Lakeside is located in Northern Ohio between Port Clinton and Marblehead. Lakeside was established in 1873 and recently had it’s mile long coastline voted “Ohio’s most beautiful mile”. Lakeside’s motto is “Renew the body, mind and spirit”.
My first visit to this wonderful getaway was in 1998, and I’ve returned every summer without fail for 22 years, my family and I love it,’ but it’s not for everybody!
My father-in-law invited my wife, daughter and me to spend Labor Day weekend (1998) with him in Lakeside. We thought, at the time, it was some weird gated Christian community where you had to pay to enter the “city”. City? A small 1950’s village is more like it.
Lakeside consists of about 1,500 “cottages” and a town square. Luckily he footed the bill for that first trip, as we were young parents and had no money, but were happy to have a mini-paid vacation from Athens. Lakeside is a non-profit, meaning the fees that are paid for entrance are used for their programming and improvements.
To be completely honest, our first visit left a bit to be desired… we were sort of young, rebellious hippies, and this place was pretty conservative and quiet… there were more “Bush / Cheney” stickers floating around than at a Texas Rangers Baseball field parking lot, and some of the people seemed sort of standoffish.
The next year we tried the nearby island of Put-in-Bay, but that was entirely TOO radical and loud.
We returned to Lakeside, year after year, and on each visit we found more to fall in love with. It was certainly made more magical by having children. Lakeside is like “stepping back in time”, where you can let kids as young as 5 or so run around, or leave your bicycle or bag unattended and I promise you, although you might not believe me until you see it, you won’t think twice about their safety.
Our extended family has taken to renting the same house near the water each year for a week and I find it my favorite week of the year. There’s plenty to do and plenty to not do.
There’s a great town square which has coffee and souvenir shops, a great little putt putt course (stained with my tears) right on the water, various concerts and seminars, a quaint vintage movie theater, playground, shuffleboard, golf carts and bicycles everywhere, restaurants, and more ice cream shops than combustible engines. What you won’t see is a lot of cars or traffic, stressed out people rushing about in a hurry or fear of crime.
Lakeside’s crown jewel, besides the 125 year old Hotel Lakeside (which has welcomed US presidents and other dignitaries as guests over it’s long history) is the pavilion and pier, where you can rent kayaks or small sailboats and which stretches (approx) 150 yards deep into Lake Erie, making it so you can almost reach out and touch Put In Bay, and Kelley’s Island, where people enjoy sunbathing, swimming, strolling and fishing. They also recently added a wonderful new pool that has slide, a splash park for little ones, and features a gradually slopping walk in “zero entry” walk in entrance, water volleyball, and access for wheelchairs.
Each year we find something new to love about Lakeside. Besides re-connecting with my family, good food, relaxing and playing in and next to the splashing waves, I enjoy taking walks at night, or what I’ve taken to calling “turbo-blasters.” I guess the nickname stems from the fact that no matter where you walk in Lakeside, it seems the wind is always at your back, so you walk fast, and with a smooth ease. No hills, stars as deep as you can imagine and frequent meteor showers, and the waves, its really the most spiritually rejuvenating 40 minutes you could ever spend in any given day.
I also do a lot of goal setting up there on the lake. I like to joke, “when I’m in Lakeside, I think big… like “I should run for President!!!”. When I’m in Athens I’m like…”I should get a new pair of shoes.” I’ve already accomplished one of the goals I set just weeks after this years return, blogging about beautiful Lakeside so I can make the feds give me a tax deduction for my trip. Done!
Each time we have to leave Lakeside, we always feel a bit like a 8 year old little kid… kicking the dirt and crying and getting mad and sad, but summer comes around pretty quick and we always look forward to our return.
Check out their amazing website (we did not build this site, we’re just big fans) and take the 200 mile journey there sometime, you won’t be disappointed. If you have questions you can email me as I never tire of talking about this unique getaway on the shores of Lake Erie.