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The 15 Best Beaches in Ohio in 2024 [Lake Erie & Inland Lakes]

Amar Hussain's image
Amar Hussain
Amar Hussain's image

Amar Hussain

Senior Content Contributor

816 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 63U.S. States Visited: 9

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the executive director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now editor-in-chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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This Midwestern state is a great place to visit if you enjoy days at the beach. Though there’s no ocean access, Ohio has a surprising number of beaches, all of which are freshwater in nature. Whether you want to head out on a family trip or are more of a solo traveler, keep reading. This article has everything you need to know about the best beaches in Ohio, so you can get to work planning your next getaway to the “Buckeye State.”

Map of the 15 Best Beaches in Ohio

The 9 Best Lake Erie Beaches in Ohio

1. Conneaut Township Park

Conneaut Township Park
Image Credit: Conneaut Township Park

Conneaut Township Park is a locally adored place to spend warm summer days. In addition to its open green spaces, which are perfect for picnics, the park is also home to a sizable beach for swimming.

Though the beach can get crowded, this sandy stretch is wide enough that you shouldn’t have any trouble finding a place to lay out your towel. You can further guarantee that by heading to the park close to when the gates open at 7 a.m.

If you visit between Memorial and Labor Day, you’ll even find the concession stand open, where you can get some refreshments and snacks after a long day splashing around.

Hot Tip:

Just keep in mind that there are no lifeguards posted at this beach. So, while the water is gentle and shallow, especially near the shore, you’ll need to be extra cautious while swimming.

2. East Harbor State Park

East Harbor State Park
Image Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

East Harbor State Park is a versatile natural area that helps preserve Ottawa County’s wildlife. The park consists of a campground, boating marina, wildlife preserve, and, of course, a beach on the banks of Lake Erie. With that much space, it offers visitors a chance to try out a number of outdoor activities, from birdwatching to swimming.

The water around the swimming areas is shallow enough for inexperienced or younger swimmers, and there’s not much current. Due to the park’s popularity, it has a number of convenient amenities to make your beach days more pleasant. The bathrooms and showers are kept clean, and the park staff is friendly and ready to answer any questions you might have.

The park can get crowded, especially during the summer. So, make sure you arrive early whether you want to stay overnight or are just coming for the day.

3. Geneva State Park

Geneva State Park
Image Credit: Mark K. via Flickr (license)

Spanning nearly 700 acres, Geneva State Park is an often underrated park located on the banks of Lake Erie. The park’s vast space is zoned for a variety of activities at all times of the year, like hiking, cross-country skiing, fishing, and canoeing. The park even has a lodge and several cottages available for overnight guests who don’t want to camp.

The lake is by far the most popular area of the park. Though boats are allowed, designated swimming areas are safely tucked away, so you don’t have to worry about pollution or getting in anyone’s way.

The swimming areas have relatively shallow water as well, especially near the shore, which is great for younger swimmers. Pets are also permitted in the park; though they’re not allowed in the swim beach water, they’re welcome in the other lake areas.

4. Headlands Beach State Park

Headlands Beach State Park
Image Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Headlands Beach State Park sports a half-mile-long beach, making it the longest natural beach shore in Ohio. That notoriety has made it a popular summer destination for over 2,000,000 in- and out-of-state visitors each year.

Its natural landscape creates a juxtaposition from the bustling ambiance of nearby Cleveland, and it’s an ideal spot to get away from the city. Though Headlands is a large beach, swimming is only permitted in certain areas. These spots are clearly marked and mean currents are gentler and the water is shallow.

It’s important to remember that large floatation devices, like inflatable chairs, aren’t permitted in the water. Life vests and personal flotation aids, like armbands, are allowed and even recommended on windy days. There also aren’t lifeguards posted at this beach, so guests are invited to swim with caution, especially those visiting with smaller children.

5. Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach
Image Credit: Kyle Lanzer via Cleveland Metroparks

Not to be confused with the California town of the same name, Ohio’s Huntington Beach can be found along a half-mile stretch of Lake Erie’s coastline.

Over the years, Huntington Beach has become a popular spot for visitors from all over the Midwest. That’s largely due to the wide array of activities that can be enjoyed here. You can picnic on the bluffs overlooking the water, go kayaking, or spend your days splashing around in the designated swimming areas.

The park is also considered an educational location, so if you need a break from swimming, you can visit the Rocky River Nature Center or the Lake Erie Nature and Science Center to learn more about the area’s natural history. The beach is one of the most accessible for those with mobility concerns since you can make arrangements for a beach wheelchair.

