Top things to do at lakeside chautauqua
Ohio,  Travel

Top 10 Things To Do At Ohio’s Lakeside Chautauqua

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Lakeside Chautauqua has been a prime summer vacation destination for families for 150 years and counting. Sitting along the Lake Erie shoreline, Lakeside offers programs and events to nurture the mind, body, and spirit for all ages.

Ohio's Most Beautiful Mile At Lakeside Chautauqua
Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile At Lakeside Chautauqua

Build a sand castle on the beach, compete in a friendly game of mini-golf, then cap your evening off with a big scoop of ice cream while watching the sun sink below the lake. Don’t forget to grab a seat at the Hoover Auditorium for great live entertainment, or try a new class at the Rhein Center.

At first glance, it can be difficult to grasp what exactly Lakeside Chautauqua is?! My goal is to answer that question and give you a look at all the many reasons this weekend getaway needs to be on your Ohio bucketlist.

Don't miss a performance at the gazebo while visiting Lakeside.
Don’t miss a performance at the gazebo while visiting Lakeside.

We want to thank Lakeside Chautauqua for sponsoring this post. As always, my opinions are my own. This page contains affiliate links.

What Is Lakeside Chautauqua

In a nutshell, Lakeside is a Lake Erie community that is gated. It comprises hundreds of darling lake houses and cottages, two hotels, along with darling downtown full of boutiques, shops, and eateries.

Snap a photo with the  Mayfly Mural at Lakeside Chautauqua.
Snap a photo with the Mayfly Mural at Lakeside Chautauqua.

However, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Lakeside prides itself on being a cultural and spiritual hub, offering educational series, worship services, and lessons for various sports such as pickleball, sailing, and swimming. I would consider it more of a town with churches, theaters, art galleries, and gathering spaces.

Golf carts, bicycles, and by foot are the main ways to get around Lakeside. They offer a complimentary golf cart shuttle throughout the community that has shuttle stops by points of interest.

For updated pricing on day/week-long passes, check out the buy passes for Lakeside Chautauqua.

History of Lakeside Chautauqua

Lakeside was among the first communities founded as part of the Chautauqua Movement in North America, a cultural and educational movement that flourished during the 19th and 20th centuries. At the height of its existence, the movement attracted millions to hear preachers, educators, explorers, scientists, politicians, and entertainers.

Top Things To Do At Lakeside Chautauqua
Take time to explore the community and its beautiful gardens.

Today Lakeside Chautauqua is one of the few Chautauqua communities still in existence. It has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Where is Lakeside Chautauqua

Lakeside Chautauqua is located in northwest Ohio on the Marblehead Peninsula, halfway between Toledo and Cleveland on Lake Erie’s south shore. For those familiar with the area, it is near the Kelleys Island Ferry, not far from Port Clinton.

Lake Erie Ohio Family Vacation Ideas
Enjoy beautiful views of Lake Erie.

Address: 236 Walnut Avenue, Lakeside, Ohio 43440

It is roughly four hours from Cincinnati and two and a half hours from Columbus.

Stay At Lakeside Hotel

There are a few options for staying inside Lakeside Chautauqua, including hotels and cottage rentals. Lakeside Cottage Rentals and Street Sotheby’s International Realty are the two approved cottage rental companies in Lakeside that offer weekly summer rentals.  Cottages vary in size, with many being able to accommodate large groups.

Historic Lakeside Hotel
Historic Lakeside Hotel

Lakeside Hotel

The community has two hotels: Fountain Inn and the historic Lakeside Hotel. We opted for the Lakeside Hotel for its historic charm and lakefront views during our visit. My daughter described it best as an “old-fashion hotel.” She was enthralled with all the “old-time” furniture and portraits.

Antique furnishing at Lakeside Hotel
Antique furnishings at Lakeside Hotel

Families will want to remember that when opting to stay at the Lakeside Hotel, there are no televisions or mini-fridges in the rooms. You will want to book at Fountain Inn, which offers more of the modern-day conveniences.

While the antique furnishings added to the hotel’s charm, the true highlight is the massive wrap-around porch offering stunning views of Lake Erie. Pull up a rocker, grab a good book, and feel the cool breeze off the lake while you enjoy a leisurely afternoon.

