A visit to the shores of Lake Erie in Ohio can be a fun family event. There are beaches, sand dunes, fishing, parks and more.
Taking a trip to one of the many beaches along the shores of Lake Erie can be a fun-filled day for the entire family. Pack plenty of sand toys, inner tubes, rafts, sand chairs, and sunscreen and head out for one of the sandy beaches of the eleventh largest lake in the world.. Build a sandcastle, get a tan, play in the waves, and–there are no sharks. One of the most popular beaches is Headlands Beach, State Park.
At one time, Lake Erie was larger than it is today. Due to an outlet in the Niagara River, the lake drained to its present size forming the beaches along the northern shore. The lake was once a primary avenue of transportation for Indians and frontiersmen. Erie means wildcat (“it is long-tailed”) and comes from the tribal name of the Indian culture that inhabited this area until 1655.
Headlands Beach State Park
There is quite a selection of beaches along the lake and one of the most popular is the mile-long natural sand beach at Headlands Beach State Park. It is the largest in the state and a popular place to go for picnickers, swimmers, and sun worshippers. Changing booths, concession areas, and restrooms are provided and the sand beach is ideal for beach volleyball games. There is also a scenic picnic area with tables and grills that are provided and a children’s playground. The park is free to visitors.
Fish and Plant Life
After playing in the waves visit the adjacent state nature preserve which offers plenty of hiking trails. A break wall is located at the east end of the park where fishing is also available. Fish caught in the area include smallmouth, largemouth, and rock bass; yellow perch; bluegill; walleye; coho salmon, and carp.
There is also a large variety of plants found in this area that are more common to the Atlantic coastal plain region. Asea rocket, beach pea, seaside spurge, beach grass, and purple sand grass are growing on the dunes.
Other Things to do Near the Park
There are other attractions in the area including the Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve which is located at the east end of the park On the south side is Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve. It is a National Natural Landmark and is home to a varied plant and animal life. Adjacent to the Mentor Marsh State Nature Preserve is the 450-acre Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve and Marina. The City of Mentor operates over five miles of trails and one and a half miles of wild beach.
The city offers tours by foot, boat, and bike. Electric carts are also available so the physically challenged can explore the area. The Fairport Harbor Marine Museum is housed in the light keeper’s home which is connected to the lighthouse tower that was built in 1871. The Holden Arboretum is not far, a little east, and offers walking trails, a visitor’s center, a reference library and a picnic area. The restored home of President James A. Garfield is also open to the public and the tour offers a museum, original furnishings, and a look at the 1880 campaign office and carriage house.
All of Ohio’s State Parks are free to the public and are open during daylight hours.