The Summer To-do List

Start now to get the most out of every drop of sunshine. From berry picking to kayaking, Ferris wheels to fishing, we’ve got plans for round-the-lake fun.

ToDoListIllo Ride a Ferris wheel Go fishing Take in some history Work out on the water Play shuffleboard Ride a bike Eat on the beach Pick your own fruit Watch the sun set Try a new beach Smell the flowers Sip a drink Hit the drive-in theater Take a hike Enjoy an ice cream cone Ride a boat


Ride a Ferris Wheel

The Niagara Sky Wheel in Niagara Falls
175 feet tall • Enclosed gondolas are climate-controlled year-round.

Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio
136 feet tall • It has given more than 21 million rides since 1972.

Waldameer Amusement Park in Erie, Pa.
100 feet tall • On clear days, riders can see Long Point, Ontario.

Old Firehouse Winery in Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio
45 feet tall • Winery owners bought the ride at an auction when the nearby Erieview Park closed in 2006.

Back to top

Work Out on the Water

The experts tell us to keep it fun if we want to keep up our fitness regimen. Luckily, Lake Erie presents myriad athletic opportunities, whether you’re a fitness buff or a confessed lounger.

Easy: Stand-up Paddling
Mike Sandusky, owner of Surf Ontario, travels the region taking newbies and intermediates on the water on boards that are big and thick and very easy to start out on. “Stand-up paddleboarding is the easiest of any kind of board sport I can imagine,” he says. “Most people get the hang of it pretty quickly.” Get your core muscles working with a one-hour group or private lesson. $89 for a solo lesson, $70 each for two people. Sandusky will meet you at Port Stanley, Turkey Point or Port Colborne, in Ontario. 416-906-5793,

Medium: Kayaking
Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park offers dozens of activities, but it’s known for kayaking. In addition to an annual kayak triathlon, the park offers a breakwall swim and kayak excursion every week with breakfast afterward. Singles rent for $10 per hour, doubles for $15. 301 Huntington Beach Drive, Fairport Harbor, Ohio, 440-639-9972,

Challenging: Triathlon-ing
Give this test of your endurance a try at Presque Isle’s 10th annual triathlon, held inside the park Saturday, August 28. Because it’s limited to 400 racers and only offers the sprint distance (swim a third of a mile, bike 13 miles, run a 5K) it’s an encouraging intro to the world of triathlons. Erie, Pa.,

Back to top

Go Fishing

If you’re not an avid angler, hit the water on one of these designated free fishing days in 2010. It’s your chance to test the waters without the expense or hassle of obtaining a license.

  • Michigan: June 12-13
  • New York: June 26-27
  • Ohio: May 1-2
  • Ontario: July 9-11
  • Pennsylvania: May 26 & June 6

Back to top

Take In Some History

How far back would you like to go?

Pick a year then plan your trip.

1957 - Sputnik was launched and “Jailhouse Rock” hit the airwaves. At Sara’s, named after the owner’s mother, the vibe is pure 1950s. The restaurant’s famous orange sherbet is made on the premises, and you’ll find families who’ve been coming here for generations lining up to pair the sherbet and vanilla twist with foot-long hotdogs and homemade onion rings. The accompanying diner, Sally’s, was built in 1957 and caters to overflow crowds on the busiest days. Located at the entrance to Presque Isle. 25 Peninsula Drive, Erie, Pa., 814-833-1957,

1909 - Modern airplanes were just beginning to get off the ground and, in East Aurora, N.Y., the Power House was being built to house the steam-powered electrical generators that would run the equipment used to do book binding, metal smithing and furniture making on the Roycroft Campus. This summer visitors will have the opportunity to watch as the Power House is restored to its original glory. 31 S. Grove St., East Aurora, N.Y., 716-655-0261,

1851 - The New York Times published its first issue — and sold copies for a penny apiece — and the Erie Cemetery was officially dedicated. The Erie County Historical Society is hosting monthly cemetery tours beginning in May with a walk devoted to famous women. The public tours are $8 for adults, $4 for kids and take place the third Sunday of each month. 2116 Chestnut St., Erie, Pa., 814-454-1813,

18,000 BC - There wasn’t much going on around Kelleys Island, or anywhere else. It was the height of an ice age. Huge sheets of glacial ice carved their legacy into the Kelleys Island soil, and today the Glacial Grooves are among the largest and best-preserved snapshots of a long-lost era. Free, Glacial Grooves State Memorial, north side of Kelleys Island,

Back to top

Play Shuffleboard

The village of Lakeside, Ohio, has many temptations for kids: the playground, the beach, the wading pool, the huge sandbox and a full schedule of art classes. Riding around in a golf cart is a thrill, as is the inevitable stop at one of the town’s many places to buy ice cream.

