Kids sitting on stools at Eddie's Grill stools

8 Ways to Enjoy Geneva-on-the-Lake

Each summer, the crowds return to this lakeside town known as Ohio’s first resort. Here are ways to enjoy this longtime lakeside favorite

It’s known as The Strip, and Geneva-on-the-Lake’s milelong thoroughfare is lined with arcades, shops, food stands, mini golf and an array of restaurant and nightlife options — all infused with a frozen-in-time quality. Sure, this lakeside haven has evolved with the times, but its long history is apparent the moment you arrive. Known as Ohio’s oldest summer resort, Geneva-on-the-Lake has been drawing families since the late 19th century. They frolic along the Lake Erie shoreline and stay in one of the many cottages, B&Bs, campgrounds and retro motels on or near The Strip. It’s common to hear of families who have been coming here for three, four, even five generations.

Eddie Sezon at Eddie's Grill (photo courtesy of Ashtabula County Visitors Bureau)
Eddie’s Grill: 
This open-air restaurant sports a distinctly 1950s vibe, with its stools on the sidewalk, classic booths inside and tables shaded by umbrellas out back. Eddie Sezon  opened the place in 1950 after he sent away for blueprints for a root beer stand from an issue of Popular Mechanics magazine. The simple menu — highlighted by a footlong hot dog covered with chili made using a recipe Sezon got from his mother — has changed little since Eddie’s Grill opened. Customers serve up their own root beer from a vintage barrel, while music from the ’50s and ’60s — everything from Elvis to “Elvira” — plays from the jukebox. A multitude of regulars make up Eddie’s customer base, some of them coming here for as long as 50 years. 5377 Lake Rd. E., Geneva-on-the-Lake 44041, 440/466-8720,

Women walking dogs outside Ruff Life on the Lake (Photo courtesy of Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau)
Ruff Life on the Lake: 
Sit! And then chow down at this restaurant and bar that offers a dog-friendly place to dine outdoors. The comfort food fare includes starters like buffalo chicken dip and a giant warm pretzel, and specialties span pierogies, pot roast poutine and a build-your-own burger. Drinks include Blue Dog wines and ciders crafted in the Grand River Valley region. That doesn’t mean humans have all the fun, though. The on-site boutique carries toys and treats so your best friend can go home with a doggy bag of its own. 5514 Lake Rd. E., Geneva 44041, 440/361-3854,

People walking across bridge at Lake Erie Canopy Tours (photo courtesy of Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau)
The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake: Whether you’re looking for a romantic retreat or a family vacation, the 109 rooms and suites and 25 lakeside cottages at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake offer a welcoming spot to make a lakeside getaway. On-site amenities range from a pool and fitness center to Lake Erie Canopy Tours’ aerial adventure park with exciting lakeside zip line tours and an adventure course for adults featuring more than 30 obstacles (there’s also a pint-sized version for kids ages 4 to 10). The on-site Horizons Restaurant serves breakfast and dinner in a glass-enclosed, octagonal dining room with Lake Erie views. 4888 N. Broadway, Geneva 44041, 866/806-8066,

Couple at Old Firehouse Winery (photo courtesy of Ashtabula County Visitors Bureau)
Old Firehouse Winery: Don “Woody” Woodward’s family connections to Geneva-on-the-Lake date back more than a century. When his grandparents, Martha and E.M. “Pop” Pera, visited in 1920, his grandmother, taken by the beauty of the lake, burst into tears when it came time to leave. So, the couple returned, buying an existing restaurant before establishing a motel and dance hall.  Woodward’s own establishment (which he co-owns with Dave Otto), Old Firehouse Winery, is indeed housed in the village’s original firehouse, with a vintage 1924 firetruck sitting outside for photo ops. Nearby, a Ferris wheel that once operated in a local amusement park now stands along the Lake Erie shore. An adjacent patio seats up to 375 summertime visitors who come here to enjoy Lake Erie sunsets and wine made from local grapes. 5499 Lake Rd., Geneva-on-the-Lake 44041, 440/466-9300,

Allison’s Mini Golf: Claiming the title of the nation’s oldest continuously running mini golf course, this spot has been around since 1924. The 18-hole course is as fun as it is deceptively difficult (in a good way). Obstacles range from steep hills to bowling pins. Then there’s hole No. 12 that fronts Geneva-on-the-Lake’s strip, letting passersby see your putting prowess (or not). No matter what you end up scoring, just know there is the option of a Grumpy’s Lemonade and a comforting concession stand waiting for you at the end. 5456 Lake Rd. E., Geneva 44041, 440/466-7922,

Interior of the Lakehouse Inn (photo by Martello Photography)

The Lakehouse Inn: This boutique hotel keeps it small with eight guest rooms, three cottages and a beach house rental, but it goes big with beautiful accommodations and amenities. Book a reservation at the on-site Crosswinds Grille, which focuses on fresh ingredients from nearby farms in a menu that spans chops, steaks and seafood. The Lakehouse Inn Winery produces small-batch wines sourced from the Grand River Valley region, while The Spa at Lakehouse Inn offers massages, facials, waxing and body treatments. 5653 Lake Rd. E., Geneva 44041, 440/466-8668,

Geneva-on-the-Lake Golf Course: This longtime favorite opened in 1927 and today offers summer visitors 18 holes of golf covering 125 acres. The course has a clubhouse, covered carts with windshields, even bunkers that contain PGA-quality sand. The course is fit for players of all skill levels, making it a good choice for a summer outing with co-workers, friends or family. It is also conveniently located at the center of Geneva-on-the-Lake’s strip, within easy walking distance of downtown lodging, attractions, bars and restaurants. 4902 Almraz Dr., Geneva 44041, 440/466-8797,  

History of the Cove mural (photo courtesy of Ashtabula County Visitors Bureau)
The Cove Niteclub: A colorful mural on an exterior wall of The Cove Niteclub illustrates the astonishing cavalcade of musical luminaries who have performed there: Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Joe Walsh as well as the Temptations, the Drifters and the Coasters. P.J. Macchia (who co-owns the club with his mother, Sandra) follows in the footsteps of his late father, Pete, who opened The Cove in 1963 and built it into a space that now can hold 500 concertgoers. Prior to founding The Cove, Pete had spent his winters working at the famed Riviera Hotel in Palm Springs, California. The hotel’s manager gave Pete the inspiration to open a nightclub, where he soon demonstrated a talent to book acts on their way to stardom. 5326 Lake Rd. E., Geneva 44041, 440/466-8888,