Great Lakes Direct

Lake Erie Travel Guide

Best Places to Visit and Things to Do

Lake Erie is the shallowest and southernmost of the Great Lakes, spanning four states and one Canadian province. The lake includes parts of Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York, as well as Ontario over the border in Canada.

It attracts approximately 11 million visitors annually, drawn by both the natural sights and the historical significance of locations around the lake.

Point Pelee National Park in Ontario
Point Pelee National Park in Ontario

The Lake Erie region has witnessed the rise and fall of numerous Native American tribes, such as the Erie and the Iroquois, and it played a crucial role in the French and Indian War, the American Revolution, and the War of 1812.

The region's strategic importance is evident in the many lighthouses, forts, and historical sites that dot the Lake Erie shore, including the iconic Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island.

Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial
Perry's Victory and International Peace Memorial on South Bass Island

Marblehead Lighthouse State Park features the oldest continually-operating lighthouse on the US side of the Great Lakes. Marblehead Lighthouse was built in 1822 to protect ships entering and leaving Sandusky Bay.

Marblehead Lighthouse State Park
Marblehead Lighthouse State Park in Ohio

The shores of Lake Erie are a paradise for nature lovers. The lake's shallow waters and warm temperatures create unique ecological conditions that support diverse plant and animal life.

Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania, with its 3,200 acres of sandy beaches, wetlands, and forests, is a prime example of the region's natural beauty. The park offers over 11 miles of hiking trails, as well as opportunities for birdwatching, fishing, and boating.

Presque Isle State Park
Presque Isle State Park in Pennsylvania

The Lake Erie region offers a wide variety of outdoor adventures.

Visitors can explore the lake's numerous islands, such as Kelleys Island and Put-in-Bay, which offer a mix of natural beauty, historic charm, and lively entertainment. The lake's waters are perfect for activities like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and even scuba diving to explore shipwrecks. Anglers will enjoy the abundance of walleye, perch, and bass that call Lake Erie home.

The region's fertile soil and temperate climate produce a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables, including the famous Concord grapes used in making grape juice and wine.

Visitors can savor local specialties like Lake Erie perch, Ohio's famous buckeye candies, and Pennsylvania's delectable Smith's hot dogs. The region also boasts a thriving wine industry, with numerous vineyards and wineries offering tastings and tours.

Lake Erie's shoreline is dotted with interesting towns and lively cities that offer an attractive blend of history, culture, and modern amenities.

Sandusky, Ohio, home to the world-famous Cedar Point amusement park, attracts thrill-seekers from around the globe with its record-breaking roller coasters and family-friendly attractions.

Cedar Point amusement park near Sandusky
Cedar Point amusement park near Sandusky

The city also boasts a historic downtown district with beautifully preserved 19th-century architecture, unique shops, and delightful eateries.

Cleveland, the largest city on Lake Erie's shores, is a cultural hub with world-class museums, a thriving arts scene, and a rich musical heritage. Visitors can explore the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which pays tribute to the genre's most influential artists, or sample the beauty in the Cleveland Museum of Art, which houses over 45,000 works spanning 6,000 years of human creativity.

The city's diverse neighborhoods, such as the trendy Tremont and Ohio City districts, offer a wide array of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.

For those seeking a more laid-back pace, the small towns along Lake Erie's shores offer a quintessential Americana experience.

Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio, with its vintage amusement park, charming cottages, and serene beach, is a perfect example of the region's nostalgic charm.

Ashtabula lighthouse on Lake Erie
Ashtabula lighthouse on Lake Erie

In the nearby town of Ashtabula, visitors can explore the Ashtabula Harbor Historic District, which features a delightful mix of shops, galleries, and restaurants housed in beautifully restored 19th-century buildings.

Lake Erie is a destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you're seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural enrichment, Lake Erie's shores provide the perfect backdrop for an unforgettable travel experience.