7 Picturesque Waterfront Small Towns In New York

When most people think of a New York vacation, they picture the hustle and bustle of the Big Apple. But if you’re looking for a peaceful retreat with stunning views, these charming waterfront towns in New York are perfect for a getaway by the water.

Each of these scenic spots offers unique attractions and beautiful landscapes that are sure to make your escape memorable.


At the eastern tip of Long Island, Montauk is known for its gorgeous beaches and lively coastal atmosphere. This charming town, often called “The End,” features the Montauk Point Lighthouse, the first lighthouse in New York State and one of the oldest in the country.

You can spend your days fishing, beachcombing, kayaking, or surfing. Plus, with six nearby state parks, you can enjoy biking and hiking along picturesque trails.

  • Population: 5,081
  • Local Attractions: Montauk Point Lighthouse, Hither Hills State Park, Gosman’s Dock
  • Places to Stay: Aqualina Inn, Ocean Resort Inn, Hartman’s Briney Breezes Beach Resort


Tucked between the Catskill Mountains and the Hudson River, Saugerties is a quaint town known for its antique shops and vintage stores. It’s a great spot for outdoor enthusiasts and festival-goers, with highlights like the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival. Don’t miss the historic Saugerties Lighthouse and the nearby Catskill Animal Sanctuary.

  • Population: 3,847
  • Local Attractions: Saugerties Lighthouse, Catskill Animal Sanctuary, Opus 40
  • Places to Stay: Diamond Mills Hotel, Total Tennis, Autocamp Catskills


In the Finger Lakes region, Skaneateles offers a charming escape with its crystal-clear lake and lively downtown area. The town’s main street is lined with historic buildings, boutique shops, and art galleries. Skaneateles Lake, known as “The Roof Garden of the Lakes,” is perfect for swimming and enjoying the scenic beauty.

  • Population: 2,518
  • Local Attractions: Charlie Major Nature Trail, Carpenter Falls, Anyela’s Vineyards
  • Places to Stay: Skaneateles Suites, Skaneateles Boutique Hotel, Mirbeau Inn & Spa


Situated by Otsego Lake (also called Glimmerglass Lake), Cooperstown is famous for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. This picturesque town offers a range of attractions, including the Farmers’ Museum and Fenimore Art Museum. Cooperstown is a great spot for year-round activities and scenic views.

  • Population: 1,842
  • Local Attractions: Otsego Lake, Glimmerglass State Park, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
  • Places to Stay: Landmark Inn, The Inn at Cooperstown, Otesega Resort Hotel

Alexandria Bay

Located on the St. Lawrence River in the Thousand Islands region, Alexandria Bay is a haven for travelers. The town is renowned for its beautiful islands and recreational activities.

Don’t miss Boldt Castle, an impressive turn-of-the-century castle on a heart-shaped island. Alexandria Bay also offers fine dining, unique shops, and events throughout the year.

  • Population: 956
  • Local Attractions: Boldt Castle and Yacht House, Thousand Islands, Thousand Islands Bridge
  • Places to Stay: Bridgeview Motel, Ledges Resort & Marina, Capt. Thomson’s Resort

Cape Vincent

Where Lake Ontario meets the St. Lawrence River, Cape Vincent boasts a rich French heritage and historic charm. Key attractions include the Cape Vincent Historical Museum and the 1854 Tibbetts Lighthouse. The town offers stunning views and a peaceful setting, making it an ideal getaway.

  • Population: 734
  • Local Attractions: Tibbets Point Lighthouse, Cape Winery, Burnham Point State Park
  • Places to Stay: Cape Motel, Martin’s Marina & Motel, Roxy Hotel


Nestled on the western shore of Lake George within Adirondack Park, Bolton is known for its serene, upscale ambiance. The town features rolling hills and steep mountains, providing a tranquil escape. Bolton Landing, a hamlet within Bolton, offers attractions like the Bolton Historical Museum and the Bolton Landing Farmers’ Market.

  • Population: 232
  • Local Attractions: Bolton Historical Museum, Veteran’s Memorial Park, Tongue Mountain Range Trails
  • Places to Stay: Bonnie View, Sagamore Resort, Chelka Lodge

The Takeaway

These seven picturesque waterfront towns in New York offer a perfect blend of charm and natural beauty. Whether you’re drawn to the tranquil lakeside or the vibrant coastal life, these towns provide unique experiences and unforgettable vacations.

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