When it comes to romantic getaways in the midwest, my favorite destination is actually close to home. I don’t know if it’s because deep down I love familiarity or if it’s because I love the sound of the water but my husband and I have planned and taken several Lake Erie romantic getaways over the years and we’ve never been disappointed.
Some would argue that the Great Lakes are the best part of the Midwest United States. They are definitely a defining landscape of North America, holding 84% of the continent’s fresh water.
The great state of Ohio is blessed with over 200 miles of shoreline along Lake Erie, which is known as Ohio’s North Coast.
For Ohio residents and visitors, Lake Erie has numerous getaway opportunities, from outdoor adventure, dining, shopping, and sightseeing. You can even launch an international excursion from Ohio’s North Shore!
Lake Erie Romantic Getaways
Romantic Things to do in Sandusky
Sandusky makes an excellent weekend getaway, as it’s just one hour from Cleveland, 2.5 hours from Columbus and four hours from Cincinnati.
While Sandusky is best known as a family adventure destination, with legendary destinations like Cedar Point Amusement Park, Great Wolf Lodge, and Kalahari, it can also be a romantic destination as well.
Check out all the ways to spend your weekend in the Roller Coaster Capital of the World.
Downtown Sandusky Attractions for Couples
- Downtown Historic Walking Tour – Explore a few of the 114 Sandusky properties listed on the National Historic Register
- Goodtime Boat Tour – take a sunset bay cruise or a dinner cruise on Lake Erie
- Paddle & Climb Sandusky (303 E Water St) – for outdoor adventure in Sandusky, head to Paddle & Climb where you can tackle the 32’ climbing wall, or rent paddleboards and kayaks.
- Day trip to South Bass Island (in season) – while South Bass Island and Put-In-Bay are another recommended getaway destinations, they also make a great day trip from Sandusky! Here’s how you can spend the day in Put-In-Bay.
- Explore the nearby wineries
- Throw Axes- yes, you read that right. Why not participate in a little friendly competition at the newly opened Noble Axes (127 E Market St)?
Where to Eat in Downtown Sandusky
- Crush Wine Bar (145 Columbus Ave) – the perfect Sandusky date spot for dinner and wine.
- J Bistro (129 W Market St) – a sophisticated bistro with seasonal craft cocktails and classic American fare that includes steaks, chops, and seafood (my favorite!)
- Small City Taphouse (202 Columbus Ave) – a unique spot with over 80 beers on tap, alongside a Vietnamese menu.
Where to Stay in Downtown Sandusky
- Hotel Kilbourne (223 W Water St) – Sandusky’s only boutique hotel is perfect to host your romantic getaway. Enjoy the nightlife of Sandusky within walking distance of the hotel.
- Want a bit more room to relax? Check out this Sky Loft Airbnb located above Paddle and Climb that provides gorgeous lake views and is an easy walk to downtown attractions and dining.
Romantic Things to do on South Bass Island
South Bass Island is best known as the home of Put-In-Bay, a favorite summer destination of Ohioans everywhere. South Bass Island is easy to reach, thanks to several ferry lines.
Jet Express offers direct service from Sandusky to Put-In-Bay in 45 minutes.
Miller Boat Line also has a ferry service, whisking travelers from Catawba to South Bass Island in just 20 minutes.
While there are many fun things to do in Put-In-Bay, there’s so much more to South Bass Island! Don’t miss the legendary sunrises and sunsets, too!
South Bass Island Attractions
- Put-In-Bay Tour Train – start your visit with a hop-on, hop-off train tour of South Bass Island. The one-hour tour covers 80% of the island, and you can plan the rest of your visit along the way.
- Nature Walks – there are many opportunities for nature walks on South Bass Island. Some notable spots include Scheeff East Point Nature Preserve, Massie Cliffside Preserve, and the Jane Coates Wildflower Trail.
- Heineman’s Winery – this is much more than a winery. Underneath the winery is the world’s largest geode, known as Crystal Cave. Daily cave tours are offered from May through September.
- Kayak the Bay – choose from guided tours or private rentals for an adventurous day on the water. Our family loved kayaking the bay and it’s fantastic for couples too!
- Don’t leave the island without visiting the top of Perry’s Victory Monument. The views are phenomenal. Tip: Ladies, I know you want to dress cute but flowy dresses and tops and the wind at the top of the monument are not a good combination. Ask me how I know.
Where to Eat on South Bass Island
- The Forge (451 Catawba Avenue) – this breakfast hot spot serves up sweet and savory crepes, plus a pretty extensive dinner menu.
