Oswego is located in northernmost New York State on the shores of Lake Ontario. There are many historic attractions to visit including Fort Ontario State Historic Site, the Richard-Bates House Museum and the H. Lee White Maritime Museum. The Oswego River and Canal Way offers a variety of summer water activities including kayaking, boarding, boating and barging as well as excellent sports fishing. If you enjoy motor racing you should be sure to visit between April and October to attend a race at the Oswego Speedway. At the end of a busy day in the town you can enjoy dinner at one of several good restaurants. CDC information for travelers. Hours/availability may have changed.
1.Fort Ontario State Historic Site
Located on the east bank of the Oswego River, where if offers wonderful views of Lake Ontario, the present Fort Ontario stands on the site of three previous forts, all of which were destroyed and rebuilt between 1755 and 1840. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of the property to see the Officers Quarters, the Powder Magazine, the Men’s Barracks, the Storeroom and the 2 guardhouses as well as underground artillery casements and the ramparts. The fort was home to Jewish refugees during WWII – you can learn about them at the Safe Haven Museum located onsite. The fort is widely believed to be haunted so if you are interested in the paranormal you can book a ghoulish Ghost Tour.
Fort Ontario State Historic Site, 1 East Fourth Street, Oswego, NY 13126, Phone: 315-343-4711
2.Safe Haven Museum
© Safe Haven Museum
Located in one of the gatehouses of Fort Ontario, the Safe Haven Museum documents the lives of 982 Jewish refugees from Europe who were given refuge at the fort for 18 months from 1944 to 1946. The refugees were brought to America on the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and this center was the only refugee center of its kind in American during WWII. Visitors can read many first-hand accounts of the Holocaust written by refugees and see many photographs of life at the refugee camp. The library at the museum also features several autobiographies of refugees who lived at the camp and were eventually granted American citizenship.
Safe Haven Museum, 2 East Seventh Street, Oswego, 13126, Phone: 315-342-3003
© Oswego Speedway
Nicknamed the Steel Palace, the Oswego Speedway has been thrilling local and visiting petrol-heads with weekly races since 1951. The facility can accommodate approximately 10,000 fans on covered and un-covered grandstands on both sides of the 5/8 mile paved track. Home to modified and super modified race cars, the venue offers lots of excitement during its annual season which runs from April to October. Two of the most popular events at the track are the 200-lap Labor-Day Budweiser Classic and the Race of Champions and the speedway also hosts the annual King of Wings Race for winged super modified cars. The speedway is very family-friendly and children are welcome.
Oswego Speedway, 300 E Albany St, Oswego, NY 13126, Phone: 315-342-0646
4.Richardson-Bates House Museum
© Richardson-Bates House Museum
Of special interest to history and architecture enthusiasts, the Richardson-Bates House Museum is one of the finest and most-intact museums of its kind in New York State.
The original house on this site was built in the 1840’s and enlarged in 1867. However, in 1889 that house was demolished and the current residence, which features a gable roof and 4-story tower, was erected. The interior is extremely lavish, showcasing the Victorian obsession with art and culture. The museum is operated by the Oswego Historical Society and is open to the public for tours from April to November on Thursdays to Saturdays from 1pm to 5pm.
Richardson-Bates House Museum, 135 E 3rd Street, Oswego, NY 13126, Phone: 315-343-1342
5.The State University of New York Oswego
© The State University of New York Oswego
Whether you have an interest in enrolling at SUNY (State University New York) or you would just like to visit the sprawling campus to absorb some of its 150-year history, visitors are always welcome. The Oswego campus is spread across 700 acres along the shore of Lake Ontario and there are currently around 46 building on site. The facilities cater to around 8,000 students and include residences, libraries, laboratories, lecture theaters and much more. If you would like to have an in-depth tour you can join one of the student-led guided tours which are offered or visit their website for a Virtual Tour.
The State University of New York Oswego, 7060 State Route 104, Oswego, NY 13126, Phone: 315-312-2500
© Chris Hinkley/stock.adobe.com
The Oswego River is the second-largest river to drain into Lake Ontario and offers Oswego residents and visitors a great summer recreational facility. The river is widely known to offer exceptional sport fishing opportunities for everything from brown trout to salmon and bass. If fishing is not your thing you can take to the water on a canoe or kayak – several outfitters offer rentals and guided expeditions during the summer months. Barging along the canalized sections of the river is also very popular and you can make your way from Oswego to Three Rivers Junctions by means of a series of locks.
