Located about halfway between Erie, Pennsylvania and Buffalo, New York (right off I-90) along the shores of Lake Erie, the small town of Dunkirk, New York offers a multitude of activities (ranging from a lighthouse to wineries to romantic getaways) for Cleveland visitors interested in something different for a weekend jaunt.
Dunkirk Lighthouse and Veterans Park Museum First established on Point Gratiot on the Lake Erie shore in 1827 (and rebuilt in 1875), the Dunkirk Lighthouse features a 61 foot stone tower with a 27-mile range of light, giving it the distinction of being one of the most prominent lighthouses on Lake Erie. The $10,000 3rd-order Fresnel lens and lantern imported from Paris, France and refitted in 1857 remains today. The lighthouse also includes a Victorian residence used by the lightkeeper. The Dunkirk Lighthouse has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Escorted tours of the Dunkirk Lighthouse are available and include a climb of the Lighthouse’s spiral stairs to the observation area on the upper level, a walk through the restored 1800 lighthouse keeper’s house, a visit to the museum with nautical displays and US Veterans exhibits featuring military artifacts and a tour of the lighthouse grounds.
Visitors strolling the grounds will encounter a bottlenecked beacon pier light, cannons, tanks, various vessels, flags and a ship bell.
History Notes of Interest: The first shot of the War of 1812 was fired near the west bank of the Dunkirk Lighthouse. The first soldier killed in the Civil War was Dunkirk native Cpl. Cryus Jones and his grave is on the lighthouse grounds. During World War II, twelve active Coast Guard personnel were stationed at the Dunkirk Lighthouse along with the lighthouse keeper.
Hours for the Dunkirk Lighthouse through June 30 are 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Hours during July and August are 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children 4-10. For safety reasons, no sandals or open-toed shoes are allowed on the lighthouse tours.
The annual Dunkirk Lighthouse Festival will take place on the third weekend in August and will feature tours, live music, a craft show and food.
The Dunkirk Lighthouse and Museum is located at 1 Lighthouse Point Drive in Dunkirk. 716-366-5050.
Woodbury Vineyards Located just 5 minutes from Exit 59 (Dunkirk-Fredonia) on I-90, the Woodbury Vineyards was established in 1979 and is situated in an apple orchard on a family fruit farm. This award winning winery has received over 100 medals in national and international competitions and offers a wide variety of red, white and blush wines but is particularly known for its specialty fruit wines including cranberry, cherry, blueberry and strawberry. Woodbury’s other claim to fame is their cherry wine slushies available for purchase in alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions.
The winery has a large tasting room where visitors can sample various Woodbury wines for free. Tours are offered Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. – 4 :30 p.m and on Sunday noon – 4:30 p.m. The winery itself is open until 7 p.m. during the summer. There is also a large gift shop on the property where all varieties of wine and wine accessories can be purchased.
Woodbury Vineyards is located at 3215 S. Roberts Rd. in Fredonia, New York. 716-679-9463.
The White Inn An area landmark originally built in 1868, the White Inn was acquired by new owners in January, 2011 and has undergone renovations. The Inn is now open for business and can offer some special romance packages for Clevelanders visiting the area. Prices for the rooms range from $149 a night to $249 per night, depending on the date. The Deluxe Romance package can be purchased for an $125 upgrade and includes accommodations, a bottle of wine/ champagne, gourmet chocolate truffles and a dozen red roses.
For those celebrating a truly special occasion, The White Inn offers The Royal Treatment Package which includes accommodations, a bottle of wine from one of the local wineries, gourmet chocolate truffles, a custom floral arrangement, a 3 hour chauffeured trip to a winery for wine tasting and a couples massage. This upgrade is an additional $550 per couple.
The White Inn also had dining rooms and a lounge. The White Inn is located at 52 East Main St. in Fredonia, New York. 716-672-2103. The Dunkirk- Fredonia area is 148 miles from Cleveland straight up I-90 (approximately a 2.5 hour drive).