Established in 1722 as a British trading post, Oswego had a long military history and a series of fortifications as Fort Oswego (1727-1756), Fort George (1755-1756) and Fort Ontario (1755-1778, 1792-1814 and 1839-1940). Before the American Revolution (1776-1783), Oswego was British and its arch-nemesis Cataraqui (1673-1758), directly across Lake Ontario, was French. In the War of 1812, Oswego and Sackets Harbor were on the front line against British forces stationed in Canada. The city's military history ends with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division (United States) relocated away from the region during World War II; Fort Ontario then housed approximately 982 wartime Jewish refugees (August 1944-February 1946) before being turned over to New York State post-war. It has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1970.
Intercity rail, bus and air connections are available at Syracuse.
- By car
- New York State Route 481 runs north from Interstate 81 in Syracuse via Fulton
- New York State Route 104 runs east from Rochester (New York)
- By bus
- Centro (Central New York Regional Transportation Authority), Transit Center, W. 1st Street at W. Bridge Street, ☏ . Regional bus service, Oswego-Syracuse and Oswego-Fulton-Mexico.
- By boat
- 1 Fort Ontario State Historic Site, 1 E Fourth St, ☏ . Fort Ontario is built on the ruins of three earlier fortifications dating to the French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, and War of 1812. $4 adult, $3 student/senior.
- 2 Safe Haven Museum, 2 E 7th St. The War Relocation Authority established the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter, the first and only in the United States, housing primarily Europeans of Jewish descent.
- 3 H. Lee White Marine Museum, 1 E 1st St, ☏ , fax: . 1-5PM daily, Jul-Aug 10AM-5PM. Marine history museum on former grain elevator site at canal terminus. Exhibits, galleries and a fleet of historic vessels the length of Oswego's West First Street Pier. Treasure Chest souvenir shop. Historic vessels open mid-May - Sep 30, weather permitting. $7, teens $3.
- 4 Richardson-Bates House Museum, 135 E 3rd St, ☏ . Thu-Sat 1PM-5PM , April to December. Victorian (1867) lawyer's home with Oswego County Historical Society archival collections and exhibits documenting the history of Oswego County. $5, student/senior $3.
- 5 SUNY Oswego. Founded 1861 as Oswego Normal School, a teachers' college. Now offers a variety of liberal arts degree programs. Former students include comedian Jerry Seinfeld, NBC weatherman Al Roker and ESPN anchors Steve Levy and Linda Cohn.
- 6 Oswego Harbor West Pierhead Light (At end of breakwater). An active aid to navigation, built in 1934 at the mouth of the Oswego River to replace an earlier light constructed in 1880. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States of America, owned by the City of Oswego and operated by the United States Coast Guard.
- 1 Thunder Island Water Park and Family Entertainment Park. - located in Fulton
- 2 Oswego Speedway, 300 E Albany St, ☏ . Classic Weekend end-August, Labor Day weekend 200-lap, non-wing, big-block super-modified Bud Classic and Race of Champions. $25-65/person.
- 3 Fishing on Oswego River. Watch salmon- and trout-fishing from walkway upstream starting from Utica Street or from behind Oswego Salmon Shop. Three-year-old King salmon are spawning below dam during October. Free to watch, up to $350/person for guided fishing with all equipment included, in a drift boat..
- 4 Kayak in Oswego harbor, 29 Lake Street, ☏ . Kayak out to lighthouse or start up Oswego River. One hour's rental from city-run Wright Landing or Oswego Expeditions is all you need to see a lot and get a good workout. Kayak rental $20.
- The Underground Railroad included eleven historic sites in Oswego County; most are individual safe houses which served as way stations for the legendary 1850s freedom train north to Canada. The town of Oswego and the county both publish itinerary for a driving tour.
- Harborfest, Oswego Harbor Festivals Inc, 41 Lake St, ☏ , fax: . Three and a half days, last full weekend of July. Annual festival with live music and entertainment, fireworks, arts and crafts, programming and activities for children and families Free admission..
- 5 CNY Great Pumpkin Festival, Washington Square Park (E Bridge St between E 3rd & E 4th St). One weekend, end Sep or early Oct. Live music, arts and crafts vendors and demonstrations, pumpkin carving lessons, ghost stories, scarecrow building and pumpkin carving contests, a mini farmer's market, and a wide variety of hearty foods. Free admission..
- PaddleFest. One Saturday in mid-August. Annual benefit event: Kayak the Oswego River from Indian Point (in Fulton, 13 mi (21 km)) or Minetto’s Riverview Park (on NY Route 48, 5.5 mi (8.9 km)) through four canal locks to H. Lee White Maritime Museum’s Boating Center on the West First Street pier in Oswego. registration $35/adult, $10/youth.
- 1 Canale's Restaurant, 156 W Utica St, ☏ , fax: . Italian. $8-25.
- 2 Maria's Family Restaurant, 111 W 2nd St, ☏ . 6AM-8PM daily, Su 7AM-2PM. American, Italian, all day breakfast, desserts. $5-14.
- 3 Oswego Tea Company, 157 E First St, ☏ . 8AM-6PM, Su 8AM-3PM. Café and bakery, all-day breakfast.
- 4 La Parrilla, 156 West Second St, ☏ . Mediterranean bistro, Spanish and Italian.
- 5 Red Sun Fire Roasting Co and Port City Café, 207 and 209 W. 1st St, ☏ . Restaurant and bakery. Gourmet soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, fresh pastries and panini.
- 6 Rudy's Lakeside Drive-in, 78 County Route 89, ☏ . Mar-Sep 10AM-9PM, Summer 10AM-10PM, weather permitting. Seafood, burgers, desserts. On beach, west of SUNY Oswego and Sunset RV Park, seasonal.
- 7 Thai Rose, 42 W 2nd St, ☏ . Asian, dining room and takeout, wi-fi.
- 8 Vona's, W 10th and Utica Sts., ☏ , fax: . 11AM-2PM lunch, dinner from 4PM. Italian. $8-16.
- 1 Beacon Hotel, 75 W Bridge St, ☏ . Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 10AM. Fourteen-room hotel with meeting facilities. $120-150.
- 2 Best Western Captain's Quarters, 26 E 1st St, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM. Downtown 93-room waterfront hotel on Oswego River with restaurant, pool, fitness and conference facilities, newspaper, continental breakfast.
- 3 Evergreen Motel, 5047 Rte 104 E, ☏ . On Seaway Trail. Microwave, fridge, Wi-Fi in rooms. Pines Grub and Pub restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. $55-130.
- 4 Quality Inn & Suites Riverfront, 70 E 1st St, ☏ . Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11AM.