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5 Beaches in Ohio to Visit this Summer!

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Beaches in Ohio?! Yes, it’s true! If  you’re looking for a beach getaway without having to travel far, check out one of these 5 Ohio beaches!

Every summer it seems I get the craving to vacation by water.  A trip to the actual ocean isn’t always a possibility, so we have found some work arounds for a day at the beach! Our family has gone to Lake Erie almost every summer for the past 5 years or so. Lake Erie is obviously Ohio’s largest body of water, but there are beaches in other areas of the state as well!

Enjoy a Day Out at One of these 5 Ohio Beaches:

These are all public beaches that are free to visit! Pick out one of these destinations and enjoy a day on the water: put your toes in the sand, build a sandcastle and don’t forget the sunscreen!

Disclaimer: please check with each location individually for changes during the 2020 season.

1. Alum Creek State Park Beach

  • 3305 S Old State Rd., Delaware, OH 43015 

Alum Creek Park Beach shoreline

Alum Creek is Ohio’s largest inland beach, measuring 3,000 feet of shore. Changing rooms are available and there is a playground area on the beach. The beach is open during daylight hours. Boating and fishing are also allowed on the water. 

2. Tappan Lake

  • 84000 Mallarnee Rd., Deersville, OH 44693

people on beach at Tappan Lake in Ohio

Tappan Lake is part of the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District and is inside Tappan Lake Park in Deersville, Ohio. The beach is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Large inflatable toys and slides are permanently in the water. There are changing rooms and a concession stand on site. Check out this map for the exact location of the beach. 

3. Main Street Beach, Vermillion

  • Main St., Vermilion, OH 44089

people on Main Street Beach in Vermillion, Ohio

Vermillion is a beautiful city on Lake Erie. What is distinctive about this city is the canals that run through part of the residential neighborhoods! The beach is one of the smaller ones on the list but it is made up for by the charm of the city! 

Main Street Beach is is at the north end of Main Street and has a lighthouse and observation platform. The closest changing area and restroom is a couple of blocks south so keep that in mind! A shop that rents beach umbrellas and sells snacks and other items is onsite. 

Woodstock Cafe is our favorite restaurant in the town with a great outdoor patio and we always get ice cream at Main Street Soda Grill.

4. Port Clinton City Beach

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

boy digging in sand on  Port Clinton City Beach, Ohio

The Port Clinton City Beach is at the end of a great park called Liberty Park which has an amazing accessible playground with a nautical theme! There are picnic areas, restrooms and changing area, and an ice cream shop near by! 

5. Salt Fork State Park

shoreline at Salt Fork State Park Beach

Salt Fork State Park is Ohio’s largest state park! When you enter the park it will be at least a 10 minute drive to the beach! The beach covers 2500 feet and is relatively large! There is also a nice grassy area with trees and picnic tables adjacent to the beach. There are changing rooms and showers on site as well as a mini-golf course! (both are closed for the 2020 season.)

Exploring Columbus with Your Kids

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Exploring Ohio with Kids: Lakeside

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If you’re looking for a slow-paced and peaceful family vacation on the lake, make plans to visit Lakeside, Ohio, a perfectly picturesque town on Lake Erie where there is a little something for everyone in the family! 

Thanks to Lakeside Chautauqua for sponsoring this post.

How to Plan a Kid Friendly Trip to Lakeside, Ohio:

Boats lined up at Lakeside Ohio

When we were invited to visit Lakeside Chautauqua, I really had no idea what to expect. My family has vacationed several times on Lake Erie and we had driven by the entrance to Lakeside many times, but other than knowing that it cost money to get in, the rest of the details remained a mystery.

We met our Lakeside contact, Lizzie, at the entrance and she drove my family on a tour of the town on a golf cart. I have to admit I was shocked!! Lakeside was not at all what I had expected (for some reason I pictured a simple campground) and it blew away my expectations!

bikes parked in Lakeside, Ohio

As we drove through the quaint town filled with golf carts and kids on bicycles, I felt like we were at the seaside in New England. I felt like we were on the coast of California. I felt like we had stepped back in time to Mayberry. By the time our 48 hours in Lakeside ended, we were IN LOVE!

Where is Lakeside?

the shoreline in Lakeside, Ohio

You may hear Lakeside be referred to by a few names: Lakeside Chautauqua and Lakeside Marblehead being the two most frequent. Lakeside is located on the north side of the Marblehead Peninsula, not far from the Marblehead Lighthouse and the ferry to Put-In-Bay.