Breakfast is included every morning but Sunday inside the Lakeside Table & Tearoom, the hotel’s restaurant. Guests staying at Fountain Inn will also enjoy their complimentary breakfast here. It is a standard hot breakfast bar with eggs, turkey sausage, pancakes, and fruit.

Lakeside Table & Tearoom

Treat yourself one evening to a lavish dinner at the Lakeside Table & Tearoom’ Offering a more upscale menu for dinner, guests can opt for hand-cut steaks to fresh seafood. My personal favorite was the Lobster bisque, which was incredible. My husband opted for the Filet Mignon, which was exquisite.

Filet Mignon at Lakeside Table and Tearoom
Filet Mignon at Lakeside Table and Tearoom

Pro Tip: Make reservations in advance as they do book up. This includes reservations for their popular afternoon tea!

The Top Things To Do At Lakeside Chautauqua

Enjoy Lakefront Activities

A beautiful waterfront offering endless activities is the crown gem of Lake Chautauqua. Bring your favorite float to relax in the lake, take a sailboat lesson or let the little ones cool off in the lakefront splash pad and children’s pool. The 700-foot dock provides ample room for fishing, sunbathing, or catching a fiery sunset with a scoop of ice cream.

Lakefront Activities at Lakeside Chautauqua.

Paddleboards, sailboats, and kayak rentals are available. On select days, guests can set sail on one of their beautifully resorted wooden boats. Boat rides are 30 minutes long, with only six passengers per boat.

Lakeside Swimming
Lakeside Swimming

Spending the afternoon at the beach was the ideal day for my family. With swimming, sand castle building, and the children’s splash area, it is easy to see how the hours slip away.

However, the hours will not slip unnoticed because the bells ring and play songs on the hour!

Planning Tip: There is a small kiddie pool for kids three and under that is next to the Spalsh area!

Children's Splash Area
Children’s Splash Area

Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile

Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile at Lakeside Chautauqua begins on the east side with Gundlach Garden’s towering hollyhocks. It stretches to the west side, where benches are scattered across Perry Park to showcase a view of the islands.

Stroll Ohio's Most Beautiful Mile
Stroll Ohio’s Most Beautiful Mile

The paved walkway takes you past charming cottages and a dramatic waterfront full of radiant flower gardens. It is the perfect spot for family photos, sunset strolls, and serene moments.

Don't miss out on this Ohio Bucket list item.
Ohio Bucket List Item

Rhein Center

If you are wondering where the action is while visiting Lakeside, look no further than the endless list of classes and programs happening at the Rhein Center.

Offering a wide variety of classes in fine arts, crafts, performing arts, and special interest classes, the Rhein Center has something for all ages. The calendar is packed with over twenty programs a day during the summer months. In contrast, select classes and workshops are also offered in the fall, winter, and spring.

There are tons of activities to do at Lakeside Chautauqua.
There are tons of activities to do at Lakeside Chautauqua.

Open Studio allows guests to participate in the fun, creative atmosphere of the Rhein Center without registering for classes. From 1:30-3:30 p.m. on select Fridays and 10 a.m.-1 p.m. on Saturdays, you can buy an item to paint and decorate or perhaps drop into a class with no registration required.

Tip: Many of the classes will require registration and a small fee.

Hoover Auditorium

Lakeside is known for bringing in top-notch entertainment and performers throughout the year. With acts like Lonestar and Whose Line Is It Anyway, locals and visitors will flood the historic Hoover Auditorium to catch the show.

Catch a show at the Hoover Auditorium.
Catch a show at the Hoover Auditorium.

The Lakeside Symphony Orchestra will also perform at the Hoover Auditorium, bringing large crowds and wonderful music.

Pro Tip: On nights when there are performances, if you wish not to go, it is a perfect time to explore the rest of Lakeside. Many of the other amenities and the downtown area are not crowded.

Grindley Aquatic & Wellness Campus

If you want a place to cool off, venture to the Grindley Aquatic & Wellness Campus pool. A refreshing pool, waterslides, and fun kid’s water features make this a popular summertime hangout.

Grindley Aquatic & Wellness Campus
Grindley Aquatic & Wellness Campus

Kids can splash and swim around easily with a walk-in pool and a large shallow area. The pool does slope into deeper areas which are sectioned off. Kids under 12 are required to take a swim test to be able to swim in the deep end of the pool.

There are certified lifeguards on duty, offering free swim lessons during the summer for ages 12 & under.

