The Ultimate Guide to Summer Activities in Oswego County, NY
June 14, 2023
Last updated on June 20, 2023.
Upstate New York truly shines in the summer months. From farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to boat rides, camping to festivals, there is just so much to do. The days, weeks, and months tend to fly by with people’s calendars filling up with activities. So before we get too far into the summer, let’s take a look at all of the summer activities in Oswego County that there are to do.
Shop local at the Oswego & Fulton Farmers Markets
Central New York flowers, fruits, and vegetables are in all their glory during the summer months. Which means its time for farmers markets in every town, village, and city. The Oswego Farmers Market runs every Thursday evening from 4 til 7:45pm along West 1st Street. Similarly, the Fulton Farmers Market is every Saturday from 8am til noon at Canalview Mall.
Admire the vintage vehicles at the Salmon River Car Cruise Nights
When the weather gets warm, the classic cars start cruising down the streets. And there is nothing more classic than a parking lot filled with beautiful cars and the people who admire them. Every Monday night that’s exactly what happens up in Pulaski along the Salmon River. Sponsored by the Pulaski-Boylston Snowmobile Club, the event is free for the whole family. In addition to the cars, folks can enjoy food and raffles weekly from 5 til 8:30pm.
Take a tour of the Oswego Lighthouse
Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse was built in 1934 to guide sailors coming into Oswego Harbor. Due to the high winds and ice that are common on Lake Ontario, the lighthouse had to be designed to withstand the elements. Since it was constructed well, it is now the last remaining lighthouse in Oswego out of the four that once were there.
Lighthouse tours are currently offered through the Maritime Museum. Visitors can book their tours online – and it’s recommended to book early, as each boat can only carry 6 guests. The boat shuttles back and forth throughout the day, picking up and dropping off guests for their tours. Once at the lighthouse, you can learn more about it’s history and enjoy 360-degree views of the Oswego Harbor.
Plus, with your ticket to the lighthouse, you also get admission to the maritime museum. There you can see the original lens and learn more about Oswego’s history.
Go for a hike at Oswego’s many county and state parks
Like the rest of Upstate New York, Oswego County is filled with wonderful parks to explore. Many of them are open to the public year-round, but some just truly shine in the summertime.
Great Bear Recreational Trails is a personal favorite. With several miles of trails and various ecosystems within the park, it’s a great spot to bring friends, family, and the dog.
If you’re into chasing waterfalls, Salmon River Falls is a must. There you can get up close and personal at the top of the waterfall – just please obey the signs that prohibit wandering and further. Along the trails you can get views from below, beside, and above the main set of falls.
Nothing truly says summer like a festival every weekend. Luckily, Oswego County has plenty of fairs and events to keep everyone entertained. Check out the lineup of some of Oswego’s best summer festivals:
Path Through History Weekend Saturday – Sunday, June 17-18
State parks and museums across New York celebrate the region’s unique history semi-annually with events across the state. Various places in Oswego County are participating, teaching visitors about the unique history of the area. Learn about the Underground Railroad in New York at Starr Clark Tin Shop & Museum. Dive into the history of Fort Ontario and the Safe Haven Museum. Lastly, explore the unusual and haunted structure of Casey’s Cottage in Mexico Point State Park.
Women’s Weekend at Fort Ontario Saturday – Sunday, June 24-25
Visit the fort on the last weekend in June to dive deep into the women’s history of Fort Ontario. Exhibitions include women’s fashion throughout the fort’s history, how women brewed beer, and the civilian vs. military life of women at the fort.
Oswego County Fair Friday – Sunday, June 30 – July 2
Every summer the Oswego County Fair brings a lot of people to the Sandy Creek village of less than 1,000 residents. Both admission and parking for the county fair are FREE. While smaller than the upcoming NYS State Fair, there is plenty to do to keep the family entertained at the Oswego County Fair. Enjoy food, rides, local businesses and artists, animals, shows, games, and races.
