By Alicia Dziak

You don’t have to travel far to enjoy a carefree day at the beach. Allegany State Park (ASP) offers two spacious public beaches only minutes from Ellicottville!

Quaker Lake, the largest of the lakes within the park, offers a beautiful beach, complete with a large bathhouse, a large grassy area, a playground, and a sandy beach to spread out with your picnic blanket and beach umbrella. There’s plenty of parking as well as a concession stand for hungry guests. The beach area is roped off and supervised, and there is a jumping platform for advanced swimmers.

Canoes, kayaks, and non-motorized boats are welcome in Quaker Lake, but you must bring your own. There is a good launch point to the side of the beach and it’s an ideal way to experience the tranquility of the lake.

“We really enjoy the beach at Quaker Lake,” said Emily Lineen, 36, of Hamburg. “There’s a lot of space to sprawl out, and the playground is right there for when the kids need a break from the water.”

Red House Lake also has a popular beach. Like its counterpart on the other side of the park, it offers sand, sun, and supervised swimming.

Red House Lake boasts a lot of shady areas for napping after a few hours of swimming. On hot summer days, families can be seen sitting on the grass behind the sand and out of the sun. Winding around Red House Lake is a paved bike path, perfect for an afternoon stroll.

Visitors can also navigate the lake via boat by renting paddleboats and canoes at the nearby boathouse. This is a great way to see the hidden coves and peninsulas jetting into the lake. In addition, the concession stand offers ice cream and other goodies, perfect for a lazy or active summer afternoon.

“My family loves going to Red House Lake on weekend summer days,” said Claire Gaul, 49, of Springville. “It’s a short enough drive that it makes a great day trip, and there’s so much to do while we’re there. We also love all the shady areas, which you can’t find at many area beaches!”

In addition, Red House Beach will host the sixth annual Full Moon Family Beach Party on Friday, Aug. 9, starting at 6 p.m. This free event will feature live music, face painting, kids’ crafts, a lifeguard competition, a limbo contest, fireworks and more. If you need another reason to visit the ASP beaches, this free night of family fun is it!

The Cattaraugus County Arts Council, in collaboration with ASP, will be holding a fundraising auction at the Beach Party to support arts programming in the park. Talented local artists have turned camp signs, picnic baskets, campstools and walking sticks into works of art. Bring a little extra money and you could go home with a one-of-a-kind treasure.

Whether you go to relax, splash around in the water, build sandcastle or just sit on a blanket and enjoy time with friends, take a drive to ASP in the upcoming months and enjoy some of the area’s best summertime fun.

Starting this weekend, both beaches will be open 7 days a week, from 11 a.m.–6:45 p.m.