Top Boating Destinations in New York State

New York City, United States
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As soon as the winter ice starts to thaw, people head to upstate New York to enjoy a fun time boating and riding. Rivers, canals, and lakes are spread out throughout the state, making boating one of the most entertaining activities. Hence, if you happen to be in New York for the warm weather, here is a quick list of all the fun destinations for boating.

Fun Boating Destinations

Cold Spring Harbor

Cold Spring Harbor offers the most versatile boating experiences that you could find in New York. For example, Cold Spring Harbor has some of the finest small beaches where you can drop an anchor and enjoy a nice picnic. Although, there is more to boating than enjoying a fun picnic on the water; the waters are also large enough for wakeboarding and water skiing. 

Whether you have a small boat or a large one, you will find the Cold Spring Harbor to be well worth your time. If you’re looking to do some exploring on the waters, then there are plenty of historic mansions and parks out there for you to explore as well.

Lake George

Lake George is one of the most historically rich lakes in New York as it was a very popular fur-trading route. It also played a major role in the American Revolution, with various shipwrecks still lying at the bottom. Thomas Jefferson even said it was the most beautiful water he had ever seen. It might not come as a surprise to hear that it still is considered one of the most beautiful lakes. 

Lake GeorgeLake George with boats and people on pier during day of springtime

If you’re going out boating in New York, this is one of the absolute best places to relax and get more in touch with nature. 

Thousand Islands

If you’re looking to catch some game on your visit to New York, Long Island has a multitude of fish just waiting to be caught. Grab your bait and fishing poles for the many types of bass, perch, northern pike, and the mighty musky. Fishing in this lake is even easier, thanks to the 100 different launchpads in the area. 

Boldt Castle in the Thousand Islands region of the U.S. state of New York

The Boldt Castle is located on Heart Island in the Saint Lawrence River

The water surrounding the Thousand Islands is also incredibly beautiful, as it is so clear that you can see right through it. There are also plenty of historic lighthouses and castles to explore in the area on your boat, making it one of the best places for boating in New York.

Finger Lakes

One of the most interesting things about the Finger Lakes is that its smaller lakes have extended out like fingers. With such a large body of water to ride around in, it is easily one of the best destinations for boating in New York as well.

Boat moving along the Cayuga–Seneca Canal and downtown Seneca Falls in Finger Lakes region, upstate New York State USA on a sunny dayBoat moving along the Cayuga–Seneca Canal and downtown Seneca Falls in Finger Lakes region, upstate New York State

You can bring the wakeboards and water skis with you, as the massive area makes for a great place for water sports. However, be careful, as the views here might leave you distracted.

The Hudson River

The Hudson river extends 300 miles, giving boaters plenty of space to maneuver the waters. People with speed boats will especially appreciate the open waters, as they can experience the most out of their boat without worrying about other boaters as much. 

City of New York and the Hudson River Under a Cloudy SkyCity of New York and the Hudson River under a cloudy sky

The river is also great for anglers looking to catch smallmouth or largemouth bass during the summer or striped bass during the spring. If you’re just looking to explore the area by boat in New York, there are plenty of small towns on the Hudson River that you can explore too.


Freeport offers some of the largest inlets and islands that make for some of the best boating in New York. Whether you’re looking to catch a game to show off to your friends or want to simply get around to take a relaxing trip on the water, Freeport is just the place for you.

Freeport also has the Jackson Theater, where families can anchor the boats and enjoy a concert, or they can go to a nearby beach for that tranquil, tropical feeling. There are plenty of things to see and explore throughout the area if you’re up for the challenge. 

Lake Placid 

Lake Placid is a great place to experience the water, with many of its smaller pockets being completely inaccessible by the road. It is also where they shot the movie Lake Placid, which makes riding down the waters at night particularly thrilling.  

Lake PlacidLake Placid in New York surrounded by vibrant red foliage

The water there is also fresh and crystal clear, making for a fun riding experience looking down into the lake. It also has a particularly fun waterskiing course that can challenge your skills as a rider, and there is plenty of space to have fun wakeboarding. 

Long Lake

Long Lake is one of the few destinations dedicated to water sports. If you find someone on their way to Long Lake, one could assume they´re about to enjoy the skiing courses. The lake has specific skiing courses and plenty of space for other water sports throughout its 14-mile long area. 

Long Lake, Adirondacks, New York, USALong Lake, Adirondacks, New York

Wakeboarding, tubing, and jet skiing are just fun activities that people will get into while on the lake. The long lake also offers scenic routes of the mountains for paddle boarders who just want a quick look at the beautiful surrounding area.

Saranac Lake

Saranac Lake has a very misleading name since it implies that it is just one lake. However, the truth is that Saranac Lake consists of multiple smaller lakes that stretch out for over 24 miles. Each of these smaller lakes offers beautiful views of the surrounding area, making it a great place for boaters to relax and enjoy the view. 

Saranac Lakes region on the Adirondacks in New York StateSaranac Lakes region on the Adirondacks in New York state

There are also plenty of sandy beaches where you can stop by and explore the smaller islands. For example, there is also enough open space to bring out a kneeboard and a towboat and have fun riding around.


Is It Possible to Boat from New York to Florida?

It is possible to ride a boat from New York to Florida, but it will take a long time. Florida is approximately 938 miles from New York, making the trip possible within four days. However, if you’re looking to make a straight shot for Miami, it is possible to reach the city in a little over a day. 

The only way to reach New York that fast is by taking the outer route to the city, but you can also take the inside route. You can’t ride as fast on the inside route, which makes it a four-day trip at least.

Do I Need a License to Go Boating in New York? 

Boaters in New York do not need a license to operate boats or any personal watercraft; boaters will first have to get a boating safety certificate to operate a watercraft. Boaters driving a boat without the necessary safety certificate could lead to a hefty fine, and the certificate program itself will require individuals to learn about applicable regulations and appear in a written test. 

What Is the Cleanest Lake in New York?

There are plenty of freshwater lakes in New York that offer a crystal clear view of the bottom. However, the cleanest lake for boating in New York is easily Skaneateles. People living in neighboring towns use the lake as a source of drinking water. People living in the lake's villages are also very welcoming, making the experience so much better.

How Old Does a Passenger Have to Be to Wear a Life Vest?

Passengers under the age of 12 must wear a life vest when staying out on the water. They should be wearing a good life vest approved by the US coast guard, and it should be of appropriate size. Finally, as a general safety rule, passengers should always wear a life vest on a moving boat. That should be enough to protect them in case of the ship tips over.

Can I Drink While Driving or Riding a Boat?

As a passenger on a boat, there is no limit on how much individuals can drink. However, drivers cannot drink, especially if the ship is out on open waters and they are the only person capable of driving the boat. State authorities can board the vessel if they think you are driving a boat while under the influence.

What Does a Serviceable Life Jacket Mean?

A good life jacket refers to one specifically approved by the US Coast Guard. Furthermore, these personal safety jackets should not have any tears or holes, which could threaten the person wearing them. The straps and buckles should be in good condition, and they should not show any signs of waterlogging.

New York is home to some of the most scenic and exciting bodies of water in the US. So if you’re planning on going boating in New York soon, be sure to visit these lakes at least once.

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