Buffalo Naval & Military Park
Location: On the Buffalo River; the northeast end of Lake Erie; City of Buffalo; Erie County; New York.
- Entrance: N 42.87774 / W 78.87948
- Entrance to parking (at the Erie Basin Marina): N 42.87935 / W 78.88764
- Restaurant / Gift Shop / Tickets: N 42.87752 / W 78.87959
- Veteran’s Memorial: N 42.87847 / W 78.88231
Directions: From Buffalo: Take Elmwood Ave south. It becomes Lower Terrace. Make a right on Erie St. At the river, Marine Dr. runs into it. The Military Park and Veteran’s are off of Marine Dr, but we recommend continuing down to the Erie Basin Marina for parking.
From Erie/Dunkirk (south): You can follow NY-5 (Lakeshore Rd) north into Buffalo and over the Buffalo Skyway. Take the exit toward Seneca St. Follow signs for Pearl St and merge onto Pearl St. Continue onto Commercial St. Turn right onto Marine Dr. The Military Park and Veteran’s are off of Marine Dr, but we recommend continuing down Erie St to the Erie Basin Marina for parking.
Use Google Maps.
Parking: Parking is available along Marine St and Erie St, as well as many other waterfront streets in the area, and pay parking lots are scattered about the underside of the Buffalo Skyway. But we recommend heading past this area of the waterfront and going to the free public lot at the Erie Basin Marina off of Erie St.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
Seasons/Hours: You can walk along the Buffalo River and see the ships and vehicles from there all day/night. The gift shop, tours, and close up access to the ships is seasonal:
7 days a week
10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Open 7 Days a Week
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Open Saturday-Sunday before Thanksgiving and on Veterans Day (Nov. 11)
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Admission: It’s free to walk along the Buffalo River parallel to Marine Drive and from here you can visit Veterans Park and see the exteriors of the three ships and some vehicles on display in a fenced off area.
Admission gets you access to the Museum exhibit halls, fenced-off areas and you get to board the three ships.
- Adult (13 yrs.- 64 yrs.) $18.00
- Youth (5 yrs.-12 yrs.) $12.00
- Senior(65 yrs.+) $15.00
- Veterans $13.00
*Active Duty receive FREE admission Please mention your armed services status when purchasing your tickets.
Best time to visit: Summer.
Time: A walk around Veterans Park and along the river would take about 40 minutes if you head all the way up to the Erie Basin Marina. Touring the museum and ships can take another hour or two. Visiting the ships and reading all the informational signage will easily take up a few hours. There’s a lot to see.
Handicap accessibility: The sidewalk along the Buffalo River is. Museum shop and indoor exhibits are. The ships decks are, but inside rooms are not.
Pets: No pets allowed in the museum at all.
Swimming: Not allowed.
Boat launch: A launch is available at the Erie Basin Marina.
Accommodations: Restrooms; restaurant; historic information; guided tours; audio tours; reunion venue; gift shop; military artifacts.
The Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military park is a riverfront park along the Buffalo River in the City of Buffalo. For a reasonable admission cost, you can gain entry to the indoor exhibits of military artifacts, visit the showcase of decommissioned land and air vehicles, and best of all, go aboard and explore the three giant WWII-era ships docked within the river.
The USS Little Rock is a Cleveland-class cruiser, converted to a guided missile cruiser. At 610 feet long, it is the largest ship in the collection. It has two Mk II Talos missile launchers, three 6-inch guns, two 5-inch/38 caliber guns, and would have a complement of 1,395 enlisted and officers.
The USS The Sullivans is a 376 feet long Fletcher-class destroyer, named for five brothers who lost their lives in the Battle of the Solomon Islands when their ship was sunk by the Japanese. It has four 5-inch/38 caliber guns, one 3-inch/50 caliber gun, two twin-40 mm guns, depth charges, and a complement of 290 enlisted men and 20 officers.
The USS Croaker, a 311 ft long Gato Class submarine, claimed 11 Japanese vessels during WWII. It carried eight Mk-44 torpedo tubes, 74 enlisted men and 7 officers.
Although the museum is dominated by these three massive ships, it also features other decommissioned military vehicles, such as the X-Ron 1 Rotorcycle Helicopter, M-41 Tank, M-84 Armored Personnel Carrier, UH-1 “Huey” Helicopter, F-101F Voodoo Fighter Interceptor Jet, PTF-17 Patrol Boat, FJ-4B Fury Jet, and P-39 Airacobra. Indoor exhibits include a history of the US Marine Corp, a spotlight on contributions of African-Americans in the US military, women in the military, models of military aircraft (WWII to Present), and many others.
In the city’s early years this area was filled with commercial slips, warehouses, and grain elevators. Many of those were gone by the onset of WWII.
Construction began on what was formerly known as the Buffalo Naval and Servicemen’s Park in 1977 and it opened to the public on July 4, 1979, upon opening the USS Little Rock, a cruiser commissioned in 1945, and the USS The Sullivans, a destroyer commissioned in 1943 and served WWII in the Pacific.
The USS Croaker, a submarine commissioned in 1944 and served through the Pacific in WWII, was added to the park in 1988. The ships were moved slightly east in 2003 when construction on the new waterfront began. New boardwalks, a new museum building, with restaurant space, and historic signage were all put in in recent years.
Hiking / Walking Trails
Distance: Our recommended loop is about 1.1 miles around the marina. Within a paid self-tour of the Naval Park, a walk around all the ships, and museums can easily take 2 hours. I highly recommend paying the admission and seeing it all.
Markings: Just follow the paved walkways around the marina. Within the Naval Park, follow the lines (and watch your head).
Description: Start from the parking area and head across Erie St towards the Erie Marina Gardens and the Hatch Restaurant. You can view boats entering and exiting the harbor from the walkway along the river here. You can also see the Coast Guard station and Buffalo Light on the other side. Follow the walkway north past a small grassy area and along Erie St with the stone jetty and lake on your left. Reach a viewing platform at the end of the jetty. You can climb up the tower for a panoramic view. Restrooms and a convenience store are also located here. Walk back to the parking lot along the marina.
Combine this walk with the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park to the east.
Map: Click here
Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park Interactive Map
Fishing is not allowed from the Military Park property. You can fish from the walkways along the Buffalo River to the north.
Erie Basin Marina & Gardens
Along the mouth of the Buffalo River to Lake Erie, this waterfront park wraps around a full-service marina and ends with a tower that has amazing views of the city and waterfront. There are historic markers, restaurants, ice cream, art displays, and beautiful gardens.
USS Little Rock
|CL-92, LATER CLG-4
|Two Mk II talos Missile Launchers; Three 6-inch guns; two 5-inch/38 caliber guns
|1,100 enlisted; 150 officers; 150 Marines
USS The Sullivans
|Four 5-inch/38 caliber guns; one 3-inch/50 caliber gun; two twin-40 mm guns; depth charges
|290 enlisted; 20 officers
|SS-246, LATER SSK-246
|Eight Mk-44 torpedo tubes
|74 enlisted; 7 officers
- Take wide shots from down the river.
- Take close up shots, and zoom in tight to remove the context of the Buffalo Harbor from the ships.
- These ships are massive. Use perspective to convey this to your audience. Shoot upward.
- The equipment within the ships with their minimal lighting can make for interesting close-ups. Think and shoot abstractly.
- When shooting inside the ships, light is minimal. Set your ISO to 800 or higher for a faster shutter speed and less blur. They don’t allow tripods in the museum, so shooting handheld is all you can do.
- Bring that macro lens and tripod for flower and insect macros.