7 Lake Erie Beaches You’ll Want to Visit This Summer

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Plan your trip to one of these Lake Erie beaches! Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline offers sandy beaches, swimming, kayaking, beautiful sunsets and more for your next Ohio road trip!

Lake Erie became a popular destination for our family once we had kids! Having two young children who did not particularly enjoy car rides, we started to look for vacation destinations that felt like a getaway but were only an hour or two away!

We began to fall in love with the midwest charm of the cities and towns along Lake Erie! And instead of driving 8+ hours to find a beach, we found several beaches along Ohio’s coast that felt almost just as good as the ocean! Plus there were no jellyfish or sharks!

Over the past several years we have travelled to the Lake Erie shores again and again! From East to West, we’ve covered a lot of ground. I’ve collected some recommendations from our travels in 7 Lake Erie Vacation Ideas That Are Perfect for Families! This post specifically focuses on the beaches of Lake Erie!

Lake Erie beach at Headlands Beach State Park.

Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve

What You Need to Know When Visiting the Beaches of Lake Erie

Before planning your perfect day at the beach, here are some things you should know before you go!

Can you swim in Lake Erie?

Generally speaking, Lake Erie beaches are safe to swim in. However, at times algal blooms or toxins may be at unsafe levels. The Ohio Department of Health provides regular updates on the status of any public health advisories at Ohio beaches on this website

Some Lake Erie beaches have lifeguards on duty, others do not. It’s best not to swim alone and always stay within designated swimming areas.

How long is the Lake Erie shoreline?

Ohio can claim over 300 miles of Lake Erie shoreline! From east to west, there is so much to explore on Lake Erie!

What is the nicest beach on Lake Erie?

Certainly that title is up for grabs! We have personally visited each of the Lake Erie Beaches on this list and they do vary widely in size, nearby activities, sand quality and picturesque views.

Main Street Beach in Vermillion has always been one of our favorites! Edgewater Beach in Cleveland is home to a really fun playground and where the lake meets the shore, the sand is smooth and not too rocky. But really, it’s hard to go too wrong at any of these Lake Erie beaches!

boardwalk at fairport harbor beach.

Fairport Harbor Beach

7 Lake Erie Beaches to Visit This Summer:

You won’t have to drive far! Scroll through this list of beautiful beaches on Lake Erie to plan your next trip to the beach! 

1. Main Street Beach

  • Address: Main St. at Lake Erie, Vermilion, OH 44089

boys playing on the Lake Erie Beach in Vermilion Ohio

The Main Street Beach in downtown Vermilion is at the north end of Main Street. There is parking up and down Main St. You may have to park a couple of blocks away. We always plan to go on a weekday so it is not as crowded. 

In front of the beach is an observation deck, outdoor spigot for rinsing off and a beach shack. The small beach shack is called Shore Thing and in it you can purchase snacks, ice cream and beach jewelry. You can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas here.

people on Main Street Beach in Vermilion Ohio - Lake Erie

We have visited Vermilion several times and always find ourselves doing the same thing over and over because we love it so much! You can read more about what we do in Vermilion here: How to Have the Perfect Day at the Beach in Vermilion, Ohio.

2. Port Clinton City Beach

  • 1100 E. Perry St., Port Clinton, Ohio 43452

boy on the lake erie beach in Port Clinton, Ohio

This free, public beach in Port Clinton is a nice little beach on Lake Erie. There are picnic areas, restrooms and changing area, and an ice cream shop near by! And the beach is at the end of a great park called Lakeview Park. 

lake erie beach at port clinton, Ohio

Port Clinton and the Sandusky area is home to a lot of fun activities for families! Beyond the beach, read about the cool playground at Lakeview Park plus more things to do in the area here: Lake Erie: 15 Fun Things to do with Kids Near Sandusky, Ohio!

3. Lakeside Beach

  • Address: 236 Walnut Ave., Lakeside, OH 43440 

lake erie beach in lakeside, Ohio.

The beach at Lakeside is small, but you can play (or lay) in the sand and swim in the lake and there are lifeguards on duty.  Lakeside is a gated community and a pass is required to enter. Daily passes can be purchased and a visit to the beach is included in that price.

sunset on Lake Erie at Lakeside, Ohio.

