Vermilion is a harbor city in the counties of Erie and Lorain, Ohio, that sits 35 miles from the city of Cleveland.
Named after the Vermilion River, the city was historically a busy fishing port and small-boat harbor.
The earliest settlers came in the 19thcentury, and according to the 2010 census, the area currently has a population of 10,594.
Vermilion became a city in 1960 when it merged with the neighboring village of Vermilion-on-the-Lake, overlapping the counties of Lorain and Erie.
Recreational boating thrived in the area during the early 20th century, making Vermilion a resort community with lines of beaches and cottages.
It was also dubbed "Village of Lake Captains," where lines of captains’ houses designed in Victorian, Queen Anne, Italianate, and Arts and Crafts house styles were built.
Tourism is actively being promoted by the nonprofit organization Friends of Harbour Town with the catchphrase “Harbor Town 1837”, owing to the city’s maritime community roots.
Vermilion has plenty of relaxing sandy beaches perfect for recreational boating, sailboat rides, and water activities like jet skiing and canoeing, along with parks, trails, and picnic shelters to visit.
Find all these attractions on our list and know the best things to do in Vermilion, Ohio.
Walk the Trails of Cascade Park
Cascade Park is a 145-acre park in downtown Elyria, where the east and west branches of the Black River run.
The park is also operated by the Lorain County Metro Parks in partnership with the City of Elyria.
Cascade Park offers several hiking trails that will give you stunning views that span the whole Black River.
You can get a good view of the park’s waterfalls by taking the asphalt trails overlooking the ledges or following the natural trails passing through wooden bridges and rocks.
You would see several tributaries and smaller streams across this nature park, making some species like the Hemlock thrive abundantly in the area.
The park also has two playground spots, reservable shelters where visitors can stay, and a nature center.
Go for a Relaxing Swim at Main Street Beach
Right in downtown Vermilion on the north end of Main Street is the beach of the same name.
This one-acre swimming beach has a wide stretch of sandy area great for getting that tan, building sandcastles, and beach glass hunting.
Wade in or enjoy a plunge in the cool, steady waters or launch your canoe or kayak for some water activities.
The beach also has an observation deck and benches where you can hang out if you just want a breath of seaside breeze and enjoy the warm sun.
Go for some birdwatching or get to see the remarkable sunset on the deck.
Main Street beach is also ADA accessible with a mobility mat and sand wheelchair.
Visit a shop called Shore Thing, offering concessions and merchandise like beach glass jewelry.
Enjoy Downtown Outdoors at Showse Park
Showse Park is an 18.5-acre municipal park located at Edgewater Drive in Vermilion-on-the-Lake.
You’ll get a fantastic view of Lake Erie from the park and enjoy swimming in the beach waters.
Just take note that there is no lifeguard available in the area, an important thing to know in case you’re swimming with kids.
You can launch and have a boat ride along the Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail
The park also has fields for outdoor sports like baseball, soccer, and courts for basketball and tennis.
Other amenities that you can use in the park are the picnic area and pavilion.
Pay a Visit to Paper Moon Vineyards
Located on State Road, Paper Moon Vineyards is a family-owned business where Vermilion city visitors can just relax and unwind.
The Cawrse family opened the restaurant and winery in 2009 and derived its name from the song, “It's Only a Paper Moon."
Get and savor their esteemed white, red, and rose wine brands and hard cider.
You can also choose from a wide selection of local beers.
Try their light food picks on the menu like sandwiches, panini, cheese plates, desserts, and gluten-free recipes, too.
Food and drinks are best enjoyed with music, so you’ll catch live music performances every Friday and Saturday here.
Have a Tour at the Vermilion Lighthouse
The Vermilion Lighthouse stands on the shores of Lake Erie, situated on the Inland Seas Maritime Museum grounds.
The 34-foot lighthouse structure was a replica of the original Vermilion Lighthouse that was moved in 1929 to Lake Ontario.
After years of fundraising efforts headed by a local historian, Theodore Wakefield, the replica was built in 1991 and dedicated the following year.
Stroll through the grounds and catch the amazing lakeside view of the steady red-colored lighthouse and vast blue skies.
