lake george
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best lake vacations for NYC families

Escape the city with lake vacations that are perfect for the whole family. Did someone say "kayaking"?

By Danielle Valente
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Don't let summer slip by without embarking on one of our go-to lake vacations. 

From a Poconos trip to a stay at Rocking Horse Ranch, these weekend getaways provide adventure (think kayaking, tubing and boating), gorgeous scenery, fun outdoor activities for kids and great family restaurants where you can refuel after a long day. It's the perfect escape from NYC without getting on a plane. 

This summer has certainly been unlike anything we've ever experienced, but new safety features are in place at various family attractions and lodging spots, so no matter where you decide to venture, call ahead and ask questions before heading out.

Don't forget to test your vocal skills with our favorite car sing alongs

Lake Vacations

lake placid
lake placid
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Lake Placid, New York

Travel time: 5 hours from NYC 

Although this village nestled in the Adirondack Mountains is known as a Winter Olympics hub, Lake Placid comes alive during the summer months. It's an adventurer's paradise thanks to a slew of outdoor activities like hiking, rock climbing and camping. But one of the main draws is the fun on Mirror Lake, including kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding. When it comes time to chow down, you can start your day with a hearty breakfast from Dancing Bears Restaurant, enjoy a family-friendly environment on the deck of the Moose House Boat Lodge Restaurant and polish off your daily adventures with a pitstop to Emma's Lake Placid Creamery (a no-brainer). Lodging options like High Peaks Resort (from $179/night) and Golden Arrows Lakeside Resort (from $139/night) have taken extra safety precautions this year. Call the resorts directly to learn more. Visit lakeplacid.com for travel updates. 

Lake Harmony
Lake Harmony
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania

Travel time: 2 hours from NYC

It comes as no surprise that a reservoir nestled in the Pocono Mountains is a hit with families. Lake Harmony's entertainment options are endless, whether you're looking to spend quality time in nature or get some thrills. Hikers should make sure to work their way toward Hawks Falls and enjoy the beautiful waterfall. Those in search of excitement will want to book activities with Lake Harmony Watersports. Offerings run the gamut from wakeboarding and tubing to canoeing and paddle boarding. Set up shop at Split Rock Resort (where breakfast is included) before parking yourself at the indoor water park, which includes four-story slides, a wavepool, dump buckets and other nifty features. New health and safety measures are in place this year. Call or visit the resort's website for details. 

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Rocking Horse Ranch
Rocking Horse Ranch
Photograph: Courtesy Rocking Horse Ranch

3. Rocking Horse Ranch in Highland, New York

Travel time: 2.5 hours from NYC

Get ready for an all-inclusive resort like no other. Rocking Horse Ranch pays homage to summer camp days with horseback riding, water sports on its private lake and other outdoor activities for the whole family. Looking for performances? You’ll have it made with magic acts, ventriloquists and other entertainment options. When activities become too overwhelming (for parents), make sure to take advantage of spa treatments such as facials and massages. Learn about the resort's new safety procedures on its website

Lake George
Lake George
Photograph: Shutterstock

4. Lake George, New York

Travel time: 3.5 hours from NYC

It's not a question of "Should we go to Lake George" it's more, "What should we do when we get there?" The quintessential family vacation for New Yorkers,keeps everyone in the crew occupied with a laundry list of activities. Putt your way to a hole in one at The Fun Spot, go crazy at ADK Treetop Adventures or the Adventure Family Fun Center (the fun zone is currently offering limited activities) and, naturally, take advantage of all the entertainment on the lake: Kayaking, boating, tubing and so on. When hunger strikes, check out The Barnsider Smokehouse BBQ, which offers takeout options and a kids' menu, so not sweat about dining with picky eaters! Resorts, cottages and campgrounds are all lodging possibilities for the 2020 season.

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LI Lake
LI Lake
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Connetquot River State Park in Oakdale, New York

Travel time: 1 hour from NYC

For a lake vacation without the commitment, turn to Long Island's Connetquot River State Park for your outdoor needs: hiking, horseback riding and fishing. You're going to have to leave Fido at home, though, as pets are prohibited. Stop by the neighboring town, Sayville, for more family fun, including swimming and a playground pitstop at Sayville Marina Park, a seafood lunch at The Cull House (which includes a kids' menu) and, of course, a trip to The Sayville Chocolatier

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