Show of hands: After months of COVID confinement, who wants to lie on a beach towel beside a long stretch of sun-kissed water? Build sandcastles? Paddle around? Go for a long swim? Simply laze away a summer afternoon? You can do all that and more right here in Ohio, on these eight Lake Erie beaches.
Cedar Point Beach, Sandusky
Cedar Point began with its beach in 1870, and today, the amusement park delivers dual fun-in-the-sun experiences: world-class rides plus a mile of smooth, white sand — all enhanced by splendid lake views and refreshing breezes. Open only to Cedar Point guests, the beach offers amenities and activities that range from lounging in an umbrella chair and snapping photos on its grand boardwalk to renting WaveRunners and parasailing high above the sand.
TIP: Guided Segway tours depart from the Beach Gate and include Cedar Point’s lighthouse and historic Hotel Breakers.
Edgewater Beach, Cleveland
Minutes from downtown Cleveland, horseshoe-shaped Edgewater Beach is famous for its stunning vistas of both the city’s skyline and Lake Erie’s spellbinding sunsets. The 2,400-foot sand beach is a part of Edgewater Park, which offers a marina, a fishing pier, and walking trails. Rent cabanas and paddleboards at the nature shop or dine lakeside at Edgewater Beach House, a seasonal café featuring made-to-order sandwiches and an outdoor bar ideal for people-watching.
TIP: Dogs are welcome on the beach’s west end.
Headlands Beach, Mentor
Ohio’s longest natural beach covers a whopping 35 acres and stretches from Headlands Beach State Park into adjacent Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve. It’s a haven for swimmers, sunbathers, and beach glass hunters and also attracts nature-lovers and birders — the lakeshore dunes harbor rare flora and fauna, as well as migrating songbirds and monarch butterflies.
TIP: Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse is visible from the beach and provides an excellent backdrop for photos.
Kelleys Island State Park Beach, Kelleys Island
What better escape than a beach tucked away on the north bay of an island? Considered one of Lake Erie’s prettiest expanses of sand, the 100-foot swimming beach is surrounded by shade trees and has a gradual slope that is especially favorable for younger children. Slide kayaks into the lake at the convenient launch and pick up soft drinks, snacks, and sunblock at the park office.
TIP: Walk over to the Glacial Grooves State Memorial to witness eye-popping evidence of the massive ice sheets that carved the Great Lakes.
Main Street Beach, Vermilion
The fact that Vermilion’s Main Street ends on a beach tells you all you need to know about why the little town is a quintessential Lake Erie destination. Marked by a replica of an erstwhile lighthouse, the popular beach has an observation deck for watching boats, birds, and sunsets, and its kayak launch provides access to a unique river and open-water paddling experience on the 27-mile-long Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail.
TIP: It’s an easy walk from the beach to downtown Vermilion’s wealth of indie shops and restaurants.
Nickel Plate Beach, Huron
Known for exceptionally soft sand, the beach occupies 12 acres of Nickel Plate Railroad property and has volleyball courts, a playground, a picnic shelter, a designated swimming area, and a good view of the Huron Lighthouse. Rent kayaks and beach gear at the on-site Paddle Shack, but bring your own game equipment to use the permanent pingpong table and cornhole boards.
TIP: The parking fee is $6 per vehicle.
Lakeside Beach, Lakeside Chautauqua
Lakeside Chautauqua is a gated community dedicated to nurturing the mind, body, and spirit. Thanks to a prime location on the Marblehead Peninsula, it also possesses “Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile.” The delightfully scenic shoreline includes a small, sandy beach adjacent to a large, 700-foot swimming and fishing dock, and you’ll find a raft of recreational options — sailboats, kayaks, and paddleboards; minigolf; and picnicking in the airy, Victorian-style pavilion — available at or near the water.
TIP: Lakeside requires guests and residents to purchase passes, but youngsters under age 12 are admitted free.