Lakeside is a beautiful community – it’s home to Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile, in fact! It’s one of those places that make you say, “Wow! I can’t believe I’m in Ohio!”. Read more about it here: Exploring Ohio with Kids: Lakeside.

4. Maumee Bay State Park

  • Address: 1750 State Park Road #2, Oregon, OH 43616 

two boys on the beach at Maumee Bay State Park.

This beautiful Lake Erie beach is at Maumee Bay State Park on the northwest corner of Ohio. This beach is free to visit! Maumee Bay State Park also includes hiking trails, a marina, a Nature Center and is home to Maumee Bay Lodge and Conference Center.

lake erie beach at Maumee Bay State Park.

We stayed for several nights at the lodge and really enjoyed our time spent in the northwest corner of Ohio!

5. Headlands Beach State Park

  • Address: 9601 Headlands Rd, Mentor, OH 44060

beach area at Headlands Beach State Park.

The beach at Headlands Beach State Park is the largest natural sand beach in Ohio! This Lake Erie beach is a mile long and definitely had a more natural feel than some of the other beaches on Lake Erie. Adjacent to the swimming beach is Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve which is home to rare (for Lake Erie) sand dunes.

lake erie beach in Mentor Ohio.

The sand area here is large, but closer to the lake the terrain gets very rocky. There is a lot of area to spread out on a blanket and enjoy the sand and the sound of the waves hitting the shore!

6. Edgewater Beach

  • Address: 7600 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway, Cleveland, OH 44102 

two boys playing in sand at Edgewater Beach in Cleveland.

Edgewater Beach is just east of Downtown Cleveland and is part of the Cleveland Metro Parks. There’s a great playground in the park and the park is home to one of the famous “Cleveland” signs. This Lake Erie beach is located in the lower portion of the park.

lake erie beach at Edgewater Park in Cleveland, Ohio.

Compared to some of the other beaches, Edgewater Beach is less rocky and has a smooth sand entrance to the lake. As you can see in the picture above, when we visited the “No Swimming” flags were up due to water conditions at the time. You can check their website for swimming status updates. 

Edgewater Beach is a 2400 foot beach and the western part is dog friendly. Nearby is the Edgewater Beach House with concessions, a rooftop bar, restrooms and a picnic area. The Cleveland Metroparks Nature Shop sells snacks and rents out chairs, umbrellas, cabanas and volleyballs.

7. Fairport Harbor Beach

  • Address: 301 Huntington Beach Dr, Fairport Harbor, OH 44077

lake erie beach at Fairport Harbor, Ohio.

Fairport Harbor Beach is around 30 miles east of Cleveland and just on the other side of the Grand River from Headlands Beach. Part of Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park (one of the Lake Metroparks), the area is home to a playground, concession stand and picnic areas.

kayaks on the beach at Fairport Harbor, Ohio.

There may be a fee to enter the park. At the time of writing no fees were collected on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but a parking charge of $2 for Lake County residents and $3 for non-residents is collected Thursdays through Mondays.

Kayaks and Stand-Up Paddleboards are available to rent during the summer season.

I hope this list helps you plan your next trip to a Lake Erie Beach! Bookmark this post or save this post on Pinterest so you can come back to it when you need a little Ohio road trip inspiration! 

Need more ideas?

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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Lake Erie Beaches in Ohio.

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Get Outdoors with these 8 Fun Activities at Pleasant Hill Lake Park

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Whether it’s camping, boating or swimming at the beach, outdoor activities abound at Pleasant Hill Lake State Park in Perrysville, Ohio!

Thank you to Ohio. Find It Here. for sponsoring this post.

My family recently partnered with Ohio. Find It Here., Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District and Charles Mill Marina to spend a few days camping, boating and exploring the area!

This was our first time taking our kids tent camping! I’ll admit, I was nervous but excited! Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect with them, the boys seemed like a good age for it and they were excited about sleeping in a tent! 

two boys in front of a tent at Pleasant Hill Lake Park.

