Known as the “Salmon Fishing Capital of the Northeast”, Oswego County in Upstate New York, offers visitors incredible fishing, gorgeous views on Lake Ontario, year-round outdoor recreation, and maritime history.
This story is brought to you in partnership with Visit Oswego County. This article contains affiliate links.
Located less than an hour from Syracuse, New York, Oswego County is a popular getaway made up of 968 square miles of land on the southeastern shore of Lake Ontario.
Things to Do in Oswego, New York
Lunch on Lake Ontario at Rudy’s Lakeside Drive-in Restaurant
78 Co Rte 89, Oswego, NY
We stopped at Rudy’s Lakeside Drive-In Restaurant in Oswego, NY for a haddock sandwich with an incredible view….which included my very first view of Lake Ontario.
A local favorite, serving generations of families since 1946, Rudy’s is definitely a place that locals and tourists look forward to as the weather warms up.
Their season runs from the Wednesday closest to St. Patrick’s Day in March through Columbus Day Monday in October.
The food at Rudy’s is cooked to order (they cook over 2,000 pounds of fish every week) and the picnic views outside by the water are hard to beat. If you are not a fan of seafood, their burgers are also highly recommended.
This is a great spot for families with plenty of room for kids to play and skip rocks into Lake Ontario.
1 E. Fourth St., Oswego, NY
History fans will definitely want to check out the star-shaped fort that dates back to the 1840s that was also the former site of three British colonial forts, three French & Indian War battles, and two War of 1812 battles.
Fort Ontario was also occupied by the US Army through WW2 and served as the only refugee camp in the US for victims of the Holocaust.
We took a guided tour by a costumed soldier who took us through two Guardhouses, a Powder Magazine, Storehouse, Enlisted Men’s Barracks, with lots of exhibits and displays to give us an idea of what life was like at the fort through the years.
It was really interesting to learn how “the other half lived” clothing, rations, laundry, sanitation, furnishings, families along with what the daily schedule was like for soldiers back in 1868.
You can’t help but notice that the views from the fort of Lake Ontario are also pretty amazing.
The fort is open seasonally from mid-May until mid-October.
I really enjoyed it when our guide took us underground in the stone casemates for a different perspective where guns would have been strategically positioned to defend the fort.
2 E 7th St, Oswego, NY 13126
Located a short drive from the fort, Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Shelter Museum is definitely a gem worth discovering as the only World War II Refugee Shelter in the United States.
The museum focuses on the powerful stories from 982 European refugees who fled the Holocaust and were housed at Fort Ontario as guests of President Franklin D. Roosevelt from August 1944-February 1946.
Watching the videos and reading the stories of the refugees who shared their individual stories was really touching.
The wall with the list of refugees was also really interesting because you learned more about the refugee’s birthday and country of origin. Even though this museum was small its’ impact on me was very big and I think it’s an important part of history that future generations need to be told.
1 W. First St., Pier, Oswego, NY
Learn more about the region’s Great Lakes heritage at the H. Lee White Maritime Museum. The city of Oswego is rich in maritime history as the oldest freshwater port in the U.S.
The museum has lots of exhibits inside that are relevant to the maritime history of the area including a canoe made from birch bark and historic vessels that you can tour.
Weather pending you can tour the LT-5 Tug that was the last surviving tug boat from the Normandy D-Day invasion.
The LT-5 has a plane painted on the side to represent the Nazi plane that it shot down.
You can walk throughout the tugboat and gain a better perspective of what life was like as a crew member.
Derrick Boat #8
After you tour the LT-5 tug you will also want to walk through Derrick Boat #8, the last steam-powered derrick left on the canal.
The vessels at H. Lee White Maritime Museum are open mid-May through mid-October (weather pending).
Discover downtown Oswego shops at Canal Commons
191 – 201 W. First St., Oswego, NY
A great stop if you want to explore over a dozen local shops, you will find a range of artisan gifts, clothing, specialty food items, and more.
192 W 1st St, Oswego, NY
If you love artisan chocolate, you will definitely want to check out Man in the Moon Candies.
They have an incredible selection of chocolates in a variety of shapes and sizes, including a chocolate mold of Fort Ontario.
Dinner at La Parrilla Grill and Wine Bar
156 W. Second St., Oswego, NY
A great dinner option when you visit Oswego is La Parilla Grill and Wine Bar.
The restaurant focuses on using all local vendors and local farm products in their seasonally changing menu.
Our table shared several of the delicious menu items inspired by traditional regional Spanish and Italian cuisine.
24 E 1st St, Oswego, NY
Overlooking Oswego’s historic harbor, Alex’s on the Water is a great place to grab a drink with friends.
We enjoyed a beautiful night by spending time on the outdoor patio. There was also a nearby walking trail with heart-shaped lights near the marina that looked magical at night.
Hotels and Airbnbs in Oswego, NY
Where we stayed in Oswego
26 E. First St., Oswego, NY
I stayed in the King Bedroom that had a balcony, microwave, refrigerator, lake view, and a complimentary breakfast buffet in the morning.
The hotel is located on the Oswego River and offers views of the Oswego Harbor and Lake Ontario.
Things to do in Pulaski, New York
Lunch at Mill House Market
3790 State Rte. 13, Pulaski, NY
Mill House Market is a popular lunch spot featuring 9 different types of fresh bread, creative pizza combinations, and salads.
