20 Best Things to Do in Lorain, OH

Lorain, OH
The American Wanderer / shutterstock.com

Known as "The International City" due to its rich cultural diversity, this hidden gem nestled on the southern shore of Lake Erie has a unique, inviting charm that has often been overlooked.

This guide will show you that this midwestern city is more than just a pitstop; it's a destination full of adventures waiting to be discovered.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Robin Edinger, Lurline Peppers, Briana Odom, Fernando Rivera, Sandy Martin, Christopher Johnson and Pearlie Oliver.

Take Snaps at Lorain Harbor Lighthouse

Far view of the Lorain Harbor Lighthouse
Martina Sliger / Shutterstock.com

It's hard to describe the delight of stepping foot into the enchanting Lorain Harbor Lighthouse.

We set off at the designated time without a single glitch, the captains handling the loading and unloading operations seamlessly.

The lighthouse volunteers were like living encyclopedias, weaving captivating tales from the past and spilling out a wealth of intriguing facts.

Their knowledge of the lighthouse's history was truly awe-inspiring, making the tour educational and entertaining in equal measure.

The lighthouse's charm doesn't just end with the tour.

I had the privilege of enjoying a BBQ dinner as the sun set in the backdrop, painting the sky in shades of orange and red.

Aerial view of the Lorain Harbor Lighthouse
Lake Front Drones / Shutterstock.com

This was followed by a spectacular display of fireworks that lit up the night sky, turning it into a sparkling canvas.

But the highlight of the visit was the Lorain Lighthouse sunset dinner. The boat ride to the lighthouse was a joy-ride in itself.

The food, catered by Erie Steak and Seafood Restaurant, left a lasting impression on my taste buds.

The hosts were warm and welcoming, making the entire experience unforgettable.

If you ever find yourself in the area, I strongly suggest taking a tour of the lighthouse.

The experience is magical, and the fantastic staff just adds to the allure.

Take a Glimpse into the Past at Sandstone Village

Being immersed in the historic charm of Sandstone Village is truly a magical experience.

Waking up every day in this picturesque village, I'm greeted by the sight of beautifully restored local buildings.

These aren't your ordinary buildings, but historical structures that have been moved here from various parts of the city.

It's like stepping into a time machine and traveling back to a bygone era.

One of my favorite pastimes is to take leisurely strolls around the park, camera in hand.

The rustic beauty of the village provides endless opportunities for great photos.

In particular, the old buildings with their weathered facades and intricate details make for stunning shots.

Even when the buildings are closed, the exteriors alone are worth the trip.

Sandstone Village isn't just a haven for photography enthusiasts like me though.

It's a versatile locale that can morph into a venue for various occasions.

The local community often arranges festivals here, filling the village with a lively, festive atmosphere.

The village also becomes a romantic backdrop for weddings, adding a touch of history and charm to special occasions.

To top it all off, this quaint village offers a slice of Amherst's history.

It's a living testament to the town's rich past, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in local heritage.

Enjoy Cocktails at Speak of the Devil

My favorite place to unwind after a long week is Speak of the Devil, a family-run cocktail bar tucked away in the heart of my city.

The staff is the heart and soul of the place, friendly and well-versed in their craft, always ready to provide quick service and even share a few cocktail recipes.

A typical evening at Speak of the Devil begins with a warm greeting from the staff, followed by a comforting drink specially crafted to fit my mood.

The cocktail menu is a delight, showcasing locally sourced produce and intriguing specials that never fail to impress.

The diversity of the clientele is a testament to the welcoming atmosphere of the bar.

On any given night, you'll find patrons from all walks of life, from young professionals in their 30s to seasoned veterans in their 70s, all sharing a common love for the bar's convivial spirit.

In addition to the memorable drinks, the bar also offers free WiFi, allowing me to stay connected and share my experiences in real-time with friends.

The music playing in the background is always spot-on, adding to the overall energy of the place.

Just when you think the night couldn't get any better, a food truck pulls up on site, serving up some of the most delectable dishes I've ever tasted.

With such an amazing offering, it's no wonder I, along with many others, find myself returning to Speak of the Devil time and time again.

