Geneva on the Lake
Summer in Geneva-on-the-Lake has been a tradition since the right after the Civil War. Generations have made the annual pilgrimage to Ohio’s first summer resort and it is easy to see why.
Geneva-on-the-Lake exemplifies those lazy days of summer when the most important decisions of the day are, “Where do you want to eat tonight?”, “Should we go for a swim or cruise ‘The Strip’”? You will have a lot of tough choices when visiting this beautiful community located in northwest Ashtabula County. The lake will play a major role during your stay. At nearby Geneva State Park you will be able to swim and sunbathe on an expansive beach, enjoy a family picnic, get in a leisurely 18 holes, arrange a fishing charter and dock your boat.
Then the famous Geneva-on-the-Lake “Strip” awaits you. The mile-long
“Strip” features lakefront wineries, restaurants, shops, mini-golf, go-karts, bumper boats, arcades and much more. You will find something to do here, regardless of your age and interests. The “Strip” truly has broad-based appeal.
If you follow the Lake Erie breezes to the northwest corner of the county, your destination stop is Geneva with its century-old charm mixed with modern conveniences.
Shoppers will have a heyday in shops featuring everything from antiques to hardware to even a charming Christmas store. Treat yourself to an old-fashioned soda uptown and golfers can enjoy a round at one of the area’s challenging golf courses.
Scattered around the township are bed and breakfast inns and scenic campgrounds. There are also other convenient accommodations and restaurants right off I-90 at Route 534. Geneva is known for its agriculture and grape-growing in the Grand River Valley Appellation. It is home to a number of wineries and each harvest season one can shop at roadside markets for fruits, vegetables and flowers.
With its prominence for grape growing, the city of Geneva each September celebrates the harvest with the Grape JAMboreee. Held on the last full weekend in September the town festival draws thousands of people to enjoy continuous entertainment acts, parades, grape products and even grape stomping contests.
Visitors to the City of Ashtabula can keep busy finding an array of cultural, historic and shopping attractions all around town. Downtown on Main Avenue one can find a number of shops and businesses to peruse as well as dine in a quality restaurant. Stop and sit a spell in one of several parks and see a one-of-a kind War Memorial. Along Route 20 there are a number of restaurants and affordable accommodations for an overnight stay or longer.
Ashtabula Mall is west of the city on Route 20, where visitors can browse and shop at a number of familiar chain and upscale stores. Other places of interest along Lake Avenue are more eateries, a branch of Kent State University and the popular Ashtabula Arts Center with its changing programs and exhibits through the year.
The history buff won’t want to miss a visit to Ashtabula’s Historic Harbor District. It is home to the Hubbard House and the Great Lakes Marine & Coast Guard Museum. Also featured are a number of quaint shops as well as bed and breakfast accommodations. Point Park at the harbor offers an excellent view of Lake Erie and the busy harbor with Great Lakes and ocean going freighters stopping off as well as small watercrafts plying the waterway.
During the summer months there are lots of special events held at Historic Harbor District including the Bridge Street Buzz and Farmers Markets. West of the harbor is Walnut Beach where one can take a dip in Lake Erie, walk along the shoreline or just relax. Walnut Beach is also the site of a great fireworks display each Fourth of July weekend.
Located along Lake Erie’s shore in the northeast section of Ashtabula County is Conneaut. The Seneca Indians, who once roamed this part of Ohio, named the region. It means, “Where snows remain later”. And indeed in the wintertime the Conneaut area is a scene of serene whiteness, but also a place for visitors to find peace and quiet relaxation all year long.
Conneaut is a place steeped in history and culture. One can hike woodlands as the Seneca’s did centuries ago to experience timeless beauty. Visitors can step back in time with a visit to the Conneaut Railroad Museum with its huge steam locomotive and old authentic rail cars now stationary in time along with historical memorabilia on the Iron Horse era of history in this part of the state.
For variety on your visit take in concerts on Sunday evenings from June to August at the Conneaut Community Center, once known as the Finnish Meeting House. The center offers classes in the arts, music, dance and hobbies. The community boasts four wineries and three covered bridges.
The Conneaut Harbor is another center for visitors, offering a variety of restaurants, a marina, beaches and picturesque parks on the lakeshore. Lodging accommodations include half a dozen bed and breakfasts and a national chain hotel for a perfect stay while here. For the fishing crowd don’t overlook Conneaut Creek for a day of steelhead fishing in the spring and fall.
In the center of Ashtabula County is the village of Jefferson, where justice and history have a common ground. As the county seat, Jefferson offers museums, resources and festivals during the year to keep visitors coming back. Railroad history continues in town at the renovated Jefferson Depot where visitors can take a ride during summer and fall months aboard the AC&J High-Grade passenger trail. There are even a number of themed mystery train rides offered through the year. The depot houses displays and rail history memorabilia and is the site of an annual Strawberry Festival each summer. During the Christmas season special events are also staged there. When you visit Jefferson don’t miss the world’s only Victorian Perambulator Museum as well as several landmark buildings. One honors Joshua Giddings, a great abolitionist in the Civil War era. Unique shops dot the town streets offering a variety of gifts and handmade crafted items.
Jefferson is home to the Ashtabula County Fair each summer in August and in October the fairgrounds serve as the central location for the county’s famous Covered Bridge Festival. There are plenty of local eateries and fine restaurants for casual dining enjoyment.
Southeastern Ashtabula County boasts one of the region’s most popular vacation spots, Pymatuning Lake. This area with Andover’s charming town square and park is a central stopping spot. Cabins, beaches, and picnic pavilions surround the lake area on the 17,000 acre man-made lake attracting nature lovers year round. There are numerous fishing and hunting opportunities for the sport minded person, while campers can choose from a variety of premier campgrounds. Summer months bustle with activities and festivals. These include the Andover Street Fair, Pymatuning Lake Festival, Andover Arts & Crafts Fair and the Ashtabula Antique Engine Club offers a July 4th weekend filled with collections of historic engines, farm equipment and exhibits. Andover Square is ringed with shops, restaurants, gift and antique shops and of course bait shops for the fishing crowd. Another unique tourist attraction is the Pymatuning Drive-in Theater, one of only a few left today in northeast Ohio. On weekends first-rate movies are shown and during the daytime hours, the drive-in hosts popular flea markets from spring to fall to keep people coming back for bargains. Antique shops are scattered in this part of the county and in Williamsfield, Wayne and Richmond Township areas there are also a variety of goods made by skilled Amish craftsmen.