Lake Erie Lighthouse Trail Itinerary for a 3 day Road Trip

Discovering the beauty of Lake Erie: A 3-day itinerary along the lighthouse trail

Lake Erie is one of the five Great Lakes of North America, and it is known for its stunning beauty and rich history. If you’re looking for a relaxing and scenic road trip, the Lake Erie Lighthouse Trail is the perfect destination.

This 3-day itinerary will take you through some of the most beautiful and iconic lighthouses in the region, while also giving you the opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. You will experience breathtaking sunsets, and delicious local cuisine, and learn about the rich maritime history of Lake Erie. Follow along as we take you on a journey along the Lighthouse Trail, and discover the hidden gems that make Lake Erie a true wonder.

Why Lake Erie is a great destination for a 3-day trip

Lake Erie is one of the five great lakes in North America, and it is a hidden gem of a destination that is often overlooked. This lake is full of natural beauty, charming towns, and fascinating history that will keep visitors entertained for days. A 3-day itinerary along the lighthouse trail is a perfect way to explore this incredible region.

There’s the stunning scenery that is sure to take anyone’s breath away. Lake Erie’s shoreline stretches for over 900 miles and boasts pristine beaches, rolling hills, and scenic trails. Visitors can hike along the stunning coastline and take in views of the water, spot wildlife, and witness breathtaking sunsets.

Lake Erie lighthouse
Lake Erie lighthouse located at Headlands Park, Mentor, Ohio

The lighthouses that line the shores of Lake Erie are a sight to behold. These historic structures stand tall and proud, and each has its own unique story and charm. Visitors can explore these lighthouses and learn about the important role they played in guiding ships safely along the lake’s shores.

Lake Erie is a destination that has something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in history, or nature, or just want to relax and enjoy the scenery, this region has it all. Visitors can explore charming towns like Port Clinton, Sandusky, and Erie, which offer a range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options.

Day 1: Touring lighthouses in Lorain and Vermilion

Day 1 of your Lake Erie adventure will see you touring the lighthouses in Lorain and Vermilion. Both towns are situated on the southern shores of the lake and offer a glimpse into the rich maritime history of the region.

In Lorain, head to the Lorain Lighthouse, which has been guiding ships into the harbor since 1917. You can take a tour and climb to the top for panoramic views of Lake Erie and the surrounding area. The lighthouse is also home to a museum where you can learn about its history and the importance of lighthouses to the shipping industry.

Lorain Lighthouse – "Jewel of the Port®"
Lorain Lighthouse; image via

From Lorain, head east to Vermilion, where you can visit the Vermilion Lighthouse and Museum. This lighthouse dates back to 1847 and is one of the oldest lighthouses on the Great Lakes. The museum tells the story of the lighthouse and the town’s maritime heritage. You can also climb to the top of the lighthouse for stunning views of Lake Erie and the Vermilion River.

After your lighthouse tours, take some time to explore the charming towns of Lorain and Vermilion. Both offer a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions. In Vermilion, be sure to stroll along Main Street and check out the historic homes and buildings. In Lorain, head to the Black River Landing, where you can take a scenic boat ride on the Black River or enjoy a concert or festival.

Where to stay in Lorain and Vermilion

If you’re planning a trip to Lake Erie, you’ll want to make sure you have a comfortable place to stay after a long day of exploring. Luckily, both Lorain and Vermilion offer plenty of options for accommodations.

In Lorain, you can stay at the waterfront hotel – the Ariel on the lake. This hotel offers beautiful views of Lake Erie and is within walking distance of many great restaurants and shops. You can also choose to stay at the Quality Inn, which is located just a few minutes away from the beach and offers great amenities like free breakfast and an indoor pool.

Captain Bell House - Bed Breakfast, Lodging
Captain Bell House Bed & Breakfast

Vermilion, on the other hand, offers some great bed and breakfast options for those who want a more cozy and personalized experience. The Vermilion Guest House is just a short walk away from the historic Main Street and offers a luxurious and elegant stay with modern amenities. Alternatively, you can opt for the Captain Bell House Bed & Breakfast, which boasts a beautiful Victorian-era décor and is conveniently located to many of the lighthouses on the trail.

Day 2: Exploring Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island

On day two of your Lake Erie adventure, you’ll be exploring two of the most beautiful and unique islands in the area: Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island.


Put-in-Bay is a vibrant and bustling island located at the southern tip of Lake Erie. It’s accessible only by ferry and is known for its charming downtown area, lively entertainment, and stunning natural scenery. Spend some time strolling through the downtown area and visiting some of the local shops and restaurants before heading to Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial. This 352-foot monument was constructed in honor of the victory of the Battle of Lake Erie during the War of 1812, and offers breathtaking views of the island and the lake from the observation deck.