6. Kelleys Island State Park

Kelleys Island State Park Beach
Image Credit: Mbrickn via Wikimedia Commons (license)

Kelleys Island is a picturesque landmass in Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie. No matter when you visit, you’ll be able to explore the wilderness, including its dramatic cliffs and pristine water. However, the warmer months offer you the chance to golf, bike down the island’s nature paths, and go swimming at the park’s designated beach area.

Though the island is surrounded by water, it’s extremely important you only swim in the marked areas. The current in other zones can be very strong, with choppy waves and deep water.

You may also want to bring life vests or other personal flotation devices before going for a dip, especially if you’re visiting with children, as there are no lifeguards on duty here. If you plan on staying in the park overnight, you’ll be able to choose between electric and non-electric sites, depending on your camping preferences.

7. Lakeview Park

Lakeview Park
Image Credit: Rona Proudfoot via Flickr (license)

Lakeview Park was the first recreational area of its kind in Ohio’s Lorain County. If you prefer to stay dry during your visit, you can go for a walk along the park’s boardwalk or through its garden. Or, you can enjoy the sound of the waves while you walk on the sand. You can also go for a dip at the beach, especially on warm summer days.

This portion of Lake Erie has generally calm water, especially on nice days, so you don’t have to worry about strong currents. The water is also very shallow near the shore, making it a safe spot to let younger kids play around.

The park can get busy, though, especially during the summer. So, if you plan on visiting on a weekend between Memorial Day and Labor Day, make sure you arrive early to beat the crowds.

8. Main Street Beach

Main Street Beach
Image Credit: Shores & Islands Ohio

Main Street Beach has something for virtually any type of visitor. Those who prefer to stay on land can go bird watching or fishing, while more adventurous types can try their hand at kayaking or canoeing.

Perhaps one of the most popular outdoor activities done by Main Street Beach’s visitors is swimming. Its wide sandy beach is perfect for laying out a towel, and the on-site restrooms and concession stands mean you can spend an entire stress-free day by the water. The beach even has an observation deck to give you an unobstructed view of the lake.

Main Street Beach is also accessible to visitors who have mobility concerns since a mobility mat leads right down to the water. This can help ensure guests who use aids like wheelchairs or walkers are able to get to the beach without damage or excess fatigue.

9. Maumee Bay State Park

Maumee Bay State Park
Image Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Maumee Bay State Park is largely considered one of the best recreational areas in the Midwest. Located on the banks of Lake Erie, this park spans over 1300 acres and has amenities suitable for a wide array of travelers.

The park’s lodge offers guests a chance to stay overnight without sacrificing any comforts, and it can even host retreats and conferences against the area’s natural backdrop. Visitors can also explore the woods and wetland areas and keep an eye out for the over 300 bird species that call the park home.

The park also features 2 sandy beaches, which are suitable for swimming and are equipped with well-maintained showers and restrooms to make days on the shore more comfortable. Like many state parks, there are no lifeguards on duty here, so make sure you and your travel group swim with extra caution.

The 6 Best Inland Lake Beaches in Ohio

1. Alum Creek State Park

Alum Creek State Park
Image Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Measuring 58 miles in length, Alum Creek is the largest in Ohio. Though it spreads from Morrow to Delaware County, the best place to experience this body of water is at the aptly-named Alum Creek State Park.

The park offers visitors a chance to partake in a wide variety of outdoor activities, from hiking to camping. However, no summer trip to this part of Ohio would be complete without going for a swim in the water.

The park has designated swimming areas where the water is shallow and gentle, so children can splash around easily. You can even bring larger flotation devices, as long as you keep an eye on them so they don’t drift away.

Remember, while there are park rangers, the beach portion of the park doesn’t have any lifeguards, so make sure to exert caution while you and your kids swim.

2. Burr Oak State Park

Burr Oak State Park
Image Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Burr Oak State Park is a rather underrated spot in Ohio, especially among out-of-towners. So, it’s a perfect place to go if you want to swim without crowds.

This rustic park is tucked away in the woods and hills of Morgan County, and this country charm translates to its swimming area as well. Camping on the park’s grounds means you’ll have direct access to the lake from your overnight spot, but you can also visit just for the day if you’d prefer.

Though Burr Oak is a natural park, you don’t have to worry about lacking basic amenities. There are changing areas and well-kept restrooms, so you can relax and spend the whole day by the water. Burr Oak Beach is even lined with lush trees that offer natural shade on hot days, though make sure you pack plenty of sunscreen anyway.