Oswego River, NY
7.H. Lee White Maritime Museum
© H. Lee White Maritime Museum
The H. Lee White Maritime Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in learning about Oswego maritime history and the strategic importance of the Oswego Harbor. As you make your way through 8 rooms of exhibits you will learn 300 years worth of history including that of the early Native Americans who plied the waters in dug-out canoes. There are several interesting historic craft to explore including an authentic Normandy Barge and a WWII tug boat. In favorable weather (mid-June to September only) you can also tour the West Pierhead Lighthouse on Fridays and Saturdays. The Maritime Museum is open all year round.
H. Lee White Maritime Museum, 1 W 1st St, Oswego, NY 13126, Phone: 315-342-0480
8.Oswego Public Library
© Oswego Public Library
From the outside you could easily mistake the Oswego Public Library for a castle. It is prominently positioned on a hill-top and its castellated Norman Revival architecture ensures that it remains an Oswego landmark, often referred to as the Castle on the Hill. The library first opened in 1857 and is the oldest library in the US. Now, 160 years later, the library is still a great attraction for book worms and families. The Children’s Room on the upper level presents regular programs for children including Wednesday and Friday Story Hour. Everyone is welcome to bring their children to join in and develop of love of reading. Adults have access to a brilliant collection of book, magazines, e-books and computers.
Oswego Public Library, 120 E. 2nd Street, Oswego, NY 13126, Phone: 315-341-5867
9.La Parrilla Grill and Wine Bar
© La Parrilla Grill and Wine Bar
After a busy day of exploring all the interesting sights in Oswego you will be ready to enjoy a good meal. La Parrilla Grill and Wine Bar is a Mediterranean-style restaurant where you can enjoy a genuine farm-to-fork dining experience. The seasonal menu changes regularly to showcase the best locally-sourced fresh produce available and almost all their meat, chicken and fish is sustainable farmed. The lunch menu features fresh soups, salads and sandwiches (and burgers). The dinner menu ramps up the choices by including delicious starters like clam chowder and fresh mussels and more substantial Spanish and Italian-style entrees including fresh fish, pastas, steaks and risotto of the day.
La Parrilla Grill and Wine Bar, 156 West 2nd Street, Oswego, NY 13126, Phone: 315-216-4179
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10.Oswego Sub Shop
© Oswego Sub Shop
The Oswego Sub Shop has been your go-to place for delicious freshly-made subs since it first opened its doors in 1969. Back then, Oswego Sub Shop featured a modest selection of 10 varieties of sub sandwiches, all of which featured ingredients made from old family recipes to make them special. Business boomed and has continued to do so for the last 50 years. Although ownership of the business has changed over the years the popularity of the restaurant remains unchanged. When you drop by today you will be offered a staggering 65 varieties of subs and sandwiches, all made from the best quality ingredients and from bread produced on-site in their bakery.
Oswego Sub Shop, 106 W. Bridge Street, Oswego, NY 13126, Phone: 315-343-1233
11.GJP Italian Eatery
© GJP Italian Eatery
When your taste-buds are crying out for a genuine New-York style pizza, GJP is the place to find it in Oswego. The restaurant places great emphasis on using the best possible fresh local produce and all the dough for their breads and pizza bases is made onsite from completely natural flour. The menu features a great selection of build-your-own calzones, rolls and stombolis as well as rolls, wraps, burgers and, of course, pizzas. You can choose yours with a New York-style thin crust or opt for a Sicilian thick crust – both are delicious. There are also a selection of pastas and Italian meals to eat in or take home.
GJP Italian Eatery, 140 NY-104, Oswego, NY 13126, Phone: 315-207-1000
11 Best Things to Do in Oswego, NY
- Fort Ontario State Historic Site, Photo: felixesteban/stock.adobe.com
- Safe Haven Museum, Photo: Safe Haven Museum
- Oswego Speedway, Photo: Oswego Speedway
- Richardson-Bates House Museum, Photo: Richardson-Bates House Museum
- The State University of New York Oswego, Photo: The State University of New York Oswego
- Oswego River, Photo: Chris Hinkley/stock.adobe.com
- H. Lee White Maritime Museum, Photo: H. Lee White Maritime Museum
- Oswego Public Library, Photo: Oswego Public Library
- La Parrilla Grill and Wine Bar, Photo: La Parrilla Grill and Wine Bar
- Oswego Sub Shop, Photo: Oswego Sub Shop
- GJP Italian Eatery, Photo: GJP Italian Eatery
- Cover Photo: Yann Poirier/stock.adobe.com