Have a tour of the lighthouse lit by a 200-watt light bulb and equipped with a 5th-order Fresnel lens.
Roam around Vermilion History Museum
Vermilion History Museum houses antique 20th-century printing equipment and paraphernalia.
The printing shop was started by the couple Pearl and Bessie Roscoe, who purchased the publication, The News.
After moving from Wells Building, this building at Grand Street became the couple’s quarters and print shop.
The business prospered up until their children managed the shop but had to close down with its last publication issue in 1964.
The weekly publication served the Vermilion community from 1897 to 1964.
The property lay dormant until Rich and Georgie Tarrant brought the property in 2011, and it was opened to the public after 50 years.
In 2017, an amendment was granted to acknowledge the attraction as Vermilion History Museum officially.
Get to see interesting objects, artifacts, and pieces of publication history in this museum.
Head to the Sherod Park for Some Downtime
One of the famous swimming beaches in downtown Vermilion, Sherod Park sits the West Lake Road and Coen Road.
The 21-acre park area has a wide area for swimming that can be accessed by trails on the sides of Sherod Creek, leading to a sandbar area.
You can go shore fishing at the jetty structures.
Have a family lunch at the park tables and picnic shelter and let kids hang out at the playground area.
Take a leisurely walk on the wooden walking trails or sweat out on the exercise trail with equipment available.
You can have a clear view of Lake Erie on the west side of the creek on the cleared mounds lined with benches.
If you’re on the Coen Road Access, an area of the park that was once used as a boat ramp features a relaxing sight of flower beds, monuments, park benches, and water landscapes.
From there, you can access the beach, passing through a gravel path and stairway.
Have a Garden Walk at the Schoepfle Gardens
Get to appreciate the colorful landscape at Schoepfle Gardens.
This 70-acre lovely botanical garden on Market Street in Birmingham is bordered by the Vermilion River.
The garden was started by Otto B. Schoepfle Jr., a retired Chief Executive Officer of the Chronicle-Telegram, when he purchased eight acres of land and a house on Market Street.
He didn’t plan to put up the botanical garden, but it continued to evolve as he learned and applied various botanical methods from his travels in Europe and North America.
Schoepfle gave the garden to Lorain County Metro Parks but stayed at the house and maintained the garden until his death.
You’ll find rows of pleasant and lively blooms ranging from lilies, roses, collections of hostas, and rhododendrons.
Walk along paths lined with abundant shrubs, trees, and topiary.
You can also drop by the visitor center and avail of guided tours on your visit.
Visit the Amherst Historical Society
The Amherst Historical Society was founded in 1973 and was accredited by the Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums in 1990.
This nonprofit organization currently has around 350 members with the goal of putting into archives and educating the public about Amherst's history through the Amherst Sandstone Village and Quigley Museum.
Get to see places of interest like the Amherst Auto Garage, which houses a 1920 Model T Ford and Chevy Stake Truck, and displays garage items in that period.
Drop by the Art Gallery, the Quigley Museum, the Pine Tree Building, or the Harris Dute House and get to admire different old-fashioned architecture and interiors.
There are more interesting finds and artifacts at the Live Oak Engine Company Museum and the Hickory Tree Grange One Room School House.
Have a Thrilling Adventure at Common Ground Zipline Canopy Tours
An adventure spot just a few minutes away from Vermilion, Common Ground Zipline Canopy Tours in Oberlin is a sure treat for those who crave an adrenaline rush.
Zip your way through the treetops in an exciting two and a half hours of the zipline tour.
You can make this a fun and memorable experience for the whole family.
Enjoy the view of Vermilion River valley while zooming through 7 zip lines, going through the spiral staircases, aerial bridges, a floating staircase, and a final rappel.
Aside from their zipline, you can try other adventure activities like High Ropes or Tree Climbing.
View the Scenic Lorain Harbor Lighthouse
The Lorain Lighthouse has always been a symbol of Lorain, featured in numerous paintings, photographs, postcards, posters, and more.
The lighthouse stands at Lorain Harbor, in the northern area of the West Harbor Breakwater.
It has been part of Lake Erie’s shipping history and is now purely a tourist location.
The Lorain Lighthouse celebrated its 100thAnniversary as the state of Ohio Historical Marker.
