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10 Waterfront Towns to Visit within 4 Hours of WNY

City Guide, Family Friendly, Getaway, Things to Do

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Written by Andrea Diedrich

Published on July 27, 2022
Photo courtesy of This is Cooperstown

Here in Western New York, we are pretty lucky when it comes to waterfront access. With Lake Ontario to our north, Lake Erie to our west, the Finger Lakes to our east, and everything else in between, planning a waterfront trip within 4hrs of our region has never been easier.

If you’re looking to plan a little weekend getaway to explore a waterfront town, you’ve come to the right place. These places are full of charming shops, local dining, and stunning waterfront views.

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Photo courtesy of This is Cooperstown

1. Cooperstown, NY

Distance from Buffalo: 3 hours 45 mins

Located at the southern tip of Otsego Lake, Cooperstown is well known for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. You’ll also find The Farmers’ Museum, one of the country’s oldest outdoor living history museums which showcases rural life in 1845 in its village of historic trade and craft shops and The Fenimore House Museum, home to one of the country’s premier folk art collections. The small town is full of rural traditions and restored historic buildings.

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Photo courtesy of Jamestown Riverwalk

2. Jamestown, NY

Distance from Buffalo: 1.5 hours

Jamestown can be done as a quicker trip than most on this list due to its close proximity to Buffalo. Visit the National Comedy Center for your culture fix and head out to Panama Rocks if you have a craving to feel Mother Nature beneath your feet. Waterfront views are never far with the Chadakoin River running through the town connecting it to Chautauqua Lake.

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Photo courtesy of Niagara-on-the-Lake

3. Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON, CA

Distance from Buffalo: 1 hour

Located just to our north and home to the Shaw Festival, is the scenic Niagara-on-the-Lake. This walkable town is full of historic charm, boutique shops, gorgeous floral planters, horse-drawn carriages, and views of Lake Ontario. Just outside of the historic district, you’ll also find an abundance of local wineries worth touring.

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Photo courtesy of CMAC

4. Canandaigua, NY

Distance from Buffalo: 1.5 hours

Located along Canandaigua Lake is the town of Canandaigua which offers a variety of entertainment options in the region. Take advantage of the lake by planning a day on the water swimming, boating, and fishing, or try wakeboarding at the Roseland Wake Park. Looking to catch a concert? The CMAC is a great outdoor venue that often hosts national touring artists.

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Photo courtesy of the Chautauqua County Visitors Bureau

5. Chautauqua, NY

Distance from Buffalo: 1.5 hours

With bed & breakfasts, inns, campgrounds, and cottages, there are plenty of different stay options in Chautauqua. In close distance to Jamestown, Chautauqua shares similar attractions as well as wine trails, shops, dining areas, and water access all worth exploring.

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Photo courtesy of Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce

6. Skaneateles, NY

Distance from Buffalo: 2 hours 15 mins

Located along the Finger Lake of the same name, the Village of Skaneateles is a hidden gem among small towns in New York State. Skaneateles is a town that is all about lake life. Spend the day on the water swimming, boating, and fishing, then head into town for some award winning seafood at Doug’s Fish Fry.

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Seneca Lake Station / Photo x Jessica Kelly

7. Watkins Glen, NY

Distance from Buffalo: 2.5 hours

Sitting at the southern point of Seneca Lake is the village of Watkins Glen. Attractions in the region include the Watkins Glen Farmers Market, the Seneca Wine Trail, and the Watkins Glen State Park –the most famous of the Finger Lakes State Parks.

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Photo courtesy of Boldt Castle

8. Alexandria Bay, NY

Distance from Buffalo: 3 hours 40 mins

Escape to the 1000 Islands and you’ll find yourself in the beautiful region of Alexandria Bay. Here, you can tour the 120 room Boldt Castle on Heart Island, join a fishing charter, or explore the nearby wineries and distilleries. For some family fun, Alexandria Bay also offers mini-golf, batting cages, go-karts, and arcades as well as a jam packed schedule of events throughout the summer.

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Photo courtesy of City of Vermilion

9. Vermilion, OH

Distance from Buffalo: 3 hours 45 mins

Stepping outside of New York is our friendly lake-sharing state of Ohio. Just a short drive from Buffalo, Vermilion’s Harbor Town is home to local shops, restaurants, museums, tours and more. Right in town is Main Street Beach which is open for public swimming and includes a launch for kayak and canoe access.

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Photo courtesy of Blue Mountain Village

10. Blue Mountain & Collingwood, ON, CA

Distance from Buffalo: 3 hours 15 mins

Hugging the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron is Blue Mountain Village and the neighboring town of Collingwood, Ontario. Here you’ll find opportunities to explore nature trails, venture through rope courses, enjoy the beach, shop and eat at local stores and restaurants, and more!

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Written by <a href="https://stepoutbuffalo.com/author/andrea-diedrich/" target="_self">Andrea Diedrich</a>

Written by Andrea Diedrich

Andrea is a Content Coordinator and writer for Step Out Buffalo. By day she enjoys using her creative side and researching all things Buffalo. By night you’ll find her exploring Buffalo’s waterfront, dining with friends or catching the latest show/concert in town.

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