More than 20 million people take trips to Niagara Falls every year. Whether you visit from the New York or Canada sides, the Falls are a breathtaking vacation destination.
There is so much more to do than see the Falls themselves or ride the Niagara SkyWheel. You and your family can also enjoy the wealth of beaches on both sides of the border.
This guide to the best beaches will help you plan a rewarding, memorable family vacation!
Beaches on the Canadian Side of Niagara Falls
1. Crescent Beach, Fort Erie, Ontario
Tiny, intimate, and cozy, the 66-mile Crescent Beach in Fort Erie is conveniently located on Crescent Road. You can easily reach the beach by crossing the area’s famous Friendship Recreation Trail.
That 16-kilometer trail across Fort Erie showcases great views of Port Colborne, Lake Erie, and Old Fort Erie. The crystalline waters of Crescent Beach will look all the more inviting after you wrap up your walk.
Those driving straight from Niagara Falls will find free parking adjacent to the beach. You won’t have to lug your beach chairs, coolers, and plastic sandcastle molds far, as the parking is steps from the water.
The beach is named due to its circular shape. The sand sometimes is silt-like, so make sure you and the family wear good sandals when traversing it.
Here’s another tip: arrive early! This beach isn’t the most hidden gem on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, and it can fill up fast since it’s not that large.
2. Sunset Beach, St. Catharines, Ontario
The tranquil, picturesque Sunset Beach overlooks the Lake Ontario shore. It’s a 1,200-foot beach you can easily access from the Parkway Trail, and it’s close to the Welland Canals if you plan on viewing them as part of your vacation itinerary.
Washrooms are available, and you can also use the public boat launch ramp for small boats and personal watercraft.
When you and the young ones finish splashing around, dry off and have lunch in the picnic area. Your kids can also have a ball at the playground if they’re not too tired from all the sun and sand.
3. Niagara Shores, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
Fall in love with the natural beauty of Canada at Niagara Shores. This Park’s Canada-owned land isn’t far from Lakeshore Road if you arrive from the north. You can also access the beach from Firelane 1.
Free parking is available but can go fast, so try to arrive early. You can always park by Newark Park right across the street if the beach’s lot is full.
Try to travel lightly, as you must cross a bike/footpath and then walk down a trail around a bank cliff to reach Niagara Shores. The trail can be rather steep at points, but you might get to spot some bank swallows if you’re lucky.
The lake is accessible for swimming, but I’d recommend this one more for strolling (maybe walking a dog if you brought your four-legged friend). Take a few photos of Lake Ontario while on the beach, as you’ll have an incredible view.
There are no washrooms available, so plan accordingly.
4. Nickel Beach, Port Colborne, Ontario
Nickel Beach on Weiland Street at Lake Street is a Port Colborne staple. The white sands stretch out as far as the eye can see. Those sands are kissed by a perfect blue ocean sloping gently up the shoreline.
You and the kids can spend the day swimming and sunbathing, or play some volleyball, as courts are available. You can also have a picnic lunch on the benches. Work off your meal by exploring the nearby trails across the beach.
Nickel Beach is free to access, and the beach has restroom facilities.
Are you up for some beach-hopping? Centennial – Cedar Beach Bay in the 46-acre Centennial Park is also situated on Lake Erie, not far from Nickle Beach. Drive up Highway 3, and you’ll find the beach on Cedar Bay Road and Vimy Road.
This long stretch of beautiful sandy beach offers activities galore, from horseshoe rings to beach volleyball, tennis courts, and picnic pavilions.
5. Crystal Beach, Fort Erie, Ontario
The lakefront community of Crystal Beach (aka Bay Beach) on Canada’s southern coast is just the retreat you and your family have longed for. The clear waters and white sands are rejuvenating, while the modernity of the beach facilities will surely impress.
Take some five-star photos from the expansive viewing deck, which offers glimpses of the sandy shore below.
Beach mats lead you all the way down to the shoreline, so you don’t have to worry about burning your feet on the hot sand. You can alternatively use an access ramp.
A pavilion provides some relief from the heat, while the playground gives the kids a way to spend their day if they need a break from the surf.
The festival square is where the area’s community events take place, so check the calendar before your visit.
6. Lakeside Beach Park, St. Catharines, Ontario
Lake Ontario’s northern shore also contains another gem, Lakeside Beach Park. Situated in Port Dalhousie, a quaint historic area worth visiting in its own right, Lakeside Beach is a tree-lined slice of paradise for Niagara Falls tourists.
Gaze out upon Lake Ontario’s north shore, spot the local lighthouse, or relax on the Port Dalhousie harbor.
Take a walk on the wet sand and feel the ocean water swirling around your ankles. You can even bring your dog so the whole family can have a blast.
The parking lot is rather small, accommodating only 80 vehicles. You could access this lot for free for a while, but the lot has been paid only since summer 2021. However, residents can get free parking passes.
You can fill your whole day here even if you don’t spend the entire time soaking up the sights of the beach. A walking trail will energize you for the day ahead, as will a volleyball court.
The picnic area is perfect for families, and the beach has a snack bar for keeping the kids’ bellies full.
The playground and onsite carousel will surely put a smile on the kids’ faces.
7. Long Beach Conservation Area and Campground, Wainfleet, Ontario
Are you looking for a place to stay as you plan a family excursion to Niagara Falls? Long Beach Conservation Area is the ideal spot. It has more than 220 campsites and beach access.
