15 Best Things to Do in Skaneateles, NY

Skaneateles, NY
JWCohen / shutterstock.com

When considering new places to visit, we often consider locations that offer a lot to do on weekends, especially when the weather is pleasant.

From peaceful strolls to picturesque nature, Skaneateles, New York, lets you experience these.

This community, located on one of the Finger Lakes of New York state, is part of Onondaga County.

Its name comes from the Iroquois expression "long lake" (or "great lake"), which describes the lake located next to Skaneateles Lake.

It is one of Central New York's most magnificent and laid-back communities.

With fewer than 10,000 residents, this lovely lakeside retreat exudes small-town charm.

Meanwhile, did you know that this beautiful community had a fascinating past?

In 1843, the Skaneateles Community successfully purchased and maintained a vast farm and established small businesses.

However, it failed as a result of internal problems and external criticism over its unconventional social practices.

Locally, it was occasionally referred to as "No God" due to its members' atheistic beliefs.

Between 1844 and 1846, the Skaneateles Community issued a journal, the "Comunitist."

Despite this, Skaneateles remained a historic, charming town and home to various activities and attractions that appeal to locals and tourists.

Thinking of activities to enjoy in this town?

Here are the 15 best things to do in Skaneateles, NY:

Enjoy Fun Water Activities at Skaneateles Lake

View of Skaneateles Lake
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Looking to spend a day on the water?

Try Skaneateles Lake in upstate New York.

The blue-green water in this magnificent, breathtaking lake is a unique and mesmerizing treasure.

The calm and picturesque lake, which is the sixth-largest of the Finger Lakes, is set among wooded slopes.

While you're out on the water, you may enjoy the lake, go fishing with friends and family, or simply relax.

Alternatively, you may cycle around the lake.

View of Skaneateles Lake
JWCohen / Shutterstock.com

The 32-mile road circuit has no defined bike paths, although it's possible to follow for cyclists.

Because of its function as a water source, Skaneateles Lake has environmental restrictions that are stronger than usual.

In case you would like to stay the night and go back out on the lake the next day, there are several hotels and bed and breakfasts nearby.

The lake also provides a picturesque backdrop for an outdoor wedding.

Walk Along Charlie Major Nature Trail

If you and your partner are in Skaneateles and are searching for something romantic to do, why not walk Charlie Major Nature Trail together?

If you enjoy exploring the great outdoors and you both love nature, this is a fantastic choice.

You may go hiking or photograph trees and wildlife along the road if you want to, and pathways are easy to walk.

Additionally, you have the choice of bringing your bike, which may provide a little extra exercise.

Dogs are allowed on the trails at times, and you may bring your camera if you'd want to capture a scenic waterfall to share with your friends.

Relax at Thayer Park

It all began in 1874 when Joel Thayer, owner of the home and the land that is now Thayer’s Park, converted the area into a private garden.

Thayer’s granddaughters donated the garden to the community in 1922.

View of Thayer Park
Steve Cukrov / Shutterstock.com

The Park begins in the downtown business center and extends to St James Episcopal Church, which is located on a hill that overlooks the lake.

The area also has several mature trees, some of which are near the bottom of the hill, which lends to the scenic quality of the landscape.

The Park attracts tourists of all ages, including strollers, runners, as well as those who just love sitting in front of the lake, admiring the scenery before them.

The lake is also open to fishing.

Buy Souvenir Items From DROOZ & Company

DROOZ & Company is a unique novelty store in Skaneateles that sells curated art, gifts, décor, antiques, and furniture.

Since items are ever-changing, you’ll never know what you want to buy until you get there.

It has incredible and unique things for everyone, from ladies and men to teenagers, kids, and babies.

It also offers art classes on several occasions, which is a perfect opportunity to keep your creative juices flowing, enhance your skills, meet people, and have fun.

Celebrate With the Locals During the Dickens Christmas Festival in Genesee Street

Visiting Skaneateles during the Christmas season for the town's annual Dickens Christmas Festival is one of the best ways to spend your time here.

Attending this month-long festival allows visitors to become involved with street performers dressed in 19th-century clothing.

The celebration starts after Thanksgiving Day until Christmas Day.

If you're in the mood to shop, visit Genesee Street, a well-known street lined with many adorable boutiques.

While you're at Genesee Street, you may check out Emma James, Cate & Sally, and Skaneateles 300.

Take IG-worthy Photos at Lockwood Lavender Farm

View of Lockwood Lavender Farm
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You may easily get lost in acres and acres of colorful lavender fields in Provence without ever having to jump on a plane.

There's just one place to go in Skaneateles: Lockwood Lavender Farm in Lockwood Valley.

The farm has been in the Lockwood family for five generations and covers 120 acres.

Frolicking on the weekends across the fields during the summer when colors are bright is something tourists may look forward to from the terrace overlooking the lake.

Take some stunning Instagram-worthy shots and discover a few of their handmade items while you're here.

For various purposes, some 30 varieties of lavender exist and have been used for thousands of years.

While the lavender farm is accessible, it is operating as a working farm.

Just be careful because its walkways are not paved, and the ground is uneven.

Explore Bahar Nature Preserve

For nature lovers, the Bahar Nature Preserve is a great spot to explore.

Here, you will enjoy loops of paths, hemlock trees, and the 100-foot-deep Bear Swamp Creek ravine located inside the preserve.

Also, while the trees in the preserve help sustain grapevines of considerable age, those vines, in turn, support the more numerous younger grapevines which grow alongside them.

