Lake Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center
Location: On the east end of Lake Erie; off of Rt 5; west of the village of Hamburg; Town of Hamburg; Erie County; New York.
GPS Coordinates: Building entrance: N 42.74777 / W 78.90098
Directions: From Buffalo (north): Take the Buffalo Skyway and Rt 5 south through Lackawana and along Lake Erie for 11 miles. Look for the Visitor Center building on the right.
From Erie/Dunkirk (south): You can follow Rt 5 (Lakeshore Rd.) east to the Town of Hamburg. It will be on your left, shortly after passing the Wanakah Country Club.
Use Google Maps.
Parking: The Visitor Center has a thin strip of 10 or so spaces directly in front of the building.
Information / Accessibility / Accommodations
Seasons/Hours: Open year-round. 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.
Best time to visit: Spring through fall.
Time: Spend upwards of 30 minutes at the gift shop and seeing the few exhibits and talking to the guide in the center. Another 30 minutes or so walking the beach.
Handicap accessibility: Yes to the building. No to the beach.
Pets: Not allowed.
Swimming: No lifeguard.
Boat launch: None. Use the boat launch at Sturgeon Point Marina or at the NFTA Boat Harbor Park.
Accommodations: Restroom; beach (no swimming); gift shop; information; education center; hatchery; kids’ room; meeting rooms.
The Lake Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center stands right on the southeast shore of Lake Erie just west of the Village of Hamburg. Housed in the former Wanoka Water Works building, it welcomes visitors with a beautiful natural beach, information on attractions and accommodations in the area, an indoor kids’ play area, an education center and exhibits, a “sunset room” (which is available for rent), and a gift shop with books and local art.
Run by local volunteers, the Center seeks to promote the Lake Erie end of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail, not only helping visitors get to where they need to be, and discover the area, but helping local business get noticed. Beyond that, it educates visitors, and the community, on the natural and settlement history of the Lake Erie shore. Open weekends, from 9am to 3pm, friendly staff is available for a quick question or to go over a map with you. The Center also holds events, from lectures to classes, with some centering around its trout nursery, where local students can observe the hatching and development of this important lake fish. One beautiful exhibit we enjoyed was the wall of life-size models of the largest lake fish.
The red brick turn-of-the-century building sits along the shoreline, and cement stairs lead down to the east beach. It’s not a sandy paradise, but it is beautiful. When we visited in August, several families were beach-combing and soaking up the sun and fresh air. Follow a cement platform that runs along the back of the building, past some neat art painted on the back wall, and you are on the west beach, a little more secluded. One family was swimming here but there are no lifeguards, so we recommend against it.
The Lake Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center is housed in the former Wanakah Water Works, which operated from the early 1900s to 1990, servicing the local area with water from Lake Erie. After consolidation of water distribution plants to another location, the Town of Hamburg acquired the property.
Through the volunteer efforts of the Friends of the Lake Erie Seaway Trail Center, the building was reconditioned and began operating as a not-for-profit visitor’s center for the Lake Erie portion of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in 2005.
Hiking / Walking Trails
Distance: A few hundred feet along the beach.
Description: From the parking area, there is a small lawn to the east. It has a Seaway Trail sign and map. On the east corner of the building is a historic sign and a set of cement steps that lead down to the beach on the east side. Cross over to the west beach by using the cement platform behind the building.
Map: Check out our interactive map.
Lake Erie Seaway Trail Visitor Center Interactive Map
You can fish from the concrete platform.
New York State Route 5
Beginning at the Pennsylvania state line in the town of Ripley, State Route 5 spans 370 miles west to east across New York, passing through Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, and Schenectady, ending up in Albany. Along the way it overlaps with State Route 20, leading to the common name of both routes as simply “5 & 20.” Several small towns and cities, as well as countless curiosities, eateries, and historic sites can be experienced along its path.
- The eastern shore of Lake Erie is ideal for sunsets. The Buffalo waterfront is a great place to catch boats, birds and the interesting seawalls in the frame to keep those sunset photos interesting.
- Don’t forget that long lens. This is a decent spot for birding, but it is even better across the street at the preserve.
- During the spring and fall migrations, get here early for more bird traffic and less people traffic.