- The Keys (227 Bay View Avenue) – pretend you’re in Florida with an order of “oceanside” conch fritters. Enjoy Caribbean fare and fun, frozen mixed drinks.
- The Boardwalk (341 Bay View Avenue) – fresh, traditional seafood in a fun location at the marina. They are rumored to have the best lobster bisque in Ohio!
- The Boathouse Bar and Grill (218 Hartford Avenue) is one of my favorite spots on the island. The Boathouse serves up family favorites, Lake Erie Perch, and southern-style favorites with a Cajun flair like Southern Fried Chicken and Waffles and PoBoys!
Where to Stay on South Bass Island
- Anchor Inn (500 Catawba Avenue) – Put-In-Bay’s only luxury boutique hotel. With only nine guest rooms, you’ll want to book ahead when you are planning your Lake Erie getaway.
Romantic Things to do on Kelleys Island
For a more laid-back getaway than South Bass Island, there’s nearby Kelleys Island.
This destination is perfect for couples who enjoy spending time outdoors and for those who wish to travel with kids, it’s also possible to enjoy a family-friendly weekend on Kelleys Island.
On the 15 minute ferry from Put-In-Bay, you can relax and leave the crowds behind.
Although Kelleys Island is much larger, it only sees a fraction of the traffic of South Bass Island, and that’s just what you need for a romantic getaway. Come see the “Emerald Isle” of Lake Erie.
Things to Do on Kelleys Island
- Inscription Rock – a historic treasure along the south shore; Native petroglyphs mark this rock which is a must-see on Kelleys Island.
- Glacial Grooves Geologic Preserve – see 18,000-year-old grooves that were carved into limestone by glaciers.
- Kelleys Island State Park – whether you come to camp or just for the day, enjoy hiking trails, lime kiln ruins and a swimming beach on the island’s north shore.
Where to Eat on Kelleys Island
- Dockers Waterfront Bar and Restaurant (114 W Lakeshore Drive) – Seafood and American cuisine, build your own Bloody Mary bar on Sundays and the best ribeye sandwich I’ve ever had!
- Kelleys Island House (131 Division St) – there’s something for everyone on this eclectic, but traditional menu.
- The Village Pump (103 W Lakeshore) – voted Best of Lake Erie several years running, come for the famous Brandy Alexander, stay for the perch.
- Kelleys Island Wine Company– a relaxing spot to enjoy a glass of wine or to grab a bite to eat. There is also a Mexican restaurant, The Cantina on site.
Where to Stay on Kelleys Island
- Kelleys Island Venture Resort (441 W Lakeshore Drive)- the only hotel on Kelleys Island, Venture Resort has 31 luxury suites within walking distance of the ferry and downtown area.
- Water’s Edge Retreat (827 E Lakeshore Drive)- this bed and breakfast set in a colorful Victorian home has four private rooms and you can’t find a better view than the front porch!
Pelee Island, Canada
If you have your passports ready, Pelee Island of Canada makes a great Lake Erie romantic getaway!
From May through September, ferry service from Sandusky is available takes just under two hours to reach your international destination.
Travelers can bring their vehicles, or bicycles as either one is suitable for exploring Pelee Island.
Things to do on Pelee Island
- Pelee Island Heritage Centre (1073 West Shore Road) – start your visit here to learn about the history of the island, find out what events are happening, and check out the available island tours.
- Pelee Island Bike Rental (1023 West Shore Road) – the best way to see Pelee Island is from the comfy seat of a cruiser bike!
- Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve – a great spot for bird watching, hiking and even swimming if you can brave the cold water.
Where to eat on Pelee Island
- Anchor & Wheel Inn (11 West Shore Road) – Caribbean food in the “Canadian Keys.” Have a drink at the tiki bar, and enjoy fresh local pickerel and perch.
- Westview Restaurant (1075 West Shore Road) – Friday night all-you-can-eat fish fry! Location near the ferry means it can get crowded before the boats depart.
- Conorlee’s Bakery & Deli (5 N Shore Drive) – Not just a bakery, they offer pastries, sandwiches, and even pizza. But of course, you have to have dessert!
Where to stay on Pelee Island
Choose from several inns, bed & breakfasts or cottage rentals on Pelee Island. With only a few options, you’ll want to book ahead during peak season.
Do you have a favorite attraction, restaurant or place to stay that should be on this list? Leave a comment and share it below. We’ll try to check it out.
Friday 19th of November 2021
Wow what an article even I’ve lived in this area for more than 30 years in my life I’ve never known of much these attractions that were just under my nose . I’m going to visit all of these nest summer. Great writing entices me to make the trip !