Pack your beach towels and sunscreen!
Temperatures in the low 80s and mostly-sunny skies make this week perfect for a trip to the beach. Make sure to pack as much fun as you can into July one-day vacations, because school days will be back before you know it.
We toured Rt. 6 along the Lake Erie shoreline to scout some of the best spots for fishing, swimming, and picnicking.
Before you get to the water, you’ll be treated to a showcase of beautiful lakefront homes in Vermilion, Lorain, Sheffield Lake, and Avon Lake.
And if you’re a cycling enthusiast, you can ride a bike lane much of the length of Lorain County. It’s part of the Back Roads and Beaches Route.
We started our trek to the west, just inside Erie County, and traveled eastward.
The first stop was at Nokomis Park on Minnie Wa Wa Street in Vermilion — a shabby patch of grass with a wooden walkway to a narrow and dirty beach, vastly overshadowed by the sandy, clean private beach next door.
A stone’s throw away, Showse Park on Edgewater Drive in Vermilion on the Lake features a steep slope down to a broken concrete breakwall.
There’s no sand but it’s a good spot for fishing. In fact, we found a couple out casting a line and sun-bathing. Across the street is a pavilion, basketball court, playground, tennis court, and soccer nets.
Farther down Edgewater is Brownhelm Township Lakefront Beach, one of several tiny vantage points featuring little more than a picnic table or bench overlooking the waves. It’s not a swimming beach — just a pleasant spot to sit for lunch on a sunny day, or to watch a storm roll in.
Next up: Lakeview Park on Rt. 6 in Lorain, the king of the Lorain County beaches. If you’re looking to take a dip, tan, watch the gulls, or play some beach volleyball, it’s the spot.
The wide expanse of warm, clean sand features a view of the Lorain Lighthouse, sailboats, and tankers traveling to port. There’s a beach playground, a roped-off swimming area watched over by lifeguards, gardens, picnic spaces, and a restaurant. During our visit, kites flew overhead, anchored in the sand.
Also in Lorain is Century Park, a rocky overlook that attracts anglers. It features benches, bathrooms, a playground, and tables.
Several beachfront areas dot the Sheffield Lake coastline, though none are intended for swimmers.
There’s Lakewood Beach Park, which is easy to miss and looks rough from the road. Trees all but hide the fact there’s a short sandy stretch where you can get your feet wet, and it’s actually rather clean by the water, where we found sunbathers.
The Community Park Ramp is a boat launch next to Domonkas Public Library, with oversized parking slots for trailers.
West Shore Park Playground, next to the Joyce E. Hanks Community Center, features a pavilion, swings, picnic tables, and gazebo overlooking the water.
And finally, Shell Cove Park has a newer walk-out observation deck overlooking the water, as well as older playground equipment. It’s most interesting feature: a kiosk paying tribute to the dunkleosteus terrelli, prehistoric armored fish that lived in the Devonian sea that covered much of North America more than 350 million years ago. Its fossils were discovered in 1867 along the shale cliffs of Sheffield Lake.
Crossing into Avon Lake, you can find the city’s boat launch and fishing pier next to Miller Road Park. The water is fenced off but the park is perfect for watching Lake Erie from the shade.
Veterans Memorial Park is home to the annual Avon Heritage Duct Tape Festival and spans 98 acres with a fishing pond, playground, pavilions, and a number of baseball, football, softball, and soccer fields.
Most of the park is located south of Rt. 6 but it does include a well-kept waterfront section with boat and jet ski dock and playground. A 300-foot-long sandy beach is almost hidden, but you’ll find washrooms, umbrellas, and a very clean place to swim.
To end our trip, we ventured just a little farther down into Bay Village in Cuyahoga County, where Huntington Beach is an extremely popular destination. It’s a favorite spot for lake kayakers, jet skiers, and swimmers and has changing rooms, beach chair rentals, and fishing access.
The park has pavilions with tables and grills. If you want to buy food, The Hut offers nachos, pretzels, ice cream, and hot dogs.
Across the street, the Cleveland MetroParks site continues with three miles of nature trails and the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center.
Jason Hawk and Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-775-1611, jhawk@aimmediamidwest, jdelozier@aimmediamidwest, or @EditorHawk and @DelozierNews on Twitter.