Total tour distance: 300 miles
Daily tour distance: 45 miles
Difficulty: 50 / 100
Designed for the beachcomber in all of us, this tour explores Ohio’s boating playground on Lake Erie. The islands, lighthouses, beaches and lakeside resorts provide the backdrop for this wonderful week on a bike. Come with us and explore Marblehead Peninsula, Catawba Island, Kelleys Island, Put-in-Bay, and the south shore of Lake Erie from Sandusky to Lorain. Visit Ohio's iconic lighthouses and maritime treasures, and ride where Commodore Perry refused to 'Give up the ship'! Extravagant lodgings, sumptuous meals, and lakeside vistas galore make this a trip you’ll never forget!
Day 1 (Sun.): Optional Tune-Up Ride through Sandusky (27 miles)
Just a ‘quick spin’ around the Sandusky area will introduce you to the culture of the lake and one of its premier tourist destinations. The fabulous Sawmill Creek Resort in Huron, OH will be your host facility for the first two days. In the afternoon riders can visit the Sandusky Maritime Museum, the Lake Erie waterfront, the quaint Merry-Go-Round Museum, and the Firelands Winery, with a recommended stop at the home of Toft’s Dairy (Ohio’s oldest dairy) for ice cream. Or if you arrive late and still want to ride, we have a shorter 16 mile ride that scoots out along the peaceful Lake Erie shoreline to the world famous Cedar Point Amusement Park and back. What a serene way to begin the week! BCR’s get-acquainted wine and cheese reception on this first day of the tour will be followed by our opening banquet at the Resort. So much to do, so little time!
Day 2 (Mon.): Optional Firelands Loop (34/53 miles)
Today’s route will take you inland through the town of Milan, the hometown of Thomas Edison, where we will visit the Edison Birthplace and the Milan Historical Museum. The long route heads off to Norwalk, Monroeville, and Bellevue, where we’ll visit the Firelands Museum and the Mad River and MKP Railroad Museum. A stop by Historic Lyme Village will introduce you to the early life in these ‘Firelands’, given its name because of the early settlers who had been burned out of their New England homes by British sympathizers during the Revolutionary War. Both routes will cap the ride off with a stop by Hermes Vineyards, a nice treat before relaxing in the afternoon and enjoying the fabulous amenities at the Sawmill Creek Resort. Join us for wine and cheese and enjoy the lakefront resort with a sunset stroll alone the beach. Dinner will be on your own this evening to allow you to explore the various restaurants on Sawmill Creek Resort’s premises or nearby.
Day 3 (Tues.): Sandusky to Vermilion (36/54 miles)
Today’s ride travels along miles of the scenic Lake Erie coastline. We ride through three of Lake Erie’s jewels, each with picturesque beaches and historic lighthouses: Huron, with its delightful downtown and boat marina; Vermilion and its wonderful beaches and riverside parks; and the long route will loop out to Lorain, with its quaint town center, beaches, and Black River Landing memorial to the Underground Railroad, the last stop before freedom ships set sail for Canada. Be sure to ride out to Lakeside Landing with its iconic view of the harbor and lighthouse. A serene trip down the Black River Bicycle Trail will bring you back to Amherst and Sandstone Historical Village and through the scenic area of Bacon Woods and Mill Hollow State Park. Be sure to stop by Brummer’s Chocolates in Vermilion and Faroh’s Chocolates in Lorain when passing through. Then it’s home to the Holiday Inn Express, where you can check in, relax in the pool, and enjoy our wine and cheese reception. Dinner will be catered at a local waterfront restaurant to enjoy the beauty of Vermilion’s marina area.
Day 4 (Wed.): Optional Oberlin Loop (44/63 miles)
Today we head inland once again toward the town of Oberlin, renowned for its famous college and for its rich history as a major center for the Underground Railroad. Be sure to take time to explore Oberlin and the college, and follow our self guided tour through the buildings, monuments and historical sites associated with Oberlin’s rich and important involvement with the Abolitionist Movement and its role in the URR. Take time to visit the Allen Memorial Art Museum to feed your right brain. Our ride will also take us by three wineries (to feed your palate!): the Matus Winery, Vermilion Valley Vineyards, and—close to the end of the day—the Paper Moon Winery. A relaxing stop for ice cream and then at the lovely Schoepfle Gardens will feed the softer side. The long route will swing down to the lovely little railroad town of Wellington, the hometown of Archibald MacNeal, who painted the iconic patriotic scene “The Spirit of ’76.” And of course the day must have a wine and cheese reception! We will arrange transportation so you can explore dinner options in downtown Vermilion. An optional sunset tour of the Vermilion River on the Mystic Belle will also be available for those interested.
