Last Updated on April 1, 2022 by Michelle Moyer
Fall in Love with Cleveland Ohio’s Best Beaches!!
During the hot summer months of the year in Cleveland, Ohio, the best place to be is at one of the MANY beaches surrounding the city. I grew up here with beaches everywhere around me and I spent many days in the sun and sand in order to determine the best beaches in Cleveland Ohio! Now I never want to leave the beach when I find the time to go.
Cleveland is located on the coast which provides many beaches in Ohio on Lake Erie. They all have so many options and activities to do; including kayaking, watching sunsets, picnicking, hiking, swimming, and sunbathing. So many things to do at so many of the beaches near Cleveland!!
I have provided a list of some of the best Cleveland area beaches that you will definitely enjoy!
Best Beaches around Cleveland Ohio
Headlands Beach State Park & Lighthouse
Location of beach near Cleveland: Mentor (20 minutes east of CLE)
Headlands State Park Beach is known for the 35-acre natural sand beach near Cleveland. This huge Lake Erie beach is the longest in Ohio. It is my hometown beach; I grew up only around 5 minutes away so it is definitely one of the closest Lake Erie beaches near me. I remember happy times in my childhood because I went here as many times as my parents would take me… usually at least 3 times a week!
In addition to the obvious swimming and sunbathing activities, there are also opportunities for kite-flying, hiking, and so many other beach activities. This Lake Erie beach is surrounded by sand, grassy areas, Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, and the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse.
Every year they host fun events like the Headlands Beachfest with a huge sandcastle competition. World-champion sand sculptors get to work for three days to compete for the Master Sandcastle first prize by constructing extra-large sand-art that is voted on by the Beachfest visitors. There is also a family sandcastle building competition for those that aren’t professional sculptors. These activities are on the shores of the beach on Lake Erie with an entertaining DJ pumping out beach tunes to add to the atmosphere.
The Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse located at Headlands State Park Beach was built in 1925 at the mouth of the Grand River. It was built to replace the old lighthouse which had protected the Lake Erie shores and directed boaters to safety for hundreds of years before being shut down. The original lighthouse is being preserved as a museum at the Fairport Harbor Beach.
The new Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse has been uninhabited since 1948 and has undergone several renovations to keep it up-to-code. It is currently being maintained by the Coast Guard, but some say that it may be turned into a vacation rental. How cool would THAT summer getaway be in a lighthouse at one of the best beaches in Cleveland, Ohio!?!?
To get to the lighthouse, you must walk across big, tiled rocks that can sometimes be difficult to climb across. However, once you get across it, you will be rewarded with beautiful views and the perfect spot to watch the sunset. Every time I go to the lighthouse I bring a big blanket, a cooler with food and drinks, and a small speaker to play relaxing music during the sunset.
When I was younger, my parents took me to the lighthouse and my only memory of it was losing one of my flip-flops in the water when we were walking across the rocks. I would recommend wearing nonslip sandals that won’t come off your feet!
As I grew older, my fear of the lighthouse went away because I realized there were no sharks in the water trying to eat my shoes while crossing the big rocks. I used to go as a teenager with my friends to jump off the rocks past the lighthouse into the water.
SAFETY TIP: Make sure that there is a rope attached to the side of the lighthouse so after you jump in the water you can get back on.
Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park
Location of beach near Cleveland: Fairport Harbor (30 minutes east from CLE)
On the opposite side of the Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Lighthouse is another of the best beaches in Cleveland Ohio, Fairport Harbor Beach. This is one of the gems of the Lake Erie beaches in northeast Ohio, a beautiful small beach filled with soft sand and beach activities. This is the ideal beach for families because there is a playground for children, the sand is very soft for the young ones, a concession stand is available, and there is a spot for water activities like renting kayaks and paddleboards.
We often go to Fairport Harbor Beach to visit this gem and one of the best beaches in Ohio. It is even more fun when I get to go with my cousin when he takes his jet ski out on the water using the boat ramp next to the beach.
I also went paddle boarding here a few times. Stay safe and don’t paddle too far. During our first paddleboarding trip, my friend and I let ourselves drift too far away from the beach. When we tried paddling back or swimming back with our paddleboard connected to us, the current was going the opposite way, so we weren’t getting any closer. After a few minutes of going nowhere, the lifeguard came out with his boat and took us back to shore.
Now that I mentioned it, there are lifeguards at this beach! This makes Fairport Harbor one of the safest family beaches in Ohio. Lifeguards are on duty during the summer months, so check to make sure that beach operations are active when you plan on visiting.