What is a Chautauqua?

A Chautauqua is a community that “provides spiritual, cultural, intellectual and recreational programs designed to nurture the mind, body and spirit.” Lakeside was originally formed by the Methodist Church in 1863, a pioneer of the Chautauqua Movement.

Lakeside continues to hold a robust schedule of speakers, services, performances and entertainment with spiritual and educational themes, though you do not need to be of a particular religion or denomination in order to visit and attendance at any of these events is 100% optional.

What is there to do at Lakeside?

Here’s where the fun begins! The fun at Lakeside doesn’t involve neon lights, beeping or flashing lights. It’s simple, classic. It’s the perfect place to take your kids to enjoy some “good old-fashioned fun” as they say. Here are some of the ways to play at Lakeside:

1. Miniature Golf

boy playing mini golf in lakeside ohio

Enjoy 18 holes of Mini Golf for just $3.50/person. Kids 5 and under are free. The course is shaded and the views from the green are stunning. 

2. Lakeside Beach

Lakeside beach in 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.

3. Kids Pool and Splash Pad

boys in kiddie pool at Lakeside Ohio

If the beach isn’t your kids’ thing – check out the kids pool and splash pad nearby! My kids loved this pool and could have floated around in it forever if we didn’t have dinner reservations!

boys playing in splash pad in Lakeside Ohio

4. Playgrounds

supervised playground at Lakeside Ohio

There are a couple of playground areas within Lakeside! There are 3 open playgrounds and the Grindley Playground which is a supervised playground. Yes, you read that right. You can check your kids (ages 4-7) in at this fenced in playground while you enjoy some kid-free time!

boys in sandbox at lakeside ohio

The large sandbox at Grindley Playground was a definite hit with my boys!

5. The Grindley Aquatic Wellness Campus Pool

pool at Lakeside, Ohio

This pool and wellness center is a recent addition to Lakeside. Exercise machines and classes are offered at the Wellness Center and the pool is amazing! With a zero entry and fountains at one end and twisty water slides at the other, this pool can be enjoyed by all. The pool does not get any deeper than 3.5 feet, which makes it pretty family-friendly.

boys standing next to pool at lakeside ohio

There are showers, changing rooms and lots of seating at this pool, but snacks are not sold. Make sure to bring your own if your kids are like mine and need a snack every 3.5 seconds.

6. Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile 

boy walking ohio's most beautiful mile, Lakeside

This was probably my favorite thing we did at Lakeside. When walking this shoreline path I could not help but think that Ohio is just severely underrated. I felt like I was plucked up and dropped down into a vacation paradise. It’s hard to be anything but happy in this environment!

ohio's most beautiful mile, Lakeside

7. Sports Activities 

boys playing basketball in Lakeside, Ohio

Throughout Lakeside you will find sand volleyball courts, basketball courts (they even had a hoop at kid level!), tennis courts and shuffleboard, just to name a few. Shuffleboard is apparently huge at Lakeside! Who knew?!

shuffleboard courts at Lakeside, Ohio

8. Ottawa County’s Only Movie Theater

Ottawa County's only movie theater

Orchestra Hall is the only movie theater in the whole county! Movies are shown twice a day during the summer and do require an additional ticket fee. Check the link for movies and times.

9. Shopping

lakeside ohio business district

The Business District is home to several cute shops and restaurants (more on restaurants later). We didn’t have time for a lot of shopping but there are a handful of cute shops where you can pick up your latest souvenir or hand crafted gift. We did make stop in The Fine Print, an adorable book store on Walnut Ave.

the fine print bookstore at Lakeside Ohio

Downtown is also home to the Lakeside Farmer’s Market which takes place from 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM on Tuesday and Friday.

10. Walk the Dock

boys on the dock at Lakeside, Ohio

The dock is home to several of the aforementioned activists: the beach and the kids pool and splash pad, but it’s also a great spot to watch the sunset or take a walk! We made it just in time for the sunset!

boy watching the sun set at lakeside Ohio

Are there restaurants at Lakeside?

Yes! There are 8 brick and mortar restaurants to satisfy your cravings! At least 3 of those serve ice cream, so my family was in heaven! 

1. Bluebird Cafe

lakeside ohio bluebird cafe

A whole-foods cafe with smoothies. Also a great option for taking food to-go!

2. Hotel Lakeside Dining Room and Cafe

food at Hotel Lakeside

Probably the most “fancy” option in Lakeside, though I still wore shorts and a tank top. Great views from the dining room and the porch is awesome!

