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Exploring the Beauty of Lake County, Ohio

Lake County, Ohio is about 30 minutes east of Cleveland and borders Lake Erie. It’s home to some of Northeast Ohio’s most beautiful views and Lake Erie’s most popular beaches! Mentor is the largest city in Lake County and makes for a good “home base” for visiting all of the attractions listed here.

There are a lot of fun things to do in Mentor and Lake County and it makes for a great get away in Ohio! Our family spent two nights and three days exploring the area and found plenty of amazing sights and fun activities! There were many “wow” moments on this trip!

A trip to Lake County makes for a great Lake Erie vacation destination for families! You can even tack on a trip west to downtown Cleveland or east to Geneva-on-the-Lake if you have more time!

View of Lake Erie from Lake Erie Bluffs in Perry, Ohio.

Beautiful Spots to See in Lake County

I’m not exaggerating when I say the 2 Lake County attractions listed here were definitely highlights of our entire summer! Truly beautiful scenery and amazing experiences! These spots are Ohio gems!!

The Holden Arboretum

There are so many beautiful things to see at The Holden Arboretum! It is definitely worth a visit when you are in Lake County! Highlights here include the Kalberer Family Emergent Tower and the Murch Canopy Walk.

The Emergent Tower is 12 stories high and is 202 steps to climb! When you get to the top you will be overlooking the tree tops and if the day is clear enough, you can even see Lake Erie! What a view!

Emergent Tower at Holden Arboretum in Lake County, Ohio.

The Canopy Walk is another really fun experience. We were lucky to visit on a day that wasn’t very busy and we did the Canopy Walk multiple times! Walking up in the trees was a super cool experience that the whole family wanted to do again and again!

Canopy Walk at Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, Ohio.

Kids will also love Buckeye Bud’s Adventure Woods where they can enjoy a natural play area and a small observation tower of their own!

Buckeye Bud's Adventure Woods at Holden Arboretum.

Holden Arboretum is also home to Stickwork, a work of art by Patrick Dougherty. See this unique piece of work while it lasts because it will naturally deteriorate!

Stickwork at Holden Arboretum in Lake County, Ohio.

Allow yourself a couple of hours to see and do these activities! If you visit on a weekend or busy time of year there may be a wait for the Emergent Tower or Canopy Walk. Beyond these two major attractions in the arboretum, there are several gardens to walk through and enjoy.

Lake Erie Bluffs

  • Address: 2901 Clark Rd., Perry, Ohio 44081

Lake Erie Bluffs in Perry, Ohio offers stunning views of Lake Erie either from the top of the Coastal Observation Tower or on your hike down to the beach!

Lake Erie Bluffs is one of the Lake Metroparks and is home to a Coastal Observation Tower, hiking paths and many rare species of birds and plants! With 9000 feet of shoreline, make sure you make the hike down to the beach to see the view!

Lake Erie beach at Lake Erie Bluffs in Perry, Ohio.

You are allowed to swim here at the beach, but the terrain is very rocky. My boys enjoyed skipping rocks (and let’s be honest, so did my husband) I enjoyed just taking in the beautiful scenery! It was very peaceful.

Lake Erie Bluffs Coastal Observation Tower in Lake County, Ohio.

The Coastal Observation tower was definitely a highlight of our trip to Lake County – definitely a must-do attraction! Getting to the top and taking in the scenery was a real “wow” moment! I was really hoping to see bald eagles here but we weren’t that lucky!

View of Lake Erie from the Coastal Observation Tower at Lake Erie Bluffs.

Beaches to Visit in Lake County

Lake County is home to some great beaches. If you’re visiting Mentor, Ohio, definitely make it out to one of these beaches! They have different feels and offer different attractions, so read through the descriptions and pick one or visit both like we did!

Headlands Beach

  • Address: 9601 Headlands Rd., Mentor, Ohio 44060
Dad and two boys walking on Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor, Ohio.

The beach at Headlands Beach State Park is the largest natural sand beach in Ohio! The beach here is a mile long and definitely has a more natural feel than some of the other beaches on Lake Erie. It has a very different feel compared to Fairport Harbor (see below).