3. Old Field Beach

Old Field Beach
Image Credit: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Old Field Beach in Indian Lake State Park is a favorite lakeside spot among Logan County residents, but it’s virtually unknown to out-of-towners.

The beach is considered pet-friendly, though it’s important to remember that all dogs must be kept on leashes while in public areas. While there’s no rule against when dogs are allowed in the water, it might also be a good idea to avoid taking them to this particular beach in the park between Memorial and Labor Day when crowd levels are higher.

The water here is gentle and shallow near the sand, so it’s extremely family-friendly. In addition to its shore, the Old Field Beach area also has a playground, a disc golf field, and hiking trails that can be enjoyed if you need a break from the water or if you’re visiting during a cooler time of year.

4. Pleasant Hill Lake Park

Pleasant Hill Lake Park
Image Credit: Pleasant Hill Park

Pleasant Hill Lake Park is a beloved natural recreational area with over 350 campsites, 37 of which are specifically designed for those who wish to explore the area on horseback.

Camping isn’t the only activity worth doing in the park. It’s also a popular spot for water activities like boating, fishing, and swimming. The water here is known for its cleanliness, and the beach is a pristinely sandy expanse with a few trees that provide shade on sunny days.

Since boats are allowed on the lake, make sure you only swim in designated areas for your safety. The park also holds various themed events throughout the year, which can make your visit even more fun, especially if you’re visiting with children.

Hot Tip:

If you plan on staying overnight, make sure to reserve your spot early; with the park’s popularity, sites and cabins book up quickly.

5. Salt Fork State Park

Salt Fork State Park
Image Credit: J. Stephen Conn via Flickr (license)

Salt Fork State Park’s landscape is incredibly varied, with meadows, hills, forests, and lakeshores within its territory. This natural landscape is part of the park’s charm and why it’s so popular among Guernsey Country residents.

The park covers over 17,000 acres of land, and nearly 3,000 acres of water, giving visitors plenty of room to roam around. Even on busy days, the park rarely feels crowded. Boating and fishing are favorite ways to spend summer days in the park, thanks to the gentle water. However, you can also swim at the public beach as long as you stay near the shore.

Since there’s no lifeguard, you’ll need to exert extra caution, especially when there are boats on the water, which is easier to do in the shallow areas near land. If you’d prefer to stay on land, you can find a spot on the sand to relax.

6. Tappan Lake Park

Tappan Lake Park
Image Credit: Tappan Park

Tappan Lake Park is an ideal spot for people who love spending time in the great outdoors. With its 500 campsites and 11 cabins, there’s plenty of space to spend a long weekend surrounded by trees and waterfront nature.

If you visit during the summer, make sure you plan to spend time at the swimming beach where you can splash around in the water for hours. The nearby concession stand and restroom facilities ensure you can comfortably stay near the lake all day. Alternatively, you can also take a boat on the water to do some fishing or exploring.

If you need a break from the water, or you visit when it’s a little too cold to swim, you can always hike the park’s trails or visit the nature center. Both options let you get a closer look at the area’s wildlife. 

Final Thoughts

Clearly, Ohio has a number of great beaches, despite its inland, Midwestern location. Whether you’re looking for natural, pristine coasts or more lively shores near the state’s cities, there’s a place in Ohio for you to go for a swim. With any luck, this article has helped you decide which Ohio beach you should check out first.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Ohio have any beaches?

Despite being an inland state, Ohio has a surprising number of beaches. That’s largely thanks to the lakes and rivers that can be found within its borders. In fact, most of these natural swimming areas are on the banks of Lake Erie.

What part of Ohio has a beach?

There are beaches all over Ohio. However, the swimming areas in the northern parts of the state are generally more popular. These are the beaches near Lake Erie, which forms the largest coastline in Ohio. Keep in mind Ohio has no saltwater beaches.

Is it safe to swim at Ohio beaches?

Swimming is generally considered safe at Ohio’s beaches, though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exert caution. Keep an eye out for any signs forbidding or warning against going in the water before going for a dip. Keep note of currents and water temperatures, too.

Are the beaches clean in Ohio?

Ohio’s beaches are kept clean for visitors, especially those that are considered swimmable. The water is regularly sampled to ensure safety, and boating areas are kept separate from swimming zones. The water is also cleanest at less crowded times, like in the morning.

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About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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