Lakeside town offers splendid sunsets, sentimental ‘Strip’

Think beach towns, and some famous locales spring to mind, such as Virginia Beach, Coney Island and Myrtle Beach.

But Ohioans can enjoy a quirky little beach town of their own without having to climb aboard an airplane or spend hours upon hours behind the wheel.

If you’ve still got time before the chaos of school consumes your life, consider taking a road trip three hours northeast of Columbus to Geneva on the Lake, where summer is in full session. The village, along the shores of Lake Erie in Ashtabula County, bears the look of an ocean-side town, with a boardwalk-style row of shops, arcades, eateries and beer joints juxtaposed against the serenity of the lake.

Geneva on the Lake was established in 1869 and has long been a vacation destination for Ohioans and visitors from neighboring states. There are plenty of reasons to seek it out today.

First of all, there’s the lake. The raised elevation of the village affords picturesque views of Lake Erie and the water sports that go on there, especially at sunset. Powered boats pulling water skiers zoom by while delicate sailboats glide across the sparkling horizon. A popular public beach in Ashtabula County is at the Geneva State Park. It has a 300-foot swimming beach with doable sand. I say doable because you can walk barefoot on it or build a sand castle, but its also full of stones.

Another great place to experience the beauty of the lake is to schedule a stay at the Lodge at Geneva on the Lake. The property is owned by Ashtabula County and is adjacent to the state park. It’s operated by Delaware North Corp., which specializes in running large parks, such as Yosemite National Park and Niagara Falls State Park.

The real fun is kicking around Lake Street, or Rt. 531, which is lined by cottages and a funky collection of stores. The mile-long main drag, known up here as “the Strip,” isn’t exactly upscale. It’s where bikers can mix with families or a gaggle of girls out on a bachelorette party.

There’s a water slide and a Ferris wheel located on the strip, vestiges of the old Erieview Park, which is now closed. There also are plenty of fun places to eat, including the ’50s-style Eddie’s Grill, where you can get foot-long hot dogs and fries, or Capo’s Pizza, which has been dishing out tasty slices since 1965.

Another fun family spot is Adventure Zone, near the lodge. It’s got a go-kart track, a climbing wall, miniature golf, bumper boats, batting cages, arcade games and a nifty, metal carousel from Erieview Park.

If you drive through Geneva, stop off at Arthur & Lloyd’s, a renovated pharmacy that has a fun soda fountain, a wine bar and a room where the old apothecary is on display. It’s also got a great selection of old-fashioned candies. The sugar boost also will come in handy for your journey back to Columbus.

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