It’s hard to venture too far from water when you’re in Oswego County. From sailing by day to watching fireworks at night, activities abound on and near Lake Ontario, its river tributaries and other natural water sites.
If it’s too cold for a dip, the temperatures may be just right for fishing. Anglers come from all over to try the waters in and around Oswego, considered a major U.S. fishing area. Get updates on nine fishing spots by checking the county tourism office’s fishing reports website http://visitoswegocounty.com.
When the fish aren’t biting, the Salmon River International Sport Fishing Museum (298-2213; http://pulaskinychamber.com) offers 250,000 fishing-related items, including antique rods, reels and lures, to check out. Located in the Salmon River Visitors Center, 3044 Route 13, Altmar, it’s open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. “You can even fish the Pulaski Salmon River from our parking lot,” says Bill Joyce, executive director of the Pulaski-Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce.
Combining technology with the great outdoors, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail offers geocaching along the New York side of Lake Ontario. Geocaching is a high-tech “treasure hunt” that encourages participants to search outside for markers in a region. Gather 10 of the markers and check in to earn a coin representing that region. It costs nothing to play, although a GPS device is needed to locate the markers while touring the natural beauty. Five regions make up the 518-mile Seaway Trail, which is just one area for geocaching in the world. Visit www.seawaytrail.com/geotrail.html for details.
If you’re wondering what that humming is, head east on Route 104 until the sound becomes a roar. That must be the Oswego Speedway (342-0646; www.oswegospeedway.com), which this year marks 60 years since it opened on Albany Street. Children 16 and younger get in free with a parent to watch the races that are scheduled for most Saturdays, as well as some other days this summer.
If walking is more your speed, try the city’s Riverwalk (www.oswegony.org), which includes picnic spots and paths for walking, jogging, biking or fishing on either side of the Oswego River. Feeling bold? Few take on the rocky breakwater that leads from shore to the Oswego West Pierhead Lighthouse. The 1934 lighthouse remains closed until extensive renovations are undertaken by the city.
But lighthouse fans should check out the H. Lee White Marine Museum (342-0480; www.hleewhitemarinemuseum.com), which houses the fourth-order Fresnel lens that operated in the lantern room of the two-story lighthouse. Made by L. Sautter Lemonnier & Co. in France, the lens produced a flashing red light 57 feet above the Great Lake. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in July and August, the museum features two floors of nautical artifacts and hands-on exhibits. Visitors also may climb aboard a tugboat and a dredging boat docked outside the museum. Special programs are offered throughout the summer. Located at 1 W. First St., the museum reminds visitors on its website: “If you park in Lake Ontario, you’ve gone too far.”
On the east side of the pier, history lovers won’t want to miss Fort Ontario (343-4711; www.fortontario.com), located off East Schuyler Street. Five buildings and the parade grounds are available to tour daily during summer from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $4 adults, $3 seniors and children older than 12. For more recent history, stop in the Safe Haven Museum, located across from the fort at 2 E. Seventh St. (342-3003; www.oswegohaven.org). The museum is dedicated to telling the stories of the 982 refugees from Europe who lived in Oswego for 18 months after they arrived in the Untied States in 1944. It’s open during the summer Wednesdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
To see how the other 5 percent lived, step inside the Richardson-Bates House (343-1342; www.rbhousemuseum.org),which was built in 1872 and renovated in 1889 for local attorney Maxwell Richardson. This Italian villa-style home, at 135 E. Third St., is known for its prime example of Victorian furnishings; the house maintains about 90 percent of the original items. The Oswego County Historical Society maintains the building, which is open for tours Thursdays through Saturdays, 1 to 5 p.m., or by appointment.
Fresh picnic items can be found Thursday evenings at the Oswego Farmers Market that sets up each week on West First Street between West Oneida and West Bridge streets. Locally grown vegetables and fruits are for sale, along with locally made honey, maple syrup, baked goods and other items. Live music accompanies shoppers and wanderers at the market, which runs Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m. into the fall harvest. Stop in at the River’s End Bookstore (342-0077), at the corner of West First and West Bridge streets, to browse the latest editions by authors near and far, or maybe hear a guest author’s reading and discussion. Open seven days a week, the locally owned shop celebrated its 13th anniversary in May. For events, see www.riversendbookstore.com.
Delicious treats are available indoors just a few blocks away and across the river at the Oswego Tea Company (343-0439; www.oswegoteacompany-cny.com). Homemade cinnamon-raisin bread is one of its specialties, along with customized coffee drinks, breakfast all day and teas, of course. Sandwiches, wraps, appetizers and pastries are also available.
After a refreshing repast, one could stop next at the John D. Murray Firefighter’s Museum (343-2161), located behind the city’s eastside fire station at 35 E. Cayuga St. The museum features two vintage pumpers used in the first half of the 20th century and a truckload of antique firefighting equipment and photos.
Train fans get their turn at the Oswego Railroad Museum (343-2347; www.oswegocounty.com). Dedicated to preserving railroad history for the area, the museum features an HO display that’s 24 feet by 36 feet of southern Oswego County in the 1950s. Other exhibits change every few weeks. Open weekends noon to 5 p.m. all summer. Admission is $2 for 12 and up, $1 for children 7 to 11 and free for children 6 and younger.
If the weather’s too hot for touring, stop off at Thunder Island water park (598-8016 www.thunder-island.com) located at 21 Wilcox Road, right off Route 48 in Fulton. Daily admission includes an 18-hole jungle-themed miniature golf course, although go-kart rides are extra.
After dark, park at one of only 374 drive-in movie theatres that remain in the United States, according to the United Drive-In Theatre Owners Association. Midway Drive-In Theatre (343-0211; www.midwaydrivein.com), located at 2475 Route 48 in Minetto (“midway between Fulton and Oswego,” says owner John Nagelschmidt), offers double and triple features every night of the week starting at dusk. Get freshly popped popcorn, hot dogs and more at the concession stand. Tickets are $7 for adults, $2 for children 7 to 11; free for children 6 and younger. Old-time intermission trailers on the big screen entertain audience members in between movies. b