News & Feature Articles Written About People & Places in Lake County, Ohio            

LAKE COUNTY, OHIO’S SMALLEST - A PRIME TIME DESTINATION

>From Frank Lloyd Wright’s Louis Penfield House new vacation rental to Vintage Ohio to the Lake County PerchFest™, Lake County, Ohio, east of Cleveland, is garnering national and international coverage.

With only one of three Frank Lloyd Wright vacation rental houses in the world open for overnight stays in Lake County, proprietor Paul Penfield has received inquiries from Bangkok and Singapore due to Associated Press New York City Travel Writer Beth Hartog’s article, published in over 30 major dailies; online coverage in CNN, USA Today and the New York Daily News, and a cover article in “This Old House” and Ohio Magazine ( www.penfieldhouse.com ).

The “Vintage Ohio” state wine festival, held yearly, (August 5-6, 2005), in Lake County, has been selected again by USA Today wine and food writer Jerry Shriver, as one of the top five wine and food events in the nation for five years in a row ( www.ohiowines.org ).

The Lake County PerchFest™ was featured in a six minute segment, which was replayed about 12 times on the “Travel Channel,” in April and May, 2005. The Lake County PerchFest™ is a Lake Erie yellow fish fry festival promoting the highly desired yellow perch, which caught the attention of Travel Channel producers, who dispatched a video crew and talent, September 11, 2004, for a full day of shooting.

Ohio Magazine (January 2005) selected Lake County’s Headlands State Beach Park on its cover as “Best Sunset” ( www.dnr.state.oh.us/parks/parks/headlnds.htm ). Ohio Magazine (June 2005) selected Lake County’s Fairport Harbor Lakefront Beach Park as “one of four perfect spots to enjoy the summer.” ( www.lakemetroparks.com/HTML/NatureParks/fairport.html )

Headlands Beach State Park in Mentor, Ohio’s longest Lake Erie beach, Chalet Debonné, in Madison, Ohio’s largest estate winery, Lake Metroparks Farmpark, USA’s only agricultural/horticultural theme park, Holden, one of the USA’s largest arboretums, Lawnfield, in Mentor, the renowned U. S. Presidential home and the Lake County Captains, a Cleveland Indians Class A minor league baseball team and $37 million Classic Stadium are additional premiere tourism examples of Ohio’s smallest, but prosperous county.

The Cleveland Indians’ Class A affiliate, the Lake County Captains, celebrated their millionth patron June 5, 2005, just their third season of play. The Lake County Captains playing in a state-of-the-art ballpark opened in 2001 in Eastlake. The team plays 70 regular season home games annually in the 6,500-seat ballpark. The Eastlake Stadium was designed by DLR Group architects of St. Petersburg, Florida ( www.captainsbaseball.com ).

A poignant, distinguished 9/11 America Remembers Memorial with a remnant from each crash site is drawing visitors daily. Steel beams, stone and light fixtures from the World Trade Center, a piece of the Pentagon building and turf from the fields of Shanksville, Pennsylvania, have been solemnly exhibited in a permanent impressively designed outdoor display alongside of the Boulevard of 500 Flags in Eastlake, Ohio.

The mile long Headlands State Beach Park and unique Sand Dunes Preserve, Mentor Marsh and the majestic 450-acre Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve, all in Mentor, offer pristine wildlife and non-commercialized, coastal visitor venues. Mentor Lagoons offers free golf carts and bicycles. Mentor Lagoons was recently recognized by The Plain Dealer, Ohio’s largest daily, as a “World Class Place.” Lake County has two, Ohio-designated scenic rivers, the Grand and Chagrin, championship designer golf courses, trophy walleye, steelhead trout and jumbo perch fishing, Lake Metroparks an award winning 5,000-acre park system and Ohio’s largest nursery district.

Lake County is home to United States President James A. Garfield’s estate and Visitor Center, a National Historic Site and Landmark. “Lawnfield” reopened in June 1998 after a $12 million renovation. “Lawnfield” has been noted in Newsweek Magazine and featured on C-Span TV. Lawnfield has more authentic Presidential artifacts (85 per cent) than any other United States Presidential site.

The Lake County History Center is a 20-acre, turn of the century, ( www.lakehistory.org ) summer estate museum in the center of Lake County, featuring hands on heritage tours, picnic grounds, walking trails and step on guides.

