Skaneateles is a storybook. First, a true "insider tip": avoid summer weekends like the plague. Indeed, visit off-season for the "real" Skaneateles experience.

Officially designated a “Stress Free Zone”, the Village is a storybook of shops, restaurants and of course, Skaneateles Lake. From the Wooden Boat Show to Skaneateles Festival to Charles Dickens Christmas, travelers of all ages will fall in love. Wineries and Vineyards of the Fingerlakes Region are only minutes away, as well as historical museums, galleries and theatre. Relax, you’re in the Village

The Village is a "drive to" destination, but after you are there, walk to everything. The community is quite small [pop 2500] and quite dense. The Central merchant area is only two blocks with two other side streets (Jordan Street and Fennell Street).

Over 200 years ago, the first settler arrived and thus began the Village. A confluence of geographic and topographic and luck-of-the-draw events drew a significant number of estate-class homes. After WWII these fell in disrepair. But then, the existence of these house opportunities attracted people with the wherewithall to restore them.

For the official version visit the Chamber of Commerce at www.skaneateles.com and the Creamery.

Skaneateles is all about the lake, although as a visitor it can be difficult to get on it. In the 1800's, early settlers built a small dam which created water power for the small mills and factories which lined the Outlet in the Village. Further, this created the uniform flow of water to Skaneateles Creek [flows North] and the subsequent water powered factories that populated both sides of the creek. Life was good for 100 years.

In 1895, the City of Syracuse exercised their rights to the water. This was not good, unless you were the City of Syracuse. To understand why, you need to know Skaneateles is one of only four water supplies that can be used un-filtered, and that Skaneateles Lake is 400 feet higher than Syracuse. The result was FREE, clean, clear water supplied by gravity.

Syracuse promptly built the masonry seawall (which you can sit on today) and and a higher dam and a huge conduit to the City, consuming millions of gallons each day. The result was terriffic for Syracuse and disastrous for the factories on Skaneateles Creek. You can see the foundations of several of these by walking the Charlie Major Nature Trail. Drive North on Jordan Street about 2 miles to the Hamlet of Mottville.

The good news was that Syracuse also built the Pier (you can walk out on it when you visit) which was docking for the steamboats that served the lake. This was important because by then the railroads served the Village as well as the stagecoaches, and The Glen Haven Spa and Hotel was built at the South end of the lake. The Hotel was a magnet for prosperous New York, Philadelphia and Canadian travelers to escape the heat of the city, and the transporation system allowed them to seamlessly connect with the beauty of Skaneateles and the Hotel Spa. Our water based economy was on the rise again, until a fire razed the Glen Haven and ended an era.

So how do you get on the water? The Village has a small swimming facility in Cliff Park; not much to brag about, but you can get wet. In the winter, when the lake freezes, you can walk out and around, even ice fish. 

Today, the distant relatives of the steamboats still are the best way to "get on the water". Mid-Lakes Navigation has a selection of sight-seeing and dinner cruises. You can even take a MailBoat Cruise and watch them deliver the US Mail to land-locked cottages. Mid-Lakes Navigation

Mid-Lakes Navigation 

Although you won't get wet, consider driving around the lake. If you do, be sure to start on 41A and drive South, then back up Rt 41 (the views are better).