The top things to do at lakeside chautauqua
Cool off at Lakeside Chautauqua

There are two waterslides that kids must be 48″ tall to ride. During adult swim, you will catch a few adults enjoying their time on the waterslides.

Explore Downtown

Lakeside is home to a quaint downtown area. Think the size of a charming small town that you may drive through. There are a handful of restaurants, cute boutiques, ice cream parlors, a hairdresser, and more.

The downtown area in Lakeside
The downtown area in Lakeside

Pursue through the bookshop, grab a chic outfit, or find the perfect souvenir to take home. One street is completely blocked from golf carts, bikes, and cars and is full of outdoor games, seating areas, and fun photo ops.

Grab lunch at Ooh-La-La
Grab lunch at Ooh-La-La
Lunch at Ooh-La-La
Lunch at Ooh-La-La

There are a handful of restaurants in town. We had lunch at Ooh La La one lovely afternoon (they are cash only.) Then ordered pizza from Sloopy’s that evening to enjoy at the picnic area by the lake.

Pizza from Sloopy's
Pizza from Sloopy’s

Grab Ice Cream

A staple of any Lakeside Chautauqua visit to grab a scoop of ice cream from one of the many ice cream parlors in town. As the sun sets, you will be tempted to splurge as people begin parading around town with different delicious flavors.

top things to do at Lakeside chautauqua: Getting Ice Cream!
Ice cream is a Lakeside staple!

Oftentimes we would venture into town after sunset to savor our ice cream while playing a game of outdoor checkers or Tic-Tac-Toe.

Participate in a Wellness Program

Wellness is a major element in the Chautauqua way of life. Throughout the community, you will find plenty of opportunities to stay physically fit, along with programs and classes such as yoga, walks on the beach, and wellness seminars.

Try your hand at shuffleboard.
Try your hand at shuffleboard.

Play a round of Pickleball or try your hand at a game of Shuffleboard. Two playgrounds are within the community, along with basketball courts, tennis courts, and lakeside activities.

Take a pickleball lesson at Lakeside.
Take a pickleball lesson at Lakeside.

One cool thing we loved about it is how thoughtful other community members are. The sandbox was full of sand toys for the kids to use; basketballs were on or near the court, ready for a game, while not a speck of trash littered the ground.

Join A Religious Service

Lakeside’s programming is built upon the four pillars of Chautauqua: religion, education, cultural arts, and recreation. Throughout the community, there are various Sunday Worship Services and faith-based ministries. The youth will love participating in the children’s ministries, while others will cherish their time at the Faith for Living Hour.

There are various religious services available at Lakeside Chautauqua.
There are various religious services available at Lakeside Chautauqua.

Play Mini-Golf

Gather the family for a little friendly competition with a game of mini-golf. Filled with challenging obstacles, kids of all ages will have a blast putting their way through the 18-hole course. There is a nominal fee to play mini-golf, but after playing with those gorgeous lakefront views, it is well worth it.

Play a round of mini-golf.
Play a round of mini-golf.

Tips For Visiting Lakeside Chautauqua

  • Lakeside Chautauqua is a dry community. You will not find a local watering hole or alcohol served in the restaurants. Guests, however, are welcome to enjoy their boozy beverages in the comfort of their hotel rooms or private residence.
  • Bring CASH. There are still a few places throughout Lakeside that are cash-only. While an ATM is downtown, avoid paying the fees by bringing cash.
  • Internet service is slow. I would bring a personal hotspot if you have business meetings or work to complete.
  • Parking is a nightmare. Remember, this is mainly a golf cart community. Therefore, parking your car will be difficult unless you have a reserved spot. I recommend parking at the welcome center and taking the free shuttle into the community.
  • Don’t forget to put your auto pass inside your windshield.
  • Once your car is parked, you won’t be using it to drive around town. Everything is walkable, or you can take the free golf cart shuttle.
  • Bring bikes for yourself and your family as a fun way to get around.
  • There are very limited parking spots at the hotels. My guess is 10-12 max.
  • Bring a lifejacket for your child if they plan on swimming in the lake.
Enjoy a great family vacation at Lakeside Chautauqua on Lake Erie.
Enjoy a great family vacation at Lakeside Chautauqua on Lake Erie.

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Tips for visiting Lakeside Chautauqua