By Elaine Kish
Although less than three square miles in size, Geneva-on-the-Lake holds the distinctive title of Ohio’s First Summer Resort. Located in Ashtabula County on the shores of Lake Erie, this picturesque area has an extensive history and offers something for visitors of all ages. During the summer months Lake Road, also known as “The Strip,” is the center of the action with arcades, amusement rides, restaurants, nightclubs and live music. There are outdoor parks, walking and biking trails, golf courses, flea markets and wineries in the area, as well as swimming, boating, water sports and fishing on Lake Erie. An assortment of lodging is available year round with hotels, motels, cottages, cabins, beach houses, condos, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds, many of which have lakefront views and lake access, and some that are pet friendly.
With a lot of history surrounding local restaurants, you can experience some of the favorites as you start your morning with donuts at Madsen Donuts, first opened in 1938. Stop for lunch at Eddie’s Grill, started in 1950 originally as a root beer and hot dog stand, and enjoy dinner at Mary’s Kitchen Restaurant, serving home-style food for nearly 70 years. For fun, you can enjoy a tour of northeast Ohio wineries or play 18 holes at the Geneva-on-the-Lake Golf Course. One of the newest area attractions is FootGolf, also played on the golf course. FootGolf is a combination of soccer and golf that uses a soccer ball rather than a golf ball and golf clubs. The game is played by kicking a #5 soccer ball into a 21” cup in the fewest kicks/strokes possible from a tee box to the green. A family-friendly game for all ages, this 9-hole course is the first of its kind in the area.
Adventure Zone offers go-karts, miniature golf, bumper boats, batting cages, a rock wall, bungy tramp, twin ziplines and a merry-go-round. It’s one stop for hours of fun for all ages. For those wanting to explore the area up close at their own pace, you can rent golf carts, surrey limos and bicycles by the day or hour. Water lovers can rent jet skis, kayaks or paddle boards at the Marina or at Breakwater Beach in the Geneva State Park. You can follow the Summer Fun Heritage Trail to learn some fascinating stories and history of Geneva-on-the-Lake. The Heritage Trail starts at Geneva State Park, and you will bike or walk past more than 20 buildings and sites marked with information commemorating places, events and people who have made this area a summer destination for families for over 140 years. The tour ends at Geneva Township Park. Located nearby is the Geneva State Park with a sand beach for swimming, picnic areas and a 3-mile hiking trail. Fishing is available from the shore or breakwall. Charter fishing boats and scenic cruises can be scheduled at the marina.
The Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva-on-the-Lake is part of the Geneva State Park and offers year-round accommodations with magnificent views of Lake Erie including standard hotel rooms, suites and lakeside cottages. Guests have access to bikes, skies, snowshoes, pools and hot tubs. The wine shuttle service offered out of The Lodge is a safe transportation option when visiting the many wineries in the region. This location is a popular choice for executive retreats, weddings and family get-a-ways. For more information about The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake or to make a reservation, see their website at www.thelodgeatgeneva.com.
The Lodge is scheduled to open the newest area attraction in August 2017; Lake Erie Canopy Tours will allow guests the aerial adventure of zipping through the treetops of Geneva State Park. The network of cables and sky bridges covering 25 acres will offer three options. The Zipline Canopy Tour is a guided 2-2½ hour experience including a side-by-side double zip, swinging bridges, tree top towers up to 60 feet tall and a daring freefall back to earth. The Challenge Course is a 2-hour self-guided ride over 35 elements from easy to extreme. This course will have a continuous belay system for safety. A Kid’s Challenge Course will be similar, but set closer to the ground, with short zips, climbing features and other activities.
Down the road, The Old Firehouse Winery hosts Craft Shows every Saturday from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Originally the first Geneva-on-the-Lake firehouse, the restaurant is decorated with firehouse memorabilia. The Winery makes several award-winning wines on site, so make sure to sample some when you visit. On their patio next to the beach is a Ferris wheel. In 1956 the Ferris wheel became part of a local amusement park, Erieview Park. After its closure in 2007, the wheel was completely rebuilt and relocated to its present site where it is open daily during the summer, weather permitting. The Old Firehouse Winery holds the distinction of the only winery in the world with a working Ferris wheel.
Lakehouse Inn and Winery boasts an ever-changing menu of farm-to-table faire in their restaurant: Crosswinds Grille. With a calendar of unique events and a full-service spa onsite, this is a local favorite.
The 2017 Ribs on the Strip rib burnoff will start on Friday, June 9, and continue through Sunday, June 11. In addition to local restaurants, national competitors attempt to take the title using secret sauce recipes, cooking techniques, etc. Along with tasty food, live entertainment is featured all weekend.
The Thunder on the Strip Motorcycle Rally is the largest of its kind in Ohio. The 11th annual rally will be held September 7 – 10. Thousands of bikers form the Thunder Bike Parade and all visitors can enjoy a weekend of live entertainment, good food and good fun.
For more information about Geneva-on-the-Lake, go to www.visitgenevaonthelake.com or to learn about the surrounding area, request a Visitors Guide at www.visitashtabulacounty.com.