Day 5 (Thurs.): Ferry Over to Put-In-Bay and Marblehead Peninsula (42 miles plus ferry)
It’s back to Sandusky today, in time for the Jet Express to whisk you away to famed Put-In-Bay on South Bass Island, where there is so much to see and do. Most known for the Perry Victory and International Peace Memorial, celebrating the victory of Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry over the British fleet here on Lake Erie during the War of 1812, Put-In-Bay is a tourist mecca. Stop in at the Visitors and Convention Bureau to orient yourself to the many attractions. Spend some time exploring the town and the Perry Memorial. Stop by the Put-In-Bay and Heineman Wineries—and, if you like, the Put-In-Bay Brewing Co.—for a sample of the local beverages (for a time, these Islands were referred to as the ‘Wine Islands’). The Island is filled with romantic charm, including its beautiful lighthouse, dating from 1897. A brief ride to the south side of the Island will bring you to the ferry dock for the Miller Boat Line ferry over to Catawba Island, where you will begin your exploration of Catawba and the Marblehead Peninsula. If you like water, boats, and beautiful scenery, this is just one more fine day for you! Make your way to the South Beach Resort and settle in to the amenities, including the daily wine and cheese reception. Dinner will be catered for your pleasure at the resort.
Day 6 (Fri.): Optional Loop on Marblehead Peninsula (37/53 miles)
Today’s route will begin with an exploration of Johnson Island, best known for its Confederate Cemetery (the Island held Confederate POWs during the Civil War). Then ride to one of the most well-known icons in Ohio, the beautiful Marblehead Lighthouse near the town of Marblehead. Explore the shops in this quaint and charmingly ‘nautical’ town, then take a spin through the village of Lakeside, a vacation-oriented community dedicated to its never-ending Chautauqua environment. Be sure to check out Lakeside’s dock and swimming beach area, and sate that ice cream craving at one of Lakeside’s wonderful parlors and restaurants! Then ride back onto Catawba Island for a stop by one of the area’s premier wineries, Mon Ami Winery and Restaurant. A spin through the town of Port Clinton will loop you back to the south side of the peninsula, taking you right past the Liberty Aviation Museum on your way back to the South Beach Resort, where you can spend the rest of the day lying around poolside and enjoying the view of Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie. A longer route will meander out to the Erie Islands Resort and Marina for some extra miles and perhaps a leisurely lunch. If you wish to take a break from riding or have a very short day on the bike, you can always arrange to visit the local Monsoon Lagoon Water Park, the African Safari Wildlife Park, or most of the aforementioned route attractions, each within an 8 to 15 mile round trip by bike. Wow, what a day! A final wine reception and dinner together at the resort will prepare us for our last day’s ride together in the morning.
Day 7 (Sat.): Kelleys Island and Return to Sandusky and Huron (27 miles plus ferry)
The final day’s ride will begin with a trip by the Marblehead Lighthouse to the ferry dock at Marblehead, where the Kelleys Island Ferry will ferry you and your bike across to Kelleys Island. Spend the morning exploring this quiet refuge, a change from the more touristy South Bass Island. Kelleys Island may seem more suited to the pace of the remarkable ‘Glacial Grooves’, a vestige of Ohio’s glaciated past. Visit the beach at Kelleys Island State Park and tootle around the lovely island at your leisure. But be sure to stop by the Kelleys Island Winery, the Kelleys Island Brewery, and the delightful shops in the village, including Caddy Shack Square. Be at the ferry dock in time to catch the Jet Express ferry over to Sandusky for one last sweep through the town. Take time to stop by the Tre Sorelle Chocolate Shop for a final delight for the sweet tooth. History buffs who cannot get enough will have the chance to visit the Follett House Museum and/or the Johnson Island Museum. Then it’s back to the Sawmill Creek Resort where your car will be awaiting you. Begin calculating how long it will take to get the sound of waves out of your head, relive your days on the water’s edge, and begin plotting your next adventure with Buckeye Country Roads Bicycle Tours.