Summertime fun on shores of Lake Ontario
By Michelle Blackley Glynn
Go back in time. See a stunning sunset. Enjoy salty and sweet delights. Where is this utopian destination? In Western New Yorkers' own backyard at Olcott.
As this cozy hamlet comes out of its winter hibernation, visitors and residents can get ready for a bustling summer season.
Olcott entertains individuals and families alike, with a number of traditional events. Live music, regularly scheduled car shows, parades and festivals are just a few of the categories that bring the masses to the shores of Lake Ontario.
On the way there, be sure to start the morning at Gordie Harper's Bazaar on Lockport-Olcott Road. This country eatery also serves up baked goods that can't be passed up. Shop off that full breakfast and leave with a few antiques.
There's nothing like spending a sunny, summer day strolling the Olcott boardwalk and browsing collections of handmade gifts and snacks. The Village Shoppes (5955 Ontario St.; 716-778-8531) is a strip of cute shops that offer unique gifts, handmade jewelry and delectable treats. Open weekends from noon to 6 p.m. in May, September and October; Sunday through Thursday Memorial Day to Labor Day; and noon to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The current list of shops includes:
- Abby Joe's Unique Boutique
- Cameron's Lakeside Ice Cream
- Emma's Tiques & Treasures
- Gift Box at the Beach
- KM Eats
- KM Treats
- Nature's Child
- Oak Ridge Designs
- Up the Lake
It's the kids' turn at the Carousel Park, where they can ride this historic attraction for 25 cents. While the price won't break the bank, the memories are priceless.
Reservations are suggested for lunch at The Orchard Tea Room (2402 McClew Road, Burt; 716-778-7926). Afterward, explore the farm that is still home to a stop on the Underground Railroad.
Nothing beats a sunset at the Olcott overlook, but the experience isn't complete without a bag of freshly popped popcorn or caramel corn at Bye's Popcorn.
For dinner with a view, visit Mariner's Landing (1540 Franklin St., Olcott; 716-778-5535). This lakeside restaurant has a menu full of seafood favorites. A fish fry and glass of wine is the perfect way to end a beach-filled day.
Another way to spend a perfect day in northern Niagara County is to plan it around a specific event. The summer of 2018 is full of lake country fun:
A most magical event will once again be flipping and frolicking in Olcott, at the Olcott Beach Mermaid Parade at 4 p.m. Saturday, June 16. The fun begins at the Lakeview Village Shoppes, 5955 Ontario St. (at the end of Route 78).
The annual Fourth of July fireworks will be on display Tuesday, July 3, and warming up with a concert by Easy Street Big Band. Keep celebrating with the Patriots Parade at noon on Wednesday, July 4. Everyone should wear red, white and blue; even bikes and wagons. Meet at the entrance to Krull Park on Main Street by noon to line up for a patriotic march ending at The Olcott Beach Carousel Park. Free ice cream compliments of Carousel Concessions and a Carousel Park ride ticket for participating children. Call 716-778-7066 or 716-778-8284 for more information.
July 6-7, Krull Park will be home to the Pirate Festival. The Great Lakes Freebooters pirate encampment will have daily demonstrations, displays and opportunities for children to interact with the pirates. On Saturday and Sunday, pirates will invade the beach, firing cannons and flintlocks in a staged battle. Ye Pyrate Brotherhood will entertain everyone on Saturday and Sunday, including a kid's treasure hunt. A pirate costume contest for all ages will take place on Saturday and Sunday with cash prizes. This local, annual favorite also includes a classic car show and parade on Saturday.
These events are rain or shine. All proceeds will benefit Olcott Fire and Rescue. Hours are 6 p.m. to midnight on Friday, noon to midnight Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
It's family-friendly during the day, but beer will be flowing at night for adults. Enjoy food, live entertainment, vendors, carnival rides and midway games. Ride tickets are $1 for one ticket, $15 for 20, $30 for 45, or $19 for a wristband (usable on the day of purchase). Family meal plans are available.
The Olcott Beach Jazz Trail is a new tradition that includes a day of free jazz, wine tasting and, of course, lake views. From noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 22, follow the Niagara Wine Trail and enjoy live music on five stages throughout the town. Performance schedules and stage maps will be posted at www.Facebook.com/OlcottBeachJazzTrail
Old Olcott Days is a heritage celebration. This blast from summers long past will be celebrated July 28-29. Catch a glimpse of a 1905 postcard and a narrated trolley ride, to Olcott's golden era. There will also be a Skee-Ball challenge, Coney Island hot dogs and a screening of the movie "I Remember Olcott." Vintage children's rides at the Olcott Beach Carousel are 25 cents. For more information, call 716-778-8284.
The annual August Fest Craft Show brings local artisans to Olcott from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 11, at Gazebo Park, Main Street. For more information, call 716-345-1230.
With over 1,000 entries, the 29th annual Olcott Beach Car Show is the largest in the area. Catch it from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1.
Then get ready for the 18th annual Niagara Celtic Heritage Festival on Sept. 15 and 16 at Krull Park. Celebrate Irish, Scottish and Welsh descent with music, food, culture and stops along the ale trail.