City of Oswego Independence Day Celebration Sunday, July 2
Hosted by Mayor Billy Barlow, downtown Oswego is pulling out all the stops for this celebration. The downtown block party kicks off at 2pm. There will be free activities for the kids, live music, and special hours for local restaurants and downtown businesses. The festivities conclude with fireworks over the bridge at 9:45pm.
Oswego County Paddlefest Saturday, July 15
Oswego Paddlefest returns for its 9th year next month. The event invites canoers and kayakers to venture through a portion of the historic Erie Canal, including 4 locks. Participants will launch in either Minetto, for a 5.5 mile trip, or Fulton, for a 13 mile trip. Both paths end at Wrights Landing in Oswego. Tickets are $35 for adults and $10 for children.
Oswego Harborfest Thursday – Sunday, July 27 – 30
Oswego’s much beloved summer festival, Harborfest, returns again this year. Most of the festivities take place in Breitbeck Park on Lake Street. That’s where you’ll find half of the musical performances, the children’s puppet theater, and several other attractions. Over in East Park, between 2nd and 4th Street, is the Jazz & Blues celebrations. The midway carnival is over along the eastern end of Lake Street. Lastly, more festivities can be found at Veterans Memorial Park and the River Walk.
Learn some history at Fort Ontario
Fort Ontario has housed thousands of soldiers and refugees, both when it was active and after. Originally built in 1755, the fort has been rebuilt several times. It has seen war. And it has seen death. Because of this, the fort now serves as a stop along the Haunted History Trail of New York. Most years it hosts haunted tours in the fall. The fort even served as a refuge for victims during the Holocaust. No matter the season, it’s always time to take a trip to Fort Ontario in Oswego to learn about its incredible history.
The fort is open in the summer months, from early May to mid-October. Fort Ontario typically closes for the season on Columbus Day. Visitors are welcome Wednesday through Sunday, plus any holidays that fall on Mondays. Admission to the museum is very reasonable, costing just a few dollars per person. Of course, admission is free for active military, veterans, and children under 12.
Safe Haven Museum
During World War 2, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established Safe Haven at Fort Ontario. With an executive order, he created the only Holocaust refugee camp in the United States. In 1944, Safe Haven welcomed 982 refugees to safety at the fort. When the war was over, most of them decided to stay in the US after being befriended by the local community. Now, the Safe Haven Museum resides in an old gate house at Fort Ontario. Visitors can learn all about the refugees and the lives they lived there.
Listen to live music
The Oswego Summer Concert Series is back! Starting June 29, Thursday nights are for live music. Enjoy a concert every week at 6pm on Veteran’s Stage at West Linear Park.
Eat dinner on the rooftop
One of the newer restaurants in Oswego is also one of the best. Located in the Litatro building above Southern Fare, Rooftop Lounge has great food, great drinks, and great views. Not one, but two rooftop patios allow guests to dine with beautiful views of downtown Oswego and the harbor. And while the menu may be small, it is mighty. Rooftop Lounge features a great selection of cocktails and mocktails, small plates, and desserts. the menus change seasonally, so there is always something new to try.
Watch a race at a dirt track
Both Brewerton Speedway and Fulton Speedway in Oswego County feature races every Friday and Saturday, respectively. Since they are dirt track, be prepared to get dirty (don’t wear your nicest clothes!). Parking for both race tracks is free, and tickets are $20-$25 for adults. Kids under 18 are free with a paid adult.
Each night of races includes a variety of car classes, and occasionally includes a demolition derby or old cars crashing into each other. PS, most of the concessions at the racetracks are cash only. There are ATMs onsite, but plan ahead to avoid unnecessary fees.
Enjoy phenomenal sunsets over Lake Ontario
Lastly, it goes without saying that Lake Ontario has some of the best sunsets in New York State. With such a massive lake, it feels like you’re at the ocean, with only water as far as the eye can see. Make sure your summer bucket list includes an evening taking in the gorgeous views.