Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Lake County, OH

  • Published 2023/03/30

Expect great times in Lake County, Ohio.

Nestled in the Great Lakes region, this county boasts beautiful parks and nature preserves where you can enjoy plenty of outdoor recreational activities.

Wineries also thrive in the Lake County area on the southern shoreline of Lake Erie, offering visitors a wide selection of fine wines.

Lake County was established in 1840, providing more points of interest within its boundaries, encompassing some 20 cities and municipalities.

On a visit here, you’ll see many historical sites and entertainment centers across Lake County’s nearly 1,000-square-mile territory.

Find out more about the best things to do in Lake County, Ohio.

Explore the Holden Arboretum

People exploring the Holden Arboretum

Kenneth Sponsler /

The Holden Arboretum on Sperry Road in Kirtland is a refreshing stop on a visit to Lake County.

This horticultural wonder sprawls over 3,600 acres, featuring cultivated gardens, lakes, and nature trails.

The gardens in the arboretum include a Display Garden, Butterfly Garden, Hedge Collection, and Herb Garden.

You can explore the arboretum via a 500-foot-long elevated Canopy Walk standing 65 feet over the forest floor.

A pond at the Holden Arboretum

Vejas /

Over 120,000 specimens of trees from around the world are grown in this arboretum which provides guided tram tours.

The Arboretum also offers more than 20 miles of hiking trails winding through gardens and woodlands along ponds and streams.

The trails are ideal for birdwatching, with over 180 bird species inhabiting the Arboretum, such as woodpeckers, warblers, and owls,

The Holden Arboretum has designated several picnic areas for visitors to enjoy a meal amid greeneries.

Pretty flowers at the Holden Arboretum


Visit the Lake Metroparks Farmpark

The Lake Metroparks Farmpark spreads over 235 acres off Euclid Chardon Road in Kirtland.

It offers a fun learning experience with its collection of various farm animals like horses, sheep, cows, pigs, and goats.

These animals are of different breeds and housed in pens for visitors to observe their behaviors.

You can also tour the scenic grounds of Farmpark via its Wagon Ride to learn more about its history.

Visitors can also try their hands milking cows in the farm’s demos.

Lake Metroparks Farmpark also has several educational gardens to explore, including herb, vegetable, and butterfly gardens.

A blacksmith is another point of interest at Farmpark, where a skilled artisan impresses visitors with the art of metalworking.

Watch for Farmpark’s workshops and special events, like harvest festivals and holiday specials.

Launch a Kayak at Chagrin River Park

The Chagrin River Park is one of the Lake County public facilities which offer access to kayaking and canoeing on the Chagrin River.

This 237-acre park, located on Reeves Road in Willoughby Hills, spreads over both sides of the river.

A scenic pedestrian bridge connects the two sides of this park also popular among anglers.

Visitors of this park have easy access to the river banks, as it also features a nature trail nearly three miles long.

The park’s trail, which winds through woodlands, notably has a section open to horseback riding.

The other facilities of this park include a playground, a volleyball court, and picnic sites with tables and grills.

Enjoy the Headlands Beach State Park

The waters of Headlands Beach State Park

Showcase Imaging /

The Headlands Beach State Park is located on Headlands Road in Mentor.

This 120-acre park, with a natural sand beach stretching over a mile long, is Ohio’s largest.

Visitors flock to this beach during summer for swimming and picnics.

View of a lighthouse from Headlands Beach State Park

Ekaterina Cratcha /

The park provides visitors with change booths, concession areas, restrooms, and a picnic shelter.

Boating, fishing, and hunting are the other recreational activities this park offers.

Headlands Beach State Park also provides a two-mile hiking trail; visitors can enjoy sledding and cross-country skiing here in winter.

Hike at Chapin Forest Reservation

The Chapin Forest Reservation boasts one of the most scenic overlooks in Lake County.

This 370-acre park is accessible from Chillicothe Road in Kirtland and has gained popularity for its lush forests and majestic rock formations.

You can explore the reservation via its Lucky Stone Loop Trail, traversing almost six miles of trail amid mature oak, maple, tulip, hemlock, and beech trees.

​One highlight of a hike on this trail comes upon reaching the Sharon Conglomerate ledges.

This overlook offers spectacular views of the Cleveland skyline and Lake Erie on a clear day.

The Chapin Forest Reservation hugs a large section of Gildersleeve Mountain, challenging visitors to climb its 2,120-foot high peak.

Take a Glimpse of Finland at the Finnish Heritage Museum

The Finnish Heritage Museum is on High Street in the village of Fairport Harbor.

It gathers and displays objects celebrating the culture of Finnish immigrants who settled in the Fairport Harbor area.

The museum opened in 2007, displaying artifacts and memorabilia on Finnish art, literature, and music.

You will find an attractive collection of traditional Finnish costumes, textiles, and embroidery at the museum.

The museum also features Finnish dance and music exhibits, including a display of the kantele, Finland’s national instrument.

Festivals celebrating Finnish culture are likewise hosted at the Finnish Heritage Museum.

Tour a Castle at the North Chagrin Reservation

Boardwalk at North Chagrin Reservation

vagabond54 /

The North Chagrin Reservation is one of the top attractions in Willoughby Hills, with a 19th-century castle among its various points of interest.

Accessible from Som Center Road, the Reservation’s grounds are home to the historic Squire’s Castle, built in the 1890s as the residence of a wealthy oil tycoon.

The castle is open to visitors who can also enjoy a picnic at the nearby grounds of the Reservation.

Hiking is another popular activity for Reservation visitors, which features a Sanctuary Marsh Boardwalk traversing a thriving wetland wildlife habitat.

