Beaches near Ithaca Cover Photo

6 Best Beaches near Ithaca, NY

Ithaca is an amazing place to visit. It’s located on the shores of Cayuga Lake, which is part of the Finger Lakes. The beautiful lake looks inviting in the summer so let’s explore the best beaches near Ithaca, NY where you can take a dip in one of the Finger Lakes.

The convenient lakeshore location of Ithaca makes it easy to start our exploration of the nearby beaches. We’ll start with Cayuga Lake which is considered one of the most pristine among the finger lakes. Don’t worry though, we’ll show you some other options if too on the other lakes nearby.

One thing we can say is that a water shoe is highly recommended around this area. While the lakes are clean they are full of clams. These clams harmless in nature do have pretty sharp sides and it’s super easy to get your feet cut.

A water shoe will make your Finger Lakes adventures easier and it will ensure that you don’t ruin your own vacation with a visit to the ER.

1. East Shore Park

Distance: 2 miles – 5 mins

East Shore Park is just outside of town and it’s the closest beach to Ithaca. Technically it’s still part of Ithaca making it the local beach option.

It’s a place that is loved by locals and visitors alike. Since it’s super close to town you will usually find someone here relaxing and taking in the beautiful scenery.

The main problem with East Shore Park is that it’s not really a beach. While swimming itself is not prohibited, the shore is mostly lined with rocks. It makes getting in and out of the water an unpleasant experience. Regardless, it’s possible to swim if you want.

Otherwise, it’s a great place to relax and get some sun. During hot summer days, the place really comes alive and you’ll see people relaxing in the grass and soaking in that sweet summer sun.

It’s a good beach near Ithaca, however, if you are looking for something more of a classic experience, then you must look further.

2. Taughannock Falls State Park

Distance: 10 miles – 15 mins

Taughannock Falls State Park
Taughannock Falls State Park

Taughannock Falls State Park is an amazing place to explore itself and it has one of the best beaches on Cayuga Lake. This beach offers a great experience with a sandy shore and extremely calm waters.

Of course, the water quality is great. It’s a good choice for families as the beach sand is great for kids to play in. The water is pretty shallow near the shore making it also a safe space to wade around.

What’s better is that if you want to take a break from swimming and sunbathing you can explore the state park itself. Head up the trails for a short hike and you’ll find yourself at the feet of Taughannock Falls in no time. A beautiful sight to behold.

Overall, Taughannock Falls State Park is one of our favorite beaches near Ithaca, NY. It’s close, it’s clean, and it’s amazing. It is however a state park so be prepared to pay for parking.

3. Long Point State Park

Distance: 25 miles – 35 mins

Long Point State Park Beach is a waterfront park with plenty of shorelines for picnicking, swimming, and boating. The large boat launch is great for kayaking and there’s always plenty of sunshine during the summer months.

There is a picnic area with grills and shade nearby, and it is usually very quiet during the weekdays. The park also includes a playground for the kids to enjoy.

However, you should be careful entering the water as the rocks by the shore are very sharp and it’s recommended to wear water shoes. Parking is very expensive, so visitors should plan accordingly.

Overall, Long Point State Park is a nice beach to visit, but due to expensive parking, we can’t recommend it as a first choice.

4. Sampson State Park Beach

Distance: 34 miles – 45 mins

Now, all of our previous picks are beaches on Cayuga Lake. However, now we are branching out and exploring the other Finger Lakes. Beyond this point, the beaches we’ve picked are on other lakes.

Sampson State Park Beach is a great lake beach that is perfect for a summer day. During the summer break, lifeguards are on duty ensuring the safety of everyone.

The beach area is always clean and the water is nice and refreshing, making it a great spot for swimming and cooling off during hot summer days.

There is also a playground nearby so kids can enjoy themselves while their parents get some sun and relaxation. In addition to the beach, there is a locker room and toilets for convenience.

There are also basketball and tennis courts nearby for anyone who wants to take a break from the beach and be active. Cooling down in the lake after an intense tennis match is always a great feeling.

Sampson State Park is a nice pick among the beaches near Ithaca and it’s not particularly far. If you want to see another lake then this is definitely a good place to be.

5. Watkins Glen Beach on Lake Seneca

Distance: 22 miles – 35 mins

Watkins Glen Beach on Lake Seneca is a beautiful place to visit. The swimming area is shallow enough that it doesn’t get over an adult’s waist, making it a great spot for kids to enjoy.

There’s also a skate park, basketball court, playground, and kayaking rentals so that everyone can find something to do. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, you can explore the nearby Watkins Glen itself.

It’s a great place to relax, have a picnic and watch the beautiful sunsets. It’s no wonder why it’s a favorite spot for locals.

6. Deep Run Park

Distance: 65 miles – 1 h 20 mins

Deep Run Park is a kind of small area, but it still gets pretty busy during the summer. It’s a little beach park located on the east side of Canandaigua Lake and has parking for about 35 cars. T

he beach is a combination of sand and small stones, and it’s the perfect place to go for a swim during the summertime. There’s even a lifeguard on duty to make sure everyone stays safe.

It’s a nice out-of-the-way beach, too, and the best part is that it’s free to park your car. Even if you don’t plan on swimming, it’s a great spot to just sit back and relax with a picnic lunch or a good book.

This is one of the best free beaches near Ithaca. Although you’ll have to drive quite far to reach it, it’s a good option if you want to explore some of the nearby areas as well.

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