New York City, the city that never sleeps, offers more than just skyscrapers and bustling streets. You’ll find plenty of water activities in New York, too!
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, these aquatic adventures will provide you with an unforgettable experience in NYC and elsewhere in the state.
So, take a refreshing break from the urban chaos and head for the water. The water activities below are sure to make your New York trip memorable, for all the right reasons.
CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn about the some wonderful, must-try water activities in New York state, including:
6 Best Activities in New York for Those Who Love the Water
Though many people might think first of big cities when New York is mentioned, there is plenty of beautiful nature, too—especially for water lovers!
The state’s activities rival the best of lake towns and will make you feel right at home on the water.
From visiting a waterfall or taking a boat tour to casting a fishing line or renting a kayak, New York has something for you.
1. Visit a Waterfall
You can experience the beauty of New York’s waterfalls by visiting any one of them. All offer breathtaking views and amazing photo opportunities. If you’ll be hiking, be sure to wear proper footwear and bring plenty of water for a safe and enjoyable visit.
Here are some of the top waterfalls you’ll find in New York.
- Kaaterskill Falls: a two-tier waterfall located in the Catskill Mountains that is one of most popular in New York. Its highest tier is around 260 feet tall, and the cascades are easily accessible via a short hike.
- Taughannock Falls: located in the Finger Lakes region, it stands at 215 feet—the highest single-drop waterfall in the state.
- High Falls: a 96-foot-tall waterfall in Rochester that offers a more urban experience.
- Niagara Falls: this famous spot is actually three waterfalls: Horseshoe, American, and Bridal Veil. The tallest is Horseshoe Falls, which is 187 feet high. Of course, Niagara Falls is a must see attraction! (You can visit Niagara Falls on the Canadian side, too. Just bring your passport and you can walk across the pedestrian bridge.)
2. Enjoy the Water at a Beach
Whether you want to splash in the water or relax on the shore, New York’s beaches have something for everyone.
The beaches around New York City, in particular, have many of the same amenities in the city’s parks while providing the bonus of access to the sand and water.
Rockaway Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the state, especially for those who love surfing. In addition to the great waves, the beach offers you opportunities for fishing, beach volleyball, and a boardwalk to walk along.
Everyone’s heard of Coney Island, but its beach may be a little underappreciated thanks to the boardwalk’s popularity. The Coney Island Beach—and the nearby Brighton Beach—will provide you with excellent spots to enjoy the sand and water.
Over on Long Island is Jones Beach State Park. Its six miles of beach offers a boardwalk that takes you past tennis courts, a mini-golf course, and a beach volleyball court. Plus, it’s right on the Atlantic Ocean.
3. Take a Boat Tour
Ditch the car and experience the beauty of New York with a boat tour. Nature lovers can also take tours to observe wildlife, such as birds, dolphins, and whales. From the Hudson River to the majestic Long Island Sound, a boat tour offers a unique perspective and an unforgettable experience.
Embark from Battery Park and you’ll cruise by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Along the way, you can enjoy the views of the Manhattan skyline as you pass by the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges.
A tour up and down the East and Hudson Rivers can take you close to Governors Island, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum.
For a less urban trip, head to Long Island Sound and explore the area’s stunning coastline. You’ll get an up-close look at lighthouses and the majestic landscapes of the South Shore.
4. Whitewater Rafting
If you want a little more adventure, consider whitewater rafting.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rafter, this is the perfect way to explore the stunning scenery of the Adirondack and Catskill Mountains. With rapids ranging in difficulty, you can find something to suit your skill level.
The Hudson River is the main spot for whitewater rafting in the state, though the upper Delaware River has some options, too. Other trips go along the Moose and Sacandaga rivers.
Typically, the companies will provide you with all the gear you need. Sometimes, they will even include food and drinks.
Excursions can last for several hours, though you’ll also find options with a camping bundle if you’d like to book a longer trip.
With an experienced guide and the right safety gear, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable adventure whitewater rafting!
5. Rent a Kayak or Paddleboard
Another good way to explore New York’s waterways is to rent a kayak or paddleboard.
Kayaking or paddleboarding is the perfect way to view the natural beauty and sights of New York. You can paddle through the harbor and get a sense of its history. Or, venture out to rivers and lakes to explore the lush greenery and wildlife.
A popular place for kayaking is Green Lakes State Park, located in the Finger Lakes region. You can rent kayaks and rowboats right on the beach and enjoy the park’s glacial lakes. Surrounded by trees, your kayaking trip here is sure to be beautiful.
More urban options can be found in the New York City area, where you can paddleboard at places like Hudson River Park and New York Harbor.
Grab a few friends, rent a kayak or paddleboard, and explore together! It’s a great way to make memories and have a fun time out on the water.
6. Cast a Fishing Line
From the majestic Hudson River to the Finger Lakes, you’ll find plenty of spots where you can cast a line to see what bites.
Before you go, be sure you know the state fishing regulations. For one, you’ll need a valid fishing license— and note that there are different licenses for freshwater and saltwater fishing. You’ll also discover different rules are in place for different types of fish.
If you’re along the Hudson River, you can catch:
- Striped Bass
Or, take a drive to the Finger Lakes, where you can fish for:
- Black Bass
You can also find excellent fishing spots in one of the Adirondacks’ hundreds of bodies of water, along with Long Island.
On Long Island, you’ll spot:
- Sea Bass
Maybe you can make a run for one of the state records!
Enjoy the Water in New York
If you love the water, New York is an excellent place to visit. From beautiful waterfalls and beaches to exploring the state by boat, you’ll never run out of ways to have a great time. Explore all that New York has to offer and you’ll make some amazing memories on the water with your friends and family!
Final Thoughts on Water Activities in New York
New York offers more than just concrete jungles and bustling streets; it’s also a haven for water enthusiasts. Whether you’re into kayaking, boating, rafting, paddle boarding, fishing, or just relaxing by the beach—there’s an aquatic adventure waiting for you!
Each of these must-try water activities in New York promises a fantastic and refreshing escape from the urban hustle.
So, what are you waiting for?
Dive into the adventure, make a splash, and create lasting memories in the Big Apple and beyond.
For more about New York and planning other water adventures, read these articles next:
- 5 Best New York Food Tours: Where to Savor the Flavors of NYC!
- New York In May: The Ultimate 48-Hour Itinerary!
- 5 Must-Visit Lake Towns You’ll Love for Water Sports Activities!
- 5 Easy Steps To An Insanely Perfect Beach Evening
- Buying A Boat? 5 Important Questions You Need To Answer
- Empty-Nest Advice For Would-Be Fishing Hobbyists
- 5 Benefits of Paddleboarding as a Great Summer Activity
- Discover Waterfront Luxury at this Bed and Breakfast in Falmouth MA
- An Off-Season Waterfront Weekend in Sandwich, Cape Cod
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