Woodlawn Beach continues to impress. A couple of years back, Solé SandBar set up shop at the Lake Erie beach resort, thanks to the “strong partnership of John and Mark Palmer (owners of Lardon Construction and Solé) and Dennis and Ilio DiPaolo (owners of Ilio DiPaolo’s Restaurant in Blasdell).” Together, the team has created a beach destination that is fully worthy of a waterfront visit. Let’s start with the new General Store:
When I was young, my family would vacation in the Adirondacks every once in a while. Near the place where we stayed, there was a beach… and a General Store. That store is indelibly etched into my mind to this day – it was a place where we could pick up all sorts of sundries, from suntan lotion to candy. Unfortunately the quintessential “general store” has been replaced with businesses such as Dollar Stores, which are fairly soulless. They don’t have “owners” that you can get to know, and everything is generic, from store to store and city to city.
Gone are the days of the beloved general store, for the most part – they are definitely few and far between. These days, the role of the general store is to provide conveniences for folks in more remote places, like small towns and beach communities that have not been run roughshod by big box stores. That’s why Woodlawn Beach is the perfect locale for the new Woodlawn General store, which is now up and running, selling beach blankets, snacks, hygiene products, kids’ beach toys, and just about everything else that one would need to have a successful beach outing. The Woodlawn General Store is located inside The Lodge.
Aside from the new General Store, a lot of improvements and upgrades are being made to overall grounds and to Solé SandBar, according to Jamie L. Decker, Sr. Director of Marketing Southtowns Regional Chamber of Commerce. “It’s such a nice experience these days,” she told me. “The State (NYS Parks Service) combs the beach, and it’s real sand now! There’s so much to offer, with the restaurant and bar. There’s a place to sit out in the sun and eat and drink by the boardwalk, with sand and cabana chairs. The bar has an overhead shelter, just like you would find on a tropical island. There is also a plan underway to open a beach bar in a couple of weeks – they are putting in the electric right now. I’ve been living in WNY my whole life, and I can’t believe that the time has finally come to experience the waterfront, with places like Canalside and Woodlawn Beach. They are even constructing a bike path that will extend from Woodlawn Beach to Canalside.”
It’s true. There was a time, not that long ago, that it just wouldn’t be worth it to venture to the beach on the American side of Lake Erie. The beaches were a mess, the pollution was still a recent memory, and it seemed like the message was “stay away.” Now, the tune (and tone) is a lot different. Waterfront destinations are actually competing for visitors, while embracing the aphorism “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
For the nature lovers, Woodlawn Beach boasts an interpretive nature boardwalk through wooded wetlands. The waterfront destination has also become popular with plenty of lovebirds who have tied the knot on the beach (with a setting sun to boot). For the first time in a long time, a trip to the beach is a real pleasure, no matter the reason for the visit. Be sure to pack a towel… or just pick one up at the General Store. Or scrap the towel and plop yourself down on an Adirondack chair and watch the surf roll in. Bring the family, a few friends, or enjoy the sights and sounds solo… or meet some new friends at Solé. It’s all good at Woodlawn Beach!
Woodlawn Beach State Park | 3580 Lake Shore Road | Blasdell, NY 14219 | (716) 824-3500
Photos courtesy Jenna Downing