Not far from Buffalo, NY and part of the Fort Erie area, Crystal Beach evolved from a beloved amusement park first opened in 1850 (and until 1983) into a thriving tourist area at large, maintaining its distinctive pier and its original Crystal Beach Motel. It’s now a quaint and tree-filled Canadian town with a fantastic stretch of beaches: Crystal Beach definitely qualifies as a Great Lakes summer hotspot. Locals and vacationers park their skiffs and yachts at Point Abino, which has a lighthouse and a handful of luxury homes. Crystal Beach in general is a nice place to escape, but can also be a great home base for exploring the Buffalo area or southern Ontario.
Technically, a lot of interesting things to do in the immediate Crystal Beach area are in the adjacent town of Ridgeway, as well as Sherkston, although all three municipalities might as well be the same city. The premier historical sites are Point Abino Lighthouse, a majestic white structure at the very tip of Point Abino, and Ridgeway Battlefield, a patch of land that was the site of a significant battle between provincial Canadian and Irish separatists in 1866. On the outskirts of Fort Erie, The Sanctuary Centre for the Arts hosts live music in a combined brewery, restaurant and art gallery; for tried-and-true fun, get lost in a game at Sherkston Paintball, which is open year-round.
Without a doubt, anyone staying in Crystal Beach who has not seen Niagara Falls should organize the half-hour-to-an-hour drive north up to this fabulous and widely-known trio of waterfalls. On the Canadian side, the view of Niagara Falls is located within Queen Victoria Park, which overlooks the gorge and also has an array of flower gardens. Before heading home or checking out the American side, stroll through Bird Kingdom (next to Fallsview Indoor Waterpark), an interactive aviary open and reptile sanctuary open year-round. If you’re craving a city feel, drive over an hour up past Niagara Falls and along Queen Elizabeth Way until you reach Hamilton, a sizable city with lots of culture and tons of delicious restaurants, thanks to a thriving immigrant community. Peruse blocks of art galleries, and afterwards solve a mystery with friends at Crux Escape Rooms, an immersive puzzle experience. Visitors with an urge to look at more waterfalls should go just west of town, where Tiffany Falls and the much taller Tews Falls make for both amazing photo-ops and mini-hikes.
Check in to a spacious, yet cozy house with lots of natural light and surrounded by lush, green trees and grass—no matter how far away your rental is located from the waterfront. Some accommodations have hot tubs, Blu-ray and enough bedrooms to fit a large or extended family. There’s villas sitting right on the waterfront, too, with lovely views of Lake Erie and other vacationers. Overall, everything in town is close together and within biking distance.
Most out-of-towners will arrive at Buffalo Niagara Airport (BUF), which is less than an hour away from Crystal Beach by car. An Amtrak station in Buffalo serves the Empire Service, Lake Shore Limited and Maple Leaf routes, but in order to get to Crystal Beach on public transit, you’ll have to take the Megabus into Fort Erie and then a city bus, rounding out to almost two hours of travel. Uber is the only ridesharing app operating in the area.
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