Erie Basin Marina
By Lisa Kane, photos by kc kratt

A walk at Erie Basin Marina feels like a minivacation. This is one of the most beautiful scenic walks WNY has to offer.

The marina is part of a larger great-walking area that includes the Erie Canal Harbor, the Naval Park, and lower downtown. A good place to start a marina walk is just past the entrance to the Buffalo Harbor Cruises, at the Joan Fuzak Memorial Garden. Garden clubs frequently come to visit here, and it’s no wonder. As a test garden for wholesale growers throughout the northeast, you’ll see new varieties of flowers being tested for introduction the following year. And it’s educational as well as pretty. All of the plants are labeled with both their botanical and common names, and garden staff, led by Stanley Swisher and volunteers, are happy to answer questions.

Marina-walk facts at a glance:

Time required for a walk: Starting and ending at the Hatch, forty minutes at a leisurely pace.
What to bring: Money for the Hatch and maybe a jacket.
What not to bring: Your dog—they’re not allowed.
Special sights: Everything, particularly at sunset.

After the gardens is the very popular Hatch Restaurant. The breakfast menu, served 7 to 10:30 a.m. daily, includes eggs made to order, pancakes, French toast, and other favorites. The extensive lunch and dinner menu includes basics like hamburgers and hot dogs, but also veggie burgers, fried shrimp and scallops, and soup and salads. It is served until closing, which after Labor Day is generally 8 p.m. Renee Wolasz runs the Hatch with her husband Mike. She notes that one of the most popular items is fried bologna with the works: “Peppers, onions, and your choice of cheese.” A small separate building offers ice cream from one side and clams, beer, and wine on the other. Karaoke ends after Labor Day, but next year catch it Fridays from 6 to 10 p.m.

Walking along Lake Erie away from the Hatch, the view is spectacular: lake, sky, lighthouse, boats, and Canadian shore. There’s a grassy stretch with picnic tables where people come with lawn chairs and the newspaper to relax, then a stretch where the lake is bordered by flat, gray rocks that kids love to climb on. After the rocks is the entrance to the new Erie Basin Beach. It’s a tiny beach marked with signs warning not to swim because of the deadly current, but still, with its new boardwalk, it’s a nice option for families who can’t get to farther-away beaches but who still want to play in the sand. This whole area is windswept, and nowhere more so than at the land’s end, where you’ll turn to walk back along the boat slips. With the view and the wind, it’s a spot that can feel poignant, kind of heart-achy lovely.

On a more practical note, the Observation Tower with its lower-level Ship Store is here for boaters to gas up and for everyone to stock up on snacks and sunscreen. The view at this side is awesome, too—and different: docked boats, Waterfront Village, downtown and City Hall, the Skyway, and grain elevators. Reading boat names as you walk is amusing; sometimes themes seem to emerge. Two common ones: Livin’ the Good Life, with “R&R,” “Party Time,” and “Cheers,” and Mid-Life Crisis, with “All His Idea,” “All About Me,” and “Cruising II.” “Last Call” bridged the themes. This is a good place to end a walk—right before the party-boat-rental area and before the restaurant Shanghai Red’s—by crossing the parking lot back to the Hatch, where you can cap off a great walk with an ice cream cone or a dozen steamers and a beer.

Write to Lisa at, or just look for her walking around WNY.


Back to the Table of Contents

Back to Top