As a kid, my favorite time of year would be when we’d travel down to the Chesapeake Bay in Virginia during the summer. Mornings would be spent waking up to the sound of the waves outside our windows, followed by days fishing, swimming, and rowing. If I wasn’t in the water, I’d be nearby – biking up and down the beach or digging into a bucket of crab legs.
When Scott and I were considering our move to Cleveland, one of the deciding factors was that it was right off the coast of Lake Erie — because with the lake, comes small lakeside towns and resorts waiting to be explored.
Scott and I packed up the car for just such a getaway when we traveled out to Geneva-on-the-Lake a couple of weekends ago.
Called Ohio’s First Summer Resort, Geneva-on-the-Lake is an aptly named, quaint lakeside town in Ashtabula County. Although some establishments are open year-round, Geneva-on-the-Lake is really coming alive right now. As the summer season is about to start, with it comes fishing, boating and swimming during the day, and arcades, amusement rides, restaurants, live music and other various nightlife in the evening.
As Scott and I quickly discovered during our visit, it was the perfect mix of the Chesapeake’s laidback respite with the more high-energy shoretown of Brigantine, New Jersey where Scott spent his summers.
Although we visited Geneva-on-the-Lake at the tail-end of the winter season with many businesses yet to open for summer, we were able to find a lot to do – like a stop by the Old Firehouse Winery (which boasts a dinner theatre, ferris wheel and great views of the lake in addition to wine and food) as well as indulging in our mutual love of arcades at Adventure Zone which we left with a handful of winnings – a set of dominoes and 3 plastic dinosaurs.
What sets Geneva-on-the-Lake apart from other shore towns, though, is that the surrounding area offers even more to do.
For those looking to take in Ohio countryside, there’s no shortage of rolling hills and beautiful scenery (including over 15 covered bridges).
In nearby Geneva we enjoyed a morning of eclectic antique shops and a visit to Rees’ Corner, an old-fashioned soda fountain and ice cream shop in the town’s old corner pharmacy. If you visit Geneva, I definitely recommend stopping by for a lime phosphate or a rootbeer float.
And then, of course, there are the wineries. With 20 wineries in the area, many make a trip to Geneva, Geneva-on-the-Lake and the rest of the Ashtabula region just to sample the wine.
Because we wanted to pack as much of the area as possible into 2 days, Scott and I paid a visit to just 6 of the wineries – the aforementioned Old Firehouse in Geneva-on-the-Lake, heavy-hitters like Ferrante and Debonne, and more intimate settings like South River, Laurello, and Spring Hill.
I loved that every winery had something unique to offer – whether it was the wine, the food, the setting or all of the above. While it was difficult to choose, our favorites were Laurello, South River and Debonne.
At Laurello, we savored a lemoncello truffle sorbet – an absolutely delightful dessert that was the perfect complement to their wines. They also offered one of the best tasting deals with 6 wines of our choice, cheese and crackers, and a souvenir wine glass for $10.
Sipping wine on Debonne’s patio provided us a rustic last stop for our tour – where we watched an old plane practice landing and taking off at the adjacent airstrip and also sampled some of their Cellar Rats beer. Scott and I are planning our return trip for hot air balloons and remote controlled planes later in the season.
Finally, South River not just had our favorite wines of the trip (I may have brought home more than a few bottles of Riesling and Semillon), but the historic church that the tasting room is located in is a unique, quiet setting for sipping wine. It looks out on a beautiful pavilion and 70 acres of vineyard.
Because you can’t explore everything in one day, you’ll most likely need to look for a place to spend the night. And as we learned when we stayed there, The Lodge at Geneva is the perfect place to rest up.
Adjacent to the State Park, The Lodge offers everything this visitor needed and then some:
- on-site dining and a bar that overlooks the sun setting on the lake
- indoor and outdoor pools
- access to park trails and walkways that will either lead you for a stroll along the lake or into town
- a lobby reminiscent of a mountain lodge featuring a beautiful stone fireplace
The rooms themselves are styled like a country inn – complementary to the Geneva wine-country. Guests can choose between rooms with views of the lobby or the lake, and large suites, family rooms, and whirlpool king rooms are available in addition to standard-sized rooms.
When we stayed at The Lodge, our room featured a balcony which looked out on the lake. Waking up in the middle of the night to hear the lake and see the lights of the buoys was a nice reminder of growing up in Virginia. Plus, having the sun wake me up instead of an alarm was a much needed break from my normal morning routine.
The rooms come with standard amenities as well as free wi-fi. Additional amenities such as mini-fridges and microwaves are available upon request.
We didn’t spend a lot of time in the room, of course! During our downtime from traveling around the region, we spent the rest of our weekend exploring what the hotel offered. From bike rentals to swimming and massage services, there are a lot of activities to help you escape without leaving the comfort of the hotel. And if you don’t have a designated driver for the wineries, you can reserve a spot on The Lodge’s wine shuttle (be sure to call ahead for this because we learned the hard way that the shuttle fills up fast).
Depending on the season, there’s fishing, birdwatching, an outdoor playground for children, volleyball nets and horse-shoe courts; winter fun includes snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Many of these activities are family-friendly as well — during my visit, I was impressed by how child and pet-friendly The Lodge is, while still accommodating conference groups and adults on vacation.
While we were at The Lodge, we enjoyed a dinner at Horizons restaurant, a swim in the indoor pool and walks along the shore – it was hard to choose, but I think the pool was my favorite highlight. I haven’t been swimming since last summer and their huge indoor pool features gigantic windows that look out on the lake.
Regardless of the amenities, though, a hotel stay can often be easily ruined by subpar service. Fortunately, that wasn’t a problem with The Lodge. No matter whom we spoke with – whether it was our server at dinner, housekeeping or the team at the check-in desk – everyone was proactive in ensuring their guests’ stays were comfortable. In particular, I was impressed by Jason who helped us when we arrived a bit early for check-in – he was very friendly and made a number of great suggestions on how to spend our time before check-in.
Although Scott and I have been big into long roadtrips this year, we recently started to discover there is a world of daytrips right outside of Cleveland just begging to be explored. And if they’re anything like our trip to Geneva-on-the-Lake, I have the feeling Scott and I will be trading in the 8-hour car rides for much closer locales this summer.
Disclosure: After being unavailable to attend a Blogger Weekend last Fall at The Lodge at Geneva, I was invited to stay at The Lodge this Spring. One night’s accommodations and one dinner and breakfast were included; however, I paid for the rest of the trip.