Our Glorious Lake Erie Sunset
Nothing can stop nature’s nightly show. Here are 10 of our favorite ways to enjoy the splendor from the shores, from drinks in Kelleys Island to yoga in Vermilion.
1. From a Front-Row Seat on Kelleys Island
Perched on the western edge of this Ohio island, West Bay Bar and Restaurant offers sweeping views of the water — and the sunset. You can dock here with your own boat or, if you came over on the ferry, rent bikes or a golf cart for the 2-mile jaunt from downtown. Plenty of outdoor seating makes it easy to find a prime seat, and the menu includes yummy shareables like giant pretzels, nachos and steamed clams.
2. While Sailing into the Sun
During the pandemic, Michelle Boyce started Drift Inn Tours, offering two tours daily departing from Port Bruce, Ontario. There’s a three-hour morning tour, leaving at 10 a.m., and an evening tour, at 5 or 7 p.m., if you want to see the sunset. Boyce pilots a 26-foot sailboat with capacity for up to 12 (pandemic restrictions apply), and plans to offer tours through the fall raptor migration until Thanksgiving, Oct. 12. “It’s a perfect opportunity to get out without other people around,” she says. “It’s safe and fun.”
3. On a Pier: Part 1
The new pier at Dunkirk, New York, attracts strollers, anglers, picnickers and more. But it’s also a great place to take in the sunset. The pier is home to the Boardwalk Marketplace, where you can enjoy an ice cream or a beer and do a bit of shopping.
4. On a Pier: Part 2
The pier in Lakeside, Ohio, is always a hub. You can paddleboard, fish, hang out or even jump in the water. But, as the sun begins to sink, everyone turns west to witness the show. When it’s over, walk the minute or two into town for ice cream (four places serve it) or fresh popcorn from The Whistle Stop.
5. Cruising to the Lorain Lighthouse for Dinner
The city of Lorain is having a moment (a revamped marina, major new streetscaping, a new hotel and more), but it’s still the 1917 Lorain Lighthouse that draws the most love. Check it out by booking a Sunset Wine Dinner, which includes a boat ride to the lighthouse, a brief tour and a wine-paired meal prepared by Lorain’s Erie Steak & Seafood Co. Reservations are required, by calling 419-984-1012 or at lorainlighthouse.com.
6. By Capturing It
Lake Erie Living contributing photographer Matt Greene finds that there’s always a new way to shoot the sunset. Here are his tips for making every photo shine.
• Find out when the sun will set and get there at least a half hour beforehand. The lead up to and the time after the sun disappears is when the magic happens.
• Keep an eye on the weather. Clouds, or incoming bad weather, can create an amazing sky/sunset. Don’t just shoot on clear days.
• As the sun sets and the colors get richer, you will need longer exposures. Steady your camera by placing it on a tripod or at least something firmly on the ground like a fence or table.
• When you point your camera in the direction of the sun, the camera’s light meter will expose for the sun. Objects between you and the sun will be silhouetted. Silhouettes of trees, piers, people, sailboats, etc., can make your photograph very interesting and beautiful. If you want to see people's faces when pointing your camera toward the sunset, you will need to use your camera's flash to light them.
• Remember the rule of thirds when composing your photograph. While the rule can be broken, it is often most visually pleasing to place key visual elements like the sun itself off center.
7. With a Hand-Crafted Cocktail in Hand
You could be perfectly content watching the sunset from any of a dozen beaches in Erie, Pennsylvania. Or you could elevate the experience with a coveted view of the sun sinking into Lake Erie, a handcrafted cocktail in hand. Noosa North East opened a few years ago at North East Marina, and the lake view stretches out to the horizon — giving you the perfect Instagrammable view of the sunset. Open only during the warm months, Noosa is owned by chef Dan Kern and his partner, J.B. Innes, the same duo who operate the creative 1201 Kitchen in downtown Erie. Noosa takes advantage of its view with plenty of outdoor seating, where you can order that cocktail, along with dinner.
8. While Practicing Yoga
Yoga in a studio is peaceful. Yoga on the beach — while the sun sets — is pure bliss. Lake Erie Beach Yoga runs classes at Sherod Park in Vermilion, Ohio, six days a week, but it’s the Thursday night class (7:30 to 8:30 p.m.) that attracts the most attention. Thankfully, there’s always plenty of room (even with social distancing between mats) so reservations are never required. “Being able to practice yoga outside in nature with a cool breeze, the sounds of birds chirping and waves rolling up to shore, and the radiance of the sun sparkling on the water, makes it easier to take a deep breath and let go of the daily struggle,” says Lake Erie Beach Yoga proprietor Maria Santoferraro. “We start to feel more at one with nature and more at one with ourselves.”
9. During a Stroll Along the River
Time it right and your walk along the River Front Trail in Windsor, Ontario, can sync with the sun setting over the water and the Detroit skyline. End your outing with a stop at Maiden Lane Wine & Spirits (maidenlanewindsor.com) to relax over cocktails and a charcuterie spread.
10. From a Ferris Wheel
With a height of 145 feet, Cedar Point’s Giant Wheel is far from the tallest ride in the park. But how much time does a 15-second coaster give you to enjoy the view? The Giant Wheel offers ample opportunity to savor the sunset — and you won’t be too scared to open your eyes.
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