Great Lake Ontario

Ontario Beach Park pier during HarborFest.The City of Rochester sits on the southern shore of mighty Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes, and the fourteenth largest lake in the world. Rochester is truly a Great Lake City, with its waterfront being the beautiful and fascinating end of the line of the spectacular Genesee River. 

Rochesterians and visitors thoroughly enjoy this "sweetwater sea" by boating, swimming, beachcombing along the shore, watching the water from the beach or from atop a bluff. While we love and appreciate our Lake Ontario, we may forget how awesome and unusual this remarkable body of water truly is! 

Did you know that Lake Ontario:

  • Is the smallest of the five Great Lakes, but is 7,540 square miles--the size of the entire state of New Jersey?
  • Has an average depth of 283 feet, and a maximum depth of 802 feet, making it the second deepest of the Great Lakes?
  •  Gets 80% of its water in from Lake Erie and the Niagara River?
  • Has 712 miles of shoreline?    
  • Is 193 miles long, and 53 miles wide at its longest and widest points? 
  • Froze completely over in the winters of 1875 and 1934?
  • Has 550 known shipwrecks?
  • Has a lakefront Rochester city neighborhood called Charlotte (pronounced sha-LOTT)?
  •  Got its name from the Haudenosaunee: 'Ontara' means "lake," and Ontario, "beautiful lake?"
  •  Once had a 514-foot car ferry between Rochester and Cobourg, Ontario?

This is just a sampling of the facts and superlatives. Also know that Lake Ontario, despite its size, has been impaired severely by human activity over the decades and needs your TLC. For more information about safeguarding water quality, check out H2OHERO

Lake Ontario is a great destination during all four of Rochester's glorious seasons!