Hike towards Days Dam Waterfall

You never really know what you're going to get when you decide to take a hike in the Days Dam area - a hidden gem nestled in nature's cradle.

A burst of sunlight through the heavy foliage, the hushed rustle of leaves, or the mesmerizing symphony of the chirping birds.

But the real star of the show is the Days Dam Waterfall.

The moment you step foot on the nicely paved trails, the rich aroma of earth and foliage fills your nostrils.

The trails have been recently paved, and there's a new pavilion too.

It's a serene place for a picnic or a tranquil reading session.

The walk up to Days Dam Waterfall is nothing short of magical, each step bringing you closer to the cascading music of the falls.

Go Kayaking at the Vermilion River Reservation

Walking through the verdant trails of the Vermilion River Reservation or taking a leisurely paddle down the river feels like stepping back in time.

There's something about the tranquility of the park that makes it an ultimate sanctuary.

Vermilion River Reservation is vast, yet it's often surprisingly uncrowded.

This is a spot where you can truly relax, whether you're exploring the tree-shaded trails or dipping your fishing rod into the peaceful ponds.

My family and I often spend our weekends here, letting the kids run wild at one of the two playgrounds, each one equipped with safe and engaging equipment.

The settler's cabin, forever standing strong with its exhibits, gives us a glimpse into the past.

It's a fantastic learning experience for the children, and honestly, for us adults as well.

The concert stage, overlooking the lush greenery, is another favorite spot.

The park hosts live music every Sunday at the amphitheater, and there's something truly magical about the sound of music harmonizing with the rustling leaves and the babbling river.

If you're an outdoor enthusiast like me, the Vermilion River Reservation is also a great spot for kayaking or tubing.

The river is beautiful, and there's always a chance to catch sight of the local wildlife.

We've even seen an enormous bird nest on one of our walks, which was an interesting sight!

Uncover History at Amherst Historical Society

I've always been a regular at the Amherst Historical Society, and it has never disappointed me with its wealth of knowledge and historical artifacts.

The first thing you might notice is Sandy, the super friendly and knowledgeable lady who never fails to share intriguing stories.

Her guard dog, though a bit intimidating, does an efficient job.

The building itself is quite spacious and multifunctional.

I remember when our church rented it out for a dinner event.

Everything we needed was readily available.

The kitchen area was more than enough for our culinary needs, and there was ample seating in the dining area.

I'm pretty sure we'll be booking this place again for future events.

The Amherst Historical Society is not just a place for events, but also a treasure trove for history buffs.

I remember visiting this place for a geocache, and being blown away by the amount of history encapsulated in this quaint town.

Even if you're just passing by, you won't be disappointed.

And the best part is, you don't have to worry about traffic; the place has easy access in and out.

Peruse the Fresh Items of Fligner's Market

When you step into Fligner's Market, you are stepping into a world full of culinary wonders.

Over the years, it has been my go-to place for fresh and quality meats.

I particularly keep an eye out for their porterhouse steaks, although, I must admit, the filet mignon part seems to be cut away quite often, making it more of a shell steak.

This, however, hardly deters my enthusiasm for their meat selection, which is the longest in Ohio and is billed as the longest serving meat department in the USA.

The vibrancy of the market is evident in the Hispanic flare that it exudes, bringing character and charm to this family-run business.

The produce section is always stocked with fresh vegetables, and the sight of abundant peppers is a pleasant one.

I wasn't entirely pleased with the taste of their 70/30 ground beef, though.

It had an off taste during my last purchase but that's just part of the shopping experience, isn't it?

The spirit of a small, local market is maintained beautifully, despite the vast selection of goods.

The staff at Fligner's Market has always been super helpful and friendly, making every visit of mine a pleasure.

I must mention their party trays as well, they are truly excellent.

The bakery is delightful, and the convenience of a smoke factory right next door is just an add-on to the overall shopping experience.

It is this combination of quality, variety, and the welcoming atmosphere that make me drive 30 miles to shop here.

Yes, the prices have started to go up, but I believe it’s just a reflection of the inflation we’re seeing across the board.