I will warn you that the menu options make it REALLY hard to narrow down your selection because EVERYTHING sounds AMAZING!
I narrowed it down to the Pulaski Sandwich (turkey, pear, brie, cranberry honey, arugula, and whole grain mustard) ….because it felt right to get the city’s namesake sandwich….but honestly, I don’t think you can go wrong with any of the options because all of us really enjoyed our sandwiches.
Make sure that you allow some extra time to check out the gift shop because there are so many great locally sourced items from New York that make a great souvenir of your visit.
5 Lake Road Ext., Pulaski, NY
If you want to enjoy some time out on the water, the marina has fishing boats, kayaks, and canoe rentals available.
Yes, you can sleep in a lighthouse! The Selkirk Lighthouse was originally built in 1838, the property now sleeps 6-8 people in 4 double beds in the comfort of air conditioning.
Overnight guests can enjoy beautiful views of the Salmon River and can also request a tour and trip to the very top of the lighthouse into the light tower for a unique adventure.
If you prefer more traditional lodging there are also nearby cottages available to rent.
Go Fishing with Strike Zone Fishing Charter
I’m a bit of a city slicker so I definitely prefer to lean on the expertise of the pros when it comes to fishing.
Our experience with Strike Zone Fishing Charter with Captain Robin and our fishing guide Todd did not disappoint. The fishing charters go on the Salmon River and Lake Ontario and they are even kid-friendly.
Everyone in our group experienced the thrill of reeling in a fish. Depending on the season, you can catch Salmon, Brown Trout, and Lake Trout.
The views out on Lake Ontario were also stunning in between bites.
I was pretty excited to catch this 20 lb, King Salmon, on Lake Ontario during our charter.
The fish from your charter can be cleaned on-site so that you can enjoy them during your stay or freeze them for a later date. We had about 13-14 pounds of filets from 2 Salmon.
Fishing on Lake Ontario happens 24/7 and Strike Zone offers 4,6,8 hour charters and provides everything you need to fish. You can bring what you want to eat and drink onboard during your trip.
If you are interested in a more extreme adventure, they also charter for divers who want to explore shipwrecks.
2133 County Rte 22, Altmar, NY
You can learn more about salmon and trout during a visit to the Salmon River Fish Hatchery.
The Salmon run in October and Steelhead run in late March to early April which gives visitors the opportunity to watch the salmon jumping up the fish ladder.
Inside the hatchery, you can watch the spawning process, where eggs are taken from female fish and fertilized by male fish.
The hatchery stocks around 3.5 million trout and salmon annually to 100 public waters.
The hatchery also has several exhibits on display and has 50,000 visitors annually making it a popular educational self-guided tour.
Watch or Join the Fisherman at Salmon River
A popular location to watch the Fishman on the banks of the Salmon River is located near LD’s on the River at 4838 Jefferson St, Pulaski, NY.
There are large rocks on the banks of the river that are perfect for spectating and if you are feeling extra adventurous put on your waders and join in on the fun.
Falls Road Parking (43.549161°N, 75.942301°W)
Salmon River Falls is a wonderful place for hiking providing multiple views and perspectives of the 110-foot falls.
We opted for the 1/4 mile long Upper Falls Trail that’s accessible and family-friendly.
If you are feeling up for a challenge, you might want to check out the steep 600-foot trail Gorge Trail that is only recommended for hikers that are physically fit.
The upper area of the Salmon River Falls is a great area to skip rocks and enjoy the view.
It looks calm but over the edge…not very far from those people…. is a beautiful waterfall with a 110 ft drop.
There is a line to notify you where the restricted area is so that you remain safe during your visit. Salmon River Falls is definitely worth a visit!
Dinner at Tailwater Bar and Restaurant
52 Pulaski St, Altmar, NY
Another wonderful dining option serving breakfast thru dinner, Tailwater Bar, and Restaurant is a MUST while you are visiting Upstate New York.
We started our meal with Lump Crab Fritters (PBR-Lemon Battered, Housemade Sage Remoulade) and a wonderful Caesar Salad.
For our dinner entrees, we shared the Shrimp Pomodoro (Sautéed Gulf Shrimp in a Garlic, Basil and White Wine Tomato Sauce with Angel Hair Pasta, Oven Roasted Tomato, Asiago Cheese) and the Bacon Seafood Mac-n-Cheese (Gemelli Pasta, Creamy Mild, and Sharp Cheddar Cheeses, Shrimp, Lump Crab Meat, Applewood Bacon, Toasted Butter Cracker Crust.)
I should also note that the breakfast buffet the following also exceeded our expectations with a great variety of sweet and savory options.
52 Pulaski St., Altmar, NY
Part of the Tapestry Collection by Hilton, The Tailwater Lodge is a beautiful property located on the Salmon River.
Fishing at Tailwater Lodge
Guests of The Tailwater Lodge have 2,000 feet of private river access on the Salmon River which is ideal for all levels of fishermen and nature lovers.
The Tailwind Lodge was such a relaxing retreat! We spent hours by the firepit at night and enjoyed hiking by the river in the morning.
Gift Shop at Tailwater Lodge
If you didn’t pack your own gear, you will find everything you need or want at the gift shop…which might inspire an upgrade anyway.
I really enjoyed my visit to Oswego County. This is an under the radar destination for most out of staters that’s worth discovery.
Save this article for later. Pin the image below>>