For most people, the Hamptons immediately spring to mind if you mention beaches in New York. Typically, NYC residents flock to the nearby beaches in the summer to beat the heat, hitting up the popular Hamptons beaches and also going to Coney Island Beach and Brighton Beach in Brooklyn or even Rockaway Beach in Queens.
However, an entirely different beach experience awaits as you drive north to upstate New York, where amazing, family-friendly beaches surround its rivers and lakes with recreational opportunities for all ages.
From the Great Lakes Ontario and Erie to smaller bodies of water such as Lake Placid, New York offers visitors beach experiences from east to west and from north to south.
We have rounded up our favorite beaches in upstate NY to help you plan the perfect way to beat the heat in the summer or just relax in a tranquil setting any time of year.
1. Allegany State Park
Beach season lasts from June to September at Allegany State Park, where you can also use campsites or rent cabins to stay overnight. In addition to the sandy beach, you will find fishing piers, hiking trails, sports fields, and even a Quaker Museum.
2. Bellayre Beach
Located in Pine Hill, this popular beach kicks off the summer season on June 18, and visitors can purchase either day tickets to the park or season passes.
In addition to swimming, the beach offers kayaking and standup paddleboarding (rental fees apply for all boats), picnic areas, horseshoe pits, and volleyball. There is a snack bar onsite, and visitors also enjoy the majestic mountain views at this Catskills beach area.
3. Bennett Beach
A popular lakefront beach in Erie County, Bennett Beach is a Buffalo favorite. Swimming, fishing, and windsurfing are all popular activities here, and there are restrooms, a playground onsite, and an adjacent parking lot.
4. Cedar Point State Park
The swimming season at Cedar Point runs from June 20 to September 7, and guests can also fish along the pier or rent a boat for the day. A playground onsite is great for kids, along with a baseball field, and there is also a campground available for both tents and trailers. The pavilions and shelters can be rented for special family events, and you can even watch ocean freighters going by at this Thousand Lakes Region park.
5. Croton Point Park Beach
With modest parking fees for an impressive 508-acre park, Croton Point is a great way for families to enjoy a fantastic day of recreation without breaking the bank. The beach season starts on weekends in late May and opens on Wednesdays starting June 22. The park is always closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
In addition to swimming and enjoying the sandy beach along the Hudson River, visitors can use the boat launch, camp, hike, and visit the nature center. There are concessions onsite, or you can bring your own food in for a summer picnic.
6. Durand Eastman Park
This City of Rochester beach on Lake Ontario includes 5,000 feet of waterfront for families to enjoy in the summer months. Lifeguards are on duty daily during the summer, and if you tire of swimming on the beach, you can also check out the hiking trails.
7. Evangola State Park
A popular park in New York state for those who love to camp overnight near a swimming beach, Evangola boasts 80 campsites, 6 yurts, a cabin, and a nature center. In addition to the camping amenities, this park has picnic shelters, baseball fields, and basketball and tennis courts. Be sure to pack your favorite sports equipment and your swimsuit for a great summer getaway to Evangola State Park on Lake Erie.
8. Fair Haven Beach State Park
Lake Ontario Park, with its high bluffs and woodlands, is one of the most majestic beachfront in upstate New York, with plenty of amenities to make for a great family vacation. Campsites are available along with boat rentals, fishing, play areas, and sports fields. A snack stand also offers refreshments in this well-maintained and popular park.
9. Long Point State Park
This 320-acre park is located along one of the highest navigable bodies of water in the U.S., and a swimming beach, bathhouse, picnic pavilions, and boat launch make it a well-loved destination for summer vacationers. Visitors love relaxing by Chautauqua Lake or exploring area trails in addition to swimming at the beach.
10. Mirror Lake Public Beach
With lifeguards on duty in the summer season, this Lake Placid beach is a favorite for swimmers and is a fantastic fishing spot. Canoe and kayak access is available at Mirror Lake public beach, but motorboats are not allowed. Walking trails, a tennis court, and a playground offer plenty of opportunities for recreation for the whole family. Stick around on summer evenings for a weekly concert series, too!
11. Olcott Beach
This charming spot in Niagara County has a popular carousel park with a summer concert series in addition to its great swimming beach. Lifeguards are on duty in the summer, and there are numerous amenities onsite, including playgrounds, a picnic shelter, sports fields and tennis and basketball courts, and a splash pool.
12. Ontario Beach State Park
This 39-acre Great Lakes park has a fishing pier and public boat launch, a summer concert series, a bathhouse, concessions, and a carousel. Parking is located adjacent to the park and close to the beach, making it a great park for visitors of all ages to enjoy fun in the sun.
13. Veterans Memorial Park Beach
Lake George Beach in New York state boasts stunning views along with a playground, kayak launch, and picnic areas. You will need to bring your own food and drink as there is no concession area on site. Parking is $5 per vehicle, and public restrooms are available.
14. Wilkeson Point Park
This 15-acre park on Lake Erie in Buffalo offers bike and kayak rentals and even a beer garden! Restrooms, game tables, a playground, and beach volleyball are additional amenities that make this spot popular with families in the summer months and year-round.
Megan Jones leads the editorial staff of Seaside Planet. They are a multidisciplinary team of outdoor adventurers, water sports lovers, and passionate beach goers. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.