This beach is part of Lake Metroparks so there is a small parking fee to enter on the summer weekends. It is open year-round, but park operations like concessions, lifeguards, and parking are only in the summer and conclude on Labor Day. Dogs have to be on a leash here or in a designated area on the beach, but it is one of the best dog beaches in Cleveland because it is so pet-friendly.
|Residency||Daily/car||Season parking passes|
|Lake County residents||$2||$25|
If you are interested in purchasing a 2021 season parking pass for Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park, click here.
Fairport Beach is located right in the town of Fairport Harbor with restaurants and small shops within walking distance.
One of the best hometown restaurants that is a MUST try is the Fairport Family Restaurant. It has a full menu of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their sandwiches are one of my personal favorites! They also have many small businesses in the area and one that I particularly enjoy is a little beach shop because it makes me feel like I am on vacation, shopping at the beach shops for sunhats or sunscreen!
BONUS TIP: The original lighthouse from the Headlands State Park location is now located here, closer to town in Fairport Harbor making a perfect Instagram photo spot. My friend just got engaged to her fiancé right in front of the lighthouse. Such a special place now!
Location of beach near Cleveland: Mentor (20 minutes east from CLE)
Mentor Lagoons is a hidden gem of a beach on Lake Erie! The beach is 25 minutes outside of Cleveland in my hometown city. It has a bunch of trails for hiking, running, or walking your dog. My dog loves walking here- so many interesting smells!
During middle school, my cross country team used to run here. We split up through all the trails to play hide and seek: running version. It is about a 10-minute walk through the trails to get to the beach —which is always empty because not many people know about this beach. Don’t let my secret about this hidden beach gem get out too far!! It is connected to Headlands Beach, but is much smaller and less crowded, with more rocks and trails.
The Mentor Lagoons is one of my favorite beaches because of the privacy, and I can bring my beach chair, cooler, speaker, book, beach blanket, and my dog. You can go swimming here and it is a good spot to play fetch with your dog in the water.
The lagoons have every water activity available to rent like kayaking through the Mentor marsh into Lake Erie. It is beautiful and private scenery, especially perfect for couples. When I kayaked through here, there was a spot under a bridge where you could admire the scenery and take a break from paddling to enjoy each other’s company before turning around to head back.
Geneva State Park
Location of beach near Cleveland: Geneva (50 minutes east from CLE)
Geneva State Park has a 300-foot swimming beach and is in the cutest town on the shores of Lake Erie beaches in Ohio.
Geneva on the Lake is full of nostalgia vibes when cars cruised the strip in front of fast-food diners and locals. In addition to that, you will love all the arcades, wineries, mini-golf places, family water slides, and other entertaining venues all on a short walk up and down the street in Geneva-on-the-Lake.
Edgewater Beach and Park
Location of beach: in Cleveland
By far, my favorite beach in Cleveland is Edgewater Beach. It is the best beach in Cleveland because of everything available to you throughout your beach trip. It is the perfect little getaway for you and your friends. They have a large concession stand and public bathrooms at Edgewater Beach House. Renting kayaks is another bonus for this beach.
While you are in Cleveland, be sure to stop by the nearby Cuyahoga Valley National Park with these tips!
Extras at this Cleveland Ohio Beach:
Edgewater hosts events like Edgewater Live on Thursday nights where they have free live music and multiple food trucks. All of these events make it a very popular place and one of the top Cleveland area beaches.
Edgewater Live is the place to go on Thursday nights in the summer. Whether you bring your friends or family, it will be fun for all! One of the times that I attended, we arrived at the beach around noon with a picnic and we sat near the stage. The crowd started arriving at 4:30 pm. From our spot on the beach, we were able to hear the music, enjoy the bands, and relax on the beach.
BONUS They had a Barrio food truck during Edgewater Live — for a DELICIOUS dinner!!!
Make sure to include Edgewater Beach on your Cleveland beach-hopping itinerary!
I love this Cleveland beach so much because of all the space it provides to set up beach games, like disc jam. When I go, we spend so much time playing can jam in the hot sun. They have volleyball nets set up for beach volleyball and lifeguards here with a 15-minute safety break every hour. The 15-minute safety break allows me to lay down and rest, or get a snack, and by the time I am hot again the 15 minutes are up. Right back into the water I go!
There are 2 sides that are open for anyone. The further one along the sand has no lifeguards, is dog-friendly, and boats are allowed to get closer to shore. It is common for multiple boats to be parked in the water nearby, also enjoying that side of Edgewater beach.
BONUS TIP: This side of the beach is always less crowded, and the water is much deeper if you want to swim a lot.