But every summer there is one activity that my two girls adore above all others — shuffleboard. The 26 courts have delighted them since they were old enough to pick up one of the miniature sticks sized for Lakeside’s littlest competitors. For toddlers, just keeping the puck on the court is a victory but, by 4, kids can score the occasional point and, by 6, the new thrill is keeping score on the court chalkboards.

Away from both the beach and the town and sheltered by giant trees, the courts offer a shady break from the hustle of the day. It’s a game that all ages can not only play, they can play it together. Even better, it works the neat trick of making little ones feel grown-up and making grown-ups feel little.

Lakeside is a gated Chautauqua on the Marblehead Peninsula in western Ohio. Each year, it hosts the National Shuffleboard Tournament. Day passes to Lakeside are $17.50 for adults and $12.25 for kids 12-18. Kids under 12 are free. Passes include free shuffleboard as well as many other activities. For more information, call 866-952-5374 or visit

—Colleen Smitek

Back to top

Ride a Bike

We’ll pack our swimsuit, our sunglasses, even the strappy high heels we probably won’t wear.

But a bike? Forget it. Why bother when there are so many options wherever your travels take you?






Bicycle Bills
Vermilion, Ohio

Cruisers and hybrid cruisers for kids and

Hybrid: $10/2 hours, $25/day; single speed: $6/2 hours, $15/day

Take the family on a tour of Vermilion’s picturesque downtown area and the surrounding neighborhood, cruise over to Lake Erie or coast alongside the Vermilion River.

Call ahead of time and the staff will get your bikes primed and ready. 5523 South St.,
Vermilion, Ohio, 440-967-2453,

Caddy Shack Rentals
Kelleys Island, Ohio

Adult bikes

$4/hour, $12/half day, $24/day. All bikes must be returned by dusk.

The 4-mile-square island contains 30 miles of roads.

115 Division St.,
Kelleys Island, Ohio,

Cart Rental
Put-In-Bay, South Bass Island, Ohio

Adult bike

$3/hour or $10/day

Bars abound on this island, but you’ll find some cool roads to explore off the beaten path as well.

266 Delaware Ave., Put-in-Bay, Ohio, 419-285-2724,

The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio

Bikes for adults and kids

$5/hour, $18/four hours, $25/day. All bikes must be returned by 8 p.m.

Paved bike paths throughout the Lodge grounds and along the lake lead to some of the region’s wineries.

4888 N. Broadway, Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio, 1-866-806-8066,

The Yellow
Bike Co.
Presque Isle State Park, Erie, Pa.

One- or two-bench surreys, bikes and trikes for kids and adults, tandems and bikes with child seats and tag-alongs

The initial deposit ranges from $20-$100. Prices start at $25/hour for a surrey and $10/hour for a bike, with incremental rate increases for each additional hour.

The park features the Karl Boyes Multipurpose National Recreation Trail, a 13.5-mile paved path that circumnavigates Presque Isle.

Located at the entrance to the park. 814-835-8900

Harbor Kayak
Buffalo, N.Y.

Adult bikes

$15/hour, $25/half day

The rental shop is located on the water at the heart of downtown. So hit the streets and explore.

1 Naval Park Cove, Buffalo, N.Y., 715-228-9153,

Bike Rentals
Pelee Island, Ontario

Adult and kids bikes, electric bikes

Adult bikes: $8/hour, $20/day. Kids bikes: $6/hour, $10/day. Electric bikes: $40/day.

More than 30 miles of roads on a relatively undeveloped, unspoiled island in the southernmost area of Canada.

West Shore Road,
Pelee Island, Ontario, 519-724-2828,

Back to top

Eat on the Beach …

Great sunsets and gorgeous views are the norm at restaurants around the lake. But a few brave spots take their proximity to the next level, with waterfront dining that blends seamlessly into a day at the beach, putting the “sand” into sandwich. At these restaurants, all you need is a bathing suit and a Key West frame of mind.

