Historic Sylvan Beach
By Michele DeBella
At the first hint of a warm summer day, Oneida County residents head to the beach. For generations, that’s meant Sylvan Beach, a small resort community on the eastern shore of Oneida Lake. The area offers enough activities to last for days, and because of great restaurants and endless accommodation options, it’s a popular getaway for out-of-towners, too. Here are some ways to get the most adventure out of your time in Sylvan Beach.
Sylvan Beach Amusement Park
The midway will bring you back to the carnivals of your youth, but younger generations will also love the rides, including bumper cars, a roller coaster, and more. If you love games, try your hand at Skee-Ball, practice your video game mastery, or play a round of mini-golf. Take a Ghost Tour, where guides lead visitors through sections of the midway said to be inhabited by ghosts. The park was even featured on Ghost Hunters in 2013.
More fun and games are available at Carello’s Carousel Arcade, which has been in operation since 1896 and is open every day in the summer.
The beach is open every day of the year, but crowds gather in the greatest numbers in June, July, and August. During these months, friends and families spend their days sunbathing, playing volleyball, picnicking and people watching. Restaurants near the beach are plentiful and grills are available across from the amusement park for public use.
There are a number of nearby marinas for boats and jet skis. Kayaks and paddle boats can be rented from South Shore Nautical, and Three Pines Marina rents out fishing boats. The 79-square-mile Oneida Lake is well-known in the fishing community for its walleye, yellow perch, and bass.
Lots of popular restaurants are within walking distance of the beach. Captain John’s is a longtime favorite for seafood lovers. The Canal View Café offers a menu of regional favorites, local craft beverages, and tranquil views of the Erie Barge Canal. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time at Eddie’s Restaurant, a Sylvan Beach staple that opened in 1934 as a hot dog stand and is now a popular family-friendly restaurant operated by the third-generation Stewart family. Be sure to try their famous hot ham sandwich!
Beachgoers love Harpoon Eddie’s for its beachfront location and frozen cocktails, and the Spaghetti Factory will satisfy your craving for Italian. The Crazy Clam is a hot nightspot known for its seafood and live music. For a hearty breakfast and a lesson in history, eat at Sylvan Beach Pancake House. The restaurant sits inside a building that served as the village post office in the 19th century. This is your go-to eatery for omelets, Belgian waffles, and stacks of fluffy pancakes. The owners also rent out the newly renovated third floor as a four-bedroom family suite.
For a perfect beach-day ending, grab an ice cream cone at What’s the Scoop.
There are plenty of accommodation options for every preference in and around Sylvan Beach.
In addition to their popular weekly food specials, Cinderella’s Restaurant, Bar & Suites has rooms and suites for groups of various sizes. Beach Walk Cottages is popular for its beachfront location. Dwarf Line Cottages offer easy access to Verona Beach State Park, less than a mile away from Sylvan Beach. Sunset Cottages can accommodate different-sized groups and is very close to the beach and amusement park.
Camping has always been an integral part of the Sylvan Beach experience, so if that’s more your style, check out the options for campgrounds and RV Parks.
Popular summer events include Pirate’s Weekend, with the family-friendly Pirate 5K Rum Runner, and Canal Fest, with live music, local craft vendors, face painting, and even helicopter rides. Other popular summer events include Bikes at the Beach and Classic Car Cruise Night. Keep an eye on Sylvan Beach’s events page for a full listing of fun things for the entire family to do.