The woodland floor is also covered with moss and ferns, making the entire environment look twisted and like a fairy tale.

There are 65 feet of lakeside shoreline, so if you want to go out on the water in a kayak or canoe, this is the perfect spot to come.

We also advise you to use the ridge route that begins near the shoreline if you want to reach Carpenter Falls.

Cruise With Mid-Lakes Navigation

If you want to enjoy nature but aren't seeking a stressful day, Mid-Lake Navigation is a good option.

A family-owned and managed tour boat company, Mid-Lakes Navigation operates on Skaneateles Lake.

It offers daily and customized excursions, including weddings, romantic dinner cruises, and other milestone celebrations.

You may select from its three types of cruises, including the scenic excursions on Skaneateles Lake.

It serves dinner, lunch, breakfast aboard.

It also has a gift store that offers a wide range of souvenir items.

Discover the John D. Barrow Art Gallery’s Masterpieces

View of John D. Barrow Art Gallery
Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Anyone who is interested in pursuing a career as an artist or just likes to gaze at art should check out the John D. Barrow Art Gallery.

This state-of-the-art art gallery, the John D. Barrow Art Museum, has been operating for more than a century and has an impressive collection of paintings by John D. Barrow.

In terms of landscape painting, he was viewed as a second-generation artist of the Hudson River School.

View of John D. Barrow Art Gallery
Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Here, you'll get the opportunity to learn more about him and how he came up with these paintings.

You'll find 268 paintings in the gallery, as well as a short description of each piece and what it represents.

Even if you don't enter the building, you'll want to stop, have a look, or take photos of the building's exterior.

Appreciate the Works of Local Artists at Skaneateles Artisans

The Artisans Gallery Under the Stone is a gallery under the Old Stone Mountain.

The artist-entrepreneur Teresa Vitale, who painted the high finishes and more, owns and operates it.

It is proud of the unique combination of high-quality work from more than 100 Finger Lakes and New England artists in a range of media.

When you visit the store, you can find fiber, counterfeiting, furniture, glass, gems, paintings, photography, ceramics, sculptures, wearables, wood, and more.

Learn about Skaneateles’ Past at Skaneateles Historical Society

Outside View of Skaneateles Historical Society
Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Come to Skaneateles Historical Society to learn about the town's history.

This museum was a creamery in its earlier days.

Today, the building opens to the public as a museum.

You can find here an extensive exhibit of boats that are connected to Skaneateles Lake’s long and eventful history.

Sailing was one of the most popular leisure activities in the 1840s.

Starting in the 1870s, a father and son relocated to Skaneateles and founded a boat-building dynasty that has continued to this day.

Many of these boats may be found at the historical society's boat display.

Skaneateles Historical Society also has a proud exhibit of locally grown teasels, as the city is renowned as "The Teasel Capital of the World."

Taste the Local Spirits of Last Shot Distillery

If you want to taste the flavors of Skaneateles, visit Last Shot Distillery.

It uses only locally sourced ingredients in all its products.

The distillery handcrafts drinks by batch using grains, such as corn, wheat, malt, and rye.

This distillery started in December 2015 with the goal of conducting research and making creative spirits.

Its owners wanted to expand the understanding of the “art of distilling,” as well as make a family company rooted in the community and local traditions they adore.

Its tasting room is open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, where customers may try small-batch spirits and specialty cocktails.

You may either take a tour of the distillery or purchase goods or bottles.

Taste Anyela's Vineyards’ Wines

Anyela's Vineyards is a remarkable vineyard in the Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York.

In the autumn, they protect the grapes from the colder weather to help maintain their sugar levels and hence the quality of the wine.

To protect the fragile young buds, they gently strip the vines from the trellises and buried in the soil.

During the spring, the vines are rebandaged to expose them to the greatest amount of sunlight.

On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, visitors can stop by Anyela's Vineyards for a wine tasting from noon to 5:00 pm.

Just take note to come early because they offer wine tasting, which includes select, premier wines, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Dine at Sherwood Inn

View of Sherwood Inn
Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Situated directly in the heart of Skaneateles, Sherwood Inn offers you a setting to relax in with breathtaking views of the beautiful Skaneateles Lake.

Established in 1807, Sherwood Inn is a testament to the kindness of Skaneateles residents.

When the 1918 Influenza epidemic hit the town, the inn, previously named Packwood House, served as a makeshift hospital.

Locals came together and provided food and medical necessities to those affected by the flu.

Today, the inn boasts several highly rated dining venues, including the Dining Room, the Sherwood Tavern, and the Bluewater Grill.

The Sherwood Inn has long been a favorite getaway for families, including the former first family of the United States.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Hike to Carpenter Falls

Going for a hike in nature is usually a fantastic choice if you don't know what to do in Skaneateles on your trip.

You may take several routes to reach the falls.

View of Carpenter Falls
Michael Shake / Shutterstock.com

The best time to hike here is from March to October.

Though it snows in the winter, it doesn't discourage many hikers who love to be outside in the winter.

When you approach Carpenter Falls, a 90-foot waterfall that crashes down the face of a limestone cliff into a churning pool of water below, make sure to have your camera ready.

Although swimming is not allowed, you may be tempted to dip in the cold, refreshing pool under the falls.

There will still be others that go all out in the water, so take caution if you do the same.

While the water's clarity is passable, the flow may be quite forceful.

Final Thoughts

If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of downtown New York’s concrete jungle, a weekend trip to Skaneateles is a great idea.

Like its lake's calm and crystal-clear waters, this charming, historical community will treat you to relaxation that will keep you coming back for more.