Guests who want to see this admirable location can avail themselves and book the Lighthouse Sunset Wine Dinners and Lighthouse Tours.
Relish Calming Nature at Vermilion River Reservation
The Vermilion River Reservation is a vast park area with two adjacent areas on the Vermilion River, which are Mill Hollow and Bacon Woods.
The Mill Hollow, which opened in 1960, was Lorain County’s first Metro Park and remained to be one of the most visited parks in the area.
Have a fun picnic in the lush surrounding forest.
Trek on about three miles of trail and go through different routes to discover open meadows and forests with scenic and calm views.
Go to the shale cliffs to find freshwater clams and darters, insects like mayflies, water pennies, and cadis flies.
Fish for some rock and small-mouth bass and steelhead trout on the river and catch some crappie, catfish, and bass from the ponds.
You can sight some wildlife like bald eagles, Greenback Herons, Great Blue Heron.
See some wildflower species like Bloodroot, Dutchman's Breeches Breeches, Virginia Bluebell, and other blooms native to Ohio.
Play some games of Disc Golf at the 11-hole course or go kayaking at the Vermilion-Lorain Water Trail going to the Black River Reservation.
Taste Ohio Wines at Matus Winery
The Matus Winery at Wakeman has been making award-winning Ohio wines for 80 years.
The tour includes wine tasting at their 1900s-styled showroom and visiting the vineyard and the wine-making room.
You’ll be served tasting room snacks like cheese and crackers, nachos, pretzels, or chips.
You can also enjoy their premium wines in the evening by their outdoor fire pit and veranda or their covered pavilion, or stay at the back deck for a spectacular view of the sunset.
Get entertained with their live music to go along with the cozy atmosphere.
The winery is open any time of the day, and guests are also allowed to bring their food if they wish.
Spend a Day at the Lakeview Park and Beach
Lakeview Park is Lorain County’s first lakeside park seated on West Erie Avenue.
This 20-acre recreational neighborhood park is famously known as Historical Rose Garden, featuring an impressive sunset view and a glimpse of the Lorain Lighthouse.
The Rose Garden was dedicated in 1932 through the efforts of community organizations which included the Lorain Rotary.
The shape of the garden represented the Rotary’s emblem, with about 2,500 roses planted on the beds and pathways.
The Lakeview Beach next to the park welcomes guests for some sunbathing and swimming, a game of beach volleyball, and a picnic at the gazebos and reservable shelters.
You can also enjoy the beach waters on a kayak, canoe, or stand-up paddleboard.
Try the Sunset Café open during summer, play on the lawn bowling court or let kids run about the playground— all these you can enjoy at Lakeview Park and Beach.
Have Fun at Amherst Beaver Creek Reservation
With more than a hundred-acre of woodlands and plains, the Amherst Beaver Creek Reservation provides a great environment for nature tripping and outdoor activities.
The park offers a 1.4-mile asphalt Beaver Creek Trail where you would see a cattail marsh, pass through the Beaver Creek, and pine groves on your last stop.
The area is great for picnics, a stroll through the trail, some playtime for kids at the playground, or playing soccer on the field.
You can go to the excellent visitor’s center for scheduled natural and recreation programs.
Get a view of the Beaver Creek, the natural wildlife, and blooming wildflowers from the wooden deck, a picture of a perfect nature escape.
Sip Some Premium Wine at Vermilion Valley Vineyards
Vermilion Valley Vineyards is one of Ohio’s few wineries with estate-grown production.
The business grows its grapes in its vineyard and produces its wine products at the local brewery.
You can enjoy a sip of their first-class red wines like the Cabernet Franc or Pinot Noir, try their sampling of whites like the Muscat Ottonel or Gruner Veltliner, or taste their delightful fruit wines.
They’re located at Gore Orphanage Rd, Wakeman, and open from Thursday to Sunday.
You can also enjoy live music performances at the venue when you visit.
The city of Vermilion is a thriving coastal attraction with abundant beach areas.
It is also host to striking natural attractions like parks and reserves.
If you’re all for a nature escape, Vermilion is a city worth visiting.
Book a tour now in this fantastic harbor city!