Mother Nature brought us perfect beach weather today, so Earl and I headed to our favorite park in the New York State park system, and that’s Southwick Beach State Park. Relatively close to my hometown, we locals tend to just call it “Southwicks”. Here’s a brief history of the park courtesy of Wikipedia:
Southwick Beach State Park was named after the Southwick family, who owned the property from 1870 to 1960; the park is referred to as “Southwick’s Beach State Park” on some maps. Starting in the 1920s, several promoters built entertainment facilities on the property. The most notable was Albert Ellis, who developed it as the “Coney Island” of Northern New York. In time, the beach boasted a roller coaster, bathhouses, a dance pavilion, merry go-round, and midway. Ellis also built a baseball field and organized the Jefferson County Amateur Baseball League, attracting large crowds. These businesses failed during the Great Depression. In 1960, the Leesi Management Corporation of Syracuse purchased the land from the Southwick family and operated the beach for five years. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation purchased the 500 acre property (with a 3,500 foot lakefront) in 1965 for $150,000; Southwick Beach State Park opened in May, 1966.
One of the beautiful things about Southwick’s is that it’s situated on a 17-mile stretch of white sand beaches along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario. This is the only stretch of beach complete with sand dunes that is not along an ocean in the entire northeastern United States. Nowhere else along Lake Ontario will you find a spot so ocean-like, the only thing missing is the salt in the water.
There are a number of reasons that I love this park. First of all, the sunsets are breathtaking. Secondly, I have many happy memories from my childhood at this park including swimming until I was completely waterlogged and listening to “Boogie Fever” on the jukebox at the beach pavilion with my cousins. When I first introduced Earl to my parents, it was at a picnic of just the four of us at Southwick’s. Thirdly, even though I grew up closer to the neighboring Selkirk Shores State Park (which is not part of the stretch of sand dunes), Southwick’s is much more swim-friendly in that there’s no rocks along the lake bed, the seaweed is practically non-existent, there’s lots of sand and it really does feel like you’re at the ocean.
After spending some time at the main picnic area and beach, Earl and I decided to hike along the adjacent Lakeview Wildlife Management Area to the south of the park. The NYS DEC is doing their best to keep this beach as natural as possible by trying to keep people off the sand dunes by providing a couple of walkways to the adjoining marsh area. In addition, it’s in this part of the park that you’re away from the relatively crowded beach and into a more “broad-minded” area. Area boaters often shore up along here for their private picnics, same sex couples can occasionally be seen holding hands and just being themselves and there are often several nudists sunning themselves and swimming in the lake in a carefree manner.[MEDIA=21]
Earl and I took the 1 1/2 or so mile hike and situated ourselves under some trees to just spend some quality time relaxing, enjoying the sun, swimming and playing some grab ass in the lake. It’s a good way to escape for the day. We both highly recommend it.