Fall Clambake in the Connecticut Western Reserve

Native American tribes of Massachusetts, Maine, and Connecticut cooked clams and lobsters in sand pits as far back as 2000 years ago.  Thus starting the tradition of the clambake.   As settlers from New England made their way to the Connecticut Western Reserve (now Northeast Ohio) in the early 1800's, one of the traditions they brought with them was the fall clambakes. 

Three local wineries are partaking in this fall tradition in the coming weeks. Each have a unique take on the menu's so you can hit them all. (Reservations required)

Sept 22nd - M Cellars is hosting Bistro 185, who is preparing Clams, Sausage, Chicken or Ribs, Chowder, Corn, Potatoes, Rolls

Oct 6th - Laurentia Vineyard & Winery - Clam Chowder, Clams, Sweet Potatoes, Corn, Coleslaw, Steak or Lobster, Pecan Ball and one glass of complimentary paired wine

Oct 8th - Laurello Vineyards is hosting J&J catering, who is preparing Clams, Chowder, 1/2 Chicken, Red Skin Potatoes, Corn, Coleslaw

Geneva-on-the-Lake

A moment in time.  Ohio's first summer resort is just 9 miles from Vineyard Woods.  Come take a walk on "the strip" where families have vacationed for generations.  An area where John D. Rockefeller, Harvey Firestone, and Henry Ford once camped in the early 1900's, Geneva-on-the-Lake has evolved as a popular vacation destination over the last 100+ years.  Read about the history of Geneva-on-the-Lake here: http://www.visitgenevaonthelake.com/about/about-geneva-on-the-lake 

Some things have changed, and some things have stayed the same over time.  You can still walk into an arcade to play ski ball, grab a score card and play putt-putt, or race around a gokart track at Adventure Zone; which are activities that have been going on for years.  You can still listen to live bands throughout the day and into the night at outdoor venues on the strip or overlooking the lake.  Grab an ice cream cone on a hot day or duck into one of the old shops to buy a pack of baseball cards.

If you want a little different experience than years past at Geneva-on-the-Lake, pamper yourself at the spa at Lakehouse Inn.  The full service spa offers massages, facials, pedicures, along with hair, nail and body treatments.  After you relax and rejuvenate, get your heart racing at the brand new (opening this summer) Lake Erie canopy tours at the Lodge.  This unique, lakeside opportunity will have you traveling up to 30mph through the canopy on a network of steel cables and adventure sky bridges suspended high above the forest floor.  Spanning 25 acres these heights provide perfect, birds-eye views of the park and Lake Erie from the 60 foot towers and treetops.  This is an addition to the strip that we're sure Henry Ford would've loved. 

You can stop at Eddie's Grill, play your favorite song on the jukebox and grab a footlong hot dog, like patrons have been doing since 1950.  Dine at Piero's Pasta House if you want authentic Italian cuisine, or you can experience top notch farm to table dining at Crosswind Grille.  There are a wide variety of options when it comes to dining, it just depends on what you are in the mood for that day.

Golf

"A bad day on the golf course is better than a good day at work".  When it comes to golf, Northeast Ohio offers a couple hidden gems to enjoy during your stay with Vineyard Woods.  Below are three enjoyable courses open to the public that are a short drive from our property. 

Hemlock Springs Golf Club - (2 miles from VW) - Hemlock Springs Golf Club is a par 72 championship style golf course nestled in the vineyards of Ashtabula County. The course was designed by Ben Zink and opened in 1961. The course plays at 6,520 yards from the blue tees and provides a fair challenge for golfers of all abilities.  The four sets of tees ensure a fair and enjoyable round of golf for players of all abilities and at the same time will give you the opportunity to use all the clubs in your bag. They strive to create the ideal environment to relax, share a round with friends, and appreciate the surrounding beauty.  The course is completely free from residential developments and provides a very peaceful round of golf surrounded by nothing but nature.  A fun fact about Hemlock Springs is that Ben Curtis, 2003 British Open Champion, holds the course record.   (18 hole w/cart rates $28-35)

Madison Country Club - (13 miles from VW) - Nestled along the shores of Lake Erie lies Madison Country Club, a graceful course effortlessly contoured that strives to provide a masterful golf experience in Northern Ohio. Expertly manicured, with some of the state’s most admired panoramas on display, Madison Country Club’s guests leave feeling both pleasantly surprised and equally satisfied.  Founded in 1923 based on a design from perennial Ohio course architect Sandy Alves, Madison Country Club is adorned with Alves’ signature features, such as demanding water shots and narrow fairways. Best known for its elegant landscaping, Madison has captured the surrounding features of this beachy bay area to create an exquisite course that feels organic to the region.  In an appeal to golfers of all skill levels, Madison Country Club provides four sets of tees. Corresponding to the surrounding topography and matured tree lines, this 6,487-yard par-72 registers a 72.2/129 course/slope rating — a stern challenge by any measure. (18 hole w/cart rates $29-49)

Little Mountain Country - (23 miles from VW) - Lush fairways and unequaled vistas await those who walk the grounds of Little Mountain Country Club.  Since its opening in May of 2000, Little Mountain has been consistently listed among the top public courses in Ohio and was also awarded the coveted 5-Star ranking from Golf Digest in 2006.   Mature wooded grounds, ample fairways, exquisite bunkering and incredible views of Lake Erie will make your time on the course pleasurable. The bentgrass greens, fairways and tees are kept in immaculate condition, a feature lending itself to an enjoyable round of golf. The generous greens allow even the average player a great chance to score well and enjoy their round. (18 hole w/cart rates $35-60)

D-Day Reenactment

The Greatest Generation.