From Put-in-Bay, take a ferry ride to Kelleys Island, located just north of Put-in-Bay. Kelleys Island is a peaceful and tranquil oasis, with beautiful beaches, hiking trails, and natural attractions. Visit the Kelleys Island State Park and enjoy a picnic lunch while taking in the stunning views of the lake. Don’t forget to explore the Glacial Grooves State Memorial, which features the largest exposed grooves created by glaciers in the world. After a day of exploring, head back to Put-in-Bay for a relaxing evening of dinner and drinks, and maybe even catch a live music show.

Where to stay in Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island

If you’re looking for a place to stay on Day 2 of your Lake Erie lighthouse trail itinerary, there are plenty of options on both Put-in-Bay and Kelleys Island.

Put-in-Bay offers a variety of accommodations, from hotels and resorts to bed and breakfasts and vacation rentals. The island’s main strip, Delaware Avenue, is home to many of hotels and attractions, making it a convenient location for visitors. Some of the popular options include The Commodore Resort, Bay Lodging Resort, and the Island Club Vacation Rentals.

Kelleys Island
Kelleys Island; image via

Kelleys Island also has a range of accommodations, including hotels, inns, and vacation rentals. One of the most popular options is the Kelleys Island Venture Resort, which offers comfortable rooms and suites, an outdoor pool, and a hot tub. Other options include the Kelleys Island State Park Campground and various vacation rental homes.

Day 3: Visiting Cedar Point Amusement Park and Marblehead Lighthouse

On the final day of your Lake Erie adventure, take a short drive to Sandusky, Ohio, and experience the thrill of Cedar Point amusement park. Known as the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World,” Cedar Point has over 70 rides, including 18 world-class roller coasters. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or prefer more laid-back rides, Cedar Point has something for everyone.

Marblehead Lighthouse
Marblehead Lighthouse; image via Ohio Department of Natural Resources

After spending the morning at Cedar Point, make your way to Marblehead Lighthouse, located just a short drive away. This historic lighthouse has been guiding ships safely through the waters of Lake Erie since 1822. Visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse and take in stunning views of the lake and surrounding area. Be sure to take a walk along the nearby shoreline, where you can find unique stones and shells.

Finish off your day with a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants in the area. Many places offer fresh-caught Lake Erie fish and locally sourced produce, giving you a true taste of the region. As the sun sets on your Lake Erie adventure, take a moment to reflect on the beauty and history you’ve experienced along the lighthouse trail.

Where to stay in Sandusky and Port Clinton

As your 3-day journey comes to an end, it’s time to consider where to stay on Day 3. Luckily, Sandusky and Port Clinton have a variety of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs and budget.

For those wanting to stay in Sandusky, there are several hotels with stunning views of Lake Erie. The Cedar Point Hotel Breakers offers comfortable accommodations and easy access to Cedar Point Amusement Park. Another option is the Hotel Kilbourne, which offers beautifully designed rooms and a rooftop bar with breathtaking views of the lake.

Breakers Hotel at Cedar Point
Breakers Hotel at Cedar Point; image via

If you prefer to stay in Port Clinton, there are many great options as well. The Island House Hotel offers a unique experience, with rooms located on an island accessible only by boat. The rooms are cozy and offer stunning views of Lake Erie. Another popular hotel in the area is the Commodore Perry Inn, which offers comfortable rooms and excellent amenities.

No matter where you choose to stay, both Sandusky and Port Clinton offer a variety of restaurants and shops to explore during your final day on the lighthouse trail. Take in the beautiful views of the lake, indulge in some fresh seafood, and reflect on the memories made during your incredible 3-day journey along Lake Erie’s lighthouse trail.

Best places to eat along the Lighthouse Trail

One of the best things about traveling is trying new foods and experiencing local cuisine. The lighthouse trail along Lake Erie offers a wide variety of dining options that are sure to satisfy any taste buds.

Start your day with a delicious breakfast at the Lighthouse Cafe in Vermilion. This cozy cafe offers a variety of breakfast options, including classic omelets, pancakes, and breakfast sandwiches.
For lunch, head to the charming town of Huron and check out the Old Fish House. This casual seafood restaurant offers a variety of fresh seafood options, including their famous fish tacos and lobster bisque.

As you continue along the lighthouse trail, make a stop in Port Clinton for dinner at the famous Mon Ami Restaurant and Winery. This historic restaurant serves up classic American fare and features a variety of locally produced wines.

Finally, end your day with a sweet treat from Toft’s Dairy. This family-owned dairy has been serving up delicious ice cream since 1900 and is a staple in the community. Be sure to try their famous Buckeye sundae, a heavenly combination of peanut butter and chocolate.

