Editor Colleen Smitek reveals the inspiration behind this year's Travel Guide — to nudge you out of your comfortable corner of Lake Erie and discover all the magnificent adventures that await along the shoreline and beyond.

Sometimes, I think about all the people who live in the middle. How do they know which way is north? What’s it like to never own a boat (or, even better, have a friend with a boat)? Where do they fish? Are summers defined by swimming pools? Do they realize that a nice lake breeze is better than any air conditioner? 

Growing up in Cleveland, Lake Erie was like church or your favorite aunt. Always there. Always steady. Sure, it could make the weather wild and unpredictable, but the lake itself is nothing less than an anchor for anyone who grows up near it. It’s just part of who you are. 

If you’re a Lake Erie Living magazine follower, you know. 

The goal of our annual Travel Guide is to nudge you out of your comfortable corner of Lake Erie so that you can experience the rest of it. It’s a bit like tossing aside your favorite pair of jeans to try on something new. Why bother? Your jeans are perfect!

Yes, they are but …

Have you dipped your toes in the white sandy beaches that go on and on at Presque Isle State Park? Have you heard the warblers’ song as they rest at Magee Marsh Wildlife Area before crossing the huge body of water ahead? Have you experienced the southernmost point of continental Canada as the wind and waves swirl around you, shaping both your spirits and the spit of land on which you’re standing?

And those are just the must-see sites. There are tiny treasures waiting to be discovered everywhere along the shore. We’re talking about places like Perry’s Cave, the Lorain Lighthouse, Hidden Beach Bar and the Roger Tory Peterson Institute.

One more thing: We all know what April 8 is bringing: a total solar eclipse that lines up nearly perfectly with our shores. There’ll be a lot of people coming from the middle to get in on the action, so make your plan now or call that friend of yours with the boat to line something up. 

Because, as always, Lake Erie is the place to be. 

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