A truly hidden gem in Ashtabula County takes place every August in Conneaut, Ohio.  The nation's premier living history event takes place less than 30 minutes from Vineyard Woods.  This August 17th through the 19th, Conneaut Township Park will be transformed into the coast of Normandy, France on June 6th 1944.  The event boasts almost 2,000 re-enactors from across the United States and draws almost 25,000 spectators each year.

D-day Conneaut is a cultural and historical reenactment of the WWII era. Great attention is given to participant authenticity so they can create a living history of WWII. Beyond the reenactment of the beach attacks by WWII re-enactors, an encampment of both Allied and Axis troops is held to share the daily life of the soldiers of both armies. Through the encampments, battle reenactments, lectures, displays and tours, the public gains an understanding of the events that occurred prior to June 6, 1944, and the sacrifices made during and after the invasion.

For more information, visit http://www.ddayohio.us.

(photo credit warbirds news)

Lake Erie

Located less than 10 miles from Vineyard Woods, Lake Erie is the 5th largest fresh water lake in the United States.  The 10,000 square mile lake was named by the Erie people, an Iroquoian group of Native American people who lived along its southern shore.  Lake Erie has several positive contributions to northeastern Ohio including providing drinking water to millions, it's the walleye capital of the world, has beaches to enjoy along the shore, and it helps to extend the growing season for grape growers in the Lake Erie viticultural region.  

For a blog about Lake Erie, we could focus on the number of beaches, fishing charters, and restaurants in the area that serve fresh lake erie perch.  We instead want to focus on three new businesses near Vineyard Woods that allow you to enjoy the lake in unique ways.  

GOTL Water Sports - Whether you want to explore the shoreline and river inlets in a kayak or cruise Lake Erie at an amazing 70 MPH, GOTL Water Sports has you covered.  They offer a fleet of 6 Brand New Sea Doo Jet Skis, a selection of Yamaha Waverunner Jet Skis, and 6 Malibu Ocean Kayaks. They also offer guided sunset jet ski tours by appointment. 9 miles from Vineyard Woods

Stellar Copters - A great way to explore and enjoy the beauty of the lake is a quick helicopter ride.  Stellar Copters offers a wide variety of trips in length from nearby Garmack Airport to see the Lake Erie shoreline.  They have customized trips to view the shore line near Geneva-on-the-Lake as well as longer trips that include the historic Ashtabula Harbor.  5 miles from Vineyard Woods

North Coast Outpost -  Ashtabula County's premier stand-up paddleboard (SUP) and kayak outfitter utilizes a fleet of Isle SUPs and Pelican kayaks.  If jumping waves at 70 mph in a jet ski or touring the shoreline a couple hundred feet in the air isn't your cup of tea, this is a great way to enjoy Lake Erie.  This is a unique experience nearby in one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. 9 miles from Vineyard Woods

 

 

Lake County

Just because you stay in Ashtabula County doesn't mean you have to stay in Ashtabula County.  Our neighbor to the west, Lake County has so much to offer if you are looking to enjoy the beauty of nature or take a quick trip back in time. It's tough to pick only a couple of 20-30 minute trips from Vineyard Woods to highlight, but here are a couple that we think you'll enjoy.

Lake Erie Bluffs - The new 50-foot coastal observation tower at Lake Erie Bluffs is situated overlooking the lakeshore with multiple viewing platforms along a staircase that culminates in a deck featuring 360-degree views. The height and location of the tower provide visitors with a unique view of the lake and the surrounding woods, fields and wetlands, along with a variety of wildlife – particularly a large number of bald eagles that are regularly seen at the park.  20 minutes from Vineyard Woods, entrance is free

Holden Arboreteum - The Holden Arboretum is among the largest arboreta in the United States. Documenting more than 120,000 plants on it's 3,600 acres, Holden’s horticultural focus is on a recognized collection of trees and shrubs, which are displayed in gardens accompanied by groundcovers and perennials, and in themed collections. They collect and display a diversity of plants and trees for evaluation and educational purposes, in order to convey sustainable plant choices recommended for the region.   At Holden, cultivated gardens come alive with color in the spring; cool forest trails offer a respite from the summer heat; woodlands are set ablaze with rich hues of fall; and paths lead you deep into the beauty of the winter woods.  With 20 miles of hiking trails, Holden is a haven for bird watchers as well hikers, gardeners and nature enthusiasts.  30 minutes from Vineyard Woods, $10 entrance fee