In business since 1924, Fligner's Market has been serving the Spanish, Black, and white populations with a dedication that's palpable.

Discover Local History at Lorain Historical Society - Carnegie Center

Oh, the marvels you can uncover in your backyard!

I found myself wandering into the Lorain Historical Society - Carnegie Center, the treasure trove of our local history.

It's a place where the past and present meet, where the roots of Lorain are laid out for everyone to see.

I was particularly drawn to their shop, which boasts an array of fascinating Lorain items.

The urge to purchase every single one was almost overwhelming!

Lorain Historical Society - Carnegie Center isn't just a museum, it's a hub of education.

They offer all sorts of programs throughout the year.

One that stands out is the spring and summer programs for kids, all thanks to Mrs. Jenn, the wonderful coordinator.

I truly appreciate her efforts in stirring young minds' curiosity about our town's history.

But what really struck a chord with me was the showcase they did for the Genesis House, called 'The Silent Witness' exhibit.

The exhibit, which travels to different locations each year, has a special connection to me as my mother is named on a plaque there.

It's an emotive journey sure to touch anyone deeply.

What's not to be missed is the lighthouse exhibit.

The mini replicas and educational videos provide a detailed insight into its structure and history that was quite enlightening.

Imagine my surprise when I found out things about this local landmark that I had no idea about!

Have a Family Day Out at Black River Reservation Days Dam

You might think it's just another park, but Black River Reservation Days Dam is so much more than that.

It's my playground, my family's happy place, and a gem in Lorain County.

Paved trails and scenic waterfall walks, it's got it all.

As much as I adore the trails, my toddler finds them a bit challenging, perhaps a testament to their adventurous terrain.

But if you're an adult with an explorer's spirit, you'd find navigating them as easy as pie.

When it's not the trails occupying my family, it's the magnificent pavilion that becomes our haunt.

The playground turns into a challenging battleground for my 3-5-year-old, but hey, nothing tires them out better!

With free parking on the premises, it's a breeze to plan an outing here.

But what really transforms my visits to this clean park into a picture-perfect experience is the nature - the birds chirping, the verdant foliage, and if you're lucky enough, you might even spot a deer!

My mom and I often turn our visits into impromptu photoshoots against the backdrop of these natural wonders.

Yes, they are that beautiful.

A typical day at the Black River Reservation Days Dam for me includes a hike along the paved trail, an exploration of the side waterfalls, a biking tour, and even some kayaking.

And when I'm with my wife and our dog, the experience just multiplies!

This family-friendly gem is more than just accessible to everyone, it's a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, a safe space for kids, and a paradise for nature photographers.

Photograph the Natual Beauty of French Creek Reservation

Every now and then, I need a break from the daily hustle, and French Creek Reservation offers just that.

Nestled between rolling terrains and miles of trails, this place is a haven of tranquility and natural beauty.

One of my favorite pastimes is hiking along these trails, some of which run along high ridges overlooking the creek.

There's nothing quite like the panorama that unfolds before your eyes from up there, especially on clear, sunny Saturday mornings.

Away from the city's clamor, it's a place where you can sit on a bench, ensconced in the woods, and listen to nature's symphony.

The staff in the main building are always friendly, ready to lend a helping hand.

For those looking for some exercise, the trails offer ample opportunities for a good walk or run.

For the kids, and the kids at heart, there's a little playground at the end of one of the trails.

Many an afternoon has been spent watching the kids play, while resting on one of the many benches scattered across the park.

It's a chance to sit back, soak in the serenity, and enjoy the soothing sounds of the babbling brook and the chirping birds.

French Creek Reservation is not just for hikers and families.

If you're a nature photographer, you'll find endless inspiration here.

The diversity of flora and fauna, coupled with the dramatic landscapes, make for some captivating shots.

The park is also a favorite place for dog walkers.

I often walk my dog here, and it’s a great opportunity to meet other dog owners.

With shelters, picnic areas, and well-maintained walking trails stretching a few miles long, there's something for everyone.

Witness the Magical Shows at the Lorain Palace Theatre

Exterior of the Lorain Palace Theatre
TnrSmith, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

You wouldn't believe the charm and grandeur of the Lorain Palace Theatre until you step inside.

