The Buffalo News
July 13, 2008
Lakes Erie and Ontario offer great sand, shells
By Christine A. Smyczynski
Its summertime and time to hit the beach! With our area’s abundance of lakes and rivers, there are numerous beaches to choose from for sun and fun. This article will highlight some of the beaches you can find along lakes Erie and Ontario. Please note: Sometimes, due to water conditions after a big storm, some beaches may be forced to close temporarily due to high bacteria levels in the water, so please call ahead if you are driving any distance.
My hands down favorite beach is Ontario Beach Park, (585-256-4950 Lake and Beach Avenues, Rochester.), which is located on Lake Ontario at the mouth of the Genesee River in Rochester, about a two-hour drive from Buffalo. Why travel so far to this beach, when there are so many other beaches much closer?
To begin with, this park is reputed to have one of the best natural sand beaches along the Great Lakes. The beach has been drawing people since the mid 1800’s, when they would travel here by train and later by trolley. In the early 1900’s it was dubbed the “Coney Island of the West,” drawing about 50,000 people per day during the summer months.
Today, the 39 acre park, which has free admission, has the beautiful sand beach, playground equipment, picnic areas and food concessions at Pat’s Coffee shop. Children, as well as adults, will enjoy riding the historic Dentzel menagerie carousel, one of only six carousels like it remaining in the country. On Wednesday evenings during the summer (June 4-August 27) free concerts, sponsored by Wegmans, are held in the park (for information call 585-865-3320).
Whenever we go there my daughter likes to take a walk along the long cement pier or jetty the runs along the Genesee River. It’s 3/8 of a mile long, so it is quite a hike to walk back and forth. Another walk, the “secret sidewalk,” about a half-mile or so from the beach, has a great view of the lake. My daughter loves to walk along this path and imagine that she lives in one of the homes that line the sidewalk. This public walkway, which can be accessed between the driveways of 490 and 510 Beach Avenue, actually cuts through the backyards and gardens of these lovely lakeside homes.
Several restaurants are across the street from the park, including Abbott’s Custard, which is always busy. Stop by LDR Char Pit, if you’re craving typical summer fare, like hot dogs, hamburgers and fries. Nola’s BBQ specializes in New Orleans style BBQ.
More Lake Ontario beaches
Here are some Lake Ontario beaches that are a bit closer to home.
Krull Park/Olcott Beach (716-778-7711), NY18, Olcott. Open dawn to dusk. Free admission. This 323-acre park, located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, offers a wide variety of family activities. I have to admit that the beach is really small, but it is perfect if you have small kids that like to play in the sand, as it’s easy to keep an eye on them. Nearby, Lakeview Village Fair offers a collection of small shops and restaurants. There is also a carousel park, that features rides for small children, along with a vintage 1928 Herschel carousel.
Wilson-Tuscarora State Park (716-751-6361), 3371 Lake Road, Wilson. Open dawn to dusk. Admission: $7/car. The swimming beach, which is accessed by stairs, has areas of sun and shade, which makes it nice if you don’t like sitting out in the hot sun all day long. The park also has a boat launch located on a narrow strip of land referred to as “the island.”
Port Dalhousie Beach Located along Lake Ontario in St. Catharines, Ontario. This park has playgrounds and picnic areas, as well as a 1905 antique carousel, which offers rides for only five cents. It has a nice sand
beach, which is always a busy place during the summer months.
Lake Erie Beaches- South of Buffalo
These beaches are popular with folks who live south of the city of Buffalo.
Angola on the Lake, 8934 Lake Shore Road, Angola. This long, sandy beach is popular with the twenty-something crowd. It boasts two popular beach bars, Mickey Rats Beach Club and Captain Kidds.
Bennett Beach, Bennett Road, off NY 5, Derby. This sand dune–lined beach is popular with swimmers, fishermen, and birdwatchers. It is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful beaches in Erie County.
Wendt Beach (716-947-5660), 7676 Old Lake Shore Road, Derby. Park open year-round; beach open Memorial Day–Labor Day 11–dusk. Free admission. Located on Lake Erie at the mouth of Big Sister Creek, this beach has a bathhouse and snack bar. The 178-acre park has picnic areas, bike and nature trails, and sports fields.
