Unforgettable Upstate New York Beaches

No ocean? No problem! The rivers, lakes and parks of upstate New York prove that you don't need access to the Atlantic to have a great time at the beach.
upstate new york beaches
No ocean? No problem! The rivers, lakes and parks of upstate New York prove you don’t need access to the Atlantic to have a great time at the beach. From swimming holes to the shores of Lake Erie, these upstate New York beaches are the perfect places to beat the heat this summer.

Adirondack Region

Veterans Memorial Park Beach, Bolton Landing 

Fees: Parking is $5.
Hours: Beach is open daily from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

A less crowded and more peaceful alternative than some of the larger and more popular beaches in the Lake George area. The views of the lake are spectacular here, but that isn’t the only attraction. There is also a basketball court, playground, kayak launch and public docks. There are no food facilities but there is a picnic area. There are also many restaurants a short drive or walk away on Lake Shore Drive.

Lake Placid Public Beach, Lake Placid 

Fees: Free
Hours: Lifeguards on duty daily during beach season.

Also known as Mirror Lake Public Beach, because of its location on the southern shore of Mirror Lake, Lake Placid Public Beach provides great fishing access. The lake is known for being a rainbow trout, lake trout and smallmouth bass fishing hotspot, so anglers should be sure to bring their rods. The facility also has a canoe and kayak access site for paddlers, but motorboats are prohibited on the lake. Not far from the shore, a playground, tennis court and 2.7-mile walking trail provide opportunities for the whole family to get some exercise after a relaxing morning of lounging in the sand. Added bonus – this is a dog-friendly beach, so bring along your best furry friend!

Catskills Region

Oquaga Creek State Park, Bainbridge

Fees: Free
Hours: Park is open year-round from dawn to dusk.

Just a three-hour drive from New York City and New Jersey, Oquaga Creek State Park is one of the best upstate New York beaches to escape to this summer. Here visitors can spend the day tanning in the sand or swimming in the cool, calm waters of Arctic Lake. Bring your fishing poles, as the lake is home to an abundance of black bass, bullheads and rainbow trout. After a long morning by the water, visitors can get some exercise hiking or biking along the park’s 6 miles of nature trails. If you’re looking to spend more than just a day, there are 90 campsites available for visitor use, which are ideal for RV and tent camping.

Hudson Valley Region

Croton Point Park Beach, Croton-on-Hudson

Fees: Parking is $5 for residents and $10 for non-residents. Daily beach admission fee is $4 for adults, $3 for children ages 5-11 and $2 for seniors.
Hours: Open Saturdays and Sundays only, May 28 through Sept. 4. Also open on Memorial Day, July 4 and Labor Day.

Croton Point Park is comprised of 508 acres of land, including a stretch of beach along the Hudson River. It offers a boat launch, lifeguard-protected swimming, kayaking and canoeing, fishing and a pool for Westchester County residents. The park allows RV camping and contains playgrounds, hiking trails, pavilions and even a nature center. Dogs are allowed in the park, but they must be leashed. Order something from one of the food stands or bring some hot dogs and hamburgers to put on the grill in the picnic area. 

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Thousand Islands-Seaway Region

Cedar Point State Park, Clayton (pictured above)

Fees: $6 per car during off-peak times, $7 per car during peak times. Free with a New York State pass.
Hours: Park is open from early May through Columbus Day. Swimming season is from June 25 through Labor Day.

Beach-goers can swim in the lifeguard-protected waters, fish along the pier, play a game of beach volleyball or rent and launch powerboats. The nearby marina allows visitors to dock their boats both during the day and overnight for a small fee. Other amenities include a baseball field, playground and campground for both tent and trailer camping. Dogs are allowed in the park so long as they are kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet; however, they are not permitted in the picnic or bathing areas.

Central New York Region

Glimmerglass State Park, Cooperstown

Fees: Vehicle entrance is $7 per car from June 17 through Labor Day. Free with a New York State pass.
Hours: Park is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Swimming hours are 11 a.m. through 7 p.m., weekends only Memorial Day through June 18, and daily from June 18 through Labor Day.

