It is safe to say that New York is not the first place most of us would think of as the ideal destination for enjoying a relaxing, tranquil getaway. However, if you dedicate a day or two to getting out of the city itself during your next trip to NYC, you are sure to be pleasantly surprised by how much unspoilt land is just a couple of hours’ drive from the ‘Big Apple’.
One of the many natural wonders abundant around the state of New York is lakes. Below, you will find our list of the 10 lakes near New York that we think you must take the time to visit if you happen to be in the area soon, whether you are a fan of hiking, nature photography, or simply standing back and taking in some incredible scenery.
Not to be confused with the lake of the same name in the state of Montana, Avalanche Lake can be found high up in the stunning Adirondack Mountains. At 3.6 hectares (9 acres), this lake is far from the largest body of water you can explore on your New York holidays, but it is nevertheless one of the most spectacular.
Avalanche Lake is surrounded by mountains, which means every inch of it offers the kind of epic views you will no doubt be hoping for. Visitors can find easily accessible camping spots all along the shore of the lake but should bear in mind that some of the more popular ones fill up quickly during the summer.
Affectionately known as the ‘Queen of American Lakes’, it should come as no surprise that Lake George is a somewhat bigger example of the many extraordinary lakes near New York that can be discovered on a trip to the region, with a total surface area of 45 miles.
Situated at the base of the Adirondacks, Lake George’s picturesque setting has attracted the great and the good for hundreds of years; in the late 19th century, several huge mansions were built on its western shore by wealthy summer visitors who were enamoured by the views available there – the area quickly became known as ‘Millionaire’s Row’.
Chautauqua Lake is another ideal choice for those who would rather spend their days on a leisurely fishing or boating trip rather than hiking or white-water rafting. A classic recreational lake, it is a hugely popular summer destination and a great place to catch some impressive firework displays on the fourth of July.
With a replica steamboat offering sightseeing cruises, countless shoreside restaurants and a long-established private yacht club, it is fair to say that Chautauqua is, whilst beautiful, best suited to the more relaxed traveller!
In terms of size, Lake Erie is in another league when it comes to the many lakes near New York. By far the biggest lake in the state, it is one of the five North American ‘Great Lakes’ and, as well as NY, also borders Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the Canadian province of Ontario.
Lake Erie offers all the usual visitor-friendly activities one would expect to find in an area of water that is so large and in such an easily accessible location, including pleasure cruises and water sports. Where this lake comes into its own, however, is in the diving opportunities it presents; although only recommended for skilled and experienced divers, those who meet these criteria will be blown away by the incredible array of shipwrecks that can be explored below Lake Erie’s surface.
While nowhere near the same scale as Lake Erie, Lake Champlain – found in the north-east corner of New York state and sharing a border with Vermont and the Canadian province of Quebec – is still a huge body of water, with a surface area of over 500 square miles.
Lake Champlain is an excellent spot for anyone who enjoys seeking out architecturally impressive lighthouses, with its shores being home to half a dozen fascinating examples.
Whilst there is a total of 217 lakes in the state, the 11 so-called ‘Finger Lakes’ are among its most iconic natural wonders, and all of our final five highlighted lakes near New York are members of this much-loved group. Arguably the most impressive of all the Finger Lakes is Skaneateles, which was glowingly described by the 19th-century politician William Henry Seward as “the most beautiful body of water in the world”.
Widely regarded as one of the cleanest lakes in the U.S., Skaneateles is also surrounded by many historic landmarks – such as Carpenter’s Falls and New Hope Mill - making it a fantastic place to visit whilst on holiday in the area.
The longest of the Finger Lakes, Cayuga would be a great choice for anyone hoping to enjoy a spot of fishing during their getaway.
Sustainable angling is actively encouraged in the lake, which boasts strong populations of many sought-after species of fish, including Atlantic salmon, smallmouth bass and yellow perch.
Distinct from the other Finger Lakes due to its unusual Y-shape, Keuka is perhaps best known for the wonderful wine that is produced in the many high-quality vineyards that surround it.
Connoisseurs are sure to have a fantastic time by going on a journey along the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, which takes in tours of around a dozen of the area’s esteemed wine-growing locations.
Conesus Lake is not one of the lakes near New York which has the highest number of annual, tourism-related visitors, but the tranquil atmosphere this creates makes it an even more rewarding place to spend a day or two at.
If you get the chance, be sure to visit Conesus on the evening of the third of July, as its annual ‘Ring of Fire’ tradition sees around 10,000 flares lit at 10:00 PM by members of the different communities who live on the shores of the lake, creating an incredible visual spectacle.
The second smallest of the Finger Lakes, Honeoye is nevertheless a lovely place to take the time to see if you get a chance.
Unlike most of New York’s lakes, Honeoye Lake is arguably at its best during the winter months. This is because the lake is prone to freezing extremely quickly, making it the perfect spot for activities like skating and ice fishing.