Woodlawn Beach State Park (716-826-1930), S-3585 Lake Shore Road, Blasdell. Park open dawn to dusk year-round. Beach open Memorial Day–Labor Day. Summer swimming: weekends only Memorial Day–July 3, daily July 4–Labor Day. Admission: $7 parking fee. This park is known for its mile-long natural sand beach and its panoramic view of Lake Erie. Visitors can swim, windsurf, play volleyball, and sunbathe. It is also a good place to bird-watch, especially during the migration seasons.
Sunset Bay Beach (716-934-9953; www.sunsetbayusa.com ), Iola and Shady Drive, Irving. Open Memorial Day–Labor Day. Sunset Bay is one of the most popular beaches on Lake Erie’s shores. This beautiful, clean, sandy beach has lifeguards every day from 10–5, so it’s the perfect spot to bring the entire family. There is also a restaurant and beach bar here.
Evangola State Park (716-549-1802), 110191 Old Lake Shore Road, Irving. Open dawn to dusk. Admission: Memorial Day–Labor Day $7, free rest of year. This 733-acre park on the shores of Lake Erie has a natural sand beach as well as picnic areas, a concession stand, and 80 campsites.
Lake Erie State Park (716-792-9214), NY 5, Brocton. Open dawn to dusk. Admission: $7 car parking fee late June–Labor Day, $6 car weekends only May–late June and Labor Day–October; free other times. Lake Erie State Park, a few miles south of Dunkirk, features almost a mile of shoreline along Lake Erie. High bluffs overlooking the lake offer a great view. In addition to the beach, the park has 97 campsites and 10 cabins for overnight camping.
Point Gratiot Park (716-366-3262), NY 5, near Point Drive, Dunkirk. Open dawn to dusk. A 60-acre park with a playground, picnic facilities, and a 1,500-foot beach on Lake Erie.
Wright Park (716-366-3262), NY 5 (north of the harbor), Dunkirk. Open dawn to dusk. A 70-acre park located along Lake Erie. Facilities include a 1,500-foot beach, picnic tables, and a playground.
Lake Erie beaches-Canadian Shore
You still don’t need a passport to cross the border into Canada, just your birth certificate and photo ID, so why not enjoy some of the Canadian beaches for a change of scenery.
Note: YOU NOW NEED PASSPORT OR ENHANCED DRIVERS LICENSE TO CROSS BORDER
Crescent Beach at the end of Crescent Road, Fort Erie Open dawn to dusk. Free admission. A small beach with 65 feet of beachfront. A popular spot for families, it is right on the Friendship Trail Bike Path.
Nickel Beach Located on the east side of the Welland Canal along Lake Erie, Port Colborne. This beach features a mile of white sand beach, rest rooms and a food concession.
Sherkston Shores (1-877-482-3224; www.sherkston.com) This popular destination, billed as the “ultimate beach resort” has 2 ½ miles of beachfront, along with a Funworks area with 2 heated pools, waterslides, mini-putt golf, a skate park, scuba diving, fishing and even special live entertainment events. However, it will cost you. Day passes for the beach are $20 adults and $10 children. A day pass that also includes the Funworks area is $30 for adults and $15 for children. Summer homes are available for rental and purchase.
Thunder Bay Beach, end of Bernard Avenue, Fort Erie Open dawn to dusk. Free admission. Sixty-five feet of beachfront.
Waverly Beach, end of Helena Street at Edgemenore Road along the Friendship Trail, Fort Erie. Open dawn to dusk. Free admission. A groomed white-sand beach next to the site of the old Erie Amusement Park, which was a popular destination at the turn of the 20th century. It has washroom facilities and a newly renovated boardwalk.
Really close to home
With the rising price of gas, many of us want to stick close to home. Here are a couple of beaches that are just minutes away.
Beaver Island State Park (716-773-3271), 2136 West Oakfield Road, Grand Island. Open dawn to dusk. $7 car parking Memorial Day–Labor Day. The park’s half-mile long sandy beach on the Niagara River is a popular spot on summer weekends. The 950-acre park, which is on the south end of Grand Island, also has playgrounds, picnic facilities, an 80-slip marina, fishing access, and an 18-hole golf course.
Erie Basin Marina Beach Located at the Erie Basin Marina, in downtown Buffalo. Open dawn to dusk. This beach, which just opened this past Memorial Weekend is the only beach in downtown Buffalo. However, it is not a swimming beach, as there are deadly currents in the area. However, people can sun themselves and play in the sand. It’s small compared to some of the other beaches in the area, with only about 120 feet of shoreline