Tips for planning your trip to Lake Erie

Before you start your Lake Erie adventure, there are a few tips you should keep in mind to make the most out of your trip. Firstly, decide on the time of year you want to visit. Summer is usually the busiest season, and the weather is warm and perfect for water activities. However, if you prefer a quieter trip, consider visiting during the shoulder season (spring or fall). The weather might not be as warm, but you’ll have more space to explore and enjoy the scenery.

Plan your itinerary in advance. The Lighthouse Trail offers plenty of opportunities for sightseeing, hiking, and water activities, so it’s important to choose the spots that interest you the most. Research the lighthouses, parks, and beaches you want to visit and create a schedule that allows enough time for each activity.

The Ohio Lighthouse Tour
The Ohio Lighthouse Tour; image via

Pack accordingly. Lake Erie’s weather can be unpredictable, so make sure you bring clothes for both sunny and rainy days. Remember to pack comfortable shoes for hiking and water shoes for beach activities. Sunscreen, insect repellent, and a hat are also essential items to bring.

Consider renting a car to get around. While some areas are accessible by bike or public transportation, having a car will give you more freedom to explore at your own pace. Make sure to have a valid driver’s license and check if your insurance covers rental cars.

FAQ for Lake Erie Lighthouse Trail Itinerary

This unique and historic trail visits dozens of lighthouses throughout the Lake Erie region. Here you will find a comprehensive list of FAQs to help guide your journey.

How many steps are in the Erie Land lighthouse?

The Erie Land lighthouse contains 73 steps from the ground floor to the top of the tower.

How many lighthouses are around Lake Erie?

There are over 30 lighthouses located on or near Lake Erie.

How many lighthouses are on Lake Erie in Ohio?

There are 11 lighthouses located along the Lake Erie shoreline in Ohio.

How many lighthouses are in Erie PA?

Eight lighthouses are located within the city limits of Erie, Pennsylvania.

What lighthouse has the most steps?

The Fairport Harbor West Breakwater Light holds the record as the lighthouse with the most steps in North America, with 113 stairs leading up to the light.

How many steps are in the New Presque Isle lighthouse?

The New Presque Isle lighthouse is comprised of 65 steps from the base of the tower to its peak.

What is the loneliest lighthouse in the Great Lakes?

The Whitefish Point Light Station is considered the most remote lighthouse in the Great Lakes, as it is situated at the furthest reaches of Lake Superior.

What is the oldest lighthouse on Lake Erie?

The Marblehead lighthouse on the Ohio shores of Lake Erie is recognized as the oldest active lighthouse on the lake, first lit in 1821.

What is the most isolated lighthouse USA?

The Makapuu Point Light Station in Hawaii is one of the most isolated lighthouses in the United States, located six miles from Oahu’s eastern shore.

How many steps are in the Little Sable Point Lighthouse?

Situated on Michigan’s western shoreline, Lake Michigan’s Little Sable Point Lighthouse contains 54 steps.

How long is the drive around Presque Isle?

Depending on traffic and weather conditions, a complete loop around Presque Isle can take approximately three hours.

What is the 3rd oldest lighthouse in the US?

The 3rd oldest lighthouse in the US is Sandy Hook Lighthouse in New Jersey. It was constructed in 1764 and remains an active beacon for passing ships.

What is the oldest lighthouse still standing in the United States?

The oldest standing lighthouse in the US is Boston Light, which was originally built in 1716 and restored in 1783. It is currently operated by the US Coast Guard.

Where is the oldest lighthouse in the United States?

The oldest standing lighthouse in the US is Boston Light, which sits atop Little Brewster Island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Which state had the most lighthouses?

Michigan has the greatest number of lighthouses with 123, followed by California with 35 and New York with 24.

Which lake has the most lighthouses?

ake Superior has the highest number of lighthouses among all the Great Lakes, with 82 navigational beacons spaced around its shores.

What is the largest lighthouse in North America?

The tallest lighthouse in North America is located in Cape Hatteras National Seashore Park on North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Named after Hatteras Island’s famous resident pirate Blackbeard, this majestic tower stands proud at 208 feet tall.

Why Lake Erie should be on your travel bucket list

If you are an avid traveler, Lake Erie should definitely be on your travel bucket list. This beautiful lake spans four states in the United States and one Canadian province, making it a destination that offers a wide range of activities and experiences.

From the stunning beaches and scenic lighthouses to the numerous vineyards and historic sites, Lake Erie offers something for every type of traveler. Lake Erie’s surrounding towns and cities also offer unique cultural experiences and delicious cuisine, making it a great destination for foodies and history buffs alike.

We hope you enjoyed reading our 3-day itinerary along Lake Erie’s lighthouse trail. This region is full of natural beauty, rich history, and charming towns that are waiting to be explored. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or simply looking for a relaxing weekend getaway, Lake Erie’s lighthouse trail has something for everyone. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to discover the beauty of this region for yourself. We are confident that you will create unforgettable memories along the way.

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