The Lake County History Center sponsors the popular “Little Mountain Folk Festival,” the last weekend of July (July 30-31, 2005). The Little Mountain Folk Festival is rated a national legacy event with seven music stages, plus 150 east coast vendors.

Distinctive Lake County arts flourish at institutions like the Fine Arts Association ( www.fineartsassociation.org ), Rabbit Run Theater, one of the only authentic U. S. barn theaters, and Mentor Performing Arts ( www.mentorconcertseries.com ).

The Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints in Kirtland features a $12 million renovated project Historic Kirtland. The complex restoration project, opened in 2003, has been compared to a “Mormon Williamsburg type development.” The 25-acre village includes three new structures; a Visitors’ Center, the reconstructed John Johnson Inn and restored Newel K. Whitney Home, in addition to the restored Whitney Store that was dedicated in 1984. This beautiful historic walking village now includes an Ashery, a sawmill, and a replica of Kirtland’s first frame schoolhouse, which was built in 1819.

The 10,000 square foot Visitors’ Center includes pictures of Historic Kirtland and a 120-seat theater featuring a substantially financed Hollywood quality film that shows visitors the daily life of those who gathered to Ohio in the 1830’s. Another room provides a panoramic view of the village. The façade of the Johnson Inn replicates the mid-1820’s Peter French Inn, the first brick building in Kirtland. The Latter-day Saint Prophet Joseph Smith and his wife Emma lived in the Whitney Home for a short time in early 1831. The Kirtland Temple, operated by another denomination, The Community of Christ, is a National Historic Landmark just up the road (Route 306) from Historic Kirtland. Both sites are architectural wonders worthy of secular visits.

Lake Metroparks Farmpark and Holden Arboretum, nationally renowned, ecotourist attractions are in Lake County. Lake Metroparks Farmpark is a 235-acre agricultural/horticultural theme park, teaching families where food comes from in a fun way. A giant tomato works, cow milking parlors, restaurant, gift shop and 60 species of animals entertain and educate visitors about America’s most crucial, yet taken for granted industry – agriculture. Lake Metroparks Farmpark was featured on ABC’s former “Home Show” in a five minute segment with Peter Greenberg, now a travel contributor for NBC.

Holden Arboretum is one of the USA’s largest with 3,400 acres. The American Association of Museums accredits Holden, with 20,000-plants and plant groupings. Holden, acclaimed for both extensive regional cultivars and worldwide explorations for rare specimens, is featuring the “Big Bugs” exhibit May 14-August 16, 2005 ( www.holdenarb.org ).

Lake County is the nursery mecca of Ohio featuring: Lake County Nursery and test gardens open to the public, Borlin’s, one of the Midwest’s largest orchid growers, and Bluestone’s, the nation’s third largest perennial mail order nursery. The American Herb Society is also headquartered in Lake County.

“Vintage Ohio”, August 5-6, 2005, features twenty Ohio wineries, plus restaurants, music, crafts and children’s activities, which attract 35,000 visitors yearly from 22 states at Lake County’s Lake Farmpark. “Vintage Ohio” was named an American Bus Association “Top 100 Event.”

Lake County’s vineyard region has been compared to California’s Sonoma Valley featuring national award-winning wineries like Chalet Debonné, South River Winery, a boutique winery in a restored church and Ferranti’s. Chalet Debonné is Ohio’s largest estate winery with 110-acres of vineyards in the township of Madison. A $40,000 signature cellar meeting/tasting area, a new 150-seat enclosed pavilion, plus expanded entertainment, attracts visitors from across the county. Chalet Debonné is one of the few Ohio “Estate” wineries, growing its own grapes for fermentation. A 2001 Wall Street Journal article noted two of Chalet Debonné wines winning national awards.

Lake County features premier golf, like the Quail Hollow Country Club. Quail offers a $6 million, 18-hole Weiskopf-Morrish Course ranked in the top 10 of “Best New Upscale Courses” by Golf Digest Magazine, plus the original Devlin, Von Hagge 18-hole course, nestled in 700 acres of wooded countryside. About 42,000 rounds of golf are played yearly at Quail Hollow Country Club.

