Miles & Miles of Lakefront Beaches
By Denise Koeth, Image by Cody York
Standing mighty and powerful over Cleveland's north coast is one of the shallowest, warmest and most beautiful of all the Great Lakes — Lake Erie. This vast, glassy body of water not only offers a wealth of opportunities to fish, boat, kayak, jetski and swim, but it also comes with miles and miles of beautiful lakefront beaches simply begging you to take those extra PTO days.
Closest to Downtown Cleveland sits the Cleveland Metroparks Lakefront Reservation. This completely rejuvenated park area — running along Downtown Cleveland's northern-most coast, both east and west of the city — is comprised of the East 55th Street Marina, Edgewater Park, Euclid Beach Park, Gordon Park and Whiskey Island. It's also home to a slew of beachy activities that, frankly, will have you rearranging all your summer vacay plans.
So, slather on the SPF, squeeze into that swimsuit, sit back in your beach chair, dip those toes in the sand and enjoy these lakefront beaches.
Bait your hook and spend a quiet afternoon on the 1,200-foot fishing platform or try your luck in deeper waters after launching a boat from one of six courtesy guest docks at the East 55th Street Marina. For supplies and food, check out the fully stocked bait shop and marina store, as well as e55 on the Lake restaurant and bar.
This is the spot for summertime fun in Cleveland. Located just west of Downtown, the park boasts 6,000 feet of shoreline and two beaches, plus a playground, pavilions and one of the best views of Cleveland's skyline. It's an ideal place to sunbathe, create a towering sandcastle, start a game of beach volleyball or catch a wave (yes, you can actually surf Lake Erie).
Every Thursday from 4:30-8:30 p.m. May 31 through Aug. 2, bring a blanket or chair, along with your appetite, for Edgewater LIVE, a part-happy hour, part-beach party experience. The free weekly event features live music, local food trucks fare, ice cream, craft brews, unique cocktails and beach sports like stand-up paddleboarding and sand volleyball.
A short drive east from Downtown, is home to Euclid Beach Park, a 650-foot beach with shaded picnic areas and a scenic observation pier. It's also the home base of the Euclid Beach LIVE outdoor concert series, which takes place from 6-9 p.m. each Friday from June 1 to Aug. 3. Bring a lawn chair, pack a picnic and bring some cash for the lineup of Cleveland food trucks.
A part of an Audubon Important Birding Area, Gordon Park is a birder's paradise, offering the best viewing for a large number of diverse and rare gulls and ducks. The park's 1.3 miles of armored coastline and onshore platforms are ideal for fishing.
Named for the distillery that was built on the land in the 1800s, Whiskey Island is actually a peninsula where the Cuyahoga River empties into Lake Erie. Geography lesson aside, this popular spot, home to Wendy Park, is perfect for taking in views of Cleveland's skyline, a walk along the beach or a game of sand volleyball. While there is no swimming on the beach, it's the perfect place to launch a canoe or kayak.
It's also the perfect place to celebrate the city's renewed sense of eco-consciousness and a healthy lakefront with live music, local food and tons of Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer during Burning River Fest. Held Aug. 17-18, 2018 at Whiskey Island's historic Coast Guard Station, Burning River Fest features more than 18 bands and musicians on two stages bringing funk, blues and rock to the shore. Come for the suds, grub and music, but stay for the ceremonial lighting of floating pyres to commemorate the efforts to clean up our waterways.
On the west side, Bay Village is home to Huntington Beach, an ideal swimming spot. The family-friendly park is a great place to spend the day, as it also houses the Lake Erie Nature & Science Center and BAYarts. Nearby Columbia Park is a pooch utopia, home of Columbia Dog Beach, where your four-legged friend can go off-leash to enjoy the sand and surf.
Though not technically a beach, North Coast Harbor is a can't-miss lakefront attraction, encompassing the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center, FirstEnergy Stadium, Voinovich Bicentennial Park, Nautica Queen and the Goodtime III. Cleveland's warmer months are the perfect time to visit the harbor, as the calendar is crammed with activities, including food truck events; Rock Hall concerts; Science Center exhibits; North Coast Namaste, a free yoga series; and Lakefront Leagues kickball and volleyball programs.