In a party atmosphere. Captain Kidd’s Restaurant, in Angola-on-the-Lake, N.Y., caters to hungry beach-goers with a full menu all week long. On weekends, the party starts next door at Mickey Rats. A nightclub atmosphere permeates, with live music, DJs and dancing. Occupancy at the club hits 600, and that’s just indoors — making it the largest beach bar in the region. The only things between you and the water are the volleyball courts. 8934 Old Lakeshore Road, Angola-on-the-Lake, N.Y., 716-549-5782,

Near palm trees. Cozied up to Sunset Beach in Irving, N.Y., the Sunset Bay Beach Club and Cabana Sam’s Sunset Bay Grill aim for the tropics. Palm trees and two floors of outdoor patio space (with two outdoor bars to boot) overlook five acres of sandy beach. Come for fun in the sun, and stay for the live music. 1028 S. Shore Drive, Irving, N.Y., 716-934-9953,

By the volleyball courts. Once class is dismissed, GT’s Beach Bar & Grill in Port Stanley, Ontario, starts schooling the competition. Located on Port Stanley’s main beach, the behemoth boasts a 400-seat patio and eight volleyball courts, plus live entertainment and a lounge chair section. Those in the know make reservations for the twice-annual lobster nights, when GT’s ships in the seafood from Halifax and cooks it on deck for one of the summer’s best beach bashes. 350 Edith Cavell Blvd., Port Stanley, Ontario, 519-782-4555,

Under a thatched roof. Dock’s Beach House occupies a precious piece of the shoreline in Port Clinton, Ohio. The restaurant’s wide wooden deck juts onto the sand and abuts a generous allotment of deck chairs. A recent renovation includes a beachfront bar — we’ll be lounging with a margarita if you need us. 252 W. Lakeshore Drive, Port Clinton, Ohio, 419-732-6684,

Back to top

Pick Your Own Fruit

Pack up the family, and pick a peck of … any fruit under the sun. Just follow the growing season until it takes you to the nearest family farm.

June: Strawberries
Becker Farms features U-Pick crops beginning with strawberries in June. It also houses Vizcarra Vineyards and a microbrewery. Sweet cherries, raspberries, blueberries, apples and pumpkins are also ripe for the picking. 3760 Quaker Road, Gasport, N.Y., 716-772-2211,

Early July: Cherries
Mobilia Fruit Farm is a fourth-generation farm that’s also home to the Arrowhead Wine Cellars, the attached winery that just celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Sweet and sour cherries are available for picking beginning around July 4, and the farm also offers peaches and red and black raspberries. 12073 E. Main Road, North East, Pa., 814-725-5509,

Mid-July: Blueberries
Grab your grandma and go pick some blueberries at Beary Blue Acres, a homespun operation that offers just one crop, done well. The season typically extends into mid-August. 23301 Queen’s Line, Rodney, Ontario, 519-785-0450,

August: Raspberries
Rosby Berry Farm features nine fields of raspberries, including Heritage Red, Polana and Autumn Britten varieties. 42 E. Schaaf Road, Brooklyn Heights, Ohio, 216-661-6102,

September: Apples
A.B. Phillips & Sons Fruit Farms nods to its elevation (770 feet above sea level) and proximity to Lake Erie for the locally beloved taste of its apples. Try them for yourself, right off the tree. The farm also offers pick-your-own cherries and peaches. 30 E. Main St., Berlin Heights, Ohio, 419-588-2329,

Back to top

Watch the Sun Set

The sun may be the most consistent workhorse we know, but that never stops us from getting a little excited to see it punch out each night. Here are a few people and places that feel the same way.

On the beach. Presque Isle makes sunset-catching as simple as reading a map: Just head for Sunset Point. We think the name speaks for itself. But if the pace is too slow there, head down to Beach One, where the Sunset Music Series takes place each Wednesday night. Presque Isle State Park, Erie, Pa.,

Aboard a boat. The Spirit of Buffalo is a double-masted schooner reminiscent of the boats that sailed Lake Erie hundreds of years ago. Call ahead to book a spot aboard the ship’s sunset cruises. For $28 per person, or $38 on the Wednesday Wine in the Wind sails, you’ll watch the sun set aboard a 73-foot-long ship. Erie Canal Harbor, Central Wharf, Buffalo, N.Y., 716-796-7210,

From up high. Birders are known to flock to Hawk Cliff in St. Thomas, Ontario, but locals know this secret spot is also one of the best places to watch a Lake Erie sunset. Hawk Cliff lies at the southern end of Fairview Road, just east of Port Stanley, Ontario.