Fishing and kayaking on the Chagrin River, which cuts through the North Chagrin Reservation, add to the fun.

Go Fishing at the Hidden Lake Campsite

Hidden Lake Campsite is located in the secluded area of Hidden Lake in Leroy Township.

At this campsite, you can fish late into the night and early the following day.

All fish except trout in Hidden Lake is catch-and-release; anglers can keep up to five per day.

Besides this campsite, Hidden Lake also features an archery range with an elevated platform for three archers.

Other recreational activities at Hidden Lake Campsite include hiking and picnics.

Shop and Dine at Great Lakes Mall

Great Lakes Mall is a famous shopping center located on Mentor Avenue in Mentor.

The mall provides 1.25 million square feet of retail space with 126 stores.

Its anchors are Dillard’s, JCPenney, Planet Fitness, Round 1 Entertainment, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

This mall opened in 1961, one of the oldest in Ohio.

It also has specialty stores like H&M, Forever 21, and Sephora.

Dining options in the mall include sit-down restaurants and fast-food chains like Subway and Chick-fil-A.

Cinemas, beauty salons, arcade operators, and other service providers are among the tenants at Great Lakes Mall.

Browse the Exhibits at the James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Information board at James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Zack Frank /

The James A. Garfield National Historic Site preserves the legacy of the 20th U.S. President, James A. Garfield, in his family home in Mentor.

This historic site is on Mentor Avenue and features Garfield’s 1880s 20-room Victorian mansion.

President Garfield’s personal belongings and his home’s original furnishings are in this vintage residence.

At the mansion’s Visitor Center, you can watch a short film about the life of Garfield.

Exterior of James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Jeffrey M. Frank /

The Carriage house is another feature of the historic site, displaying memorabilia on Garfield’s military career.

Several walking trails in the historic site have access to Garfield’s beautiful gardens and nearby woodlands and wetlands.

Bring your family to the James A. Garfield National Historic Site!

A windmill at James A. Garfield National Historic Site

Zack Frank /

Sample the Wines of Debonné Vineyards

Debonné Vineyards, located in the village of Madison, offers some of the best picks for wine tasting in Lake County.

At this winery, your choices include Riesling and Ice Wine and Chambourcin red wines Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay.

Aside from wine tasting, you can also enjoy a tour of its vineyard, which is Ohio’s largest at more than 175 acres.

Tours are also open at the winery’s cellar, where wine fermentation, aging, and bottling can be observed.

An onsite restaurant at this winery, the Grill at Debonne, offers menu items promising to make your visit exciting.

Check out the events calendar at Debonne Vineyards for the live music events, harvest festivals, and grape stomping parties it hosts regularly.

Tee Off at Little Mountain Country Club

Little Mountain Country Club takes pride in having one of Ohio’s top golf courses open to the public.

Its 18-hole course is located on Hermitage Road in the city of Painesville, the seat of Lake County.

Regulation play on this course is par 70 over 6,650 yards from the longest tees.

The Little Mountain Country Club opened in 2000.

It meanders across mature woodlands, wide fairways, and exquisite bunkering amid excellent views of Lake Erie.

Golfers can unwind at the bar and patio of the clubhouse after a round of play.

See Wildlife at the Penitentiary Glen Reservation

Lily pad pond at Penitentiary Glen Reservation

vagabond54 /

The Penitentiary Glen Reservation is a fantastic destination for those who want to film Ohio wildlife in their natural habitat.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife has designated this reservation in Kirtland as a “Watchable Wildlife” site.

The wildlife which inhabits the reservation includes coyotes, deer, foxes, and a wide variety of birds.

The 8.5 miles of hiking trails across forests, fields, and wetlands in the reservation offer visitors the chance to view this wildlife.

The reservation also features a Nature Center with interactive exhibits like “Nature Calls” and “Window on Wildlife.”

In addition, there is a pond for fishing on the reservation and areas for picnics.

Seasonal art shows and an annual amateur photography exhibit are also held at Penitentiary Glen Reservation.

Join the Fun at the Lake County Fair

The Lake County Fair, first held in 1889, is one of Ohio’s longest-running fairs.

This annual event typically happens six days toward the end of July at the Lake County Fairgrounds on Mentor Avenue in Painesville.

The fun activities of the fair kick off with an opening-day parade around Painesville.

The Lake County Fair also features traditional animal shows, carnival rides, games, live music, and displays.

Motorsports events like truck and tractor pull, demolition derby, and drag racing add to the fair’s exciting activities.

Learn Maritime History at the Fairport Marine Museum

Exterior of Fairport Marine Museum


The Fairport Marine Museum features an 1800s lighthouse as its centerpiece on the shore of Lake Erie.

This museum near the mouth of Grand River is located on 2nd Street in the village of Fairport Harbor.

Its displays are inside the lighthouse keepers’ house, consisting of artifacts on the Great Lakes’ history and the region’s maritime industry.

The exhibits include historical documents, navigational equipment, ship models, U.S. Coast Guard memorabilia, and shipwreck artifacts.

The Fairport Harbor lighthouse owns the bragging right of being the oldest in Lake Erie that remains operating.

The lighthouse tower is open to visitors to enjoy the panoramic vista of Lake Erie and the surrounding Fairport Harbor area.

Boat tours around the harbor are also available to visitors.

Enjoy the Fairport Marine Museum!

Final Thoughts

Consider Lake County when planning a visit to Ohio.

The county’s lakeshore location brims with significant points of interest.

Discover the best things to do in Lake County, Ohio!

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