3. Lago Coastal Cafe

Total California vibes going on at the newest dining location in Lakeside. The fries are amazing and make sure to try one of the Lago Fizz specialty drinks!

boy holding up french fry at Lago Coastal Cafe in Lakeside, Ohio

4. Coffee & Cream

Coffee and Cream restaurant at Lakeside, Ohio

Get your caffeine fix here – as well as hand dipped ice cream and soft serve!

ice cream cone from Coffee and Cream, Lakeside Ohio

5. Ooh La La! Fine Food – Fine Art

sandwich at ooh la la fine food and fine art in Lakeside Ohio

This is a great lunch spot – go for the box option (for adults and kids) which includes chips, a cookie and a drink!

6. Sloopy’s Sports Cafe

boy eating pizza at Sloopy's Cafe in Lakeside, Ohio

Fellow Buckeyes will appreciate this OSU themed restaurant with a huge menu. We loved the pizza!

7. The Patio Restaurant

powdered donut from The Patio in Lakeside, Ohio

I got lots of messages on Instagram telling me to get the donuts from The Patio! Done. And yum. They also serve ice cream and food!

8. Whistle Stop Ice Cream

Whistle Stop is another ice cream option that also serves gourmet popcorn!

What kind of entertainment is scheduled at Lakeside?

Lakeside Chautauqua hosts an impressive list of nationally renowned speakers and performers! The night we left, comedian Brian Regan was performing and we were super bummed to miss him! These performances, held at Hoover Auditorium, are included in your Day Pass cost – which is a steal for most of the performances! Other well-known 2019 performers included Amy Grant, Wynonna, Three Dog Night, OSU Alumni Band and many more! Check out the list of upcoming entertainers.

Each summer there is also a Lecture Series, running from mid June through the end of August. Each week there is a new theme. 2019 themes included: “Guns, Kids and the Media,” “The Legacy of F. Scott Fitzgerald,” “Seeking Peace in a Multi-Faith World” and more. Lectures can be attended every day at 10:30 AM  Check out the current Lecture Series.

gazebo at Lakeside, Ohio

In addition to larger known acts you can enjoy performances from the Lakeside Symphony Orchestra, classes for all ages in music, art, nature, history and science, story times, movies and so much more! There is so much to take advantage of – it’s nearly impossible to list here! Make sure to check the Lakeside Programs web page before planning your visit!

Where can I stay at Lakeside?

front porch at Hotel Lakeside

The porch at Hotel Lakeside

Lakeside is home to two hotels: Hotel Lakeside and The Fountain Inn. My family was hosted at The Fountain Inn. Beyond hotels, there are private cottages for rent, inns, bed and breakfasts, and a campground. Take a look at the various accommodation options at Lakeside here. It should also be mentioned that you don’t need to spend the night to visit Lakeside, but you will still need to purchase a Day Pass.

The Fountain Inn at Lakeside, Ohio

hotel room at The Fountain Inn, Lakeside, Ohio

The Fountain Inn

How much does it cost to enter Lakeside?

golf carts and flowers at lakeside, Ohio

A Chautauqua Pass is required to enter the Lakeside community. A daily pass, which is valid from the time of purchase until 7:00 PM the next day, will give you access to the town, the pool and all evening shows at the Hoover Auditorium. There is an additional pass needed to park your car in one of the parking lots or to take your car into Lakeside.

A Daily Chautauqua Pass costs:

  • $24.50 for adults.
  • $16.25 for youth ages 13-24
  • Free for kids 12 and under and adults 90 and over!

Passes can be purchased online but make sure to allow up to 14 days for your pass to arrive in the mail. Alternatively, you can choose to have your pass held at Will Call or you can buy your pass when you arrive. (Friday and Saturday passes cost $30 if purchased the day of. Save money by buying them ahead of time or as part of a weekly pass.)

Lake Erie shoreline in Lakeside, Ohio

I can’t recommend this family-friendly getaway enough! We had a blast and we can’t wait to go back! My oldest son has even decided he wants to live at Lakeside! 😉 

Looking for more family-friendly Lake Erie Vacation Ideas? Try these:

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Exploring Ohio with Kids: Lakeside


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Kid-Friendly Put-in-Bay: 15 Things to Do with Your Kids

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Put-In-Bay is more than just a party island! There are plenty of things for families to do on the island making Put-In-Bay a great idea for a day trip or overnight trip with kids!

This post was written in partnership with Lake Erie Shores and Islands.

