Red, White & Relax: A Local’s Guide to Relaxing in the Lake Erie Shores & Islands After Independence Day

July 06, 2015

Tip #1 — If you're anything like me getting up really early on vacation is not an ideal relaxation technique. 8 o'clock? Sure. 6 o'clock? Not so much. However, a nice breakfast and a cup of coffee is very useful.  Mr. Smith's Coffee House, in downtown Sandusky, is just the place, offering tasty croissant breakfast sandwiches, muffins, rich coffee, French-style sidewalk patio seating and the sound of seagulls waking up around you — this is my happy breakfast place. 

Tip #2 — It's never too early to eat chocolate. Well 6 a.m. might be since I'm not up yet, but you get the gist. Tre Sorelle Cioccolato is right down the street from Mr. Smith's and opens on the dot at 10 a.m. Two words: Merlot Truffles. 

Tip #3 — Get on a boat. There's nothing more calming than zoning out to the hum of a ferry boat engine while taking in the sights and sounds of Lake Erie on your way to Ohio's version of a Caribbean island. The Miller Ferry is a great way to get to Put-in-Bay while the Kelleys Island Ferry is the ideal transportation to Kelleys Island. The Jet Express will take you to either island and rest assured, whichever island you decide to visit, everyone there will be on island time. And, in case you were wondering, islanders have all the time in the world. 

Tip #4 — Have lunch on that island. 

Put-in-BayThe Goat Soup & Whiskey may be a little off-the-beaten-path, and by that I mean a mere five minute walk, but that short walk is well worth it. The garden-style patio area is perfect for enjoying one of their signature basil mojito's while munching on their legendary perch tacos. Remember what I said about chocolate? The Chocolate Cafe & Museum is directly below should you need dessert. 

Kelleys Island:  A perch sandwich and a high five from Gary at The Village Pump. Trust me. 

Tip #5 — Take a stroll through Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve. Although there are many, this may be my favorite nature spot around. Make your way through the dense forest and marshlands via a smooth paved trail checking out all the wildlife on the way. At the end you'll be rewarded with a beautifully maintained, white sand beach to the right or a natural barrier beach to the left with a gorgeous vista of Lake Erie and the east side of Cedar Point. 

Tip #6 — Sit and wait for a freighter to cruise by at Dockside Cafe. Unbeknownst to most, Dockside Cafe has a tradition of serving $5 rum punch buckets when a large freighter floats through the channel in Sandusky Bay. Of course there's always the off chance that one may not come by while you're there, but then you're still at a beautiful outdoor restaurant venue with fantastic food and cocktails. No harm, no foul.

Tip #7 — Catch a glimpse of a Lake Erie sunset. As someone who lives here full-time and can attest, they never get old. So how about a list within a list? My favorites places to view a sunset along the coast are: 

Sandusky: Shoreline Park 

Huron: Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve

Port Clinton
: Doc's Beach House

Vermilion: Main St. Beach 

Marblehead: Marblehead Lighthouse

Catawba: Aboard the Miller Ferry

Tip #8 — Take a trip back into the 1930's. Volstead Bar has no sign. You won't find it on a billboard. You won't see it advertised in a magazine. But you just may hear of it through the grapevine. Staying true to the speakeasy culture, this hidden 24-seat gem tucked away on Water St. in Sandusky is perfect for a classy nightcap. Handcrafted cocktails are their specialty and range anywhere from the refreshing Moscow Mule to the bourbon-forward Sazerac. The ideal end to a day of relaxation in the Lake Erie Shores & Islands. 

Visited before and want to add something to the list? Share in the comments below or give us a shout out on social media!

A graduate of communications at Ohio University, Chad Whaley is a Midwest writer/bartender/blogger who is primarily employed by Greendoor Mediaworks as a public relations and media specialist. Having resided in both the South and the West, he is equally at home in the water and the mountains and has never seen a sunset he didn’t like. When not in the office or behind the bar he’s most at home outdoors skiing, golfing and traveling. 

Tagged: relax, Sandusky, ohio, Port Clinton, travel, food, shores & islands, sunset, drinks, Catawba, Jet Express, Lake Erie, Marblehead, Miller Ferry, beaches, Lake Erie Love