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The Lake Erie Circle Tour: Lorain, Ohio and Its Attractions

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

Lorain Lighthouse at Sunset

Lorain Lighthouse at Sunset

The North Shore of Ohio

Lorain is located on the north shore of Ohio on Lake Erie. It sits at the mouth of the Black River and was the scene of many battles fought during the War of 1812–1814.

Under the state governorships of Ted Strickland and John Kasich, the southern route of the Lake Erie Circle Tour—on the American side—has much improved and added attractions to please both tourists and residents. In fact, Lorain has always been one of the highlights of a tour along the lake. Reenactments of the War of 1812 by Canadians and Americans through 2015 will please several thousand new visitors to the Great Lakes Region of the Midwest and Near East.

The area between the cities of Lorain and Avon Lake is a particularly lovely part of Ohio as the driving is smooth, the green spaces are abundant, and the people along the way are welcoming.

Each of the five lakes can be toured using Circle Routes. A complete tour of all five is also possible using a path called the Great Circle. A great summer can be spent driving around the bays and inlets, stopping at islands, visiting historical sites, and dining out. This other article is my story about taking the Great Lakes Circle Tour of Lake Erie on the American side.

Routes of the Underground Railroad in and out of Ohio. Notice Oberlin on Lake Erie.

Routes of the Underground Railroad in and out of Ohio. Notice Oberlin on Lake Erie.

The Underground Railroad

Several towns along Lake Erie were gateways to Canada and a means of freedom for escaping slaves using the Underground Railroad. Lorain features a large memorial site for Underground Railroad Station #100 on Lake Erie near Lorain Harbor.

Don't miss Lorain's Underground Railroad Tour and the Oberlin Underground Railroad Center, where you can learn about the Oberlin-Wellington slave rescues of 1858–1859. Oberlin College was the first to become coeducational in the US and in 1834, the first college to admit students of color under a non-discrimination policy.

Though it might not be "fun" like the other attractions, the site has an extremely important legacy in our country's history and is worth visiting.

Charles Berry Bascule Bridge at 103 East Erie Avenue, crossing the Black River.

Charles Berry Bascule Bridge at 103 East Erie Avenue, crossing the Black River.

Charles Berry Bridge Honors Serviceman

This is officially the Erie Avenue Bridge, located on State Route 611. It crosses the Black River near Lake Erie. An unusual drawbridge, it is a great sight for the Lake Erie Circle Tour on the American Side.

A Lorain Favorite Son, Charles Berry, was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions as a Marine during a grenade battle in WWII on the island of Iwo Jima.

The bridge, the second-largest bascule-type drawbridge in the world to date, honors Berry's service to his country and fellow men as a United States Marine.

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Several additional historic and newer bridges are interesting to see in Lorain, including a railroad lift bridge across the Black River. A list of dozens of local bridges is maintained at the link below, with exact landmark locations and easy-to-follow maps.

The Black River

The Black River Historical Society in Lorain keeps text, image, and artifact accounts regarding the Black River and associated lake, as well as river beaches in and around Lorain. This collection includes studies of local Native American groups in prehistoric times, as well as the railroad history of the area. One passenger railroad line is still available across Lake Erie. This, and one with a depot and museum complex in Cincinnati, make up the only passenger rail transport in the state.

The Lorain Lighthouse is maintained by its own foundation after many years of guarding the North Coast, and the foundation expects boat tours to be offered in conjunction with visits to the lighthouse in the mid-2010s. The city is very excited about this since it complements the sailing regattas and tall ship meets that residents and tourists enjoy in Lorain Harbor. People can also kayak on the lake from this point.

A variety of beaches are available for people to enjoy at no charge. Harmon Beach has been both a public and private beach, and there are city plans to develop it into a park.

The Moore House Museum is located at 309 W. 5th St. It's near the Black River and commemorates the work of a major lumber company that was located on the river, along with lumber barons of a bygone era. The historical society is co-located in the museum. Also see also the Black River Reservation.

Lakeview Park Beach and Birding Trail

Lakeview Park Beach and Birding Trail

Bird Watching at the Lake

In addition to beaches and the lake, Lorain Harbor features excellent bird watching. The birding season peaks in November through some time in January when the lake begins to ice over at the shore.

Lorain Port Authority; 611 Broadway Avenue, Lorain OH 44052: Picnic tables, restrooms, and beach or dock area. State Route 6 East goes straight to the harbor.

Types of birds to see include Bonaparte’s Gulls, Herring gulls, Mergansers, and others.

Rare Birds include Heermann’s Gulls, Tufted Ducks, Cinnamon Teals, Snowy Owls, and others.

Make sure to bring your binoculars!

The tall ship named Niagra

The tall ship named Niagra

National Register of Historic Places

  • 103rd Ohio Volunteer Infantry Association Barracks: Located at 5501 E. Lake Rd., Sheffield Lake near Lorain. Military camp and museum, special events.
  • Antlers Hotel: A closed hotel popular from 1900 to 1949 and is still appreciated for its exterior architecture. Located at Washington and SW Erie Avenues in Lorain.
  • Burrell Orchard Site: A prehistoric camp and village in Sheffield Lake near Lorain. Late Woodlands and Late Paleolithic Native Americans; it's quite an old installation.
  • Dreamland Theater at 1930 Broadway, Lorain.
  • Eiden Prehistoric District: A 300-acre district once settled by the Middle Woodlands Native Americans. This includes segments of the Iroquois Confederacy nations from 1000 BC to 1500 AD. It encompasses a Native American camp and village in the City of Lorain, Ohio.
  • Historic Lakeview Park Rose Garden: Lakeview Park at 1800 East Erie Avenue, Lorain.
  • Lorain and West Virginia Railway District: About 3,100 acres from Lorain to Wellington, Ohio in Lorain County.
  • Lorain Lighthouse at Lorain Harbor.
  • Palace Theater Building on Broadway and 6th St.

Lorain features several dozen additional historic places preserved for visitors and residents to visit. They are often homes of city founders, business leaders, and other historical figures, along with more significant locations of the Underground Railroad.

Additional Attractions

Driving Distances From Ohio's North Shore

If you are traveling to cities in the area surrounding Lorain, this is a handy chart to see how long of a drive you have ahead of you. I've included some helpful notes for you to remember when driving!

From Lorain toDistanceNotes


73 miles

Only 2 additional miles to Detroit, Michigan.


37 miles

Cedar Point Amusement Park is here.


10 miles

Also called Harbourtown and features the Festival of Fish each June.


10 milies

Oberlin College is here.


9 miles

Another site to visit for Civil War history and green space recreation.

Avon Lake

12 miles

To the east of Lorain. Many ships pass this point.


30 miles

Seafood catches daily from the lake, and any attrctions.

Erie, Pennsylvania

131 miles

Many historical landmarks and other attractions await.

Free Wi-Fi Spots in Town

  • Eat'n Park at 1524 West River Road N; Elyria
  • Lorain Library Main at 351 Sixth Street; Lorain
  • McDonald's at 1725 Henderson; Lorain 44052

Local Coffee Houses that may also offer WIFI. Check these locations out.

  • Garden Of Charleston Coffee House at 610 Broadway. Lorain started out as a town called "Charleston."
  • Cap'N Eddy's Coffee & Cones at 301 Lakeside Ave
  • Pit Stop Coffee Shop at 1662 E 28th St
  • Dunkin' Donuts at 5494 Leavitt Rd

© 2013 Patty Inglish MS

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