Kid-Friendly Put-in-Bay: 15 Things to Do with Your Kids:

Is Put-in-Bay Kid Friendly?

I’ve received a few raised eyebrows when I say we took our kids to Put-in-Bay while on our vacation to Lake Erie in July. A lot of people think that Put-in-Bay is just a party island, but I’ll have you know that there is plenty of family-friendly fun to be had!

We have been to Put-in-Bay at 4 times. Once without kids and three times with kids. By the second trip with kids, experience (and some great input from Lake Erie Shores and Islands) had taught us a few things and trip three was probably the smoothest and most fun up to that point!

We returned to PIB with our kids in 2019 and continued to find new things to love about the island as a family! I’ve continued to update this post as we have discovered and tried new things!

Getting To Put-in-Bay:

To get to Put-in-Bay, you must take a ferry from either Port Clinton or Catawba and there are two options, Miller Ferry and Jet Express.

We’re kind of partial to Miller Ferry – I don’t know, it must be the name! 😉 We’ve always taken Miller Ferry to the island probably because, besides the name, it’s also, by far, the cheapest.

Miller Boat Line Put in Bay

Taking the ferry is part of the experience, for the kids! Mine loved the boat ride and looked forward to it as part of our day! Miller Ferries run generally every half hour during the summer season. You can see the schedule here.

Getting Around Put-in-Bay:

When you get to the island you’ll probably want to take some form of transportation (besides walking) to get to downtown Put-in-Bay. Options include a taxi, golf cart, bikes or the Lime Kiln bus, which is what I would recommend if you don’t plan on driving a golf cart around all day!

The bus is $2.50/person and children under 6 are free. This was also part of the fun for my kids since they don’t get to ride a school bus! You can board the bus at the top of the hill after exiting Miller Ferry. Cash only!

The Lime Kiln Bus will drop you off at The Depot in Downtown Put-in-Bay, and from there, most people travel around by foot or golf cart. Cars are allowed on the island, but golf carts, bicycles and feet are the most common methods of transportation. 

In 2019 we drove a golf cart from E’s Put-in-Bay Golf Carts around the island and that was a lot of fun for us and the kids! It offers a lot of freedom and flexibility! 

Downtown Put-in-Bay is full of restaurants, bars, shops and a few attractions, and, on our first two trips, this is the majority of what we saw. Jill at Lake Erie Shores and Islands offered us passes for the Put-in-Bay Tour Train for this trip and this tour train is what made our third trip to the island the best! I cannot recommend it enough!

A lot of the activities I’m going to list here are stops on the Put-in-Bay Tour Train and I will note those with an asterisk (*) next to the number.

Here are 15 things to do (and eat) with the kids when you get to Put-in-Bay:

1. Put-in-Bay Tour Train

The best thing about the tour train is, maybe obviously, the transportation. You’re simply not going to be able to walk all of these places with kids, and with the tour train, you get an education along with your transportation!

We learned so much history about the island as well as what island life is like in the present day. We saw the school, the only 2 churches on the island and got a snippet into daily life as a Put-in-Bay resident. I compare this with our first two visits where we didn’t see much of the island and had no idea what other things there were to do there, and the difference is night and day.

put in bay island train

When you take the tour train, you pay for one loop. You can get off and back on at each of the 6 stops, but you can only go around once. So look at the map and make sure you don’t miss a stop because you will not be allowed to circle back around to it again. The trains run every 30 minutes so keep an eye on your watch while you’re enjoying your stop.

The Tour Train makes 6 stops including: Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, Heinemann Winery & Crystal Cave, Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial & Visitor Center, The Doller House & Museum of Island Life, Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center and the Aquatic Vistors Center.

You can buy an Island Fun Pack which includes ferry tickets, the Tour Train, plus discounted admission to several island attractions! See all the details here.

2. DeRivera Park

DeRivera park is named for the founder of Put-in-Bay, Jose DeRivera. It’s a beautiful, shady area with lots of picnic tables and a large fountain.

Within the park is Will’s Playground which has two play structures, one for older and one for younger kids. This park is a great place to come back to throughout your day to rest and regroup. There are also public rooms and showers here.

*3. Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center

Perry’s Cave and Family Fun Center is all about family fun. Options for activities here include Perry’s Cave, Gemstone Mining, The Butterfly House at Put-in-Bay, War of 1812 Holes Miniature Golf, Gotcha Laser Tag, Fort aMAZE’n, Rock Climbing Wall, Antique Car Museum, gift shops and DanDee’s Snack Shack.