I have to say, after it was all said and done, it went even better than I expected and we made a lot of fun family memories in the process!

Where is Pleasant Hill Lake Park?

Pleasant Hill Lake Park is on the northern edge of Pleasant Hill Lake, nestled between Mohican State Park and Malabar Farm State Park. The park is just an hour and 15 minutes from downtown Columbus!

Pleasant Hill Lake Marina.

The area, known as Mohican Country, is filled with outdoor adventures, up-close encounters with nature and opportunities to unplug and relax.

How much does it cost to enter Pleasant Hill Lake Park?

Park Entry Fees are charged Memorial Day through Labor Day only. After paying admission, you are free to enjoy the trails picnic areas and swimming beach. Fees are charged per car: $5 for a single occupant and $10 for 2 or more passengers.

What is there to do at Pleasant Hill Lake Park?

Our camping trip was a good mix of relaxing around the campfire and getting active and enjoying some outdoor activities! Let’s explore some of the fun things there are to do at the park!

1. Boating and Fishing

two boys on a pontoon boat at Pleasant Hill Lake.

We took a pontoon boat out first thing in the morning of our first full day. Pontoon boating is something our family really enjoys! My husband and boys did some fishing and we enjoyed watching blue herons along the shore.

two boys and father with a fish.

The pontoon boats available for rent at Pleasant Hill Marina are super nice! Pontoon boats have come a long way in their time and these boats have padded seating, a roof for shade and creature comforts like bluetooth and radio!

Pleasant Hill Lake Dam in Mohican Country.

On the southeast end of the lake you will find Pleasant Hill Dam. It was fun to see it from this side since we had hiked down the other side of it in Mohican State Park this spring!

Two boys standing in front of Pleasant Hill Lake Marina.

If you’re interested in renting a pontoon boat, Pleasant Hill Marina offers rentals on Standard, Deluxe, Ski and Cruise Pontoons! Full and Half Day time slots are available as well as sunset rentals! We were able to take our boat back out in the evening for a sunset cruise and watch ospreys dive into the water to catch their dinner as the sun was setting!

2. Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddleboards

Want to get even closer to the water? Kayaks and Stand Up Paddle Boards are available to rent at the marina! We took two two-person kayaks out for a spin on our second morning at the lake! This was another first for us! The boys were brave and managed to even do a little steering of the kayaks out on the water!

paddle boards and kayaks for rent at Pleasant Hill Lake Marina.

Make sure to pick up a Hidden History Kayak Trail  Map at the Welcome Center before you go for a 5 mile self-guided tour along the lakeshore that takes you to historical spots along the water’s edge. 

3. The WhoaZone

A big hit for kids is the new WhoaZone, an inflatable obstacle course on the lake! Kids can jump, slide and climb, splashing into the lake on a hot summer day!

boy standing on the beach in front of the Whoa Zone at Pleasant Hill Lake.

The Whoa Zone can be found on a separate but adjacent portion of the beach that requires admission to enter. Kids must be 7 years old and 45” tall in order to enter. Each session is 60 minutes long and includes a 10 minute safety orientation. Life jackets are provided.

The Whoa Zone at Pleasant Hill Lake Park.

Shaded seating with an umbrella is also available to rent! This is definitely an added perk!

4. Swimming Beach

The Whoa Zone at Pleasant Hill Lake Park in Perrysville Ohio.

I grew up going to the beach at Pleasant Hill Lake as a kid so it was fun to come back as an adult with my own kids! Beach admission is included with your entrance to Pleasant Hill Park so it’s also a beach you can visit just for the day, even if you are not camping!

The kids loved playing in the sand and we also enjoyed walking to the beach in the mornings when things were quiet and still!

5. Hiking Trails

There are 6 hiking trails within Pleasant Hill Lake Park including the Bluebird Trail with 9 bluebird nesting boxes. If you have a horse, there are also trails for horseback riding! Pick up a map at the Welcome Center for all locations.

If you’re interested in hiking through the nearby State Parks, there are connector trails to Mohican State Park and Malabar Farm!

