By Alicia Dziak

There’s nothing quite like a day at the beach in the summer months. Whether you like to splash in the water or stay on shore building sandcastles or collecting sea glass, the beaches of WNY offer something for everyone this summer.

Lake Erie Beaches

Head to Lake Erie for endless views of the water and hours of fun in the sun.

Woodlawn Beach State Park, at S-3580 Lakeshore Road in Blasdell, offers a beautiful, one-mile long natural sand beach with panoramic views. Woodlawn Beach supports a diversity of wildlife habitats including one of the finest freshwater sand dune areas remaining on Lake Erie. Recreational opportunities include picnicking, beach volleyball, nature trails and a playground on the beach. A nature center/bathhouse complex, with exhibits that highlight the park’s natural history, is connected to the beach by an interpretive nature boardwalk through wooded wetlands. This park is operated by the Town of Hamburg through a partnership agreement with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. For information on the water report for swimming, hours of operation, prices and additional phone numbers call 826-1930.

Bennett Beach, located at 8276 Old Lake Shore Road in Angola, features an open beach (swimming does not open until 11 a.m.; the park itself opens at 10 a.m.). There are no shelters here, but there are grills and picnic tables. For more info, call (716) 947-5660.

Hanover Town Beach, at South Shore Drive in Irving, offers a sandy, lifeguarded public beach, picnic pavilion, charcoal grills, playground, restrooms and parking area, free to the public and handicap accessible. For more info, call (716) 934-2273.

Sunset Bay USA, at 1028 South Shore Drive in Irving, along with Cabana Sam’s Sunset Bay Grill, is located on 5 acres of clean, daily groomed beaches. On top of the beach, bars and restaurants, a video game arcade, an ice cream stand, and a clothing and beach boutique are provided for your enjoyment and shopping pleasure. For more info, call  (716) 934-9953.

Evangola State Park, at 10191 Old Lake Shore Road in Irving, features a beautiful arc-shaped shoreline and natural sand beach. In addition to swimming, the park has picnic facilities, baseball and soccer fields, tennis and basketball courts, 80 campsites and a nature center in the campground area.

Point Gratiot Park, at Point Drive & Route 5 in Dunkirk, offers lifeguarded swimming, a playground, picnic area, pavilions and restrooms, as well as trails for bicycling and shore fishing. There is no admission or parking fee.

For more info, call (716)366-3262.

Wright Park, at 198 Lake Front Blvd in Dunkirk, features lifeguarded beaches, ballfields, a basketball court, street hockey court, picnicking, playgound, skatepark, snack bar, and a sand volleyball court.  For more info, visit (716) 366-3262.

Cassadaga Beach and Park, at 22 Miller Place in Cassadaga, offers a lakefront park with playground, ball courts and picnic tables. Swimming is allowed mid June to mid August when lifeguards are on duty. Admission is free.

For more info, call (716)595-3007.

Lake Chautauqua Beaches

Chautauqua Institution Beaches, at 1 Miller Park in Chautauqua, features four public swimming beaches within the grounds, all open during the summer season. Lifeguards are on duty daily at Chautauqua’s beaches during posted swimming hours. Note there is a gate fee for adults from the end of June to end of August. For more info, call (800)836-2787.

Long Point State Park, at 4459 Route 430 in Bemus Point , is a 320 acre day-use park, with a lifeguarded swimming beach and bathhouse, hiking, biking, reserveable picnic pavilions, a public boat launch and marina with restaurant, marine supplies and gas docks. For more info, call (716)386-2722.

Mayville Lakeside Park, at 78 Water Street Route 394 in Mayville, offers a lifeguarded swimming beach, a bathhouse, new playground, gazebo, picnic tables, grills, pavilion, lighted tennis courts, shuffleboard,and ball field, with plenty of free parking. For more info, call (716) 753-2125.

Other Area Beaches

Head to Allegany State Park and check out two beaches surrounded by rolling hills at Red House Lake and Quaker Lake. (Red House beach will close temporarily this summer due to the lowering of the lake; stay tuned to for details.) The beaches feature a large lifeguarded sandy area with plenty of room to sprawl out, a snack shack and a jumping platform.

Beaver Island State Park, at 2136 West Oakfield Road in Grand Island, is located on the upper Niagara River. The 950 acre park has a half-mile sandy beach for swimming, adjacent 80 slip marina with both seasonal and transient boat slips, fishing access, car-top boat launch, multiple canoe/kayak launches, bike and nature trails, nature center, playgrounds, picnic areas, athletic fields, horseshoe pits, an 18 hole championship disc golf course, an 18-hole championship golf course.

With so many amazing beaches to choose from, the only real question is which one will you visit first?