Wine, Food & Fun on Lake Erie Shores

January 2014

Marblehead Lighthouse Photo Credit: Tourism Ohio

Beautiful beaches… unique restaurants… wineries… resorts with swim up bars… an amazing foodie emporium… these are only some of the things that you will find in a most unusual place – Lake Erie Shores, Ohio.

I knew very little about this destination before I arrived. I had heard only that it was home of Cedar Point Amusement Park (which I did not have time to visit). It quickly became apparent that it was just one of the places to play on these Lake Erie islands.

After making plans with Chad Whaley at Green Door Media Works, the Public Relations firm that handles Lake Erie Shores, my friend Lisa and I took a seven hour drive to Sandusky, Ohio. While most of the trip was rather scenic, I distinctly remember the weeping willow trees greeting us as we entered this central point for the shore and islands of Ohio.

Lake Erie Shores Getaway Photo Credit: Marcia FrostInstead of a hotel, we opted for a beach house on Sandusky Bay, just a stone’s throw from Lake Erie. It was one of many houses that are rented for the season.

Our house was rather large, with three bedrooms and a dock right on the water. We made good use of the dock immediately as Chad and his partner Ryan picked us up for dinner by boat!

It was a clear night for a 20 minute ride across the bay to downtown Sandusky, where we had dinner at Crush Wine Bar. The menu was filled with lots of pasta and small plates, both of which are favorites of mine.

Girls Getaway Photo Credit: Marcia FrostWe began with the small plates and went with the recommendations of Chad and Ryan, who had been to this restaurant many times. The Shoestring Poutine (French fries in gravy) was outstanding and we also thoroughly enjoyed the Beet Salad, Bacon Wrapped Dates and Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

We enjoyed a few glasses off the extensive wine menu as we pondered over the main course choices. I went with the Wild Mushroom Parpadelle. It was a great choice, but I was a bit jealous when I tasted a bit of Ryan’s Mac & Cheese, which has chicken and a sauce filled with cheeses. Lisa was more than happy with her Fruitti di Mare (seafood with linguine).

None of us were sure if we had room for dessert – until we saw the menu. The Chocoholics Anonymous was an instant selection and there were no regrets. It was truly a chocolate lovers dream.

We turned in early and got a good night’s sleep, enjoying morning coffee on the deck before Chad and Ryan picked us up for a full day. Our first stop was in Port Clinton at Common Ground, which is known as much for its coffee and pastries as it is for helping those with developmental disabilities get jobs.

With our coffee in hand, we drove onto Miller’s Ferry. The short ride from Sandusky pier took us to quite an island.

Put-in-Bay is the kind of place you want to spend your summer and you’d never get bored if you did. The beaches are beautiful, the hotels have amenities such as swim-up bars and restaurants and shops are everywhere.

You’ll also find a big piece of history on Put-in-Bay, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. We made our way to the top, learning about its dedication to those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie. Then we enjoyed the views of the Lake Erie Shore Islands, which had to be captured on film.

From the monument we went to Heineman Winery, where Pink Catawba is the specialty. It’s only one of the wineries in this area and while I can’t say it’s going to rival Napa, the wines in this area are worth a try.

We had lunch at The Goat tavern and enjoyed their infamous Basil Mojitos along with Reubens and Perch Tacos.

Those weren’t the only mojitos of the day. There was actually a bar called Mojito Bay, where we sat back on swings at the bar and tried a few of their flavored mojitos.

Girlfriend Getaway Photo Credit: Marcia FrostWe had a bit of time to relax and change for a rather special dinner.

We had made a quick stop to Terri Bergman’s The Kitchen Bounty earlier in the day and were amazed by all the products this woman had created, from coffee to spices and sauces. We were equally impressed by the feast she prepared for us in her magnificent hilltop home.

There were about a dozen of us for dinner, which started with cocktails and hors d’ oeuvres. Terri orchestrates a meal a lot like a performance and it was both delicious and entertaining from the salad filled with lettuce, fruit and Honey Poppy Seed Vinaigrette to the Shish Kabob and Paella. Even the dessert was a creation — Roasted Peaches with Cream Cheese and Honey Brie, served with Lemon Lavender Ice Cream.

Our time in Lake Erie Shores, Ohio, was way too short, but we’ll be able to make up for it next year.

The season there is a long one. You can enjoy the islands from spring through fall. Although there are many homes to rent and hotels, they do book up so it’s never too soon to start planning your girls’ getaway.

After many years as one of the top tennis writers in the country, Marcia Frost now devoting most of her time to travel writing, with a focus on food, wine and spirits. She has her own blog at and does weekly columns for Inspirato on Sonoma and Paris (two locations she visits often). Marcia also freelances for many other outlets, including Yahoo!; AOL; Michigan Avenue; Rum Bum; Los Angeles Confidential; Travel, Food & Drink; and Air Tran’s Go! Magazine. She has been contributing to Girls’ Getaway since 2010. For more information on Marcia, visit her website

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