In a small town. Vermilion, Ohio, plays to its strengths with its summertime Music, Flowers and a Sunset event, held the third Thursday of each month between June and September. Wander through the quaint downtown shops while musicians play for free on the street corners, and follow the crowds down Main Street to the beach for the sunset on full display. Downtown Vermilion, Ohio, 440-963-0772,

Back to top

Try a New Beach

Old favorites are fine, but why not get some new sand in your toes? Here are 10 places to try.





Geneva, Ohio

Geneva State Park, Padanarum Road


This park stretches across 2 miles of shoreline, offering access at various points, including a 300-foot sandy beach with life guards on duty.

Kelleys Island, Ohio

Kelleys Island State Park, end of Division Street


Gentle waves and shallow depths makes Sandy Beach great for kids.

Mentor, Ohio

Headlands Beach State Park, 9601 Headlands Road


Amble along a stretch of the largest natural sand beach in Ohio, where scenic views include sand dunes and the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse.

Sandusky, Ohio

Cedar Point Beach, 1 Cedar Point Drive


The popular sun spot is located next to another Lake Erie favorite — Cedar Point Amusement Park.

Fort Erie, Ontario

Fort Erie area beaches


Considered to be the best Canadian beaches on the eastern end of the lake; they are popular for their close proximity to Buffalo and Toronto.

Morpeth, Ontario

Rondeau Provincial Park, RR#1


This crescent-shaped beach, lined with picnic tables in the sand, stretches as far as the eye can see.

Turkey Point, Ontario

Turkey Point Provincial Park


This sandy beach with warm shallow water is located in a ecologically diverse zone.

Erie, Pa.

Presque Isle State Park, 301 Peninsula Drive


Recreational opportunies abound and with 11 beaches to choose from, it’s possible to find your own slice of paradise.

Blasdell, N.Y.

Woodlawn Beach State Park, S-3580 Lakeshore Road


Located at the eastern-most end of Lake Erie, Woodlawn Beach is reputed to have the best sunsets on the lake.

Port Stanley, Ontario

Main Beach, Edith Cavell Boulevard

One of the finest spots on the north shore, with live music beachside in the evening; you may even think you’re in the Caribbean.

Back to top

Smell the Flowers …

How would you like your flowers? With a side of historic homes, perhaps? Interested in a horticultural discussion or just a pleasant afternoon? There’s a floral event for you.

Lakeside Daisy Day fetes a fickle flower, an endangered yellow daisy that blooms naturally solely in the Marbleside Quarry. May 8, Marblehead Peninsula, Ohio,

The National Buffalo Garden Festival is a five-week affair featuring symposiums and workshops as well as 14 garden walks. June 18-July 25, Buffalo, N.Y.,

The Niagara Parkway is a string of sites, including Queen Victoria Park, the Floral Clock with accompanying Centennial Lilac Garden and Niagara Parks Botanical Gardens. Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario,

The Historic Indian Village neighborhood opens its doors for a day-long home and garden tour. June 5, Detroit, Mich.,

Flower Day at the Toledo Farmers Market features more than 60 vendors. May 29-31, Toledo, Ohio,

Back to top

Sip a Drink

Creamy brandy Alexander: The Village Pump has served these “milkshakes with a kick” since the early 1960s. 103 W. Lakeshore Drive, Kelleys Island, Ohio, 419-746-2281,

Glass of Cabernet: Axel & Harry’s Waterfront Grille offers panoramic views and an extensive wine list. 227 Bay View Ave., Put-in-Bay, Ohio, 419-285-2572,

Vodka tonic: Smuggler’s Wharf’s wraparound porch on Presque Isle Bay offers a breeze to complement your cocktial. 3 State St., Erie, Pa., 814-459-4273,

Cold beer: Palm trees planted each summer make Callahan’s Beach House feel tropical. 2 Walker St., Port Dover, Ontario, 519-583-0880

Strawberry daiquiri: The Blue Elephant Pub uses fresh, local berries. 96 Norfolk St. South, Simcoe, Ontario. 519-428-2886,

Back to top

Hit the Drive-in Theater

Maybe you’ve got an SUV and you back in, popping open the trunk so the kids can curl up on the blankets they brought. Maybe it’s just you and your honey, cozy in the front seat of your car. Maybe it’s a hot summer night and you sprawl out on the lawn chairs you brought with a group of friends. Whatever your drive-in movie style, it’s always a fun night. In the middle of the movie, make your way through the gravel parking lot to the snack shack, where teenagers play video games and little kids beg their parents for more candy. In the height of summer, when it gets dark the latest, the second feature can stretch well past midnight, so you’ll need that Coke to last the night.

