Top 10 Canandaigua Lake Family Activities

Canandaigua Lake is the fourth largest of the Finger Lakes in New York State. As it’s set amidst rolling hills, it’s no surprise that the lake’s name comes from the Native American word for “chosen spot.” Boasting nearly 36 miles of shoreline and measuring just under 16 miles long, the lake and its surrounding area provide an abundance of beautiful vacation rentals and recreational facilities for vacationing families. With many private, waterfront vacation rentals on Canandaigua Lake, you may find it hard to tear yourself away. However, the city of Canandaigua at the lake’s northern tip and the artsy town of Naples to the south offer places to stock up your vacation home and cultural activities should you feel the need to take a break from the great outdoors.

1. Take a Steamboat Cruise

steamboat lake tour

Source: Adam Stuebgen / Flickr

A great way to explore the lake is to hop aboard the Canandaigua Lady. This charming replica of a 19th century double-decker paddle wheeler steamboat cruises the lake from May through October. Choose a narrated excursion to learn fascinating facts about the steamboat era, the lake, and the Seneca Indians. Check out the specialty cruises that celebrate occasions such as Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and Father’s Day.

2. Go Fishing

family fishing

Canandaigua Lake is stocked full of lake trout, brown trout, and rainbow trout, and it offers excellent angling for large- and small-mouth bass, perch, rock bass, black crappie and bullheads. Make sure to pack your gear! If they aren’t already hooked, make this the vacation where your kids discover the fun of fishing. If you nab a lodge with its own mooring, you can settle down on the front porch to watch as they proudly haul in their first fish.

3. Paddle Away

lake paddle boarding

If you’re renting a lakefront property, you may already have access to a selection of kayaks or paddle boards. Enjoy the luxury of paddling off from your own home away from home. There are plenty of rental places around the lake where you can pick up the full range of equipment to purchase or hire along with a car carrier to ferry it all around. It’s a great way for all the family to see the lake and get fit at the same time.

4. Take a Swim

lake swim

The lake is full of family-friendly swim spots at sand or stone beaches. For a lively day out, head out to Kershaw Park near the Canandaigua City Pier, or go over to Onanda Beach and Park on the lake’s west side. Both have walking trails, picnic tables, and restrooms.

5. Take a Hike

hiking trail

Source: Carlton Hansen / Flickr

The richly wooded hills around Canandaigua Lake offer some of the best hiking trails of all the Finger Lakes. Take a trip to Onanda Park for some magnificent gorges and waterfalls, or drive to the Cumming Nature Center in Naples to follow 6 miles of trails, including the Conservation Trail to learn about trees and see a working sawmill, the Pioneer Trail with its reconstructed 18th century homestead, and the Beaver Trail, where you can view the animals in their natural environment.

6. Fly Without Wings

ziplining

Source: Bristol Mountain Adventures

Zip through the treetops at Bristol Mountain Aerial Adventures. This outdoor adventure park offers seven different courses where you and your family can master life above ground. Traverse swinging bridges, climb rope ladders, venture out along a tightrope walk, and hurtle through the air on zip lines. Watch your kids gain confidence, and don’t be afraid to join in too –– it’s suitable for all ages.

7. Make a Big Splash

water park

Source: Visit Finger Lakes / Flickr

If you crave more fun in the water, Roseland Water Park offers something for everyone in the family. Activities include a wave pool with a beach, a splash factory, an adventure river with rafts, and a range of daredevil rides and slides. You can also take to the water in a paddleboat or a canoe.

8. Take a Trip into the Past

granger homestead

Source: Carol / Flickr

For a more gentle day out, visit the Granger Homestead and Carriage Museum to see how four generations of the Granger family lived and worked in the 19th and 20th centuries. Take a tour with a knowledgeable docent through the mansion, the Victorian garden, and the barns. Horse-drawn carriage trips are sometimes available to give a real feel for travel in the era before automobiles. This activity is more suited to families with older children.

9. Throw a Pot

clay class

For a chance to get your hands dirty and create a lasting memento of your visit to Canandaigua, try a one-day Give it a Whirl class with Coach Street Clay. You and your kids can learn how to create unique cups and bowls by throwing clay on a wheel or building items from slabs of clay. If your vacation ends before your pottery is fired, glazed, and ready to collect, you can have it mailed to you.

10. Canandaigua Farmers Market

farmers market

When it’s time to stock up your vacation home with food to keep the troops going, shop at the Canandaigua Farmers Market, Ontario County’s only farmer-run market. The stalls are full of fresh produce, and food trucks are on hand to help stave off the kids’ hunger pangs.