Safe Travels: 10 great places to go kayaking in Upstate New York

Originally published on New York Upstate 
Kayakers enjoy a beautiful, hot summer day at Green Lakes State Park Thursday, June 16, 2016, during a beginner kayaking course. Here, they listen to an instructor on how to navigate the kayaks. Left to right are Brian Usobiaga, of Oswego, Theresa Neddo, of Syracuse, and Preethi Moorthy, of Oswego. Lauren Long | llong@syracuse.com

By Jessica Kelly

Editor’s Note: This is part of an ongoing series that features things to do in Upstate New York while we still experience the Covid-19 pandemic. Before venturing out, please take proper precautions and check for any changed business hours, park hours or availability. Safe travels!

Bordering a great lake, the Finger Lakes, and many other bodies of water throughout Upstate New York gives us the opportunity to get out on the water more often than some, with plenty of locations offering kayak rentals. Whether you want to use your own kayak or need to rent, here are some places along New York where you can take advantage of a nice day by paddling out on the water.


Buffalo River (Erie County)

Although there are launch sites available along the river, I’d recommend Buffalo Riverworks (359 Ganson St, Buffalo, NY 14203). They’re essentially creating their own little oasis with places to see street art near General Mills, zip lining over a brewery, amazing food, arcade games, plenty of fantastic beer, a ropes course, rock climbing, tiki boats, and so much more available just at this place alone. They have plenty of kayak rentals if you need them that can be launched from the facility if you’re looking to spend some time on the water.

AIDS survivor Ralf Bernecker takes his kayak out on Skaneateles Lake on Saturday June 20th 2015. Stephen D. Cannerelli | scannerelli@syracuse.com

Fishcreek Marina (Saratoga County)

The smooth waters in Saratoga County are perfect for paddling. If you need a rental, the family owned business, Kayak Shak (251 county, Co Rd 67, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866), started with just a few kayaks and grew into a 20 year old company. They love inspiring people to get out on the water and enjoy. Head into town after your kayak excursions for a coffee from Saratoga Coffee Traders (447 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866) or a doughnut from Darling Doughnuts (441 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866).

Irondequoit Bay (Monroe County)

Rochester is such a cute area with plenty to do like the Strong Museum of Play, culture, art, and amazing restaurants. Although known for their city life, the bay is perfect for kayaking. If you need rentals, BayCreek Paddling Center (1099 Empire Blvd, Rochester, NY 14609) has canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddle boards for the Irondequoit Bay.

Seneca Lake (Schuyler County)

Explore Seneca Lake near Watkins Glen, kayaking through the beautiful waters before exploring the area. If you need rentals, Seneca Lake Kayak in Watkins Glen can help you out. If you’re there in the summer, check out the pop up, outdoor wood fire pizza place next to the Colonial Pottery & Creamery (701 N Franklin St, Watkins Glen, NY 14891). Don’t forget to ask for hot honey drizzled on top!

National Canoe & Kayak Marathon Championships are held at Onondaga Lake Park in Liverpool, NY, Thursday August 9, 2018. Scott Schild | sschild@syracuse.com Scott Schild | sschild@syracuse.comScott Schild | sschild@syracuse.

Cayuga Lake (Tompkins County)

Spend time out on Cayuga Lake relaxing in the sun. The Ithaca area is just adorable to explore after you’re done with your day out on the water. They have excellent food at Just A Taste (116 N Aurora St, Ithaca, NY 14850) and you can even go glamping at Firelight Camps (1150 Danby Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850) in luxury safari tents while in town. If you’re in need of a rental, check out Puddledockers Retail and Rentals (321 Taughannock Blvd, Ithaca, NY 14850).

Hudson River (Saratoga County)

The Capital District is right near the beautiful Hudson River, the perfect place to cruise along via kayak. If you’re in need of rentals, Upstate Kayak Rental (First and, Front St, Waterford, NY 12188) has plenty available. Get your work out in paddling out on the water before exploring what the region has to offer like their mozzarella sticks with raspberry melba sauce!

Rondout Creek (Ulster County)

Discover the beautiful water in Rondout Creek near Kingston, NY. Bring your own or grab a rental at A Day Away Kayak Rentals (944 NY-213, Kingston, NY 12401), a family owned kayak rental facility in Kingston, offering both single and double kayaks to visitors. After paddling out for a while, you can explore the Kingston area or even make it an overnight stay at the Hotel Kinsley (301 Wall St, Kingston, NY 12401).

Ausable River Association Science and Stewardship Director Brendan Wiltse paddles the West Branch of the Ausable River. Wiltse was out conducting water monitoring tests. Mike Lynch for newyorkupstate.com

Ausable River (Clinton County)

The Adirondacks are just absolutely stunning and the Ausable River in Adirondack Park is the perfect place to explore the water via kayak. You can have a day full of activity here with mountain bike rentals and plenty of places to hike, too. If you need rentals, they have you covered with Adirondack River Rentals (3004 U.S. 9, Peru, NY 12972).

Raquette River (Franklin County)

Check out the Raquette River and Pond by kayak, enjoying the warm spring weather. Raquette River Outfitters (1754 NY-30, Tupper Lake, NY 12986) has been running since the 1980s and has plenty of kayaks, canoes, and stand up paddle boards to rent if you need one!

Paradox Bay (Essex County)

Scout out Paradox Bay, rowing through the waters. If you’re in need of a kayak, Captain Marney’s Boat Rental (35 Victor Herbert Rd, Lake Placid, NY 12946) can help you out and they even show you paddling techniques when you go through them for rentals. The Lake Placid area has amazing places to eat and explore when you’re done with your excursion.

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