Sure, Ohio is in the middle of the country (hello, Midwest!), but that doesn't mean there aren't beautiful beaches to enjoy when you visit. Whether you're in the north-central part of the Buckeye State at a theme park or even in the middle visiting a state park, here are the 12 best beaches in Ohio.
1. Cedar Point Amusement Park Beach
If you've never been to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, OH, it truly is the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World.” And while fans mainly hit the park turnstiles for its thrill rides, those who enjoy a more leisurely day head to its beach to relax and enjoy the pretty, albeit windy, weather.
Created exclusively for its theme park and resort guests, this Ohio beach offers soft sand and beach activities, including sand volleyball, jet ski rentals, and plenty of lounge chairs.
You can come and go as you please during theme park hours, but if you stay at Hotel Breakers, head down to the shore at sunrise for spectacular photos you won't believe you took in Ohio.
2. Conneaut Twp. Park Beach
Located in Conneaut, OH, the shoreline's beautiful view of Lake Erie is ideal for sunset visits, late-night picnics, and natural bluffs. For folks that live nearby, it's a hidden gem that's visited no matter what time of year.
In addition to the beach area, there are 60 acres of parkland to explore, so feel free to bring the puppies.
3. Geneva State Park Beach
If you're concerned about carrying entrance fee money for Ohio State Parks, there's no need to worry: every Buckeye State Park is always free to enter. Yep, we're one of the only states in the U.S. to offer complimentary admission to residents and out-of-town visitors.
If you enjoy a relaxing day to sit on the beach and listen to the waves, Geneva State Park Beach will be right up your street. But, if you want some excellent activities, there are plenty of large rocks to explore, beach glass to hunt, and small, pretty stones to take home.
4. Headlands Beach State Park
The largest natural sand beach in Ohio, Headlands Beach State Park, is massive because it's 35 acres of sandy fun. Sure, you can swim in the calm waters or lay in the sun (I'm playing the mom card here: remember your sunscreen!); it's an excellent spot for summer sunsets, picnics, and birding.
Additionally, the park has dunes (I would have thought Ohio had sand dunes when I started digging into its beaches) that create a unique habitat for plants and animals.
5. Euclid Beach
Euclid Beach is more diminutive than Headlands Beach, but it does have 650 feet of sandy area. But what it may lack in size, it packs a punch in beauty. If you love theme parks, explore the area for remnants of the former Euclid Beach Amusement Park.
The park offers free concerts, an observation pier, and plenty of shady picnic spots to amp up the summer fun for its guests.
6. Maumee Bay State Park Beach
If I haven't mentioned just how much I love Ohio State Parks, I'm officially putting it into the universe, and Maumee State Park is one of them. But I have to clarify about the beach – there's not just one; there are two on-property sandy spots.
It depends on what scenic view you want to check out to determine which beach to pick. Its first beach, on the Lake Erie shoreline, is perfect for people who love exploring rocky areas and looking for rocks or beach glass. The second, while still beautiful on its inland lake, is much smaller, and the water calmer.
7. Huntington Reservation
Another gorgeous beach on Lake Erie, Huntington Reservation, is less busy than the more extensive beaches on this list, but that doesn't make it as impressive.
Located in Bay Village, the area is ideal for swimming, lying on the beach, kayaking, and spying on plenty of Ohio wildlife.
8. Salt Fork Lake Beach
With a 2,500-foot beach area, Salt Fork Lake Beach is one of the largest in Ohio. While you won't find pristinely-clear water like you would near U.S. Coast beaches, it is still enjoyable for swimming, picnicking, birdwatching, or reading a good book.
9. Nickel Plate Beach
First, can we talk about how fun the name Nickel Plate Beach is? I had to dig into the term's history, but the beach was named for the Nickel Plate Railroad Company and is on its property.
Another fun Ohio fact that folks not near the state may consider: we have lighthouses. And not just a couple, my friends, but 18. Nickel Plate Beach has a fun view of the nearby Huron Lighthouse, a playground, volleyball courts, cornhole boards, and plenty of sand.
10. Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park Beach
Fairport Harbor Lakefront Beach is very family-friendly, so get ready to see plenty of colorful beach umbrellas if you're visiting during peak season, aka, the summer. I enjoy this beach because it is only a few feet away from a woodsy area if you want shady places to avoid the sun.
11. Fox Island State Park Beach
An adorable beach, Fox Island, is in Russells Point, OH. If off-the-beaten-path beaches are more your style, you'll love this one, especially on weekdays. The entire park is 605 acres, but in that smaller space are plenty of activities to try including birdwatching, hunting for rocks, and playing on and along the beach area.
12. Catawba Island State Park Beach
When I hear catawba, I think of the famous grapes that make my favorite sweet wines. If you want a traditional, sandy beach like the other Ohio beaches I've listed, you may skip Catawba Island State Park Beach, as it's more of a cobblestone texture. Personally, I'm happy to keep my sandals on and hunt for rocks that catch my eye, but it is worth noting.
Okay, so there's only a little actual sand. So, what can you do when you visit? There's plenty of fishing (you'll need an inexpensive Ohio fishing license before you put your pole in the water, though), a couple of picnic areas, and in winter, you can ice skate when the conditions are ideal.