6. Birdwatching

Though birdwatching could easily be included in several of the above activities, it’s worth mentioning as an activity on its own! 

Bald eagles and osprey nest around Pleasant Hill Lake. In fact, the park has five osprey nesting platforms installed which makes them easy to spot. One easy one to find is right at the beach near the WhoaZone!

Osprey nest platform in Pleasant Hill Lake Park.

The eagles and ospreys are most active in the early morning and evening. As I mentioned above, we were mesmerized watching the osprey dive into the water to find their dinner while on our sunset cruise!

Other bird watching opportunities include the Bird Observation Window at the Welcome Center and the Bluebird Trail.

7. Camping

camping site with picnic table at Pleasant Hill Lake Park.

Pleasant Hill Lake Park has close to 500 campsites available for tent and RV campers. We stayed in the lot closest to the lake which offered easy walking access to the beach, trails and Welcome Center! Each site includes a concrete pad, a fire ring and a picnic table.

family roasting marshmallows at Pleasant Hill Lake Park.

Probably the best part about tent camping was waking up to singing birds in the morning. If you’re not a morning person, bring ear plugs! But if you want to experience what it would be like to wake up in a songbird aviary, you’re in luck! It was just incredible!

shower house at Pleasant Hill Lake Park.

The shower house was a 5 minute walk from our campsite and was VERY modern and nice! I felt comfortable and clean showering here! There is also a family shower room that is bigger and has lots of room for helping your kids get dressed and ready.

8. Exploring the Welcome Center

Make sure to leave a little time to explore the Welcome Center where there are a lot of educational and historical displays, animal pelts and resident creatures to visit!

two boys looking at the fish wall at the Welcome Center at Pleasant Hill Lake Park.

The Fish Mural Wall includes mountings of local fish species and you can see other native Ohio animals on display on the walls! On the screen in the Welcome Center you can watch a 6 minute orientation video to learn about the history of the area!

inside the Welcome Center at Pleasant Hill Lake Park.


Where to Eat Near Pleasant Hill Lake Park:

1. Phase Two Pizza

boy eating Phase Two Pizza in Perrysville Ohio.

Phase Two Pizza is a great option for dinner while staying at the campground! This local pizza shop is just 6 minutes from Pleasant Hill Lake Campground and is a take-out only pizza shop that also serves subs, wings, gyros, pasta and more!

We picked up pizza on our first night and it made for a great, easy dinner after getting the tent set up and settled in! The pizza was a hit with our family!

2. Malabar Farm Restaurant

If you’re looking to get away from camp for a nice dinner, head to Malabar Farm Restaurant. Author Louis Bromfield made his home at Malabar Farm and dreamed of opening a restaurant at this very location. Though that didn’t happen in his lifetime, he did sell fresh produce at a market stand right at this spot!

Malabar Farm Restaurant.

Check out the Niman Spring on the property that pours forth over 2,000 gallons per hour. Rumor has it that Johnny Appleseed stopped to drink from the spring on his travels!

boy eating at Malabar Farm Restaurant.

The menu has French influences and there are three Kids Meal options including grilled cheese, corn dog and cheeseburger!

3. MooMali’s Perrysville Drive In

boy ordering at MooMali's in Perrysville, Ohio.

If you’re looking for a quick stop for take out food or ice cream, check out MooMali’s in Perrysville. Formerly the Perrysville Drive-In, as a child, we stopped here many times on our trips to the beach! This is another (mainly) to-go spot though you may be lucky enough to snag a picnic table outside!

All in all, I consider our first family camping trip a success! I dare say we may even do it again this year! Pleasant Hill Lake Park is a great spot for camping and outdoor adventures and the bonus is it’s just a quick drive from Columbus!

Related: 25 Super Fun Things to do in Ohio with Kids

things to do this weekend in columbus ohio

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Your Guide to Exploring Mohican State Park in Loudonville, Ohio

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Mohican State Park in Loudonville, Ohio offers everything you love in a State Park: Hiking, Camping, Fishing and Gorgeous Scenery!

Let me start by saying that Mohican State Park is absolutely stunning in the fall. It’s just drop dead gorgeous at every turn! If you can visit in the fall, I highly recommend!

