Thanks to the oh-so-gracious gift of geography, almost the entire northern border of the fine state of Ohio is flanked by the gorgeous expanse of Lake Erie. And, when you find yourself in The Land, there’s one particular Lake Erie resort town, which is located roughly 50 miles east of Downtown Cleveland, that’s always worth the visit — Geneva-on-the-Lake.
Billed as “Ohio’s first summer resort,” GOTL has been welcoming visitors (like John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford) to this coastal community since the 1900s with a mainstreet-like strip that’s filled with old-school taverns, retro food stands and other attractions reminiscent of Coney Island or the old Euclid Beach Park. Throw in handfuls of unique wineries and a stunning lakefront park, and there’s a weekend getaway with your name on it.
Check out six of reasons to get to Geneva-on-the-Lake …
6. Geneva State Park
A 698-acre park with a sandy beach on the shore of Lake Erie, swimming, hiking trails, a marina and family-sized cedar cabins for rent, Geneva State Park is a special place. You can pack a lunch and spend a whole day biking, sunbathing, boating, fishing, doing archery or even engaging in an aerial adventure with Lake Erie Canopy Tours. Plan ahead, because you’ll need at least a day to experience everything here.
5. Wine Slushies on the Beach
You’ve probably tried one at a fair but get your anti-brain-freeze cures ready for delicious wine slushies that you will certainly want to drink far too fast for your own good. Grab one at Old Firehouse Winery, then take it down past the ferris wheel (well, maybe stop for a ride since you’re right there) and down the steps to the water. You’ll be able to get a sweet buzz while looking out over Lake Erie — what more could you ask for on a summer night?
4. High Tide Tavern
A stalwart community space at the end of the Geneva-on-the-Lake strip for over 25 years, this bar — run by longtime resident Betty Sickinger and family — serves early-morning breakfasts, late-night burgers and weeks full of karaoke, jello shots and beer. Since High Tide Tavern is open year round, on cold winter mornings you can find snow plow drivers warming up with a cup of coffee and Betty’s hospitality (you’ll often find her at the end of the bar, so say hello and maybe she’ll tell you some classic Geneva-on-the-Lake tales).
3. Family Adventuring
Classic fun for the whole family, Allison’s Mini Golf on the strip has been open consistently since 1924. In addition to mini golf, order up some meatball sandwiches, hot dogs and lemonade at this family-run business. Adventure Zone offers up additional thrills with go-karts and escape rooms. If you’re planning on spending some time at the lake with the kids, these are must-stops.
2. Bourbon & Wine
A bit of a drive from the strip at Geneva-on-the-Lake in Geneva proper, we promise this combo will be worth your efforts if you’re looking for a relaxed time in a slightly upscale environment. Red Eagle Distillery serves out-of-this world craft cocktails like a Blood Orange Old Fashioned, a Whiskey Lemonade or a Sweet-Tea Bourbon, all made with liquors distilled on site. They also carry fine bourbons like Pappy Van Winkle — if you’re looking to make a good thing even better.
Right across the road at M Cellars you’ll find a winery with a beautiful outdoor deck overlooking grape vines, knowledgeable bartenders, fine reserve wines and stellar bar snacks like baked brie. You’ll probably want to take home a few bottles of some of the Grand River Valley’s best wine, don’t you think?
1. Eddie’s Grill
Ask anyone who grew up in Northeast Ohio —a trip to Geneva-on-the-Lake isn’t complete without going to Eddie’s Grill for a burger or hot dog. A no-frills, outdoor seating eatery, Eddie’s isn’t just burger and fries — it’s a tradition. Get your ‘50s on with this classic setting in one of America’s oldest summer resorts. But be forewarned, Eddie’s (in addition to being addictive) is cash only.