11 Top-Rated Beaches in Ohio

It is no surprise that most people do not think of Ohio when they daydream of hitting the beach, but the Buckeye state holds some hidden surprises for Midwesterners who want to relax on the sand and do not have the time to travel to a more tropical destination.

The 312 miles of Lake Erie shoreline on Ohio's northern border boasts some of the most visited beaches in the state, which are ideal for water sports, leisure boating, and soaking up vitamin D. You can even take a short ferry ride to Kelleys Island for a true Midwestern version of an island beach getaway.

While many Ohioans and visitors from nearby states like Pennsylvania and Michigan flock to the Lake Erie region for the Ohio beach scene, nearly all of the more than 70 Ohio State Parks have public beaches. While you will not hang-10 on ocean waves to surf in Ohio, you will find plenty of safe and clean freshwater beaches to enjoy a day in the sun. Find the best beaces with our list of the top-rated beaches in Ohio.

1 Headlands Beach

Headlands Beach
Headlands Beach

The natural sand beach at Headlands Beach State Park is what makes it one of the most popular beaches in Ohio. It is a mile in length and the largest natural beach in the state. The unique plant species that thrive on the beach will make you think you are somewhere along the Atlantic Coast. The natural landscape is one of the most picturesque in the state as it sits adjacent to the Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve. The many conveniences available to visitors, like dumpsters, several restroom facilities, and designated picnic areas, are what help keep the beach in pristine condition. Headlands Beach is just a few miles from all the attractions of Cleveland, so you can make a weekend out of it. For accommodation, it's hard to beat a stay at Quail Hollow Resort, which has dining on-site, and take in some of the sights of the area.

Address: 9601 Headlands Road, Mentor, Ohio

2 Geneva State Park Beach

The sandy beachfront at Geneva State Park in northeast Ohio is a top vacation spot on the Lake Erie shores. The scenic beach is kid- and pet-friendly, with picnic pavilions available for lunch in the shade. There are nearby hiking trails and a departure point for fishing charters. Part of the charm of the Geneva State Park Beach is its close proximity to Geneva-on-the-Lake, a mile-stretch of an old-school beach town that looks untouched by time over the last 60 years. Accommodations closest to the beach are mostly vacation rentals, the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake, chain hotels in Ashtabula, or more unique accommodations like the Steele Mansion Inn & Gathering Hub in nearby Painesville. After a day trip to the beach, a hot dog and fresh squeezed lemonade next to the jukebox at Eddie's Grill is a must.

Address: 4499 Padanarum Road, Geneva, Ohio

3 Old Field Beach

One of the best quick beach visits in Ohio is at Old Field Beach at Indian Lake. There are two public inland beaches at Indian Lake, but Old Field Beach is the most popular. The beach is clean and comfortable. The sandy beachfront has plenty of space, with modern facilities like picnic shelters and restrooms. The swimming areas are located near the docking point for boaters and jet-skiers who stop by for a swim. Unless you are staying at the campground cabins at Indian Lake State Park, your closest modern accommodations are chain hotels like the Comfort Inn in Bellefontaine. The beach conveniences and nearby restaurants make it easy to spend a full day on the sand and enjoy the lake sunsets and frequent summer evening concerts.

Address: 13156 State Route 235 N., Lakeview, Ohio

4 Kelleys Island State Park Beach

Kelleys Island State Park Beach
Kelleys Island State Park Beach | Photo Copyright: Lake Erie Shores & Islands

Kelleys Island State Park Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the shores of Lake Erie. While it is not the largest shore option, with only a 100-foot stretch of sand, it is one of the most pristine and beautiful spots to spend the day at the water. Its particular geological limestone landscape and surrounding nature preserves are what regularly draws visitors. This kid-friendly beach has a gradual water depth, and kayaks are available for rent, making it easy to spend a full day on the sand. If you collect beach glass, it is one of the best places to find it on the Lake Erie shores. While there are a couple of places to stay on Kelleys Island, like the campground yurts, lodging is sparse. A better option is to stay near all the attractions of Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island at the Put-in-Bay Resort Hotel or the historic Park Hotel. It is easy to hop on the Jet Express ferry and visit Kelleys Island for a day trip.

Address: 920 N. Division Street, Kelleys Island, Ohio

5 Burr Oak Lake

The inland beach at Burr Oak Lake is a man-made lake in Glouster, Ohio with a small public beach. It is a tucked-away gem perfect for swimming. The 500-foot sand beach is surrounded by nature and waterfowl within the Burr Oak State Park. The pristine and quiet beach provides a unique serenity and front-row seat for nature lovers to observe Ohio's colorful trees, migrating birds, and even an occasional bald eagle. The beach has public facilities and sand volleyball courts and is also a popular lake for boating and kayaking. If you stay on-site at the Burr Oak Lodge, you can mix in some hiking along the shoreline trails in the park.

