Lake Ontario is the smallest Great Lake in surface area, but it still offers plenty of fun, family-friendly activities along its shores and beyond. Whether you prefer the big city sights of Rochester or the peaceful setting of Wolfe Island, you will find the most exciting and unforgettable vacation rentals at Lake Ontario. Be mesmerized by the beauty of Niagara Falls, take in the history of Sacket’s Harbor, or enjoy a festival in Oswego any time of the year. Here are the most breathtaking vacation rental locations in the greater Lake Ontario region.

1. Rochester

The city of Rochester lies along Lake Ontario’s shores and provides plenty of things to see and do for the whole family. A vacation rental in Rochester puts you within easy reach of shops, restaurants, and museums, such as The Strong Museum. The city also offers plenty of outdoor recreational activities, with swimming, fishing, hiking, and biking available at Ontario Beach Park and the Port of Rochester. Take a walk along the boardwalk during the summer and you’ll find festivals and concerts to enjoy, plus a variety of restaurant and bar options.

2. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls consists of three major waterfalls on the border of New York and Ontario, and is a site you won’t want to miss during your Lake Ontario vacation. Choose a vacation rental with a view of the falls so you can head out onto the porch and see it illuminated at night, along with an amazing fireworks display. During the day, get up close to the falls at the Cave of the Winds, where you will see rainbows and can get drenched in the falls’ spray.

3. Niagara-on-the-Lake

tourist destination
Source: Flickr / IAmSanjeevan

Niagara-on-the-Lake is a pretty little 19th-century town filled with trees and flowers. Vacationers searching for a more relaxed getaway, but still, want access to entertainment will find plenty to see close to their vacation home in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Talk a walk through the town’s historic downtown district filled with boutiques, galleries, and restaurants, or spend the day people watching on the patio of Shaw’s Cafe and Wine Bar. Locals and visitors enjoy theater performances at the Shaw Festival, held each summer.

4. Sacket’s Harbor

boats on the lake
Source: Flickr / Doug Kerr

Sacket’s Harbor is an old port town in the Thousand Islands region that offers plenty of history close to your vacation rental. At Sackets Harbor Battlefield, learn about this village’s role in the War of 1812, then stop by The Seaway Trail Discovery Center to learn about its maritime history. The historic main street has been preserved and offers a pleasant selection of shops and restaurants, including Yellow Barn Winery and Kathy’s Barracks Inn. Families will also want to check out Old McDonald’s Farm, a children’s fantasy farm with a petting zoo and hayrides.

5. Oswego

clear blue lake
Source: Flickr / Will Bristol

Oswego is a college town right on the water, so you will find plenty of activities throughout the year when you book a vacation rental here. The towns host several festivals, including the Fire and Ice Festival in February and the Dragon Boat Festival in August. If you are looking for water activities, there is sailing, kayaking, and boating along the harbor from any of Oswego’s three marinas. Scuba divers and snorkelers can go diving to view the David W. Mills shipwreck in Oswego Harbor.

6. Sodus Point

white lighthouse
Source: Flickr / mifl68

If you are looking for a quiet getaway where you can relax, then consider a vacation rental in Sodus Point. The area offers beautiful views of the lake from Sodus Point Beach Park, where you can swim or simply soak up the sun. Take a walk to Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum to see the restored lighthouse, or have lunch on the dock at the Coop Deck. The Sodus Point Information Center provides guests with a list of upcoming events, and places where you can hike lakeside trails or rent kayaks to take onto the water.

7. Olcott Beach

children on a carousel
Source: Flickr / gardener41

Olcott Beach is home to Olcott Beach Carousel Park, and vintage amusement park featuring a 1928 style Hershell-Spillman carousel, 1931 Wurlitzer band organ, and rides for the kids. Family events are held throughout the summer, including stage shows at Tom Kelley Rustic Theater. A town is also an excellent place for fishing and you can find spots for fishing at the marina, not far from your vacation rental.

8. Henderson Harbor

waves at the beach
Source: Flickr / Lida

Henderson Harbor is the perfect place to base your vacation rental if you want easy access to fresh-water recreation activities. The harbor offers excellent sailing and fishing activities, while the beaches provide a sandy spot for swimming. The small town center has several local cafes and shops for you to pick up groceries and other essentials to take back to your vacation home.

9. Watertown

city building
Source: Flickr / Michel G.

The city of Watertown is the perfect location if you are looking for a city atmosphere without the crowds. Stroll down the Veteran’s Memorial Riverwalk to catch a glimpse of local wildlife and watch the kayakers go by, then head back into downtown for lunch at one of the restaurants surrounding the Public Square. If you rather be on the river, sign up for a rafting ride with one of the rafting companies, such as Adirondack Rafting. Be sure to stop by the Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays for fresh local produce for your vacation rental, and head to the Chocolate Cottage to pick up dessert.

10. Wolfe Island

For a more secluded vacation where you can feel like you are worlds away, take the ferry to over the Canadian border to Wolfe Island, Ontario. Big Sandy Bay has a lovely beach and several trails through woodlands and wetlands. An island is a great place for bird watching, with more than 200 bird species living on its shores. Kids will enjoy getting lost in The Wolfe Island Corn Maze, a short bike ride from your vacation rental. You can also just sit back on your porch and watch the water.