All American Road Trip: Exploring Ohio’s Wine Country in Winter

During the winter months, the Great Lakes transform the landscapes into a winter wonderland. The lakes create their own weather systems, and fortunately for us, that means lots of gorgeous white snow! The abundance of snow and the ample opportunities to explore both unique indoor and outdoor activities makes this three-day road trip itinerary to northeast Ohio one we’re sure you’ll love.

DAY ONE – CLEVELAND

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of Louis.

No trip to Northeast Ohio is complete without stopping at the region’s best-known attraction, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. The city may seem like an odd place for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but it has a long connection to the early careers of many of the icons of the genre, including David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, and Fleetwood Mac. Even the term “rock ‘n’ roll” came from Cleveland, first used by local DJ Alan Freed in 1951.

Plan to spend at least two hours exploring the exhibits and collections at the hall of fame. You can expect to see some remarkable artifacts, from D.M.C.’s classic 1980s black and white Adidas sneakers, John Lennon’s hand-written lyrics, to Elvis and Elton John’s outrageous stage costumes. Beyond the artifacts, exhibits explore the impacts of rock ‘n’ roll music on popular culture and American society. Be sure to take in the unique architecture of the building, too; it was designed by the renowned I.M. Pei, whose other works include the Grand Louvre in Paris.

Where to Eat in Cleveland

The city has become known for its world-class restaurants and fantastic dining experiences led by local and nationally known chefs and restaurateurs. Perhaps the most famous is Cleveland native chef Michael Symon, who you may know from the Food Network, or his ABC show The Chew. Michael’s Mabel’s BBQ in the heart of downtown makes an ideal lunch stop. The eastern European-inspired sides are an absolute must-try. We hope you’re hungry!

Great Lakes Brewing Company in Ohio. Photo Courtesy of Nick Amoscato.

And if you want to explore more of the culinary—and craft brewery—scene in Cleveland, sit down for a pour at Great Lakes Brewing Company. Sample a seasonal and year-round selection of some of the area’s finest local brews. You can also sign up for a tour of the brewery and get a taste of some award-winning beer.

Glass Bubble Project

After lunch, there is one more stop in Cleveland before we head west towards Geneva-on-the-Lake and Ohio’s wine country. Did you know that glass is created from sand? There is something magical about the transformation, and at the Glass Bubble Project, they’ll show you how to create your own blown glass souvenir. The GBP offers one-on-one, hands-on workshops in glass blowing and sold glasswork; all skill levels are welcome to experience these special classes. An afternoon learning to sculpt molten glass into a work of art is a vacation memory you won’t soon forget.

Following a great day exploring Cleveland’s sights, sounds and flavors, we’re a short 45-minute drive to our destination, The Lodge at Geneva-On-The-Lake. Ideally located on Lake Erie’s shores and adjacent to Geneva State Park’s skiing trails.

DAY TWO – GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE

Start your day with breakfast at Mary’s Kitchen; this local eatery has been serving great food for the past 75 years. They’re well known for their cinnamon rolls, omelets, and traditional home cooking. During the winter months, they are only open on weekends; if you’re there during the week, you’re out of luck on the local’s favorite. But don’t worry, during the week, just take the short walk to Horizons Restaurant for a delicious a la carte breakfast—buttermilk pancakes, omelets and more await!

Ohio’s Wine Country

A snow-covered winery in Ohio.

The remainder of the day will be spent enjoying the fine vintages of the region’s wineries. During the week, the deluxe wine shuttle departs from the lodge at 11:30 a.m.; the shuttle takes you to three local wineries based on availability. During the weekend, two custom winery tours depart the lodge at noon. The Saturday tour includes Deboone VineyardsSouth River Vineyards and Kosicek Winery. The Sunday tour includes Grand River CellarsFerrante Winery and South River Vineyards. The weekend tours are hosted by the lodge’s certified wine specialist and include light parings and private tour experiences. Participants in either weekend excursion receive a gift bag containing chocolates from local chocolatier Marianne’s Chocolates and a keepsake wine glass. Could this be the perfect friends’ getaway?

Upon returning to the lodge, Horizons Restaurant offers one of the finest evening dining experiences in the area, with a seasonal menu and extensive wine list. Be sure to leave room for dessert; the apple dumplings are not to be missed.

DAY THREE – GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE

The final day of our winter itinerary is devoted to getting outside, taking in the cold crisp winter air and playing in the famous lake effect snow. Don’t forget to pack your hats and mittens!

Nordic Adventure

The lakeside trail from the lodge is an ideal way to get out and try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Both snowshoes and skis are complimentary for guests of The Lodge. As you get the hang of nordic skiing or snowshoeing along the trail, you can head further out towards Geneva State Park, just a stone’s throw away. The park offers several miles of well-kept trails covering most of the park’s nearly 700 acres.

A snowy picnic area in Geneva State Park, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of Mark K.

We suggest heading back to The Lodge to enjoy lunch. Then swap your winter equipment for the other and head back out to try your hand at the remaining lakeside trails within the park. This midday swap allows you to experience snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on the same day. Bucket list item, check!

After an exhilarating day in the snow and taking in the gorgeous trails along Lake Erie, The Lodge’s heated indoor pool and hot tub make the perfect ending to an active day outdoors.

The Great American Road Trip. Photo from our Original Series Venturing Out: Park 2 Park

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