But, you should also know that Mohican is full of summer adventures! I grew up 30 minutes from Mohican State Park and it was the go-to destination for canoeing every summer when I was a teenager! As a kid, we spent summer days boating on Pleasant Hill Lake and as far as I was concerned, Mohican was “the beach”!

It was fun to come back to visit the park a couple of times in the past year and see it as an adult. I had never spent much time inside the actual state park. I hadn’t really done any hiking or spent much time seeing any of the park destinations.

fall color trees along the road in Mohican State Park.

History of Mohican State Park

Mohican State Park is within the Mohican-Memorial State Forest which covers 4,541 acres. The park and the surrounding area were initially home and hunting grounds for the Delaware Native Americans. The park was developed in 1949. 

Clearfork Gorge Area at Mohican State Park.

Did you know that Mohican State Park was originally named Clear Fork State Park? It was renamed in 1966 because there is another Clear Fork Park in Mansfield.

Points of Interest at Mohican State Park

Read on to explore some of the can’t miss destinations within Mohican State Park! Reference this map of the park as you go!

view of the Mohican River in the fall.

1. Clear Fork Gorge

view of fall trees from Clearfork Gorge in Mohican State Park.

Clear Fork Gorge is 1000 feet wide and over 300 feet deep and is filled with white pine and eastern hemlock trees. The gorge is a National Natural Landmark and is believed to have formed 14-24,000 years ago by glacial meltwater. 

steps going down to the Overlook at Clear Fork Gorge.

The Clear Fork Gorge is home to two overlooks and a picnic area. There is a paved path along the gorge, in-between the two overlooks. You absolutely must visit here in the fall! The ability to overlook the amazing colors of the gorge from the top is not to be missed!

view of fall foliage from Clear Fork Gorge in Mohican State Park.

2. Mohican Fire Tower

Mohican Fire Tower.

Let’s start by saying the Fire Tower at Mohican State Park is a bit rickety. I’m putting that mildly. The Fire Tower was built in 1934 and stands 80 feet tall.

In 2021 it was not open to climb, but I do know many people that have climbed it in the past. I’m not sure if or when it will reopen to climbing in the future. But it is an interesting sight to see in the park.

Mohican Fire Tower Fire Danger Sign.

There are also some educational signs on the tower that describe the history of forest fire management in Ohio!

3. Covered Bridge

Covered bridge at Mohican State Park in Loudonville Ohio.

The Covered Bridge at Mohican is one of the most recognizable points of interest in the park! The covered bridge crosses the Clearfork-Mohican River and you can drive over it and/or park in one of the lots next to it to walk over it. The bridge has a pedestrian path on each side.

view of the covered bridge across the river at Mohican.

7. Vista Overlook

Vista Overlook at Mohican State Park.

This Vista Overlook area is in the Group Camp area. Look for signs for Vista Overlook and drive back to the end of the road. There will be a short hiking path back to the overlook with a single picnic table.

mom and two boys at the Vista Overlook in Mohican State Park.

We visited here in April. I would have loved to see this spot in the fall!

8. Ohio Memorial Forest Shrine

path leading to Ohio Memorial Forest Shrine in Mohican State Park.

The Memorial Forest Shrine commemorates Ohioans that were killed in conflict since World War II.

Inside the Ohio Memorial Forest Shrine at Mohican State Park.

When the Mohican-Memorial Forest was formed in 1945, at the act authorized Ohio Federation of Women’s Clubs to build a shrine in the Memorial Forest Park.

boy looking at the books under glass at the Ohio Memorial Forest Shrine.

The shrine is open 7 days a week , 8:00 AM-5:00 PM.

9. Pleasant Hill Dam

boy walking on the bridge at Pleasant Hill Dam in Mohican State Park.

The Pleasant Hill Dam at Pleasant Hill Lake offers a picturesque view of the lake and a great place to stop and have a picnic. There are nice looking restrooms here, too, but they were closed in 2021. 

If you’re interested in seeing what more there is to do on the water, check out our camping trip to Pleasant Hill Lake Park!

