11 charming little towns on Lake Erie


Lake Erie, whose name is derived from the Iroquoian term “erielhonan”, which means “long tail”, is one of the five Great Lakes of east-central North America. It is the southernmost of the group and has the shallowest average depth and the warmest, most inviting waters. The northern shore is mostly made up of the Canadian province of Ontario, as well as part of the US state of Michigan, while the southern section is made up of the states of Ohio, northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York. In these regions, there are many charming little towns that welcome visitors to relax in the maritime scene. Here are eleven you won’t want to skip.

Sandusky, Ohio

Sandusky, Ohio.

There’s a lot going on in Sandusky, both charming and exciting. Sandusky is in northern Ohio in Erie County, roughly equidistant between Cleveland and Toledo. For a walk on the pleasant side of town, visitors can enjoy the long and inviting waterfront, visit some of the neat museums, or take an island-hopping ferry trip to places like Kelley’s Island, Put-in -Bay, or even float across the Canadian border to Pelee Island, Ontario. For family fun or an exhilarating time with friends, follow the screams to Cedar Point’s mega-coasters, or check out some of the year-round indoor water parks.

Kelleys Island, Ohio

Kelley's Island
Put in the Bay Marina and Perry’s Victory & International Peace Memorial at Kelley’s Island.

Speaking of Kelleys Island, if you happen to take the ferry from Sandusky, you’ll arrive at the adorable island and village of the same name, also in Erie County. The community only has a few hundred residents, so there are plenty of opportunities to relax on the shore. In addition to fun on the beach and in the water, there’s also Kelleys Island State Park, Glacial Grooves State Memorial (the largest display of glacial scores in the world), and many other small-scale parks to satisfy all outdoor enthusiasts.

Pelee Island, Ontario

Pelee Island, Ontario
Pelee Island, Ontario.

The Canadian equivalent of Kelleys Island (and a short ferry ride away) is Pelee Township, on Pelee Island in the Province of Ontario. Pelee Island is the southernmost inhabited land in Canada and therefore offers one of the most pleasant climates in the country. The two resident wineries take full advantage of it, making the fermented grape drink a special draw for adult vacationers. So again, enjoy the microcosm of the island by walking, cycling, swimming or just relaxing and watching the world float by.

Port Stanley, Ontario

An aerial view of Port Stanley, Ontario
An aerial view of Port Stanley, Ontario.

Port Stanley is a port village in the Municipality of Central Elgin, Elgin County, on the north shore of Lake Erie. On the way to some of the best sands in the region, visitors can discover the various sailboats anchored in the marinas and live vicariously through all the nautical neighbors. Port Stanley’s well-maintained beach has earned Ontario’s coveted Blue Flag status for its excellent water quality and environmental measures. As the sun begins to set, cruise the streets of the village, filled with the standard pubs, restaurants and ice cream parlors you’d hope to see in a lovely summer tourist community.

Westfield, New York

Barcelona Lighthouse in the Port of Barcelona on Lake Erie in the town of Westfield, New York.

Westfield in western New York is the name of both the county town of Chautauqua and the village of that town. The entire entity of Westfield combines the vineyards and verdant landscape of the upstate region with the beautiful southern shore of the lake – complete with beaches and a picturesque harbor. As part of the internal village, there are plenty of quirky shops and cultural/community outlets to discover.

Niagara Falls, New York

Niagara Falls.  New York
Old Falls Street in downtown Niagara Falls. Editorial credit: quiggyt4 / Shutterstock.com

Niagara Falls is a modestly sized city in Niagara County, New York that is best known for its titular state park and beautiful waterfalls. Established in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest of its kind in the country, proudly promoting the trio of Horseshoe Falls, American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls. Fun ways to get up close to the Roaring Giants are to step out on the Cave of the Winds or take a ride on the Maid of the Mist. The Niagara region is also famous for its vineyards, attracting even more tourists who may want to stay dry but still wet their palettes.

Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio

Geneva on Lake Ohio
Aerial view of Geneva-sur-le-Lac.

Another charming community on the Ohio side of Lake Erie is the village of Geneva-on-the-Lake in Ashtabula County. This resort town is for beachgoers and go-getters. “GOTL” has a state park, marina, zipline, go-karts, bike trails, and many great restaurants and shops along “the strip.” All of this, plus outdoor concerts and general community sensibilities, will restore that youthful summertime nostalgia.

Erie, Pennsylvania

Erie, Pennsylvania
View of Erie from the top of a towe.

No discussion of Lake Erie locations would be complete without mentioning the Pennsylvania town of the same name. Although Erie is the fourth largest city in the state, it still has a population of less than 100,000, which preserves some of the quieter essences that make up the theme of this list. Pennsylvania’s busiest state park, Près Isle State Park, juts out into the lake just across the shore from the city. Some stellar beaches can be found here. If you’re around in late August, be sure to cruise along the harbor for great views of the Tall Ships Festival. But if the weather turns bad, the Erie Maritime Museum is a great place to soak up the area’s history and maybe even check out some local brews on the Lake Erie Ale Trail.

Fort Erie, Ontario

Aerial view of Crystal Beach in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada
Aerial view of Crystal Beach in Fort Erie, Ontario, Canada.

Back on the Canadian side of Lake Erie, where its northeast aspect meets the mouth of the Niagara River, is the Ontario town of Fort Erie. On site, the big draws are the Old Fort Erie National Historic Site and, as always, the long sandy beaches. Just outside of town, the aforementioned Niagara Falls await, as does the Niagara Parkway, a 55-kilometre (34-mile) scenic route that passes a host of pretty towns and stop-worthy attractions. at the booth. During a visit in 1943, Winston Churchill called the walk “the finest Sunday afternoon walk in the world”.

Long Point, Ontario

Long Point, Ontario
A beach in Long Point, Ontario.

On the thin strip of land that stretches from the north shore of the lake, the hamlet of Long Point is perfectly positioned between Long Point National Wildlife Area and Long Point Provincial Park, as well as a string of marinas. This area is part of a World Biosphere Reserve, which helps protect one of the largest bird and waterfowl migration areas in North America. One of the best beaches on the whole lake is found in this provincial park. As you might have guessed, it’s called Long Point Beach. It can be a very popular spot during peak season, so plan ahead if you’re hoping to snag a campsite.

Vermilion, Ohio

Vermilion, Ohio
Vermilion, Ohio. Editorial credit: PICTOR PICTURE COMPANY / Shutterstock.com

Our final stop brings us to another quaint and nostalgic place in Ohio known as Vermillion, or “Harbour Town”, or “Town of Sea Captains”, in Erie and Lorain counties. Just a half-hour drive east of Sandusky and about an hour west of Cleveland, Vermillion is right in the heart of the South Rim action, and yet a place to relax your foot and settle in simpler times. This small town offers visitors a number of parks and beaches to choose from, a walkable downtown filled with artisan shops and fine restaurants, and free concerts, outdoor movies, and other fun events held. by the community.

If you enjoy spending time by the water, floating in parks, attending fair-weather festivities, and learning about maritime history, these charming Lake Erie towns await your arrival. The inviting shoreline of this Great Lake stretches across national and international borders, ensuring a unique experience no matter which side you settle on. Have fun and enjoy the well-deserved respite.


Comments are closed.