Road Trip: A Day in Fairport Harbor
Enjoy historic charm, lighthouse tours and recreation galore.
An idyllic daytrip awaits a half-hour from downtown Cleveland at Fairport Harbor, a lakefront community overlooking two historic lighthouses and “one of the finest beaches in Ohio,” says Village Administrator Amy Cossick.
“You can come here and relax on the sandy shore, swim in Lake Erie or kayak up the Grand River,” she says. “You can tour a museum or two and shop for antiques and coastal treasures in our downtown.”
Plus, the town is golf-cart friendly with rentals available at Harbor Carts (glazedfairport.com/harborcart). “We always say life is better in a beach town, and many people are finding that is true,” Cossick says, relating that Fairport Harbor’s beach is quite busy during the peak season from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
A family-friendly day could include these highlights:
Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park: Swim, rent a kayak or bring your own and picnic — parking passes are available, and it’s open 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. “You can spend the whole afternoon down there with the concession area, picnic shelters, playground, fire pits and restrooms — and if you need a break from the beach, make your way up the hill and stop at Fairport Harbor Creamery,” Cossick suggests.
Finnish Heritage Museum: Fairport has a strong Finnish heritage, and the museum with rotating exhibits showcases this while offering “nisu” coffee bread and coffee (finnishheritagemuseum.org). “They give the best guided tours, and there are so many folks there with unbelievable knowledge of the history,” Cossick relates.
Walking tour: Plan a historical on-foot experience of the quaint town and learn about its history, Indians and pioneers, its link to the Underground Railroad — and explore local businesses. The tours are $5 per person and arranged through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Go fish: Fairport Harbor has a public boat launch at 5 Water St. and you can pick up supplies at Steve’s Bait Shop (440-350-1523). Or, book a fishing experience with Eye Gotcha Charters and Captain Tom Fleming (440-350-1565).
Historic lighthouses: The first Great Lakes lighthouse marine museum (fairportharborlighthouse.org) in the country is at the mouth of the Grand River and offers tours up a spiral staircase to the 60-foot perch. Fairport Harbor Lighthouse was built in 1871 and the adjacent museum houses artifacts from Grand River settlements and the lighthouse. The privately owned Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse has a rocky break wall you can walk to capture a view.
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