The beautifully restored 1928 theatre has an atmosphere that's both classic and modern, perfect for the variety of events it hosts.

I've had the chance to experience the magic of this place on multiple occasions.

One of my most memorable experiences was when I took my 4-year-old daughter to see Disney Princesses and Beauty and the Beast.

Watching her excitement as she met and took pictures with some of her favorite characters was priceless.

The theatre was pristine and well-maintained, though I must admit, cup holders on the seats would have been beneficial with all the excited toddlers running around.

The Lorain Palace Theatre is also a fantastic concert venue.

I got the opportunity to attend the 50th anniversary of 'Welcome Back My Friends', featuring Carl Palmer's Emerson Lake and Palmer reunion show.

The excellent acoustics of the theatre amplified the audio-visual extravaganza, making it a night to remember.

The theatre's capacity to seat over 1,000 people just adds to the experience, making every event feel like a grand spectacle.

Whether it's youth productions, movies, plays, concerts, or special events, the Lorain Palace Theatre offers an unparalleled experience.

Immerse Yourself in the Serenity of the French Creek Nature Center and Theatre

There's nothing quite like the serenity of nature to quiet the mind.

I often find myself heading to the French Creek Nature Center and Theatre, my personal sanctuary that's just a short drive from home.

I've spent countless hours here, enchanted by the beauty that unravels at every corner.

I'm always eager to capture the picturesque views that this place offers.

Whether it's the vibrant hues of the wildflowers, the tranquil waterbody, or the expanse of the cloud-stitched sky, every sight is a perfect frame.

The wildlife too often becomes the subject of my lens, each creature adding a unique charm to the natural tapestry.

Walking along the trails here feels like a journey through time.

The well-trodden paths, some hidden like secrets among the foliage, have a story of their own.

Though a few more signposts would be a welcome addition for those of us who sometimes lose our way in the maze of footpaths.

The nature center isn't just an escape for adults.

It's a treasure trove of experiences for kids as well.

From engaging activities to captivating animal exhibits, it's a learning ground wrapped in fun.

The trees along the paths, each labeled with their names, add to the educational value.

And yes, your furry friends are welcome too!

One of my favorite spots in French Creek Nature Center and Theatre is the beautiful lake, where you can see ducks frolicking and bathing.

The sound of water flowing adds a soothing soundtrack to the entire experience.

Run through the Scenery at Black River Reservation Bur Oak

I've always been an avid runner, and the search for the perfect trail has taken me to numerous places.

But one spot has stayed close to my heart, the Black River Reservation Bur Oak.

It's a hidden gem, nestled amidst breathtaking, natural beauty.

On a Saturday morning, you'll often find me lacing up my running shoes, ready to take on the most scenic trail in our entire county.

The moment I set foot on the main trail of Black River Reservation Bur Oak, I was enveloped by its tranquility and aesthetic appeal.

Paved to perfection, the trail is a flawless blend of nature and man-made design.

It's about five miles long, but the journey never feels monotonous.

With every step, the landscape shifts a little: dense woods give way to open meadows, the terrain dips and then rises, and just when you're catching your breath, a bridge over a sparkling stream appears.

Each bridge offers a spectacular view of the river, which is arguably the star of the park.

Standing there, you can't help but marvel at the sheer beauty of it all.

Not too far from the primary trail are the secondary ones, mostly grass or dirt paths.

They offer a more rugged running experience, and I often use them for my cross-training days.

For those looking to push their limits, I have a personal challenge: start at High Meadows and make it a 7-mile round trip.

It's a tough run, but the sight of the lush green fields and the cool river breeze make it worth the sweat.

Work Out at Lakeview Park

When the sun is shining bright, I often find myself drawn to the beauty of Lakeview Park.

It's an oasis of green, nestled on the shore of Lake Erie, that never fails to put a smile on my face.

And let me tell you, nothing can beat the sight of the park in late spring to early summer when the rose garden is in full bloom.

The stunning colors of the roses against the backdrop of the mesmerizing fountain are absolutely divine, a sight I'm lucky to witness every year.