James A Garfield's House Visitors to the James A. Garfield National Historic Site in Mentor get to enjoy yesteryear.  The Garfield Home tour, offered with a ranger or volunteer, takes you back in time to the 1880's, the height of the Victorian era. Beautifully restored to how it looked when the Garfield family walked its' halls, the home contains 80% original furnishings that belonged to James Garfield and his family.  The Visitor Center offers museum exhibits chronicling the life of James A. Garfield, from canal boy to President. An 18-minute video further highlights the accomplishments of the President throughout his lifetime. The Eastern National bookstore offers a range of print and souvenir materials to commemorate your visit. 30 minutes from Vineyard Woods, Visitor Center is Free, tours of the home are $7

Historic Bridge Street in the Ashtabula Harbor

With a boom from the railroad completion in the late 1800's, Bridge Street become one of the largest and toughest ports in the world.  Immigrants from all over Europe flocked to the area taking jobs in and around the port.  Economic prosperity continued for well over 75 years helping to sustain a thriving commercial district.  

Fast forward to today and historic bridge street has reinvented itself as a destination with local shops in historic buildings and some of the best restaurants in the region.  With the fresh smell of freshly roasted coffee or handmade chocolates, Bridge Street takes you back into time.  During summer, grab an ice cream cone or some dark chocolate sea salt bark and watch one of only two lift bridges in Ohio raise to let boats through every 30 minutes.

Less than 20 minutes from Vineyard Woods, Bridge Street offers a destination in its own right.  A small sampling of what it has to offer:

  • The Harbor Perk - An independent coffeehouse and roaster that purchases the finest arabica green beans to roast.  Almost every day of the week you can watch them roast a fresh batch.  On top of fresh roasted coffee they feature fine crafted espresso drinks, locally baked goods, frozen coffee drinks, and all fruit smoothies.
  • Rennick Meat Market - Inspired by a butcher shop that was run by TJ Rennick in the late 1800's, the owners hold on to the love of cooking in the old ways, dry-aging steaks, making homemade pickles, mustards, sausages, and cured meats.   Rennick was featured on the Food Network's "Guilty Pleasures" not too long ago.

  • Briquettes Smokehouse - Authentic BBQ with careful selection of the most flavorful and wholesome cuts of meat.  All of the food is bought local when possible, prepared in-house, low and slow over seasoned cherry for a soft, pleasant smoke flavor.

  •  Bascule Bridge Grille - Overlooking the Strauss Bascule Lift Bridge, the upscale-casual restaurant offers seasonal food, local produce with a professionally selected wine menu and variety of top shelf Scotches and Bourbons.

  • Harbor Yak - The rental service will offer kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes; and offer them in full, and half-day rentals. With access to Lake Erie and the Ashtabula River, Harbor Yak will be able to service first-timers and the more experienced.

Covered Bridge Tour

With 19 covered bridges, Ashtabula County boasts the most covered bridges of any county in Ohio, the longest covered bridge (613 feet) in the U.S. as well as the shortest (18 feet in length).  The Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau has mapped out two self driving tours that hit all 19.  The first tour covers 69 miles and 12 bridges in the northeast corner of the county; the second hits six bridges over 68 miles in the western half.  

Some are on paved roads and some are on quiet dirt roads in the country.  Some are new, but most are old.  Every October, the county hosts a covered bridge festival which is a perfect time of year for a drive through the countryside as the leaves turn colors.  During the festival, volunteers at each covered bridge hosts different activities.

Self guided driving tour - http://www.coveredbridgefestival.org/Forms/2013map-web.pdf

Only have time for one covered bridge?  The Harpersfield covered bridge is located on 1 mile from Vineyard Woods.

Harpersfield Bridge is a covered bridge spanning the Grand River in Harpersfield Township. This double-span Howe truss bridge, is the third longest covered bridge in Ohio at 228 feet. A flood in 1913 washed away the land at the north end of the bridge, and the steel span was subsequently attached. The bridge features a walkway, added during its renovation in 1991-92. The bridge also features an Ashtabula County MetroPark at its north end, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

1868 – Bridge constructed.
1913 – Steel span added.
1962 – Bypassed when State Route 534 was rerouted around the settlement of Harpersfield.
1991-92 – Bridge renovated.

Dimensions
Length: 228 feet (69.5 m)
Overhead clearance: 12 feet 9 inches (3.9 m)

 

Wineries

The Grand River Valley Wine region is Located 45 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio.  Formed thousands of years ago when glaciers carved out the Great Lakes and deposited a ridge of fertile soil ideal for cultivation of vineyards, the Grand River Valley benefits from a climate moderated by the thermal effects of Lake Erie to the North.

The Valley's contours promote the effective circulation of warmer air, reducing the threat of frost in the spring and extending the growing season so the grapes are able to ripen to perfection.  This micro-climate characterized by warm, sunny days and cool nights, which make it one of the best viticultural areas to be found, and is also one of the smallest in Ohio.  These gentle slopes also help the rainwater away from the vine roots, preserving the concentration of flavor, sugar and other quality attributes.

With over 20 wineries nearby, the GRV boasts a wide variety of options for every type of wine drinker out there.  Whether you like Red Wine, White Wine or Ice Wine, you'll be able to find what you like, relax, and enjoy the beauty of the region.

Wineries within 8 miles of Vineyard Woods