Plan Your Perfect Beach Day at These Lake Ontario Beaches

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Boy playing at lake along Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario offers beautiful beaches for residents and visitors to enjoy sunbathing and swimming far from the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll also have ample opportunities for fishing, boating, wildlife viewing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and camping. 

So let’s explore these perfect destinations for a family looking for adventure and fun during any season. We’ll dive into seven of the best Lake Ontario beaches in New York.

Where Is Lake Ontario? 

Lake Ontario, one of the five Great Lakes of North America, lies to the southeast of the Canadian province of Ontario and northwest of New York State.

 The city of Rochester, N.Y., lies on the southern shoreline, and the Niagara River from Lake Erie feeds Lake Ontario. 

Additionally, the Saint Lawrence River flows from Lake Ontario into the Atlantic Ocean.

Man relaxing in Adirondack chair along Lake Ontario.

What Is Lake Ontario Known For? 

Lake Ontario is the 13th largest lake in the world. Of the Great Lakes, it’s the smallest in surface area at 7,340 square miles, but it exceeds Lake Erie in volume at 393 cubic miles.

Furthermore, one of the special features of Lake Ontario is its location. It has the lowest elevation of the Great Lakes and extensive wetlands and freshwater fisheries. 

Furthermore, wind and currents have built up sand bars all along the shoreline. These sand bars make the perfect resting stop for migratory birds and homes to numerous other wildlife species.

Does Lake Ontario Have Good Beaches? 

Lake Ontario has many diverse beaches with different scenery and activities. You can sunbathe on the shore of some beaches or go hiking along the sand dunes at others. 

However, do your research before arriving at one of the parks. Not all locations permit swimming or allow access to the shoreline. 

Some protect migratory birds and other wildlife, other locations provide lifeguards for a fun day in the water. So do your homework before you go.

Is Lake Ontario Clean Enough for Swimming? 

Along with fishing and birding, swimming is one of the most popular activities at Lake Ontario. Regional health units run multiple tests at every beach and have found the water safe to swim in. 

In fact, some of the beaches on Lake Ontario have received the “Blue Flag” status — an award only attainable by the highest quality water.

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Two older women friends sitting on bench alongside Lake Ontario

Best Lake Ontario Beaches

These Lake Ontario beaches vary in amenities, fees, and landscape. They provide different opportunities for visitors to enjoy the outdoors, from swimming to birding overlooks and spectacular sunsets.

Let’s look at seven of the best beaches along the Lake Ontario shoreline in New York.

Chimney Bluffs State Park

Address: 7700 Garner Road, Wolcott, NY 14590

About: Many enjoy fishing, hiking, hunting, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing at Chimney Bluffs State Park. It remains open year-round from dawn to dusk, but you only have a vehicle entrance fee of $5 collected between April 1 and Oct. 31. 

The 1.29-mile Bluff Trail runs along the top of the sand dunes and is the closest trail to the Lake Ontario shore. And the 0.75-mile Garner Point Trail leads to a scenic overlook at the water’s edge.

Hamlin Beach State Park

Address: 1 Hamlin Beach Blvd. West, Hamlin, NY 14464

About: Thousands of visitors flock to Hamlin Beach State Park because of its clear water, sandy beaches, and family-friendly campsites. Many also use the 6 miles of hiking and biking trails in the winter for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing. 

Guests can also enjoy picnicking, paddling, boating, fishing, and swimming along the shores. You can only go swimming at this Lake Ontario beach when lifeguards are on duty, typically from mid-June to Labor Day. 

You can also make camping reservations from May 20 to Oct. 10, but the state park remains open year-round. On the weekends, you do have a $9 vehicle entrance fee from the middle of May until June 24, daily from June 24 through Labor Day, and again on weekends after Labor day until Columbus Day.

El Dorado Preserve

Address: Grand Jean Rd, Henderson, NY 13650

About: The El Dorado Coastal Preserve is land protected by the Nature Conservatory. The grasslands and wetlands of the preserve have crustaceans, birds, deer, butterflies, and numerous reptiles and amphibians. 

Birders especially enjoy El Dorado Coastal Preserve between July through September when a large concentration of migratory shorebirds stop on their journey between James Bay in Canada and Central and South America. 

The 1.4-mile Preserve Trail winds through much of the area and provides opportunities to see these birds and other wildlife.

Furthermore, the park prohibits motor vehicles, bicycles, fishing, trapping, and swimming to protect the preserve. It opens to the public year-round except during hunting season from Sept. 27 to Dec. 12. 

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Mexico Point State Park

Address: 120 Mexico Point Drive West, Mexico, NY 13114

About: Open from dawn to dusk from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Mexico Point State Park has a swimming beach with two lifeguards on duty.

It also has a dog beach and a fishing beach. The 120 acres provide the public with picnic areas, nature trails, swimming, and cultural experiences. You can also use the bathhouse with restrooms and changing rooms.

Visitors can enjoy the quarter-mile trail to historic Spy Island and Roop’s Loop and the three-quarter-mile self-interpretive nature trail. And you get free entrance at Mexico Point State Park.

Fair Haven Beach State Park

Address: 14985 State Park Road, Fair Haven, NY 13064

About: Visit the Finger Lakes region of New York for another Lake Ontario beach called Fair Haven Beach State Park. The park collects a $9 vehicle entrance fee from April 1 through Oct. 31.

Additionally, you can enjoy biking, boating, swimming, fishing, hiking, hunting, paddling, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing. 

The 1,500 feet of sandy beaches include 600 feet of the guarded swim area. A diving channel with two boards separates the two beaches.

Visitors can also rent row boats, paddle boats, canoes, and kayaks to use on the inland Sterling Pond waterway. 

Three separate campgrounds also provide campsites, picnic areas, a ball field, a camp store, a hiking trail, an 18-hole golf course, and beautiful views of Lake Ontario.

Selkirk Shores State Park

Address: 7101 State Route #3, Pulaski, NY 13142

About: Selkirk Shores State Park lies along the migration route for various bird species. You can also go tent camping along the bluff overlooking Lake Ontario. Many enjoy hiking, biking, fishing, non-motorized boating, and swimming here. 

Additionally, camping opens from mid-May to mid-October, but the park remains open year-round.

And the Salmon River and the Grindstone Creek run into Lake Ontario from Selkirk Shores State Park. Salmon and steelhead fishing are world-class in Salmon River.

Ontario Beach Park

Address: 4800 Lake Avenue, Rochester, NY 14613

About: This 39-acre park features a pier, a 1905 Dentzel Menagerie Carousel, and beautiful beaches along Lake Ontario.

Supervised swimming is offered the Friday after Father’s Day through Labor Day from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Anyone with a valid fishing license over 16 years old can fish from the pier. 

During the summer, Ontario Beach Park hosts free concerts on Wednesday evenings for the public.

Additional amenities at the park include six beach volleyball courts, picnic shelters, a playground, food concessions, a basketball court, and softball fields.

Are Lake Ontario Beaches Worth Visiting? 

Some of these Lake Ontario beaches are perfect for enjoying scenic views and watching wildlife. Others make a great summer destination for families looking to spend a day in the sun and splashing in the water.

Whatever type of experience you desire, these Lake Ontario beaches will provide serenity or excitement.

Which Lake Ontario beach will you visit first? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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