Edgewater beach is right next to the park which has many spots to hang a hammock and read, have a family picnic, grill some burgers, attend an outside yoga class, or walk your dog. It was raining one day in the summer, and my sister and I were still able to go to Edgewater and enjoy being outside. We sat on a hanging, rocking, bench and played Uno while watching the rain. It was very relaxing and a good experience. There is always something to do for anyone at Edgewater Beach and Park.
BONUS TIP: There is a perfect picture spot in front of the Cleveland sign with the beach and downtown Cleveland in the background.
Euclid Beach Park
Location of beach: in Cleveland
Euclid Beach is located on the property of the previously famous Euclid Beach Amusement Park and now covers 90 acres of lakefront. It is only 15 minutes outside of the city of Cleveland and it has a bunch of picnic areas and a new scenic observation pier perfect for couples or families. There is a pavilion and grilling areas available as well.
A cool fact about this former amusement park beach is that you can still experience some of the old amusement park like the shuffleboard area and remains of the beachside fountain. Coming to Euclid Beach Park brings back nostalgic memories at this family-friendly beach near Cleveland.
Location of beach near Cleveland: Bay Village (20 minutes west of CLE)
Huntington Beach is one of the most relaxing and best beaches near Cleveland due to its beautiful views during an afternoon picnic by the water on the shores of Lake Erie. The picnic area is raised above the beach to enjoy the magnificent Lake Erie scenery.
There are stairs below the parking lot to get to the beach. You can swim and rent kayaks at Huntington beach. A fun fact is that it is one of the cleanest beaches in Cleveland Ohio.
There are also a bunch of hiking trails nearby because this beach is also a part of Huntington Reservation. Is there a better way to end your day after a trip to one of the top Lake Erie beaches than to spend some time enjoying nature on all the hiking trails?
Lake Erie is filled with great beaches on its islands too!
I visited some of the best islands in Ohio in order to include them in the list of great Ohio beaches!
Location of beach near Cleveland: South Bass Island (2 hours from CLE)
Another one of my favorite beaches is Put-In-Bay. It is still classified as one of the beaches near Cleveland Ohio, but it is a little bit of a drive from the city.
It is located on South Bass Island and is known for its bars and parties. The Island has several beaches along the coastline, and they are rocky, but perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
On a recent trip to the Island, while we were waiting for the ferry to get off the island, we all ran across another hidden beach. Beaches are everywhere on this island, and they are all unique and worth checking out. The best part is you can watch the sunset right on Lake Erie from any spot along the beach.
On Put-In-Bay, you can also camp, fish, visit the famous wineries, and go on one of many hiking trails. They have a boardwalk on the Island that has multiple beach restaurants right on the water.
BONUS TIP: Camping in a tent in Put-in-Bay is both affordable, and a great experience! You are within walking distance to the beach and bathrooms, and sometimes you get a site that has a coastline view of Lake Erie.
Location of beach near Cleveland: Kelleys Island (2 hours from CLE)
Kelley’s Island is another island beach in Ohio. It is about a 2-hour drive from Cleveland. For both Put-In-Bay and Kelley’s Island, you will need to get on a ferry to get to the island and there are options where you can take your car on the ferry with you. Kelley’s Island is more of a family Island than Put-In-Bay and there are many options for activities on the beach. It has a State Park beach with beautiful sand and water to spend a day sunbathing.
Cedar Point Amusement Park Beach
Location of beach near Cleveland: Sandusky (1 hour west from CLE)
One of the best places to go to the beach in Ohio at Cedar Point Amusement Park! It is free to access; however, it is a part of Cedar Point Amusement Park so you will have to pay for parking. The beach is very wide and big- perfect for beach volleyball and playing frisbee with friends and family. You can rent all sorts of water equipment here from kayaks to jet skis. You can see this big beach from the tops of the roller coasters inside the amusement park!
Where to stay to visit the best beaches near Cleveland
Are you staying in the area while you visit some of these great beaches around Cleveland? Check out some of the best places to spend the night near Cleveland within driving distance of the best Lake Erie Beaches in Ohio!
Need a larger selection of places to stay around Cleveland? Try these suggestions!
Conclusion: Visiting the Best Beaches in Ohio!
Everyone needs a break from the craziness every now and then- and what better way to take a day off than to go spend it at one of the beautiful beaches in Ohio!
Areas around Cleveland offer some of the nicest, cleanest, and best beaches on the coast of Lake Erie. Some of the beaches in this Ultimate Cleveland Beaches Guide have loads of water activities to offer, others have beautiful scenery with picnic areas, and then a few have dog-friendly beaches near Cleveland and hiking trails.
There is something for everyone at Cleveland beaches on Lake Erie. All you need now is some sunglasses, SPF, swimsuit, and towel, and then you are ready to have a relaxing day in the sun!
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