendly are North Beach Park, Plattsburgh City Beach, Alburg Dunes State Park, Shelburne Bay Park, and White’s Beach. If you’re interested in exploring history, Lake Champlain played an important role during the Revolutionary War. Families can visit Fort Ticonderoga, a strategic spot during battles fought on the lake. Then, marvel at limestone rock formations by walking down the Ausable Chasm trail, which leads into chasms formed over 500 million years ago. It’s recommended for ages 8 and over, since some of it scales a cliff. 

When you’re all tired out from your adventures, explore charming local towns packed with quaint cafes and antique shops which will take you back in time to a simpler era, such as Burlington, Shelburne, or Charlotte. Or, visit a local farm to pick fruit and meet some friendly animals! 

Where To Stay Near Lake Champlain With Kids

Looking for somewhere to stay near Lake Champlain with kids? At Basin Harbor Club, families can enjoy access to their private 18-hole golf course as well as sailing lessons and guided kayak tours. Meanwhile, Tyler Place Family Resort provides an all-inclusive experience with meals, childcare services, and an abundance of recreational options like tennis courts and art classes. Or, check out Vrbo for rental options! 

Schroon Lake

A family smiles together while enjoying a day on Schroon Lake, one of the best lakes in New York State for families.
Photo Courtesy: Kristen O’Grady

Schroon Lake is the perfect destination for families with kids during summer vacation! Located in the heart of Adirondack Park, this spring-fed lake offers a plethora of activities both on and off the water. Plus, at over 9 miles long, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for swimming, boating, kayaking, and more – with clear blue waters that are perfect for a refreshing dip on hot summer days. 

Families can relax at Schroon Lake Town Beach on the northern end of the lake, which features an enclosed swimming area, a sandy shoreline, and a picnic area. Schroon Lake is also a fantastic place to go fishing or try non-motorized water sports like canoeing and paddle boarding.

And, the nearby area also boasts lots of things to do, like hiking. Families can check out the easy 3-mile Spectacle Pond Trail, which circles Spectacle Pond and features great views of the mountain. Then, visit downtown Schroon Lake to browse cute shops like Pine Cone Mercantile, where you can find handmade goods and furnishings. Don’t forget to grab some Neapolitan-style pizza at Sticks & Stones Wood-Fired Bistro & Bar!

Happy Travels!

We hope you liked this list of the ​​Best Lakes in New York State for Families to Rent a Vacation Home During the Summer! From the Finger Lakes to Lake George and beyond, you can enjoy stunning views, family fun on the water, and create unforgettable memories. Enjoy your New York lake vacation with kids! 

*This post may contain affiliate links that may earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Affiliate links in no way inform the hotels, sights, products, or other recommendations included in our articles. All opinions and recommendations expressed here are compiled from submissions submitted by the generous members of our Families Who Love To Travel community.


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The Families Love Travel Team has a zest for life and an even bigger passion for globetrotting! Comprised of real-life travel professionals, we work hard behind the scenes to provide dynamic solutions for adventuring with children. Our enthusiastic team understands the challenges that often accompany traveling with kids and is committed to making Families Love Travel an inclusive space to convey these experiences.