All American Road Trip: 3 Delightful Days in Ohio’s Wine Country

Lake Erie is arguably the best of the Great Lakes, a landscape formed from thousands of years of slow glacial molding and subsequent melting. As the warmest—and fourth largest—of the lakes, it is an ideal place for a warm-weather vacation. Not sure where to explore? Keep reading for a three-day road trip itinerary in Ohio’s wine country.

We will explore Lake Erie’s southern shore, beginning our journey in Cleveland, Ohio. This road trip itinerary is perfect for those who prefer less of a drive as we’ll be staying at the same lakefront hotel for the duration of this trip. Stretch it into a four- or five-day road trip, depending on how long you stay at each stop. We’ll also include some bonus stops at the end!

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of Ron Bulovs

DAY 1 – CLEVELAND, OHIO

Begin your journey with a healthy mix of nature and culture by flying in or driving to Cleveland. Start the day with a bang by heading to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Whether you’re a rock music enthusiast or not, no trip to Lake Erie would be complete without a stop at this incredible museum that doubles as a historic attraction. Opened in 1995, there’s plenty to see here to fill an entire afternoon, with both temporary and permanent exhibits, all related to some of the most iconic rock musicians. Watch films, listen to lectures, and attend live performances, all at this unique museum.

Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of Erik Drost

After you’ve stocked up on your music trivia facts, take a short walk to Nuevo Modern Mexican & Tequila Bar for a new twist on Mexican cuisine and a handcrafted cocktail. Once your plate is cleared, hop in the car and get ready for your first Lake Erie experience.

Headlands Beach State Park in Cleveland, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of Erik Drost

Beloved by locals and visitors alike, drive to Headlands Beach State Park and get ready for some fun in the sun. While Lake Erie is home to more than 30 beautiful beaches, this one stands out among the rest. It is the largest, natural sand beach in Ohio and features the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse. Enjoy the hiking and biking trails, cast a line or take a dip in the water! Stay for the sunset or make your way to your lakefront accommodations for the next couple of nights.

The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake in Ohio. Photo Courtesy of marada

Where to Stay Near Lake Erie

Drive a little farther along the southern shores of Lake Erie until you reach the quaint town of Geneva-on-the-Lake. Check in to The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, featuring breathtaking views, well-appointed rooms perfect for couples and solo travelers, and lakefront cottages spacious enough for family vacations and friend getaways.

Eddie’s Grill in Geneva-On-The-Lake, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of Doug Butchy

DAY 2 – GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE

Wake up to tranquil views and prepare for a day of exploration from “The Strip” to the countryside. A genuinely charming, small Ohio town, Geneva-on-the-Lake is a 50s-era throwback to the way holidays used to be (and probably should be again!) Little has changed in this lovely resort town in the decades since its heyday. At about a mile long, it’s easy to explore in just a few hours. Feast on a homecooked breakfast from Mary’s Kitchen, and delight in Mary’s Famous Cinnamon Rolls! Browse the antique stores, take a ride on the Ferris wheel or treat yourself to another bite to eat at Eddie’s Grill, which serves up the best burgers, fish sandwiches, and homemade root beer—just make sure you’re back at The Lodge before 1 p.m. for your next adventure.

Middle Road Covered Bridge in eastern Ashtabula County, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of Nicholas_T

Explore Ohio’s Covered Bridges

From town to country, it’s time to explore one of Ashtabula County’s top attractions. Home to 19 of Ohio’s historic covered bridges, 16 of them are drivable so you can enjoy the area’s scenic countryside and remember a bygone era. The Ashtabula Covered Bridges Trail, also known as the Covered Bridge Loop, offers a dozen covered bridges over a span of 67 miles. To see up to 13 of the top bridges in the area and learn from a knowledgeable guide, reserve your spot on a four-hour Covered Bridge Tour, departing from The Lodge. Additional stops include shopping and dinner!

Return to The Lodge before sunset—giving you enough time to stroll the grounds or take a swim in the pool. Whether or not you’ve already dined, cap the night off at Horizons Lounge. Serving small plates and regional wine, it’s the perfect place to unwind. On the weekends, you’ll also enjoy live entertainment. There’s not much more you could ask for.

DAY 3 – GENEVA-ON-THE-LAKE

Water, then wine. That’s how we’ll spend the final day of your Lake Erie vacation! Wake up bright and early for breakfast at Horizons Restaurant. Fill up on classic breakfast dishes and enjoy the morning light by dining on the patio—you’ll need your energy for this next activity.

The marina at Geneva State Park, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of Mark K.

Kayak in Geneva State Park

Take the short walk from Horizons over to Lake Erie Canopy Tours, where you’ll have already reserved your one-hour boat rental for 10 a.m. Paddle away and explore the gorgeous scenery along Cowles Creek, which flows through Geneva State Park. Swan pedal boat rentals are also available if you prefer a more leisurely water experience.

If you’re traveling with a group or have kids in tow, the Adventure Course is another fun alternative. Trade the water for the trees as you navigate rope obstacles high off the ground!

After your time in Geneva State Park, get dressed for a day at the vineyards.

The Old Firehouse Winery in Geneva-On-The-Lake, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of marada

Explore Ohio’s Wine Country

There are over a dozen wineries to explore in this award-winning winery region. And if you’re looking for the best way to get around without the worry, reserve your spot on The Lodge’s Wine Shuttle. Operating year-round, discover a variety of tour options ranging from the Ice Wine Shuttle in March to the weekly Saturday Signature Immersion Tour led by a certified wine specialist. For a more casual discovery of Ohio’s best wines, take the Deluxe Wine Shuttle which includes one-hour stops at three different wineries.

Just one of the local wineries you can visit is the Harpersfield Vineyard and Winery. Here, the glaciated soil along the Grand River provides rich nutrients, perfect for grape production, and Harpersfield offers excellent Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines—among the finest in North America! For wine shuttle reservations and more information on tours and times, click here.

To complete your day, head back to Horizons Restaurant to sample some of the area’s freshest produce and seafood. With a menu that changes seasonally, there’s always something new to excite your taste buds. Pair your meal with one last glass of local, award-winning wine to commemorate your time in Ohio’s wine country! Get a good night’s rest for an early departure to wherever you call home.

Walkway at Lake Erie Metropark in Brownstown, Michigan. Photo Courtesy of Corey Seeman

BONUS STOP – LAKE ERIE METROPARK

Located just south of Detroit, Lake Erie Metropark provides miles of captivating shoreline and sweeping vistas, with exceptional views of Sugar Island, Grosse Ile, and Celeron Island. It is also a popular birdwatching area with more than 300 species commonly spotted; it is a designated “important Bird Area” and one of the best hawk-watching sites in North America. With an 18-hole golf course, a “Great Wave” swimming pool, a museum, and Nature Center, there is little here not to love.

Maumee Bay State Park in Oregon, Ohio. Photo Courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources

BONUS STOP – MAUMEE BAY STATE PARK

This popular state park features a half-a-mile long beach next to the Cedar Point Wildlife Refuge, just east of Toledo. Maumee Bay State Park features an amphitheater for exceptional entertainment, an inland lake for smooth swimming, a giant inflatable water slide (great for the family), boat rentals, and of course, epic wildlife viewing.


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

Read Next: Discover more than 50 Summer Road Trips throughout the United States.

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