Get Away to Geneva-on-the-Lake in Ohio

Colorful leaves blowing at Lake Erie shore

Darren Constantino / Getty Images

Geneva-on-the-Lake, located on the shore of Lake Erie about an hour's drive east of Cleveland, was one of Ohio's first lakeside resorts. In the early 1900s, the scenic location was home to dozens of cottages and was popular with the Midwest "gentry," including John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone. Today, the area is a popular vacation destination filled with outdoor activities, arcades, summer events, and several Lake Erie wineries.

Benches facing lake erie
Photo by Darren Constantino / Getty Images

Resort History

Erie, meaning wildcat or "it is long-tailed," is derived from the tribal name of Indians who inhabited the area until 1655. The lake was a popular travel route for the Natives and for frontiersmen who later inhabited the area.

Geneva-on-the-Lake calls itself "Ohio's First Summer Resort." It all started in 1869 when the first lakeside picnic ground, "Sturgeon Point" was built. The point was named for the lake sturgeon that inhabit the waters around the point. Eventually, the developers added a horse-powered carousel and Geneva-on-the-Lake's tradition as Lake Erie's "Playground." was born. The area is now known as Mapleton Beach and the original picnic grounds no longer exist.

In the early 1900s, Midwest inventors and businessmen, John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone, chose the spot to spend camping weekends. Gradually, tents gave way to cabins and cottages, but the site still retains its humble, accessible appeal.

Geneva-on-the-Lake's Summer Fun Heritage Trail takes you past many of the old vacation cottages and historic sites. Interpretive signage that tells the story of Geneva-on-the-Lake from 1869 to today.

Geneva State Park in Ohio
Mark K./Flickr CC 2.0  

Things to Do and See

Among the many attractions in and around Geneva-on-the-Lake are the Lake Erie wineries, including the Old Firehouse Winery and the Lakehouse Inn and Winery right in Geneva-on-the-Lake. The Lake Erie Wine Country features more than 20 unique, boutique wineries on a 50-mile stretch between Silver Creek, New York, and the town of Harborcreek, Pennsylvania, on the shores of Lake Erie.

Geneva State Park features a sandy beach where you can swim and a boat ramp for boating and fishing. Lake Erie is known as the "walleye capital of the world." You can also catch yellow perch, channel catfish, and steelhead trout. There are hiking trails and marshy areas great for birding. Geneva State Park has picnic areas and an archery range.

Overnight guests can choose from cabins, campsites, and one of the 109 rooms at the Lodge, many of which have Lake Erie views.

The town offers a range of events including concerts, a flea market series and the Lake Erie Monster Pub Crawl.

There are several old-style arcades downtown as well as pubs and shops to explore.

Old Firehouse Winery
Michelle/Flickr CC 2.0  

Restaurants

Restaurants in Geneva-on-the-Lake run the gamut from casual lakeside eateries to fine dining restaurants:

  • Eddie's Grill: Little changed since it opened in 1950, Eddie's is a regional institution. Their burgers, fries, hot dogs, and ice cream treats are traditional favorites.
  • Crosswinds at Lakehouse Inn Winery: Situated at the edge of Lake Erie, they serve fine dining entrees, salads, and sandwiches with a casual lakeside atmosphere.
  • Old Firehouse Winery: Another of Geneva-on-the-Lake's wineries, they serve Mexican and American favorites with house-crafted wines, live music, and a lakeside patio.
The Lodge Exterior at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake
Courtesy of The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake

Places to Stay

Accommodations in and around Geneva-on-the-Lake consist mostly of cottage communities, bed and breakfast inns, and camping at resorts and Geneva State Park.

The beautiful Lakehouse Inn is right on Lake Erie and offers a winery, farm-to-table restaurant, and day spa.

The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake offers beautiful views of Lake Erie. The resort offers swimming, on-site dining, and exciting family activities including a 2.5-hour zip line canopy tour in adjacent Geneva State Park and "Adventure Challenge" courses for adults and kids.