Time to take a day trip? There are several options in and around Cleveland. One of my favorites is Vermilion, located on the shores of Lake Erie just about 35 miles west of Cleveland by car or boat. I moved to Vermilion as a sophomore in high school, so every time I visit, it’s a homecoming for me. To help us teens adjust, my dad bought a small boat to invite new friends aboard. Parents moving kids, take note: bribes work!
The Vermilion High School Sailors mascot is proudly painted on the water tower to welcome sail boats and power boats to both private and public marinas. The Harbour Town 1837 Historic District centers around Main Street and Liberty Avenue and is the hub of activity.
Exchange Park holds farm markets and festivals; the most famous are the Wooly Bear held in the fall and the Fish Festival every June. Steps away from the park are shops and restaurants. Three of my favorites are Chez Francois, which sits alongside the Vermilion River overlooking the revered neighborhood; The Lagoons, with some of the best French food in Northeast Ohio; and authentic Czech dishes at The Old Prague, family owned and operated since 1967 with live music seven days a week in the summers. Get your camera ready for the beautiful streetscape of plantings and flowers, which are cared for by over 100 volunteers who give their time to Vermilion in Bloom.
One of the most popular and easily accessible public beaches is the Main Street Beach. There is an observation deck with benches, a sandy beach where you can launch a kayak or canoe, and plenty of room to toss sticks to your water-loving dog. Main Street Beach is ADA accessible with a mobility mat and a sand wheelchair. While you’re there, look for the beach shack, Shore Thing. The beach has dedicated, volunteer caretakers plus sand chair rentals, concessions, beach glass jewelry, and visitor information.
As every small town has its own haunted stories, ours was Gore Orphanage. A favorite dare for us teens was to take a night drive, park, and walk towards the original site. After hearing something move and running back as fast as we could, one of us inevitably found the dusty fingerprints of children on the car door. Before ending our day trip all these years later, I still enjoy a drive out to Gore Orphanage Road to visit the estate winery, Vermilion Valley Vineyards. Old habits die hard; we still check for dusty fingerprints on our car door before we hop on I-90 as we head for home.