exploring Ashtabula Harbor

by Kaylah Stroup

Special thanks to the Lift Bridge Community Association + Ohio. Find It Here. for inviting us out & sponsoring this post!

Recently Jeff and I were invited to explore the historic Ashtabula Harbor area. I couldn’t hop on the opportunity quickly enough! We’ve been in full-on house renovation mode for nearly a year now so a mini-vacation was definitely in order. One night and two full days was barely enough time here. We squeezed so much in! Here’s a little peek at our trip –

Where we stayed…

We spent the night in the cutest Air BnB! It was a charming 1930s home filled with the coolest decor. Seriously, look at that table made from an old sign! It had a fire pit and the garage had been converted into a summer room. It’d be the perfect spot to rent with a couple of pals. They’re even pet-friendly.

Best of all, it’s within walking distance of not only Bridge Street, the main strip of Ashtabula Harbor, but Lake Erie!

Ashtabula Harbor air bnb

What we did…

Eerie Harbor Ghost Walk! As a lover of all things spooky, this was surprisingly my very first ghost tour! The tour was heavy on the history side of things, as opposed to pushing ghost stories which I really enjoyed. It was neat to learn more about the area with some spooky lore mixed in! Our tour guide was energetic and enthusiastic.

We rented kayaks from Harbor Yak which I cannot recommend highly enough. I love kayaking to begin with but being out on the lake as opposed to in a river is such a rad experience.

Before sending us out into the water they gave us a little rundown of the different things we could head to while out on the water. There is a massive ship docked in the harbor waiting to be scrapped so that was my obvious choice of which way to head. We also made our way out to a sandbar where someone had made a cool little structure out of driftwood.

If kayaks aren’t your jam, Harbor Yak rents hydro-bikes, paddleboards, and canoes as well. You can, of course, go out on your own but they also offer a sunset tour as well as a few other group activities.

kayaking Lake Erie with Harbor Yak

Besides having some absolutely top-notch restaurants, the Harbor is also home to many cute shops along Bridge Street. From curated vintage finds to handmade chocolates and of course, locally made art – there is absolutely something for everyone to enjoy. I recommend walking the length of each side of the street in its entirety and popping into each. There are so many neat things to discover.

Pictured below – Farmhouse Vintage + truffles from Marianne’s Chocolates.

Ashtabula County is home to many wineries. Needless to say, a wine tour was a necessity. We visited Laurello Vineyards, M Cellars Winery, and Kosicek Vineyards. I’m going to be completely honest here, I didn’t start drinking wine until maybe a year ago and my taste was quite cheap. What’s up $5 bottles from Target! Visiting wineries 100% changed my tastes. I didn’t realize what I was missing, truly! I had an incredible time learning more about how wine is made, all the science that goes into it, and obviously tasting was fun.

Perhaps best of all, we were chauffeured from winery to winery by Richmond Limo. Y’all, I have never even been in a limo before this. I had SO much fun! Our driver, also named Jeff, was so nice and funny. If you’re looking to safely do some winery hopping without having to choose a friend to be your DD, this is absolutely the way to go. I honestly can’t wait for another excuse to get a limo.

Kosicek winery

For more info on local wineries, be sure to check out NeoWineries!

Five minutes away from our Air BnB is Walnut Beach. We went early in the morning and nearly had the whole place to ourselves. The shoreline, covered in small pebbles, is prime for beach glass hunting. If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, I hope my love of Lake Erie has been apparent! It’s just so underrated.

Searching for beach glass at Walnut Beach.

What we ate…

Where do I start with food? I seriously ate some of the best food of my life over these two days.

Bascule. Shown above. We were able to try a sample platter of their appetizers which actually worked out perfectly because I don’t know how else I would have been able to choose from their menu. Wasabi shrimp? Confit duck wings? Drunken dates? Gosh, yes, please!! My favorite ended up actually being their roasted cauliflower which are made with a house-made curry powder, eggless aioli, lemon, and EVOO. So tasty! Make sure to save room for dessert too! That’s not even a posed photo of me above – that is literally just a gal STOKED about her chocolate pot de creme.

Briquettes Smokehouse. Shown above. This was the perfect spot to grab lunch after kayaking all morning. They have a beautiful patio but we opted to sit inside to hide from the sun for a bit. Their upstairs seating area has a great view of the river!

Jeff had a pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw on the side. (All their meats are smoked in-house!) I filled up on their buffalo chicken dip. It was delicious! I will absolutely be craving it.

Rennick Meat Market. Shown above. Rennick was actually our last meal of the trip. Nearly everyone we talked to at different spots around the Harbor listed Rennick as their number one spot to eat. I was definitely looking forward to it, and I had very high hopes… which were completely blown out of the water.

This truly may have been the best meal of my life. Each item we ordered was, without a doubt, the best version of that thing that I’ve had. If (no, when) you visit, definitely make sure to order the caramelized onion dip and the fried brussels sprouts. Also worth noting – our leftovers reheated beautifully. I don’t think that I’ve ever been so pumped to eat leftovers.

We also grabbed coffee at Harbor Perk and a decadent cupcake from Little Charlie’s Bake Shop! I’ve, sadly, reached the age where sometimes things are too sweet so normally giant cupcakes like this aren’t something I’d go for. Jeff is a peanut butter addict though so we had to try their peanut butter cup cupcakes. Y’all, I did not want to share. It was perfect. The frosting isn’t overly sweet so I could have easily finished one on my own (and probably wanted another!)

Ashtabula Harbor is a hidden gem! It may not show up at the top of lists of places along the lakeshore you must visit yet but it’s truly only a matter of time. They have everything – beaches, history, culture, incredible food and lots of wonderful shops!

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