5 Adventures the Whole Family Can Enjoy
Tucked away in the northeast corner of the state, the city of Ashtabula, Ohio is a destination for families. Perhaps it’s the proximity to Lake Eerie or simply the vast array of activities available for all ages. From covered bridges to beach-parks-a-plenty to quaint shops and local restaurants, Ashtabula will keep you busy no matter the season. Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a cell phone type of picture-taker, keep those cameras ready to capture the unique beauty of this area.
Go Where the City Meets the Harbor
Locally owned shops and restaurants line Bridge Street making this a popular attraction. The architecture and historic buildings give the area a unique charm while the specialty stores add to the one-of-a-kind experience. For a cup of coffee or a quick treat, the restaurants and cafes have something for the whole family. Take your lunch or ice cream to a bench overlooking the harbor where Ashtabula River meets Lake Eerie; you may see some fisherman casting a line or boats coming and going. One of the highlights of the harbor is a lift bridge. For an extra treat, visit at dusk when the bridge and surrounding buildings are lit up.
Hit the Beach Year-Round at Lake Shore Park
Get up close and personal with Lake Erie at Lake Shore Park (1700 E. 1st St., Ashtabula, OH). Whether you’re making it a full-on beach day or simply want to stop in for a picnic or round of disc golf, this year-round spot is a great place to bring the kids. There’s a playground for the little ones and a pond to feed the ducks. In the winter months, sled down the surrounding hills and take some photos of the lake with its frosty cover. Looking for a laid back event? Car shows, food and wine festivals, holiday lights are some of the activities hosted at the park.
Get Outside and Go Under Cover
Ashtabula County is home to 17 covered bridges, and while you may not get to all of them, Smolen-Gulf Bridge (7001 State Rd., Ashtabula, OH) is a must-see. It’s the longest covered bridge in the United States at 613 feet long, and 93 feet above the Ashtabula River. While the bridge itself is a sight, don’t forget your tennis shoes—the area is full of hiking trails. If a hike isn't on the agenda, make sure to at least walk across the bridge. Pack a lunch and enjoy the picnic area.
If You Fall for a Good Waterfall
While the county is home to many great falls, there’s one right in Ashtabula you don’t want to miss. Cederquist Falls (West 24th St., Ashtabula, OH) is a narrow cascade that drops 30 feet. The trail leading in is easily accessible for families. It's just a short half-mile hike in from the trail network at Indian Trail Park. While you may not be able to swim near the falls, nature lovers delight in the sight and sound of the waterfall. The falls come with some history attached: It's just a short walk from the site of the Ashtabula Railroad Bridge Disaster of 1876, where 92 people died when a bridge over the river gave out.
Calling All Art Lovers
For the art lovers both young and young-at-heart, check out the Ashtabula Arts Center (2928 W. 13th St., Ashtabula, OH). While locals flock here for its wide array of class offerings, tourists are no strangers to this hidden gem. The art gallery offers free admission and has rotating exhibits. There are year-round theater performances for all ages to enjoy. If visiting in the summer, you may catch a musical outdoors in The Tent. A staple in the community for 60 years, the Ashtabula Arts Center is a place you’ll want to spend a few hours.
Erinne is a freelance writer living in Maine. Her work has been published by The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Prevention Magazine, Parents Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Chicago Tribune, Men's Journal and more.