“We have to go back. I forgot something,” I said, as we were pulling out of our driveway, toward Vermilion.
To his credit, my husband didn’t sigh or roll his eyes. He just turned the care around. Our destination was a small town on Lake Erie, only about 2 hours away. Vermilion, Ohio is a great little place . In fact, the town motto is “A Small Town on a Great Lake” and it’s true! It’s small, quaint, and adorable. Oh, there’s also a beach!
A beach vacation in Ohio?!
Vermilion is small town that has a lovely laid back vibe. It has beaches, cottages, Bed and Breakfasts, and one incredible French restaurant that brings in those “in the know.” The town is family friendly and an overlooked beach destination located in Ohio. Even though Ohio isn’t often considered as a hot vacation destination, many of the towns on Lake Erie (and the Erie Islands) have a lot to offer.
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Vermilion: a Beachy good time
I originally planned to do an overnight in Vermilion, along with two day trips to other sights in Ohio. Then, I remembered I have kids and I’m tired. I had the Vermilion overnight stay booked in advance, but ended up deciding to add a day and arrive one day early. It all worked out and we spent two nights at a lovely B&B. I wanted a beach vacation and Vermilion provided!
Realities of traveling with children
It’s tiring, guys. Why in the hell do I think I can this? Every so often (and it feels SO often), one or both kids will hit some sort of developmental milestone and all hell breaks loose. Of course, a developmental milestone seemingly hit the morning we were headed out and lasted the whole trip. It wasn’t quite as tough as our first roadtrip with kids, at least. On top of that, I punished myself with the last minute planning and I knew it was likely something would be forgotten. We wet back to the house. I did what needed to be done and the crisis was averted.
We loved Main Street Beach. It’s a fairly busy beach, but it wasn’t packed. The beach is a fine sand with rocks collecting along the wave break line. Once you step past that, the bottom is sandy again. The smooth rocks don’t hurt to walk on. Unless you burn the bottoms of your feet on the hot asphalt walking to and from the car because you didn’t bring the toys the first time. Or wear shoes. When that happens, the rocks are pretty uncomfortable. I may or may not know from experience.
The water is shallow for a long way out. Once my kids realized they could walk in and out of the water on their own, there was no stopping them. It was glorious and harmonious and everything I want in a vacation. The kids got tired out and it was an awesome, relaxing time for the adults, too.
How to Plan Your Own Awesome Trip to Vermilion With Kids
There are a few beaches in the area, however the Main Street Beach was within walking distance of our B&B. There is also ample parking (at least on weekdays; Thursdays through Sundays may vary). It’s very easy to find and access.
Things to Do in Vermilion, Ohio
There are also other things to do, like paddle boarding, kayaking, and other water sports. We went on the Mystic Belle river cruise. It’s a narrated tour of the Vermilion River, with just a little dance into Lake Erie. It takes approximately 50 minutes. My 4 year old enjoyed it. My 3 year old was antsy. Your mileage may vary.
There are several wonderful little shops, a pier on the beach, and a train viewing area a few blocks away from the lake.
Vermilion, Ohio Lighthouse
If you go to the Main Street Beach, you can’t miss the Vermilion Lighthouse. This replica lighthouse was built in 1991 and dedicated in 1992, as the perfect complement to the maritime museum next to it (the museum has been moved). “The new Vermilion Lighthouse was dedicated on June 6, 1992 and designated a Coast-Guard-sanctioned private navigational aid” according to the lighthouse friends website. However, at some point, the Fresnel lens was removed and the replica stood dark.
The original lighthouse, called the 1877 Vermilion lighthouse, had been dismantled in 1929 when two boys noticed it was leaning. For many, many years, Vermilion residents didn’t know the fate of their beloved lighthouse. It ended up being renovated and then used in Lake Ontario. It is called the East Charity Shoal Lighthouse and it’s currently privately owned.
The 1877 lighthouse replica, the one still standing in Vermilion today, had a relighting ceremony in September, 2016, after being fitted with a Fresnel lens. Visitors can see it from the outside, but cannot go inside.
Vermilion Ohio Restaurants
Top Pick: Chez Francois
If you want to eat really well in Vermilion, head to Chez Francois. It’s an upscale restaurant and men are required to wear a sport coat. Bring a babysitter, as this isn’t a place for kids. Even though we didn’t eat there this time, I mention it because that restaurant alone is worth a trip to Vermilion, Ohio. The food is amazing.
Best for Families: The Blind Perch.
The best food we had during our trip was at the Blind Perch. Be aware the service was really slow during a slow time of day. Even so, it was delicious and reasonably priced. It is a few miles from Main Street and you will need a car to get there.
Vermilion Ohio Hotels and B&Bs
Top Choice: Captain Bell House B&B
The Captain Bell House B&B. Seriously, go. The Innkeeper welcomes kids and while he doesn’t have roll away beds available, the cottage has a queen bed, a couch, and ample floor space. I know that doesn’t sound awesome, however we were provided with a sleeping bag, sheets, blankets, etc. My kids ended up sleeping on the floor and loving it! The beds are amazing. They are better than my bed at home!
Other Options: Pelton Place
Pelton Place is a 5 minute walk to the beach. It’s also close to restaurants and shops. This B&B also welcomes children. There is free wifi and free parking. Some units have a kitchenette. Both locations are ideal for those who want to visit Cedar Point, as it’s around 16.5 miles away.
Conclusion: Visit Vermilion
For families who are looking for an affordable and uncrowded beach destination, think Vermilion! It’s worth a stop if you’re planning a road trip in Ohio during the summer months. Also, it’s a great base for visiting Cedar Point Amusement park. It’s still worth a visit in the fall to witness the beautiful fall colors, too.
Have you made a trip that surprised you with its awesomeness? Is it a lesser known destination?