Evangola State Park
This summer my wife, Ashley, and I are making a concerted effort to try out a lot of family-friendly activities outdoors. We even made a little Summer Bucket List full of family activities we can enjoy in Western New York. Buffalo summers don’t typically last too long (although we’ve already had a lot of hot days in June), so we’ve already started working on our list. Depending on the weather and any other plans we may have; I’m hoping to cross one item off the Summer Bucket List every week.
One item on our list is Go to the Beach. We had a free Saturday in late June and temperatures expected in the 80s so we decided to take the kids to a beach. We live less than five miles from Lake Erie, so there are several beaches in the area. They aren’t quite on the level of the sandy beaches I’ve visited in Florida and the Caribbean, but they’re beaches nonetheless.
We opted to drive to Evangola State Park. There are at least six or seven beaches that are closer to home, but we figured this one would be quiet, relaxing, and very family friendly. Most of the others get pretty crowded and some are essentially party beaches. That’s not where we wanted to bring our two kids under three years old.
We made the 25-minute drive to Evangola State Park and paid a $7.00 entry fee when we arrived. It was my first time there in years, so I wasn’t too familiar with what it had to offer. The park is small, less than two square miles in size. It has some athletic fields, a playground, picnic facilities, and a campground, as a well as the beach (the main attraction).
We parked the car, grabbed our things and kids and walked the short distance to the beach. The beach was completely empty when we arrived. It was perfectly peaceful and quiet, just like we hoped.
Short cliffs of Angola shale bordered the back of the beach. Many trees atop the small cliffs actually provided shade over parts of the beach. We set up beneath the shade provided by one such tree. That meant we didn’t have to bother with the pop-up shade tent we brought. The trees would only provide shade in the morning, but we would leave by lunch time. We laid down a blanket, tossed a bucket full of sand toys on the beach and made ourselves at home.
Charlotte (13 months old) enjoyed hanging out on the blanket for a while. She played with the baby doll she brought and snacked on goldfish crackers for a while. She also walked around on the sand and satisfied her obsession with putting sand in her mouth.
Noah (2 weeks shy of turning 3) had a great time on the beach. He loved playing and digging in the sand. He also dumped buckets of water in the holes he dug with me. He refused to take his sneakers off and didn’t want to go in the lake at all. He did spend a lot of time at the lakeshore though, tossing stones into the water.
About half of the beach consisted of soft sand, while the half closest to the water was a little rocky. I found the water surprisingly clear. I could easily make out the many stones that covered the lake bottom nearest the beach.
Ashley and I dipped Charlotte’s feet in the water, and she seemed to like that, but she didn’t want to get too wet. I went for a walk along the shore with Noah. We saw a red tractor on the far end of the beach. Noah loves tractors so we decided to go check it out. By the time we got there, the tractor was gone. Apparently it pulled small catamaran sailboats down a small gully to the edge of the beach.
We walked up the sandy channel between the low cliffs to where the tractor was. Noah was pleased to see the tractor, but, much to his chagrin, he could not sit on the tractor since it was being used by park personnel. From there we walked across a wooden bridge and traversed a meadow back to get back toward where Ashley and Charlotte were on the beach. Noah was looking pretty smart for keeping his shoes on then, since I had to walk across the bridge, grass, and some paved walkways in my bare feet. We eventually made our way back down to the beach and rejoined the girls for a little while. By then Noah was ready to move on to the playground.
We packed up our stuff on the beach and walked over to the playground. Even at that time there was still less than twenty others on the beach. Lifeguards took up their stations and some people made their way farther into the water.
Noah and Charlotte both enjoyed the playground for a while. The we left the park. Noah was very cranky and restless in the car so we decided to stop for lunch and get him a milkshake (one of his favorite things these days). That made the drive home much better. Both kids fell asleep on the drive.
We plan on checking out some other beaches this summer and will definitely return to Evangola State Park.