Address: 10220 Burr Oak Lodge Road, Glouster, Ohio

6 Alum Creek

Alum Creek is the largest inland beach in the Ohio state park system and possibly the most popular public beach in central Ohio. With a 3,000-foot beachfront, on-site amenities, and close proximity to other outdoor recreation, it draws many families in the summer. There are designated swimming areas, beach volleyball courts, picnic tables, and snack vendors. The bathhouse has showers and changing areas. Alum Creek is just a few miles away from Delaware and north Columbus where there is plenty of lodging, like the Hilton Columbus/Polaris or suites at the Sonesta ES Suites Dublin. There are many close restaurant options to satisfy your post-beach day appetite.

Address: 3305 S. Old State Road, Delaware, Ohio

7 Nickel Plate Beach

Nickel Plate Beach is one of the largest public swimming beaches in the Huron region in northern Ohio. It is located just east of the Huron River. The 12-acre beach has soft sand, volleyball courts, playground equipment, and perfect water for swimming. Pack a lunch to enjoy at the picnic shelter and tables or bring hamburgers to cook on the grills located on-site. Pack your own bean bags or ping-pong paddles and balls to take advantage of new outdoor ping-pong tables and corn hole boards. You can also rent paddles and balls from the gate attendant. Lodging in nearby Huron is easy with plenty of options, including bed and breakfasts and chains, like the Comfort Inn River's Edge, or smaller hotels like Sawmill Creek Resort.

Address: Nickel Plate Drive at Tiffin Avenue, Huron, Ohio

8 Cedar Point Beach

Cedar Point is known mostly for its thrilling, world-class roller coasters, but tucked away on the Lake Erie playground is Cedar Point Beach. While the beach does not get as much attention as the coasters, it was one of the first attractions for Cedar Point more than 140 years ago. The one-mile beachfront is a comfortable place for families to enjoy the Lake Erie Breeze and challenge other beachgoers to a spontaneous game of sand volleyball. The beach is exclusively available to Cedar Point Amusement Park, Soak City waterpark, Cedar Point Resort's guests, and season and platinum passholders. Guests can stay on-site at Cedar Point's Hotel Breakers and walk to the beach. Summertime at the beach includes nighttime beach parties with beach games, music, extended park hours, and fireworks.

Address: 1 Cedar Point Drive, Sandusky, Ohio

9 Salt Fork

The expansive 2,500-foot inland beach at Salt Fork State Park in southern Ohio is one of the largest in the state. Salt Fork is also the largest state park in Ohio, so there is plenty of hiking, fishing, and boating to do on-site. While the beach is popular, it is not overcrowded and provides a number of designated swimming areas. There is a bathhouse at the beach with restrooms, showers, and lockers for convenience before and after your day in the sun. Nearby picnic tables and grills make it easy to pack a lunch, or you can grab a bite at the beach snack bar. The spacious Salt Fork Lodge makes it comfortable and easy to stay right inside the state park.

Address: 14755 Cadiz Road, Lore City, Ohio

10 East Harbor State Park Beach

East Harbor State Park Beach

The beach located in East Harbor State Park is a popular beach on Lake Erie near Marblehead. The 1,500-foot sandy beach draws thousands of families and beach-goers every year. There are beach conveniences like a bathhouse with showers and changing stalls. Many people who visit stay at the campgrounds or find lodging nearby at Port Clinton at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites and drive to the beach for the day. It is worth packing your tennis shoes to explore some of the other features of East Harbor State Park, like the hiking trails, naturalist programs, and the Marblehead Lighthouse located just east of the park.

Address: 1169 N. Buck Road, Lakeside-Marblehead, Ohio

11 Turkey Creek Lake

Turkey Creek Lake

Though not the most tropical name, Turkey Creek Lake has swimming areas surrounded by some of the most stunning landscapes in the state. Located in southern Ohio in the Shawnee State Park near the Ohio River, the lake is popular with swimmers and boaters. Since the region is located in the Appalachian foothills and away from major cities, it is best to stay at the Shawnee Lodge within the state park and enjoy the beach along with other outdoor recreation like hiking. The beach at Turkey Creek Lake is one of two swimming areas in the park each with picnic areas for a day in the sun.

Address: 4404 State Route 125, Portsmouth, Ohio

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