Around the Lake in 6 Days: From Ohio to Ontario
From bustling downtown waterfronts to quaint beach towns, Lake Erie has something for every member of the family. Take it all in — in just one trip — with this six-day breakdown of some of the best beaches, shops, sights and restaurants along the shoreline.
Map It Out
Traveling around Lake Erie entails about 650 miles and three major roadways — Interstate 90, which travels through New York, Pennsylvania and most of Ohio; Interstate 75, running through Michigan; and Ontario Highway 3, which spans the length of Canada’s southern border. Although views of the lake are visible at times, those looking to keep the coast in their sights will want to make time to venture off the main route.
Launch your trip with a stroll through Toledo Botanical Garden’s blooms before making your way to Wildwood Preserve Metropark, which boasts 493 acres of natural beauty around the 30,000-square-foot historic Manor House.
“I just love the local history here,” says Cathy Miller of Destination Toledo, highlighting such historical hot spots as the National Museum of the Great Lakes and Fort Meigs, which includes a museum and battlefield. “It’s a fascinating piece of history to visit.”
When it comes to shopping, Handmade Toledo has it all, from jewelry and clothing to coffee, home decor and more — all created by local artists.
For lunch, participate in a proper tea complete with scones, savories, sandwiches and sweets at Clara J’s Tea Room. On weekends, opt for brunch downtown at The Heights for magnificent views of the riverfront and Glass City River Wall — the largest mural in the United States.
As you make your way through Michigan, take in the sights at Lake Erie Metropark, where visitors can golf, hike, fish, kayak or just walk along the waterfront. Make sure to take a dip in the Great Wave Pool and visit the Marshlands Museum.
If you’re a fan of second breakfasts, double down on a delicious weekend brunch (or daily Lunchy Brunch) and tasty cocktails at Bobcat Bonnie’s, a colorful, hip space with an eclectic aesthetic. Before heading into Canada, Belle Isle is a must. In addition to picture-perfect scenes of the Detroit River, it’s also home to the country’s oldest marble lighthouse (Livingstone Memorial Lighthouse), swimming beaches, an aquarium, conservatory and nature center.
You’ve crossed the bridge to Canada and, from beaches and breweries to coffee shops and culture sites, Windsor is bustling. Meander your way through downtown to Maiden Lane to appreciate vibrant splashes of creativity from artists who are turning dull alleyways into blossoming outdoor galleries. Next, head to Drouillard Road to explore the Ford City neighborhood and its 36 outdoor murals honoring the area’s automotive past. Feeling lucky? Make a stop at Caesars Windsor casino, which also offers the top-notch Nero’s Steakhouse.
Harrow is home to more than 10 talented vintners excited to share their passions with travelers. Grab a prime patio spot at Viewpointe Estate Winery and relax with a glass of wine and a breathtaking Lake Erie backdrop.
Then, settle into a lakefront geodome for the night at Lungovita Beach Retreat, a 16-and-older haven of relaxation. “It’s beautiful,” says Megan Carman, marketing assistant for Southern Ontario Tourism Conference. “I’m really excited about the fact that it’s pet-friendly and want to plan a vacation there with my dog and husband.”
Tenting Made Easy
Looking to spend the night outdoors in Southern Ontario without the hassle of setting up and tearing down camp? Tent Life has you covered. Rent the campsite of your choice, then contact Tent Life with the details, as well as your choice of tent shape and size, and by the time you make it to your site, you’ll be all glamped out.