Boardwalk through the sand dunes at Headlands Beach in Lake County, Ohio.

You can visit the beach from two entrances: at the swimming beach area and at Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve which is home to rare (for Lake Erie) sand dunes. From either area you will see the Fairport Harbor West Lighthouse.

Fairport Harbor Beach

  • Address: 301 Huntington Beach Dr., Fairport Harbor, Ohio 44077
Fairport Harbor Beach in Mentor, Ohio.

Fairport Harbor Beach is 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.

Playground area at Fairport Harbor Beach in Lake County.

Depending on the day of the week or the season, there may be a fee to enter this beach and park. Kayaks and Stand-Up Paddleboards are also available to rent during the summer season to enjoy on the water!

Fairport Harbor Beach is a great one for visiting with kids because of the playground and available activiteis and concessions.

Where to Play in Lake County

Jordan Creek Park

  • Address: 7250 Alexander Rd., Painesville, Ohio 44077

Jordan Creek Park is another must-visit destination if you are visiting Lake County, Ohio with kids! They will love the natural play area, the Nature Center and wading in the creek!

Kid on a ropes course at Jordan Creek Park in Lake County, Ohio.

The Adventure Play at Jordan Creek Park will keep kids busy with a HUGE climbing wall, suspension bridge, balance beams and rope courses. There’s a ton of outdoor fun here and your kids can get out all of that extra energy!

Climbing wall at Jordan Creek Park Adventure Play area.

The Nature Center has fun indoor activities for kids like birdwatching from the windows, educational and hands-on displays.

Nature Center at Jordan Creek Park a Lake County Metro Park.

Where to Eat in Lake County

Kurlee Kone

  • Address: 736 Richmond St., Painesville, Ohio 44077
Chocolate and vanilla soft serve at Kurlee Kone in Painsville, Ohio.

Kurlee Kone is a fun stop for ice cream! It’s just a hop, skip and a jump from either of the beaches! There is only outdoor seating here but plenty of it and the yard area has picnic tables and a garden feel.

Scooter’s World Famous Dawgs

  • Address: 9600 Blackbrook Rd., Mentor, Ohio 44060

Don’t visit Lake County without a stop at Scooter’s World Famous Dawgs. This is a great spot for about two dozen creative hot dogs as well as burgers and chicken. And trust me when I say a “junior” size fry is enough. haha!

Hot dogs and fries at Scooter's World Famous Dogs in Mentor, Ohio.

Scooter’s is a seasonal restaurant, open mainly in the summer! It is just about 5 miles from either beach listed in this post, so it makes for a great lunch spot before or after visiting the beach!

Scooter’s also offers soft serve and hard ice cream and various sundaes if you’re looking for a dessert spot! There is indoor and outdoor seating available.


  • Address: 9570 Mentor Ave., Mentor, Ohio 44060

Zappitelli’s is the real deal for homemade Italian food and desserts! This was a great family dining spot! The menu includes pizza, subs, pasta dinners, salads and homemade desserts!

Pizza at Zappitelli's Restaurant in Mentor, Ohio.

Zappitelli’s is in between Holden Arboretum and Lake Erie, which makes for a convenient location!


  • Address: 4061 Erie St., Willoughby, Ohio 44094

If you’re looking to head to one location with a lot of eating choices, I suggest checking out downtown Willoughby.

Downtown Willoughby, Ohio in Lake County.

There are many restaurants and cute shops to check out! We chose to eat at Barrio, a Cleveland institution. Barrio has a great patio as well as indoor dining. And their queso is superb!

I hope this post helps you to find lots of fun things to do in Lake County! I don’t think you will be disappointed with what this area of Ohio has to offer! We love visiting Lake Erie and think that Lake County is home to so many Ohio gems!

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[…] Murch Canopy Walk at Holden Arboretum is not to be missed! It’s probably one of my favorite things to do in Lake County, Ohio! You can climb to the tree tops and walk the suspension bridge through the […]