The Tour Train offers one general stop at Perry’s Cave and all of the activities are within a short walk of the drop off. I’m going to tell you about a few of the things we have done there  . . .

4. Antique Car Museum

Housed in a large barn at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center, the Antique Car Museum is free! There are rare Ford Model T’s and A’s, a popcorn truck, and other auto-related memorabilia!

5. Butterfly House

We chose to do the The Butterfly House at Put-in-Bay as our main activity at Perry’s Cave Family Fun Center. We all enjoyed the Butterfly House which was FULL of butterflies! The brochure says “hundreds of butterflies” and I believe them! Though no touching is allowed, it was not uncommon for butterflies to land on us and we were able to see them up close. In addition to walking among the butterflies, there is a large gift shop with educational gifts and lots of butterfly souvenirs.

6. Fort Amaze’n Giant Maze Challenge

Maze Passport at Fort Amaze'n

In this maze challenge you must find the letters M-A-Z-E on paper punches hanging around the maze. You also stamp your passport when you start and when you end. If you finish the maze in 5 minutes you win a special prize. (When we were there it was a free ice cream cone.) We didn’t come close to finding our way out in 5 minutes but the kids did get to pick a prize when exiting!

Fort Amaze'n at Perry's Cave Fun Center

7. Perry’s Cave

Perry’s Cave is an Ohio Natural Landmark and you can climb down 52 feet below the surface to tour it and see the underground lake! The temperature inside the cave is always round 50 degrees so you may need to bring a sweatshirt! Cave tours take place every 30 minutes on a first come, first served basis. Kids 5 and under are free! 

people going down the steps of Perry's Cave

Cave formations Inside Perry's Cave

*8. Aquatic Vistors Center

The AVC is operated by The Ohio State University in partnership with Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It was a fish hatchery that closed in 1988 and became an educational facility which includes the OSU Stone Laboratory, OSU’s island campus on Lake Erie!

If you take a walk through the center, you can learn about Ohio fishing, research projects and view the live fish in open tanks. There are some kids activities, a wall puzzle and coloring sheets. In the summer, the center hosts kids programs on Saturdays.

Kids under age 16 can go out onto the dock to fish for free! Though they didn’t catch anything and my husband nearly dropped his phone off the side, this was a highlight! 🙂

9. Lake Erie Islands Nature & Wildlife Center

The Nature and Wildlife Center houses what was once a private collection of mounted wild animals, many from Alaska. In the back of the property, there is a frog pond and a nature trail that will take you in a complete circle.

10. Frosty Pizza

Frosty Pizza is an easy, family friendly stop for lunch or dinner. We got the Family Deal which included a large pizza, salad, breadsticks and 4 drinks for $30.

*11. Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial

You can’t miss Perry’s Memorial from most of the island! The grounds and Visitor’s Center is open to the public but the observation deck is closed for repair in 2017.

12. PIB Candy Bar

The PIB Candy Bar is a fun stop for a sweet treat! You’ll find hand dipped ice cream and lots of candy! There are new and unique candy items as well as some nostalgic favorites from the past!

candy for sale in side The Put-in-Bay Candy Bar

13. Kimberly’s Carousel

Kimberly’s Carousel provides musical accompaniment to much of the downtown area and is lots of fun for kids and adults alike!

14. The Goat Soup and Whiskey

This is another great family-friendly restaurant option while visiting Put-in-Bay! We fell in love with the patio and grounds here. There is a great kids menu and the kids got popsicles with their meals which was definitely a hit! I could have sat out on that patio forever!

boy and father coloring on the kids menu at The Goat

Boy sitting at the table at The Goat

15. The Chocolate Cafe and Museum

The Chocolate Museum outdoor area

If you’re looking for another option for ice cream, coffee or a sweet treat, check out Chocolate Cafe! This shop is in the downstairs area of The Goat mentioned above. There is outdoor and indoor seating. The museum portion was not open when we visit so we’ll have to save that delicious experience for next time!

ice cream at Chocolate Cafe in Put in Bay

Are you surprised there are so many family-friendly things to see and do at Put-in-Bay? 🙂 All of these activities give you plenty of options to enjoy the island with your kids!

If you’re planning a trip to Lake Erie Shores and Islands, make sure to check out my post Exploring Ohio With Kids: Bellevue for another fun day trip in the area!

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ICYMI: Over 100 Fun Things to do in Columbus, Ohio

Kid Friendly Put-in-Bay


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