The charming village of Skaneateles spreads out along one long main street (Route 20) at the north end of the lake. Graceful 19th-century homes, white-columned public buildings, and trim brick storefronts are everywhere and make for excellent strolling surrounds. Skaneateles has been a favorite retreat among wealthy Syracusans for generations.
The first Europeans in Skaneateles were Moravian missionaries who visited an Onondaga village here in 1750. From 1843 to 1845, the village was the short-lived site of a Utopian community that advertised in the newspapers for followers and advocated communal property, nonviolence, easy divorce, and vegetarianism. Prior to the Civil War, Skaneateles served as the headquarters for abolitionist Gerrit Smith and was an important stop on the Underground Railroad.
As you might expect, all the big events take place in the summer months. Weekly sailboat races (2745 East Lake Rd., www.skansailclub.com , 5:30 p.m. Wed., 2 p.m. Sat.–Sun, Jun.–Aug.) take place throughout the summer, while free band concerts (West Genesee Street, across from the Sherwood Inn, www.skaneateles.com , 7:30 p.m. in July, 7 p.m. in Aug.)are held on Friday evenings in Clift Park.
Polo games are played on Sunday afternoons in July and August at the Skaneateles Polo Club (West Lake and Andrews Rds.). Since 1980, the Skaneateles Festival (www.skanfest.org ) has been bringing top chamber-music artists to town in August. The town’s largest event is the antique and classic boat show (north end of Lake Skaneateles, 315/685-0552, www.skaneateles.com )in early July.