You and the kiddos can sit on the shoreline and let the ocean water encircle your legs, or you can do a bit of swimming. You’ll see jet skiers, boaters, and anglers deeper out enjoying the water.
Your stay includes access to fantastic amenities like bird watching, picnic areas, baseball diamonds, horseshoes, and hiking along the lake and surrounding forest.
8. Charles Daley Park, Lincoln, Ontario
Charles Daley Park has two beaches, so even if one is a little full, you can always move over to the other. You’ll find this park between Seventh Street and Jordan Road. Take North Service Road, and you’ll get there.
The park is a cozy 22.5 acres. Besides its beachfront access, you can also drink in beautiful waterfront views of Fifteen and Sixteen Mile Creeks. Get active with hiking trails and canoeing on the water.
The park is free to visit, and it’s open all year long, although you obviously won’t want to go swimming during any other season besides summer.
The bandshell comes alive in the summertime with live entertainment throughout the season.
9. Waverly Beach, Fort Erie, Ontario
Throughout much of the 20th century, Niagara Park tourists and Canadians flocked to the Erie Beach Amusement Park near Waverly Beach. Although the amusement park has since been shut down, the beach is still there and a reason to visit.
This beach is also near the Friendship Recreation Trail, so if you plan a hike there, you have your pick between Waverly Beach and Crescent Beach.
The fine white sand feels great underfoot, but you can always take the paved paths throughout the beach. Public parking is available, but the spots often go fast since this beach is free (and the parking is too).
Waverly Beach is steeped in historical relevancy, and signboards throughout will teach you and the kids plenty of fun facts.
Beaches on the New York Side of Niagara Falls
1. Olcott Beach, Newfane, Niagara County
The Newfane hamlet Olcott is a small community overlooking Lake Ontario. You can’t miss the beach, as it’s adjacent to Olcott’s famous lighthouse. This slice of New York historical holiday-making will delight the entire family.
Treat the kiddos to an afternoon at the Olcott Beach Carousel Park, which features antique chariots and horses.
You can pick cherries at Kappus Farms, blueberries at Russell Farms, and apples at Singer Farms when these fruits are in season.
For a spooky treat, the Van Horn Mansion is said to be haunted. Hartz’s Folly has amusements and a Ferris wheel and is located on Main Street.
2. Fort Niagara State Park Beach, Youngstown
Immerse yourselves in the outdoors at Fort Niagara State Park. The guarded beaches are pet-free (unless you have a service animal) and require park access to visit, so you can be sure they won’t be overly crowded.
The beaches are wonderful but truly only scratching the surface regarding what awaits you here.
Entertain the young ones at the spray grounds and pools, stroll the boardwalk, ride down a waterslide, play some golf, or let the kids burn off some energy at the playgrounds.
The state park also includes 18 soccer fields, picnic grounds, and wooded hiking trails. The Lake Ontario views are a delight, and boat launches make it easy to ride on the water if you have the vehicle for it.
3. Wilkeson Pointe Park, Buffalo
The 15-acre Wilkeson Pointe Park on the Buffalo Outer Harbor is a great spot to pull up a beach chair, sit on the sand, and watch the waves gently rolling.
It’s more for kayaking and strolling than swimming, so you might want to plan your visit here as a capper to a day’s activities.
Nearby gardens present views of stunning flowerbeds, and the park is also great for skateboarding, rollerblading, cycling, fishing, and boating. You can rent kayaks, watersports equipment, and bikes.
Play beach volleyball or table games while the kids enjoy the nearby playground. Drinking fountains are dispersed throughout to quench thirst, and the family restrooms are a convenient addition.
4. Beaver Island Beach, Grand Island
Beaver Island State Park on the upper Niagara River is a 950-acre park with a beach. Experience the best Grand Island has to offer as you and your family explore the half-mile sandy beach. You’re welcome to spend the day swimming.
However, there are plenty of other activities calling your name at Beaver Island State Park if you and the little ones are interested.
The park has both standard and disc golf (the former of which is a championship course with 18 holes), horseshoe pits, nature and biking trails, canoeing, and kayaking.
The playgrounds give your kids another way to play, and the onsite picnic areas are a lovely spot for a nice hand-packed lunch.
5. Gallagher Beach, Buffalo
Gallagher Beach in Buffalo Harbor State Park is on the northeast side of Lake Erie near the Buffalo Outer Harbor. The small 190-acre park is Buffalo’s first, so it’s full of modern facilities and amenities for an amazing day on the water.
This is another beach that’s best reserved for sunbathing and strolling instead of swimming. The nearby playground has a nautical theme that will certainly put the kids in a festive mood.
Personal watercraft and boat launches are conveniently located throughout the park, as is a marina with 1,100 slips. You’re not far from the Tifft Nature Preserve if you’re interested in making a day out of visiting the beach.
Buffalo Harbor State Park also has a restaurant on the park grounds if you wish to treat the kids to something yummy.
6. Bedford Beach, Niagara County
Bedford Beach is a nice nook for an overnight stay. It has a dazzling shoreline and campgrounds overlooking the appealing coast. The area doesn’t get overly busy, which is good, as it’s not super large.
You and the kids can plan an entire day here swimming in the pristine waters, boating, whitewater paddling, golfing, fishing, or strolling.
Leo’s Kiddie Rides, Golden Hill State Park, and bowling lanes are in the area for broadening your Niagara Falls itinerary.