To-Do List: Exploring Ohio's Outstanding Waterfront

From Toledo to Ashtabula, Ohio’s 312 miles of shoreline are full of places to play, stay, dine, sip, dip and enjoy the sunset. 

See the Sunset in Lorain
Cast off in Lorain for a cruise up the Black River to the harbor at eventide, perfectly timed to watch the sunset. It’s a natural photo op as the sun seems to gradually disappear into Lake Erie’s western waters right behind the Lorain Lighthouse. Even better, try the Lighthouse Dinner Cruise, which features a tour of the structure as well as food-and-wine pairings on the grounds.

Luxuriate in Geneva-on-the-Lake
Reserve a charming waterfront room — or even your own cottage — at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake (, where you can dine at Horizons, sample local wines, rent a golf cart to cruise the property, take in the kitschy fun of the town’s famous strip, or hop on the wine shuttle to explore more. Just down the road a bit, the Lakehouse Inn ( offers both rooms and suites with lake views and fireplaces to keep things cozy on cooler nights.

Go Birding in Magee Marsh
The Biggest Week in American Birding
(May 3 to 12) attracts birders from across the globe — literally every corner of the world — to experience the Warbler Capital of the World in Oak Harbor. You’ll hear tweet melodies from songbirds of all kinds on Magee Marsh Wildlife Area’s many trails. If you must
choose one, hit the 1.2-mile Boardwalk Trail at the tail end of the park’s access road.

Hit the 35-Acre Beach at Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor
Pack a picnic and beach towels, remember your sunscreen and plan to stay the day at Mentor Headlands, where there’s much more than sand, Lake Erie surf and swimming. A paved walk/hike/bike trail with views runs along the back dunes. You might even spot a nesting bald eagle in the park’s wetlands. Boater? There’s a launch. Angler? Fish off the pier for walleye, perch and largemouth bass.

Skate in Toledo
Careen through Glass City Metropark on rollerblades or skates around a 1,000-foot loop trail with gentle hills and enough curves to keep it interesting at The Ribbon, an all-weather playground with a generous skating pond that freezes over in winter. Need a primer or interested in brushing up your skills? The Ribbon hosts a series of special events and programs throughout the year.

Boat in Cleveland
Lunch, brunch or do dinner on the Lady Caroline (, a voyage worth celebrating for any occasion or just because. Cruise the river and lake, take in the skyline and Lake Erie views, and jam to onboard entertainment. Cardio + lake + brew is the winning trifecta at BrewBoat CLE (, where groups can book a pedal-powered cycleboat and BYOB to stock on-board coolers. Remember your playlist: These boats are Bluetooth-equipped. Rather have a lazy tour? BrewBoat’s Party Pontoons fit the bill and, new this summer, is Duffy Boat Rentals with a fleet of no-emissions electric boats. Prefer to paddle? Great Lakes Watersports ( has you covered with single and double kayaks. Tour Cleveland’s waterways hula-style on a Tiki Barge ( cruise.

Feel the Beat in Marblehead
There is live music every day in the summer at the waterfront Hidden Beach Bar (, which is tucked in a marina off the main road. Downtown Marblehead’s Rocky Pointe Winery ( features local performers on weekends in the large shady area behind the old school in which it’s housed. But the biggest shows in town are at Hoover Auditorium in Lakeside Chautauqua (, including 10,000 Maniacs (July 13), Girl Named Tom (July 20), All-4-One (July 26) and Jefferson Starship (Aug. 24).

Dine in Vermilion
Cuisine on the coast is aplenty in Vermilion, home of one of the country’s top-rated venues, Chez Francois ( The Zagat-rated fine-dining destination offers a vast and curated wine list and gourmet menu. Rather leave the dinner jacket at home? Motor up to Chez Riverfront Café, where there are boat slips on site or dock next door at the public marina. Nearby at The Wine Vault (, a cozy-chic environment offers dishes to complement drinks — including craft beer and sangria. Round out a small plate with must-taste cheesecake. Every guest feels like a boater with dockside dining at Quaker Steak & Lube (, where you go for views, wings and happy hour specials. 

Treat Yourself in Ashtabula Harbor
Historic Ashtabula Harbor’s Bridge Street ( offers a sweet spread of homegrown shopping and dining for all sorts of tastes, from wood-fired pizzas at Nights & Weekends ( to lobster bisque and local wine on the terrace at Fitzgerald’s Wine Bar & Restaurant ( Rev up with a cuppa Bula Breakfast Bold at Harbor Perk Coffee House & Roasting Co. ( And save room for specialty chocolate bark (orange, peppermint, habanero) from Marianne’s Chocolates (

Live It Up on Catawba
There’s no shortage of open-air dining with pastoral views, lively music and handcrafted rounds of all kinds on Catawba. The renowned Gideon Owen Wine Co. ( is equal parts destination-retreat and Sunday Funday stop with a rich history dating back to its 1870 original Catawba Island Wine Co. days. Raise a glass to Twin Oast Brewing’s ( farm-to-fermenter mission and 60-acre setting. Shop the local Farm Stand, reserve a seat at the Bar & Table or sip on a creative cocktail at the Coop, all on property at The Orchard ( 

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