The Oregon Trail

Roughly midway across New York State, Skaneateles (pop. 2,487, pronounced “scan-ee-AT-less”) is a pristine sun-dappled resort nestled on the north shore of shimmering Skaneateles Lake. This popular summer family escape houses arts, crafts, and antiques stores along its immaculate Genesee Street (US-20), which fronts a lovely lakeside park where you can enjoy free summer concerts (7:30pm Fri.) on the quaint bandstand, watch the boats come and go, or hop on board a historic lake steamer for a scenic tour offered by Mid-Lakes Navigation (11 Jordan St., 800/545-4318 or 315/685-8500).

Stroll up the main downtown north-south drag and you’ll notice the smell of fresh bread (and delicious doughnuts!) at the unadorned Skaneateles Bakery (19 Jordan St., 315/685-3538) before reaching the Skaneateles Historical Society’s Creamery Museum (315/685-1360, Fri.-Sat. 1pm-4pm, donation). Elm-lined side streets are full of well-maintained Greek Revival homes.

If you’re hungry for more than a pastry or piece of cake, wait in line at the high-quality but self-effacing Doug’s Fish Fry (8 Jordan St., 315/685-3288, daily), “Not Famous since 1982,” for its fried haddock sandwiches, fried clams, Coney Island hot dogs, and ice-cold beer. Doug’s also has creamy thick Perry’s ice cream and milk shakes, plus fresh strawberry sundaes in season. Buy a postcard for a nickel and Doug’s will slap on a stamp and send it on its way.

Right in the center of Skaneateles, the Sherwood Inn (26 W. Genesee St., 800/374-3796 or 315/685-3405, $175 and up) along US-20 has been welcoming travelers to its lakeside restaurant, good bar, and comfortable rooms since it was built as a stagecoach stop back in 1807.