By SARAH JAQUAY
Let’s face it: When someone asks, “How was your flight?” the accurate answer is often, “I endured it.” So why not think about some nearby getaways, a.k.a. “nearcations?”
Currents has some interesting nearcation ideas for this summer—places close enough for readers to pack whatever they want yet leave life in the ‘burbs behind for a few days.
For family fun on Lake Erie there might be no better spot to please everyone than the Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake (GOTL.) A friend and I recently visited the Lodge and she kept asking me, “Are you sure this is a state park?” Technically, the answer’s yes; but this Ohio State Park has upscale amenities starting with indoor and outdoor pools plus hot tubs; double-sheeted beds; lakefront balconies with real Adirondack chairs; suites with Plum brand (like Enotech) wine dispensers where guests can select a wine, get a 2 oz. taste and charge it directly to their rooms.
Outside, the Lodge has cozy fire pits (the gift shop sells s’more kits) and outdoor patio seating for its Horizons Restaurant. Adults may take adult beverages as far as the fire pit. To wear out the kids, the Lodge offers a variety of fun-filled activities. First, there’s Lake Erie Canopy Tours. While it’s not owned by the Lodge, the Lodge offers some packages with ziplining as part of the price.
It’s a gorgeous course. I’ve seen zip lines that whisk customers over the tree canopy and that’s lovely; but this is the best of both worlds: It takes visitors over a creek, the trees and ends with Lake Erie views. Our amiable guides, Mike and Alex, couldn’t have been nicer or more patient with old-timer, first-timers. I’ve always dreamed of experiencing the sensation of flying and ziplining puts nothing between you and the wind. Mike says he’s worked safely with people in their 80s, so age is no excuse.
There’s also a paved Lakefront bike and walking path that runs from the Lodge to GOTL’s downtown in one direction and to Geneva State Park beach in the other. Bikes are available to Lodge guests for free for the first hour and $5 per hour after that. The Lodge has always had a penchant for promoting Ashtabula wineries and offers some of their wines on its bar menu. Plus, there’s a signature immersion tour that visits three wineries with the Lodge’s own Certified Wine Specialist, Lauren Fiala, onboard. Locals may not realize the Grand River appellation in Ashtabula County produces some award-winning wines in national and international competitions. They’ve gone way past American hybrid vines like Catawba.
For those who want to complement their GOTL sojourn with a gourmet meal or spa treatment, check out Crosswinds Grille for dinner and the spa at The Lakehouse Inn just down the road from the Lodge. It’s a cozy bed and breakfast with a farm-to-table restaurant and a complete range of spa services. The Lodge and the Lakehouse are open year-round.
History and preservation buffs might consider the Sebring Mansion Inn & Spa. It’s a singular destination in Sebring, Ohio, near Alliance. Sebring was once known as the “Pottery Capital of the World.” Four Sebring brothers moved there in the late 19th century to start a pottery town. (The brothers also founded Sebring, Florida, known as a racing venue due to its classic Sebring International Raceway.) This elegant inn is an astounding restoration of the massive home that once belonged to Frank and Emma Sebring. Its owner, Lynn Biery, is a one-woman preservation society who has undertaken the multi-decade task of meticulously restoring this grand dwelling in a once-thriving town that boasted dozens of china ware factories. Now Sebring is a tranquil hamlet except when trains pass through, which seems to be every hour; so if train whistles aren’t soothing to you, bring ear plugs. The Sebring Mansion’s food and service is top-notch and its indoor and outdoor therapy pools are a relaxing way to while away a weekend.
Sebring is Viktor Schreckengost’s hometown. Viktor was a famous industrial designer, teacher, sculptor and artist dubbed “America’s DaVinci.” He taught at the Cleveland Institute of Art for many years and put its industrial design program on the map. There’s a small museum run by the Sebring, Ohio Historical Society in the former Strand movie theater. For a nominal fee, Sebring Mansion Inn will arrange a guided tour of the Strand Museum where visitors learn about Sebring’s once-thriving pottery operations and Schreckengost’s time growing up there. Sebring is also close to the University of Mt. Union’s campus in Alliance and North Canton’s popular Gervasi Vineyard is a convenient stop on the way home when traveling up Interstate 77.
Some would argue Ohio’s prettiest part is Hocking Hills and there are numerous options for secluded, hilly getaways. Glen Laurel, A Scottish Inn & Cottages in Rockbridge is among them. Glen Laurel (like The Sebring Mansion Inn & Spa) is one of those properties with the high-quality service and amenities to be designated a Select Registry member. It’s an ideal spot for a romantic getaway with on-site hiking or even a round of golf on a Scottish-style links course. Famous for their six- or seven-course, candlelit dinners, Glen Laurel has a dress code, but “kilts are acceptable any night of the week.” Their private hiking trails and gorge offer solitude while absorbing nature. Rare Scotch selections are available at their Hocking Hills Pub Social Hour hosted nightly at the Loch Ness Pub in the Manor House or outside on the Grand Deck when the weather’s good. And of course, all the trails and activities of the surrounding Hocking Hills, including ziplining, mountain biking, canoeing, plus arts and crafts stops are within a short drive of Glen Laurel.
So don’t worry about starting your next trip hours earlier than necessary because you might be selected for “extra screening” at the airport; get in the car and discover the varied landscapes, Lakescape and history right in your own backyard.
See thelodgeatgeneva.com; lakehouseinn.com; sebringmansion.org; glenlaurel.com for properties mentioned in this story. For other Select Registry properties, see selectregistry.com.