Pleasant Hill Dam in Mohican State Park.

You can walk out on the bridge overlooking the lake or take a hike down the other side of the dam (see the pictures below under “Hiking”)!

Things to do at Mohican State Park

1. Fishing

Mohican River.

Fishing is allowed in Mohican’s waterways including Wolf Creek, Clear Fork River and Pleasant Hill Lake. An Ohio fishing license is required for those 16 and older. Read Ohio’s fishing regulations before visiting.

2. Hiking 

hiking trail at mohican state park.

Mohican has 9 hiking trails that range from easy to difficult. Points of interest on the trails include Big Lyons Falls and Little Lyons Falls, the Grist Mill and a shoreline trail along Pleasant Hill Lake.

Hikers are also allowed on the bridle trails and mountain biking trails.

boy walking up the steps of Pleasant Hill Dam at Mohican State Park.

180 some steps lead up the side of the Pleasant Hill Dam. You can do these steps as part of the trail to Lyon’s Falls or the Pleasant Hill Trail from the Covered Bridge. Or you can climb them on their own as part of your visit to the dam.

3. Canoeing 

The area around the park has developed into its own kind of adventure-land with Mohican Adventures Fun Center offering an Ariel Park, Go-Karts, Adventure Golf as well as Canoeing, Kayaking, Rafting and Tubing! Mohican Adventures is just one of the many area businesses offering canoeing, kayaking and tubing on the river!

4. Camping

Mohican State Park Campground offers all kinds of camping options! They have deluxe cabins, camper cabins, full hook-up for RV’s and electric and non-electric camp sites. Reservations are required. 

5. Boating

Boating is available at Pleasant Hill Lake, which is part of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District. There are no horsepower limits on the lake. 

Where to Eat Near Mohican State Park

Black Fork Bistro

woman standing in front of mural at Black Fork Bistro in downtown Loudonville.

If you’re looking for a nice sit down or take out option, try out Black Fork Bistro in downtown Loudonville! There are a variety of choices from sandwiches to burgers to pizza to fancier entrees. My husband and I picked up sandwiches here for a picnic before visiting last fall.

sandwich and tots from Black Fork Bistro.

Where to Stay near Mohican State Park

If you’re looking for options to stay in or near Mohican State Park, check out these links for more information! My husband and I have stayed at Black Creek Retreat and it was the perfect getaway, but best for 2 people. I haven’t personally stayed at any of the others yet, but the ones I have listed here are places I that have come recommended by people I know personally!

Things to do Near Mohican State Park

1. Riverside Park

  • Address: Birch Dr. at Pendelton St., Loudonville, OH 44842

Riverside Park near mohican state park.

We discovered this cute little park when visiting during the spring of 2021. The farm theme is lots of fun and there are a couple of different areas to play! There is a pavilion area for picnics, an area for younger kids, swings, picnic tables and more.

2. Malabar Farm State Park

  • Address: 4050 Bromfield Rd., Lucas, OH 44843

Malabar Farm near Mohican State Park.

Malabar Farm State Park is only about 12 minutes from Mohican State Park! This property was the home of author Louis Bromfield and is a working farm. This is a great place to visit if your kids love animals! 

3. Mt. Jeez Overlook

  • Address: look for signs in Malabar Park. Entrance is on Pleasant Valley Rd. in Perrysville, Ohio.

two boys on top of Mt. Jeez Overlook near Mohican State Park.

Part of Malabar Farm State Park, but easy to visit separately from the park, Mt. Jeez Overlook is a winding drive to the top of the mountain with a breathtaking view as your reward!

4. Ohio Bird Sanctuary

  • Address: 3774 Orweiler Rd, Mansfield, OH 44903

boy feeding a bird at Ohio Bird Sanctuary.

A little bit further out, about 25 miles from Mohican State Park is Ohio Bird Sanctuary, home to rescued birds, hiking paths, a natural play area and a songbird aviary. If you’re vacationing in the area for several days, this would be worth a visit in Mansfield, Ohio!

Are you ready to plan your visit to Mohican State Park? I hope so! There is a lot to see and do in the park! I hope you enjoy your visit!

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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