This sleeper city is a good home base to explore Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes, and Niagara Falls.
Tourists often overlook this historic small city located on Lake Ontario. But locals know that Rochester is prime terrain for exploring western New York. niagara falls is 1 1/2 hours away and the Finger Lakes just an hour. The city itself is a hub for festivals, making summer the prime season to visit.
Lake Ontario offers nearly 200 miles of fresh water to swim, fish, and kayak. About 30 miles from Rochester, Hamlin Beach State Park is a favorite for lakeside camping. The family-friendly camp has tent and trailer sites with electrical hookups. Sandy beaches with lifeguards and a boat launch offer easy water access, plus beach trails for walking and biking.
For wilder terrain, make a day trip to the Braddock Bay Wildlife Management Area. Nature trails crisscross these marshes--a flyway stop for harriers, kingfishers, and herons, among other species. It's a beautiful spot for kayaking, and several boat launches make getting in the water easy. There's also a fishing pier on Salmon Creek to cast your line.
The Finger Lakes are worthy of destination camping all by themselves. In addition to scenic waterfall trails and boating, the region has first-rate golf courses and many wineries.
Sampson State Park is an excellent home base for exploring. Located on Seneca Lake, the large campground has cabins and several loops of campsites. A snack bar on the beach and a marina give the park a busy feel. There's also a military museum with retired fighter jets parked outside on the grass.
If you want to stay closer to Rochester, private campgrounds are your best bet. You can find cottages right out of a summer camp and RV parks with creature comforts like full hookups and Wi-Fi. The closest public campgrounds are in Webster Park in the nearby town of Webster. This small camp is set amid miles of nature trails and a short walk from the fishing pier on Lake Ontario.