Cedar Beach on Lake Erie in Dunkirk, NY
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Location / Directions / Maps

Location: On the east end of Lake Erie; in the city of Dunkirk; town of Dunkirk; Chautauqua County; New York.

Maps: Google mapTopographic; Interactive map

GPS Coordinates: Entrance: N 42.49087 / W 79.35201

Directions: From east and west:

  1. Follow NY-5 to Dunkirk.
  2. On the west side of the city, turn north onto Point Dr. N.
  3. Find the beach across (right) from Cedar St.

Use Google Maps.

Parking: There’s no parking lot for this beach. Some people do pull into the gravel area across from Cedar Dr, but this can often be flooded and muddy. Proceed at your own risk. The closest parking area is north along Point Dr N at the lighthouse.



panoramic view of lake erie from cedar beach in Dunkirk, NY

Information / Accessibility / Accommodations

Seasons/Hours: Open daily, from dawn until dusk.

Admission: Free.

Best time to visit: Spring through summer.

Time: A few minutes to soak in the views or a few hours to sunbathe. Visit the Dunkirk Lighthouse, which is just north, up the road, to extend your visit.

Handicap accessibility: The beach is sandy and not very accessible. There are no paved pathways or accessible facilities.

Pets: No rules posted at the beach, but the city and county both have leash laws.

Swimming: Swimming is not allowed at this location. Swim at the guarded areas or at Point Gratiot or Wright Parks.

Boat launch:  You can hand launch from this beach, but there is no trailer boat launching here. If you need to launch, head east to Dunkirk City Pier or west to Barcelona Harbor.

Accommodations:  This beach is not an official park and there are no facilities except for a bench. In summer, watercraft rentals are available via sundaze.fun. The closest restroom you will find is a short walk north to the lighthouse. There are several restaurants and shops to the east, just down Lake Shore Dr.

The NRG power plant as seen from Cedar Beach in Dunkirk, NY


Of the several waterfront parks and beaches in Dunkirk, Cedar Beach has the fewest frills. It’s simply an empty beach on the east side of Point Gratiot, located between the Dunkirk Lighthouse and the NRG Power Plant (Decommissioned as of 2024). As it’s not an official park, it doesn’t see the maintenance other beaches in the area receive. At times it can be clean and clear of debris, while at others the beach will be scattered with driftwood and trash. Still, its isolation from the city’s busy parks and eastward view, with the retired power plant’s smokestack make it not only a unique setting, but a favorite for several locals.

The beach here is sandy, dotted with smooth chunks of dark grey shale stones, and the occasional outcropping of flat shale rock along the shoreline. When we visited on a temperate day in late August of 2023 we saw a few families enjoying the sun, beachcombing, and wading in the water. We did notice what seemed to be an old park building at the south end of the park, but it seemed to have been long closed.

The decommissioned NRG power plant as seen from Cedar Beach on Lake Erie in Dunkirk, NY.


The NRG Power Plant, to the east of the beach, began operations in 1950, burning coal to generate steam, which cranked turbines to produce electricity. Upgrades in the 2000s made it one of the cleanest coal plants in the nation, providing power for about 500,000 customers in New York and Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, in 2015 it was shut down as the state pushed for cleaner energy solutions. Plans were put in place to convert it to natural gas, but those plans were abandoned years later. Recent discussions for re-opening the facility involve converting it to a high-tech data center.

NRG Power Plant on Lake Erie at Cedar Beach in Dunkirk, NY

Hiking / Walking Trails

Difficulty: Easy.

Distance: A walk along the shoreline is about 1,000 ft.

Markings: None.

Description: There’s not much to this park. You can walk the shoreline along the beach. That’s it.

Map: Check out the interactive map.

cedar beach in Dunkirk, NY

Cedar Beach Interactive Map


No fishing rules have been posted. Likely, you can cast from the shoreline here.

Interesting Stuff

Lake Erie Fisheries Research Unit

  • Across the street from the beach is the Dunkirk Field Station for the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Lake Erie Fisheries Unit: Lands and Forests. This unit manages the fish resources within the lake by monitoring the status of fish populations and evaluating the need for specific management actions. This office is not open to the public.

Dunkirk Lighthouse

  • Also known as Point Gratiot Lighthouse, this historic beacon is located north of the park at the apex of Point Gratiot. This venerable structure has been guiding mariners since the first tower was built in 1826, with the current tower constructed in 1875-1876. The lighthouse stands approximately 61 feet tall and is constructed of hand-carved ashlar limestone, making it a striking architectural feature against the backdrop of the lake. The Victorian-style keeper’s house, which was built in 1875, has been meticulously preserved and now serves as a museum.

Photography Tips

Driftwood and stones

  • The north end of the beach has a variety of sun-bleached driftwood and interesting rock formations. Try to include them in the foreground of your shots.

Power Plant

  • Use a wide angle lens to capture views of the crescent beach that include the power plant and its towering smoke stack. Best with dramatic cloudy skies.

More tips

Nearby Waterfalls

Lake Erie Parks and Beaches Guide

More Lake Erie Parks & Beaches

Find a new summer hangout spot or place to swim in our comprehensive guide to Lake Erie Parks and Beaches in New York State.

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