Speaking of, have you ever seen a wedding or prom photo session by the fountain?

It’s simply magical!

The beach, although a lake one, provides a good shallow swimming area.

Just so you know, there's always a lifeguard on duty during peak season.

The sand, despite not being the finest, is still a great playground for beach volleyball tournaments that are held in the summer.

But if there's one thing that really sets Lakeview Park apart, it's the view of the storms over the lake.

Watching the dramatic play of clouds and lightning is truly an experience to remember.

Plus, the beach's clean, well-groomed condition is perfect for just lying down and watching the beautiful sunset after a long day.

And for the little ones?

The park boasts a sizable play structure that keeps my kids entertained for hours.

They particularly love coming here to explore and play.

And the rose garden and lit fountain at night?

It's like something straight out of a fairytale.

But it's not just about the beach and the garden.

The park also has well-marked trails for a leisurely stroll, and the iconic Lorain Lighthouse is definitely not to be missed.

Believe me, a visit to Lakeview Park is like stepping into a paradise.

It's truly a place for all ages to enjoy and be amazed.

Catch Sunset at Lakeside Landing

Every day feels like a vacation when you live next to Lakeside Landing in Lorain.

It's a hidden treasure where you can find tranquility, wrapped within the arms of nature's beauty.

It's not just a park, it's a sanctuary where life slows down and stress melts away.

One of my favorite activities here is the 45-minute hike through the tall grass and cotton tail area that borders the majestic Lake Erie.

The sound of the wind rustling through the grass and the waves lapping against the shoreline offer a symphony for the senses.

This journey ends on a peaceful pier that leads to the marina.

It's a sight to behold when the sun sets and paints the sky with hues of orange and purple.

But do remember to plan your visit, as bathroom facilities are not available here.

Being an avid fisherman, I consider Lakeside Landing my personal haven.

The central basin of Lake Erie never disappoints with its generous offerings.

Spend a day fishing here and you'll understand why it's a 5-star experience.

Go Fishing at the Mile Long Pier

Ah, the Mile Long Pier - my go-to spot for a peaceful retreat.

The moment I step onto the wooden boards of the pier, I am greeted with a stunning view of the glistening lake and the enchanting lighthouse standing tall in the distance.

It's almost a ritual for me to head there with my fishing rod for a leisurely day of fishing.

One of the joys of living here is the opportunity to indulge in the simple pleasures that the Mile Long Pier offers.

I've lost count of how many times I've packed up a picnic hamper, spread out a blanket on the grassy hilltop, and watched the mesmerizing sunset while sharing a meal with my loved ones.

It's the ultimate setting for romance, but it's equally charming to do it solo, a book in one hand and a sandwich in the other.

But that's not all.

After a satisfying day of fishing and picnicking, I often cap off my day at the local ice cream shop that's a stone's throw away from the pier, or at the restaurant that's right on the pier.

There's no better way to conclude a charming day than watching the evening sky paint itself into hues of oranges and purples, all while enjoying a delicious meal.

And, with ample parking space available, it's hassle-free even on the busiest of days.

Walk Your Fido at Amherst Beaver Creek Reservation

Ah, the Amherst Beaver Creek Reservation, my go-to refuge when I crave a tranquil nature walk or a fun day out with the family.

This local gem, nestled right off Oak Point Rd, is a paradise for those who appreciate nature's beauty and enjoy outdoor activities.

And guess what?

Amherst Beaver Creek Reservation is located conveniently next to the police station, which is always a plus for safety-conscious folks like me.

The reservation boasts a great one-mile paved loop that hugs the serene Beaver Creek, perfect for a leisurely walk or a refreshing jog.

It's also a haven for my furry friends who love to scamper around, sniffing and exploring the surroundings.

Don't be surprised if you find me there, strolling with my two Labradors on a sunny afternoon.

Recently, the playground underwent a renovation, adding a "Safety Town" which has quickly become a favorite spot for my kids.

The new playground is not only safe but also incredibly engaging, keeping the little ones entertained for hours.

The restrooms are clean and well-maintained, another testament to the meticulous care the park authorities put into this place.

