New York Boating Guide: 6 Spots to Boat in New York

Planning a trip to the Empire State? Take advantage of the incredible opportunities for boating in New York! Today's guide will cover the top boating destinations, along with essential information on obtaining a boating license, popular water activities, and the reasons behind the state's thriving boating scene.

Why Boating in New York is So Popular

No matter if they're locals or are just visiting, everyone loves boating in New York. It's easy to see why—there are over 70,000 miles of rivers and streams. (You even get access to parts of two of the Great Lakes!) And with so many chances to be outside, it's no wonder that boating has become a popular activity all over the state. 


Boating in New York: Where to Get a New York Boating License

Starting June 2024, anyone born on or after January 1, 1978, who operates a motorized vessel in New York, will need a safe boating certificate. However, this requirement applies to all boat operators —regardless of age — in 2025. (But you must be at least ten years old to take the Safe Boating Course.)

New York Boating Guide: Top Activities

New York’s water scene is no joke! Stunning views, tons of fish, and it's a whole playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Thinking about cruising around to see the sights? You got it. Feeling more like swimming? No problem! And of course, watersports are a huge hit here.

Where to Boat in New York

Because the Empire State is so big, where you go boating will depend on where you are and what you want to do. This New York boating guide will show you the best places to go all over the state.

1. Hudson River

First up for New York's top boating spots: The Hudson River, the state's iconic waterway! Even if you've only taken a Statue of Liberty tour, you've been in the New York Harbor, which the Hudson feeds. It travels from the north to the south of the United States along the eastern coast of New York and is over 300 miles long! 

Basically, the Hudson River's natural beauty and long history have made it a haven for boaters for centuries. This is a great area for boating because there are plenty of places to launch your boat and a bunch of cool spots to explore. You can see breathtaking mountain views, islands, lighthouses, bridges, and bustling cities all in one spot.

2. Lake George

Four hours north of the city, Lake George is a hot spot for boating and other outdoor activities. Imagine spending your days fishing, kayaking, cruising around on a boat, or just taking a dip – Lake George has it all! 

Plus, there's the famous Million Dollar Beach, a public beach with lifeguards, bathrooms, and everything you need for a relaxing day in the sun. So, whether you're looking for breathtaking scenery or tons of activities, Lake George is the perfect place to plan your next adventure.

3. Thousand Islands

No "where to boat in New York" list would be complete without the Thousand Islands. This place is a dream come true, with amazing fishing spots and tons of boat launches to choose from.

Bonus? It's right on the border of New York and Ontario, Canada, so you can explore some cool historical sites while cruising around. (The Antique Boat Museum is a must-see!) Basically, you've got history, angling, and beautiful scenery – what more could you ask for?

4. Saranac Lake

You'll find Saranac Lake tucked away in New York's Adirondack Mountains (one of the biggest national parks in the US!). This charming spot is surrounded by stunning scenery and offers an endless playground for outdoor lovers. Kayaking, canoeing, hiking, biking, camping – you name it, Saranac Lake has it! 

Whether you're into heart-pumping activities or a leisurely cruise on the water, there's something for everyone. Plus, if you're a birdwatcher, keep your eyes peeled – you might just spot something special.

Read Next: The Ultimate Guide to Watersport Safety

5. Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor

Love spending time on the water? New York's Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor is calling your name! And from mid-May to mid-October, it's a boater's dream.

Picture cruising along the canal, taking in the gorgeous scenery and spotting all sorts of wildlife. And if you're feeling adventurous, you can even paddle, bike, or explore other activities. The best part? With more than 80 public boat ramps, finding a launch spot is a breeze, whether planning a quick day trip or a longer adventure.

6. Skaneateles Lake

Last but not least, let's talk about another Finger Lakes gem - Skaneateles Lake! This beauty sits about 20 miles west of Syracuse and is a favorite spot for sailing and all things boating.

However, one thing to keep in mind is that public boat launches are a little limited on Skaneateles Lake. That's because this pristine lake is the drinking water source for the surrounding areas!

Your Complete New York Boating Guide

We hope this New York boating guide has inspired you to plan your next getaway! Additionally, check out our website for other boating vacation ideas.