Wave your magic wand and disappear for a few days. Seriously, schedule those vacation days, book your home away from home, and take the family somewhere beautiful — like gorgeous Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes. You can find some amazing Lake Ontario vacation rentals, such as condos, apartments, cottages, hotels, and homes both on the lake and in larger areas like Rochester, New York. We put together this list of great family activities to do when you get there — but we totally understand if you want to spend the entire time by the water!

1. See a Historic Lighthouse

lighthouse
Source: Flickr/Keith Ewing

Take your family to the Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse in Rochester for some spectacular views and breathtaking photographs. Constructed in 1822, the tower features 42 spiral stair steps and then a ladder with 11 rungs to reach the lantern room at the top. The lighthouse keeper’s residence was built in 1863 to replace the original one. Afterwards, walk to Ontario Beach Park, just a few minutes away.

2. Take a Boat on the Water

sodus bay
Source: Flickr/Howard Owens

Lake Ontario is enormous, and it would take you weeks to explore the entire shoreline. Check out Sodus Bay, near Rochester — you can rent a boat at Arneys Marina and get everything else at Sodus Point Bait Shop. You’ll love the scenery as you cruise along the lake. Bring a picnic, and enjoy it with your family on the water.

3. Try Birdwatching

Aquatic Bird

There’s something soulful about the call of the loons on Lake Ontario. Look for them near the edge of the lake, and listen to them in quiet moments as you sit on the veranda of your cozy lakefront vacation rental. You might not have tried birdwatching before, but this is a great place to try it, and you’ll love how relaxed it makes you feel.

4. Check Out the Dunes

lake ontario
Source: Flickr/Eric Parker

Buckets? Check. Shovels? Check. Ecstatic kids? Double check. Bag up the sand toys and head for the dunes at the lake where the kids can play in a windswept sandbox unlike any they’ve every seen. Help them dig, dip water, and build castles for the most fun you’ve had in years. Spend the rest of the day relaxing on the beach.

5. Visit the Zoo

Tiger

Kids love visiting the Seneca Park Zoo! It’s a 15-acre park, so you’ll want to carve out some time to spend here. It’s a great option when you want a break from water activities, or if the lake is too windy to swim or boat.

6. Spend The Day at Ontario Beach Park

Carousel

No matter where you decide to stay on Lake Ontario, it’s close enough to Rochester’s Ontario Beach Park. Take the kids for an adventure and let them ride the Dentzel Carousel, which was built in 1905. The hand-carved menagerie includes horses, cats, deer, a giraffe, a goat, a lion, mules, ostriches, pigs, rabbits, and a tiger. Bring your camera so you can take pictures of your children on the carousel!

7. See the Genesee River High Falls

genesee falls
Source: Flickr/Angie Armstrong

Your kids will love seeing this! At the historic Waterworks Building nearby, you can learn all about prehistoric Rochester and the glaciers that carved out the area’s lakes. You’ll also learn about the waterfall. You’ll also learn about how settlers established the city and harnessed the power of the Genesee River at the beginning of the industrial revolution.

8. Go to the Toy Hall of Fame

Monopoly

Make the day for the whole family one big, exciting adventure at the Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester. Visit exhibits of antiques that include Lionel trains and vintage board games. Enter a life-size dollhouse where the kids, and you, can play with the toys. Is your favorite toy missing? Feel free to nominate it for induction.

9. Walk Through a Historic Mansion

Kodak Musuem

Step back in time when you tour the George Eastman mansion and grounds, where you can learn about the history of Kodak and photography. Kids will get to learn about cameras that required rolls of film. Explore the grounds on your own, or take advantage of a guided tour.

10. Go Fishing

Salmon Fish

Fish like a pro when you explore the Genesee River and Lake Ontario on a Reel Easy Sports Fishing charter fishing expedition. New York annually stocks the lake and its tributaries with over 3.5 million fish of the salmon family. Captain Warren Welch awaits the opportunity to take you out for a fantastic fishing day. Anglers typically reel in lake trout that average over 10 pounds. When the chinook king salmon run, they average about 30 pounds. The captain furnishes all rods, reels, and lures, and the captain will even fillet and package your catch of the day.