The park also offers a reservable shelter and building meeting room, which I recently booked for a bridal shower.

The pavilion, which is accessible by permit only, is very impressive.

It has a small kitchen, a refrigerator, and plenty of space to accommodate a large gathering.

Spin around Lorain Skate World

When nothing strikes the right chord for a fun day, a trip to Lorain Skate World is a sure shot.

I recently celebrated my son's birthday here and it was a wonderful experience.

They offer fair prices and the friendliness of the staff is something that strikes you right from the beginning.

You can see that every kid in there is having the time of their life, and mine were no different.

But, the charm of Lorain Skate World is not just limited to a fun-filled afternoon.

I might say, skating under the dimmed lights on a Sunday evening is quite an experience in itself.

It's their live organ skate night.

The whole vibe is refreshingly different and the hospitality of the owner adds to the overall charm.

Although their concession stand is not open during this time, they compensate for it by offering free skate rentals with admission.

It's like a step back in time and is worth a visit, especially during the Sunday night session.

But it's not all skittles and beer.

I did notice a slight dip in their service compared to two years back, when I had rented the entire rink for my kids' birthday party.

I remember how we had the freedom to choose our own music, and there was enough staff to ensure everything went smoothly.

But this year, they seem to be understaffed and hence, slightly less accommodating.

Plus, the prices shot up by $50, which was a bit of a bummer.

But I have to give credit where it's due.

The young girl on duty was an absolute star and she went out of her way to ensure we all had a good time.

Pamper Yourself at Ariel Broadway Hotel

I may not be a frequent traveler, but living in this city, I've seen my fair share of hotels.

And I must say, Ariel Broadway Hotel has truly captured my admiration.

This isn't just a hotel; it's a testament to the city's history that has been lovingly restored.

Unlike other restored buildings where the rooms can feel cramped as they stick to the original design, Ariel Broadway Hotel has really outdone itself in not only maintaining the historic charm but also ensuring that the rooms are spacious.

The blend of old and new is seamless, the renovated bathrooms are fantastic, and the beds are incredibly comfortable.

But the part that truly takes the cake for me is the rooftop.

This isn't just any rooftop, it's a vantage point that offers an unparalleled panoramic view of the city.

From here, you can see the River and the Lake Erie shoreline, which are truly sights to behold.

However, the true diamond in the crown is the restaurant that serves mouthwatering food that always hits the spot.

While the hotel is perfect for tourists, it's also a great option for locals.

You might not be staying the night, but a dinner at the hotel's restaurant followed by a quiet evening lounging by the rooftop, basking in the city's view, is a kind of luxury that everyone deserves.

Have a Picnic at Oakwood Park

There's a spot in my heart for Oakwood Park.

Living so close to this green oasis in our city of Lorain, I've had countless memorable experiences there.

Whether it's the joy of melting summer afternoons at the swimming pool or the thrill of racing down the sledding hill in winter, Oakwood Park always promises a fun-filled day.

I remember the excitement of my first softball game on one of the park's ball fields.

It's here, under the wide, open skies, that I learned the value of teamwork and sportsmanship.

Even now, years later, I still get a kick from watching a good softball game at the park.

The park's picnic shelters are my family's favorite for our annual reunions.

Nothing beats the combination of grilling burgers, a game of frisbee, laughter, and heartwarming stories shared by our elders.

I've seen the park go through changes, and it's heartening to witness its revival.

More families are now creating their own memories here, just like mine.

And then there's the playground.

You should see the kids' faces light up when they see the slide and swings!

It's a safe and fun place for them to run, play, and make friends.

It's not just a park; it's a community hub where lifelong memories are made.

Final Thoughts

Lorain, Ohio, is truly a town that never ceases to amaze me.

Be it the tranquil walks in the Black River Reservation or the nostalgic vibes at the Lorain Historical Society - Carnegie Center, every corner of this town holds a unique charm.

The excitement of catching a live show at the Lorain Palace Theatre or the tranquil sunsets at the Mile Long Pier, are experiences that keep drawing me in, time and again.

Lorain isn't just a city; it's a tapestry of experiences, woven together by its history, natural beauty, and the warm-hearted community.

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