2023 Best of Lake Erie: Fall Fun
Settle into the season with cozy autumn destinations and road trip ideas.
Best Fall Road Trip: To Hell and Back
We have the perfect comeback for the next time someone tells us to go to Hell: Not only have we been there, but we had a blast.
And our visit to Hell — that is, the tiny, unincorporated community of Hell, Michigan — only lasted a few hours, rather than the threatened eternity of punishment.
So where the hell is Hell? It is in Livingston County, about 60 miles west of Detroit. Hell is more of a roadside attraction than a town: You drive down Darwin Road (good one) and if you go maybe a tenth of a mile too far, you’ve escaped Hell. The Hell Hole Diner was considered Uptown, but it has since moved to its new location inside the Hell Saloon, which is Downtown.
The in-between Midtown building is Screams Ice Cream & Helloween, a cute store that functions as the town’s headquarters and is filled with punny souvenirs. A potentially bad omen for marriage aside, couples who want a quirky wedding can tie the knot at the tiny Hell Chapel. That is right by the Hell-themed mini golf course. And don’t forget to buy your degree from Damnation University.
Hell is hardly a bustling vacation destination, but the fun lies in the endless puns and storytelling fodder. Everyone is in on the joke here, and the puns never get old. As to a road trip, we say: “Hell yes!” gotohellmi.com
Best Bones: Shake, Rattle and Stroll
’Dem bones are tucked into shop windows and storefronts in Vermilion, Ohio, from Oct. 1 through Halloween for a ghoulish gallery of fall fun. Shake, Rattle and Stroll is Main Street Vermilion’s annual around-town tour of creative, silly and somewhat spooky skeletons put on display by local businesses. “Many think of Vermilion as a summer town, and we want everyone to know that we are open year-round and there is fun for every season,” says Main Street executive director Kate Repola. “It’s something to do with family while enjoying the community.” mainstreetvermilion.org/bones
Best Farm Stay: Flannel Dog Farm’s Covered Wagon
This Ashtabula, Ohio, farm, which is less than a mile from Lake Erie, lets you recreate the feeling of heading west (starting at $100) in a covered wagon, but with a few modern touches such as a comfy full mattress on a platform, screens to keep the bugs at bay and a fresh farm breakfast. As owner Alan Block says, “It sleeps two people, and you could probably squeeze a dog in there.” flanneldogfarm.com
Best Fall Birding: Point Pelee National Park, Magee Marsh Wildlife Area and Presque Isle State Park
While spring is a celebrated birding season on Lake Erie, the fall season lasts longer and brings more birds as the summer-hatched young will be traveling as well. More than 390 species of birds have been spotted at Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, including many warblers, raptors and more. Northwest Ohio’s Magee Marsh Wildlife Area’s fall birding season begins as early as July and lasts through December when the last stragglers come through. November and December are the months to see waterfowl migration — think ducks, geese and swans — at Presque Isle State Park in Erie, Pennsylvania.