Part of the Five Great Lakes area in between Canada and the United States, Lake Erie is huge! Crossing international borders and with over 700-miles of coastlines, there’s a heap of the best things to do around Lake Erie, especially stateside!
Driving from New York City to Los Angeles, I spent a good amount of time at state-side Lake Erie. It’s a huge area to explore and there’s just so much to see. So, to make things easy-to-navigate, I’ll be focusing on the US gems to explore.
Now, let’s be clear, it’s gonna be tough to explore the 700+ miles of coastline (before even getting a look-in on the islands). Truth be told, that distance would take you weeks (if not longer) to fully explore!
So, to help you focus on your trip to Lake Erie, I’ve jotted down a few gems that you really can’t miss. Hopefully, this way, you’ll find a good handful that’s within easy reach on your road trip or holiday spot.
Take a look, below, at the best things to do around Lake Erie to visit. Have an epic trip!
1.) Marblehead Lighthouse, Ohio
Perched on the shoreline within Ohio, Marblehead Lighthouse is certainly one of the oldest lighthouses (continuously operating) in the United States.
Partnered with a trip around the cosy and small state park, it’s easily one of the best things to do around Lake Erie when driving between Cleaveland and Toledo. I drove via Highway 80 and you can easily turn off at Avery for a little gander if you wish.
After wandering the lighthouse, be sure to pop in the Marblehead Lighthouse museum; it’s a pretty impressive spot.
Fancy a bite? Head over to Marblehead Galley whose yellow Lake Erie perch is delicious and totally fresh.
2.) Kayaking at Harbour Yak, Ohio
If you are visiting in the summer, then going kayaking is easily one of the best things to do around Lake Erie; especially on a warm day!
Nestled on the shoreline at Ashtabula, it’s totally easy to squeeze a kayaking adventure as a pitstop when driving between Buffalo and Cleaveland.
Best Coast Water Sports, The North Coast Outpost, and Harbor Yak all have good equipment and loads of paddleboards and multi-rider boards for rent. This means that you don’t usually need to reserve in advance.
Afterwards, get yourself over to informal and totally yummy Briquettes Smokehouse for the famous brisket and ribs platters.
3.) Liberty Aviation Museum, Ohio
Just off Sandusky Bay, the Liberty Aviation Museum is really easy to visit when exploring the Marblehead Lighthouse (on the US side).
At this museum, you will find the collection of World War II-era planes that’s totally incredible to explore. There includes an amazing collection of aviation and other motor vehicles, too. Though, you might wanna give this a miss if you’re not into your museums.
4.) Presque Isle (State Park), Pennsylvania
With miles of beaches and over 3,000+ acres to explore, Presque Isle State Park is well worth a visit if you’re into your nature spots.
With numerous sports activities; including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, bicycling, and in-line skating, you’re going to be spoilt for choice on things to do.
If you’re stuck on where to rent a boat, head over to Presque Isle Canoe and Boating Livery who are the only rental company inside the park itself.
Afterwards, head over to the town of Erie and take in the views from the Bicentennial Tower, too!
6.) Maritime Museum of Sandusky, Sandusky, Ohio
Right within Sandusky itself, here you can learn so much more about the rich maritime history of the region and Lake Erie all within the museum’s exhibitions.
From ice harvesting to Sandusky’s Underground Railroad, it’s one of the best things to do around Lake Erie for an all-round feel of the history here.
Yes, it’s not the biggest museum in the world; but it’s certainly lovely and a great little stop whilst in the area.
7.) South Bass Island, Ohio
Just off the coast of Gibraltar, South Bass Island is the bigger island that’s easily reached via the Miller Ferry (a few miles from Port Clinton).
Whilst on the island, you can test your boating skills (from Put-in-Bay Watercraft Rentals) or just simply enjoy and explore its limestone cliffs and coves.
Oh, and don’t forget to pop into Perry’s Cave (with their limestone cave), visit the Lake Erie Islands Historical Museum and grab a tipple (or two) at The Keys – they have some tasty cocktails.
8.) Kelleys Island, Ohio
If you’re looking for a little island hopping, then visiting Kelleys Island is another small and easy visit to make for a morning or afternoon trip.
A nature-lovers paradise, here you can hike coastal trails to see the stunning Glacial Grooves, visit Kelleys Island Brewery (for a local brew) and grab a kayak at North Bay from Kelleys Island Kayak Rental.
9.) Lake Erie area vineyards, Ohio
Although a little off the coastline itself, the Laurentia Vineyard & Winery is one of the best things to do around Lake Erie if you love your grapes.
Here you can enjoy world-class, estate wines with locally inspired food in a rustic, relaxing, log cabin-style tasting room that’s totally lovely. Plus, these lot know their blends and varieties that they make onsite. So good!
Just be sure to have a designated driver to hand!
10.) Cedar Point, Ohio
Known as the rollercoaster capital of the world, Cedar Point is a vast 364-acre amusement park that’s a scream to visit!
Considered the second-oldest operating amusement park in the United States (can you guess the first?), it’s one of the best things to do around Lake Erie for any thrillseeker!
Be sure to ride the retro Blue Streak coaster or get speedy on the Magnum XL-200; you’ll scream so hard at speeds of over 70+ mph.
11.) Cleveland, Ohio
If you’re after a city break on Lake Erie, then Cleveland is the stopping point for you. Here, you’ll get to explore the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, head to 27 Club Coffee for one of their bespoke blends or take a gander within the Museum of Art.
If you’re not feeling a city break, drive a little out of Clealand and get yourself over to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Brandywine Falls is beautiful!
12.) Buffalo, New York
Right on the border of Canada, the city of Buffalo is typically a spot you’ll visit to see Niagara Falls. Though don’t be fooled, it’s got more to offer than its close proximity to the most famous waterfalls in North America.
Here, you head into the iconic Albright-Knox Art Gallery that’s so vast. I love it! Oh, and be sure to explore the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site that’s great for a self-guided tour.
Also, for a tummy-filler, grab a seat in Pearl Street Grill for their roast beef hoagie roll. You’ll be so full that you’ll need a nap!
13.) Fairport Harbor, Ohio
Around 30-minutes east of Clevland, Fairport Harbor is a cute little spot that’s gorgeous to visit for a few hours. After heading to see Lake Erie from Headland Dunes State Nature Preserve, head on over to Pickle Bill’s Lobster House which is an experience.
Totally chilled and informal, this is the kind of place where you can grab mountains of delicious lobster. Drizzled with butter, it’s a stop you make when you’re totally hungry.
14.) Barcelona Harbor Beach, New York
Exploring Barcelona Harbor is one of the best things to do around Lake Erie if you’re based on New York’s shoreline. Plus, it’s really easy to stop on your route following the shore from Buffalo and heading west.
Be sure to see the historic Barcelona Lighthouse, enjoy the beach and visit the Johnson Estate Winery for some tasty tipples.