Glimmerglass State Park got its name because James Fenimore Cooper referred to Otsego Lake as “Glimmerglass” in his book “The Leatherstocking Tales.” This calm, peaceful upstate New York beach is a great place to go swimming, boating or fishing. The lake contains an abundance of panfish, pickerel, smallmouth and largemouth bass. Within the park, visitors can hike or bike along miles of nature trails, have a picnic in the shaded picnic area, play with their children on the playgrounds or even set up camp overnight.

upstate new york beaches
Hamlin Beach State Park (Photo: J. Rozell / NYS Parks )

Finger Lakes Region

Hamlin Beach State Park, Hamlin

Fees: Vehicle entrance is $9. Free with a New York State pass.
Hours: Park is open year-round from dawn to dusk. Vehicle entrance fees collected 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekends from May 14 until June 23, daily from June 23 through Labor day and weekends after Labor day until the third weekend in October. Swimming beach schedule is mid-June to Labor Day (subject to change).

Among upstate New York beaches, this is a favorite for Monroe County and surrounding area residents, bringing in thousands of visitors each year. Its sandy lakefront beach offers lifeguard-supervised swimming, car-top boat launching and some of the best salmon and trout fishing in the area.

The park itself contains more than 10 miles of trails suitable for hiking, biking and jogging, as well as a mile-long self-guided nature walk. With a diverse range of animal species, including marsh-nesting birds, amphibians, turtles and beavers, this park is ideal for nature lovers; it has even been named an Important Bird Area by the National Audubon Society.

A spacious campground is also located on the premises, featuring 264 sites for both tent and trailer camping along with amenities such as showers, restrooms and dumping stations.

Niagara Region

Bennet Beach, Angola

Fees: Free
Hours: Beach hours are 10 a.m.-7 p.m. (Swimming opens at 11 a.m. and is only permitted when lifeguards are on duty.)

According to the county’s website, Bennet is “considered by many to be the most beautiful beach in Erie County.” Its family-friendly atmosphere, clean sand and clear water attract visitors from all over the Buffalo area each year. Popular ways to spend time at Bennett Beach include swimming, fishing and wind surfing. A variety of wildlife call this area home, making it a great location for both birdwatchers and nature lovers alike. Other amenities include a small playground area and restrooms.

Chautauqua-Allegany Region

Allegany State Park, Salamanca

Fees: $7 vehicle fee. Free with a New York State pass.
Hours: Park is open year-round. Swimming season is June 25 through Labor Day, every day from11 a.m.- 6:30 p.m.

The Quaker Area of Allegany State Park is known for its lakes and camping. The lakes offer sandy beach, fishing piers and non-motorized boating. The park’s hiking trails are popular and bring visitors through many kinds of wilderness, including caves and deep woods. If you’re looking to be active, the park has baseball fields as well as basketball, volleyball and tennis courts. A unique attraction is an old Quaker store, which has now been restored into a museum about the park and the Quaker people. The Quaker Area is also home to two campgrounds that have a combined 189 campsites and 230 cabins available for rent, 30 of which are available in the winter.

The Red House Area, located on Red House Lake, is suited for more active visitors. With 5 miles of paved bike paths, a softball field, a horseshoe pit and volleyball and tennis courts, this area has something for every sportsperson to love. For those who prefer water sports, the facility features a lifeguard-protected beach, which allows for swimming, fishing and boating. The Red House Area also contains a campground with a total of 130 campsites and 144 cabins, 128 of which are winterized.

Capital-Saratoga Region

Moreau Lake State Park, Gansevoort

Fees: $8 per vehicle from May 28 through Labor Day / $6 per vehicle on weekends and holidays. Free with a New York State pass.
Hours: Park is open year-round from dusk to dawn. The beach is open daily for swimming, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Moreau Lake State Park consists of 4,600 acres of land beside the Hudson River. The park’s lake beach is a popular summer vacation destination. There, beach-goers can tan, swim, fish, kayak and rent and launch small boats. The park itself contains more than 20 miles of multi-use trails, where visitors can walk, bike, jog and observe the wildlife. Moreau Lake State Park also contains a bird conservation area, where birds such as bald eagles, Cooper’s hawks, red-shouldered hawks, pied-billed grebes and northern harriers nest. Camping within the park is permitted and there are more than 100 campsites for both RV and tent camping.

What are your favorite upstate New York beaches? Tell us in the comments.

Find top beaches throughout the Northeast at AAA.com/BeachGuide.

This post was originally published in 2018 and has been updated. 

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