Aut-O-Rama Twin Drive-in Theatre
33395 Lorain Road
North Ridgeville, Ohio

Transit Drive-in
6655 S. Transit Road (Route 78)
Lockport, N.Y.

The Mustang Drive-in
2551 Wilton Grove Road
London, Ontario

Corry Drive-in
11510 U.S. Route 6
Corry, Pa.

Back to top

Take a Hike

From a short (and flat) stroll to hillier terrain, it’s up to you to choose your challenge.

South Point Trail at Rondeau Provincial Park (4.97 miles)
Walk along the peaceful beach or trail while heading to the southernmost tip of the park. Take in the scenery, including raccoons, tulip trees, and more than 300 different species of birds, which migrate through every year. Rondeau Provincial Park, R.R. 1 (Hwy. 15), Morpeth, Ontario

Deer Lick Nature Sanctuary in Zoar Valley (5 miles)
This trail guides you through hemlock forests, past waterfalls and leisurely meadows, and into canyons where you will find red-shouldered hawks and bald eagles soaring above. A favorite among adventurers, Zoar Valley has something for everyone: rafting, bird watching, even swimming. Zoar Valley Nature Society, Gowanda, N.Y.,

Buckeye Trail at Hinckley Reservation (6 miles)
The trail measures 1,444 total miles throughout Ohio, but we’re suggesting only a hilly, 6-mile stretch that takes you to the 40-foot-tall Whipps Ledges for a spectacular view of the reservation. Look out for buzzards, which make their way back to Hinckley Reservation every spring. 904 Bellus Road, Hinckley, Ohio, 216-635-3200

Cherry Island Marsh Trail at Lake Erie Metropark (1.6 miles)
Whether strolling the paved terrain, boardwalk or bridge on this scenic trail, you’ll get great views of surrounding cattail marshes and a string of remaining wild islands on Lake Erie. The Canadian coastline is visible on any day, no matter the weather. 32481 W. Jefferson Ave., Brownstown, Mich.

Back to top

Enjoy an Ice Cream Cone

Sure, the birds are singing and the temperatures are soaring, but, for me, summer doesn’t begin until that first long-awaited lick of mint chocolate chip from Honey Hut Ice Cream Shoppe at Huntington Beach in Bay Village, Ohio.

After soaking in the sun for hours, watching little girls squirrel away spiral sea shells in the bottoms of their shirts while their brothers pack wet sand into clumsy castles fraught with building code violations, I climb the steep cement steps to the snack bar. By the time I get there, sweating, wheezing, the scent of sizzling steak from grills surrounding me, I couldn’t care less about calories or fat grams.

I slide $2.50 across the counter, then bounce back down those stairs to sit at the end of the breakwall. As waves lap the rock beneath me, it doesn’t seem so long ago that I was that little girl looking for treasure in the sand. —Miranda Miller

Other great places to enjoy a cup, cone or sundae:

Sara’s •
25 Peninsula Drive, Erie, Pa.

Twins Ice Cream Parlour
28 Main St.,
Port Rowan, Ontario

Honey Hut Ice Cream Shoppe
28624 Lake Road,
Bay Village, Ohio

Toft’s •
3717 Venice Road,
Sandusky, Ohio

4002 E. Harbor Road,
Port Clinton, Ohio

Back to top

Ride a Boat

There’s a ride for every price range, whether you want to shell out less than $20 or several million.

$17 Buffalo Harbor Cruises

Wind down after a long week by gliding along Lake Erie, down the Niagara River and above the Falls during happy hour. There’s a DJ, some light snacks and a full cash bar. The Erie Basin Marina, Buffalo, N.Y., 716-856-6696,

$480 (for six hours) Clayton Charters

Cruise Lake Erie in the evening with Bill Clayton aboard a 37-foot power boat, ideal for families and small private parties looking to go to Put-in-Bay, Cedar Point or beyond. Clayton Charters, 734-675-3142,

$4.3 million (base price) Maritimo 73 Motoryacht

With four staterooms, walk-in closets and his and her bathrooms, this 81-foot cruising yacht is decked out. (Intrigued?) Lakeside Marine, 419-732-7160,

Back to top