Lake Metroparks’ Pine Ridge County Club’s 60-bunker course challenged Arnold Palmer who competed there in the `50’s. Pine Ridge County Club exemplifies premier public golf and meeting facilities. The Pine Ridge’s clubhouse has also completed extensive renovations.

The Reserve at Thunderhill, once ranked the number one public golf course in NE Ohio, has completed $3 million in renovations including a new clubhouse in the countryside of Madison. Little Mountain Country Club in Concord Township is opened to the public, designed by noted golf architects Michael Hurdzan and Dana Fry. Manakiki Golf Course is another former private, elegant country club open to the public in Willoughby Hills. Bobick’s, Ohio’s largest golf pro shop and practice center, is in the Lake County’s City of Willoughby.

Lake County’s charter fishing for walleye, steelhead trout and perch ranks with the best Lake Erie fishing. “In Fishing Adventures Magazine’s” Top Ten Picks for Big Water Walleye include Lake Erie’s Central Basin and Top Ten Great Lakes Steelhead Runs Number 6 ranking is Lake County’s Grand River.

Lake County PerchFest™, presented by Sky Bank and hosted by the Lake County Visitors Bureau, is a Lake Erie yellow perch fish fry and perch fishing tournament, plus an expanded family festival event, September 9-11, 2005, at Lake Metroparks 25-acre Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park. Ohio’s largest best-known, Lake Erie yellow perch fish fry and fishing tournament make the PerchFest™ a premier Midwest Ohio special event. Admission is free, with regional touring bands, attracting 30,000 visitors from nine states. ( www.PerchFest.net )

Shopping from Willoughby’s restored historic downtown including the $6 million Willoughby Brewing Company and Restaurant District, to Painesville’s and Madison’s antique stores, to Mentor’s Great Lakes Mall and Gallery One, the country’s largest art gallery, make Lake County one of the Ohio’s top shopping districts. Lake County’s City of Mentor is the sixth largest retail district in Ohio. Painesville’s Craft & Antique Co-op, for example, offers a 47,000 square foot mall.

Lake County hosts many prestigious national and state bowling tournaments, one broadcast on ESPN at Freeway Lanes in Wickliffe, the USA’s largest in-line bowling center.

New/renovated hotels and B&B’s offer NE Ohio visitors, affordable rates and fresh accommodations near Cleveland. The recently restored Frank Lloyd Wright Louis Penfield House vacation rental, on 30 wooded, secluded acres near the Chagrin River in Willoughby Hills, is offering memorable visits, based on guestbook remarks and overwhelming bookings.

The $19 million Quail Hollow Resort renovation in Concord Township, has given Lake County a prestige resort to draw visitors to $50 million in new and renovated hotels and B&B’s.

Best Western Lawnfield Inn and Suites, again rated a top Best Western property in Ohio, is another recently open boutique hotel in the City of Mentor with 50 suites and architecture matching the renovated $12 million President Garfield’s home, Lawnfield, a few minutes from the Lake County hotel.

Minutes from Headland’s State Beach Park, Ohio’s longest beach and 450-acre Mentor Lagoons Nature Preserve, is the elegant Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites LaMalfa in Mentor. Eighty two spacious suites including executive, penthouse and presidential suites, plus four unique master suites, each with 900 square feet of space, have fireplaces and Jacuzzi’s. A swimming pool, exercise room and an outdoor wedding chapel are part of the latest renovation. The LaMalfa hotel was awarded the Bass Hotels and Resorts prestigious Quality of Excellence Award, plus AAA Three Diamond Rating of Excellence.

Lake County’s B&B’s include an Irish themed – Fitzgerald’s Irish Bed and Breakfast in the City of Painesville, voted 2003 fifth in USA/Canada polls as “Best Interior and Décor” by Arrington’s B&B Journal. Two new B&B’s, The Paige House and Queens Cottage, are open in Madison, next to His Majesty’s Tea Room. Lake View Condos ( www.corporatelodgingsneo.com ) in Fairport Harbor are near the 130-year-old Fairport Marine Museum and Lighthouse; a National Historic Landmark called, “a great destination for true lighthouse buffs,” by Lighthouse Digest. The lighthouse is next to the 25-acre Lake Metroparks Fairport Harbor Lakefront Park. The venerable Rider’s Inn Bed and Breakfast in Painesville with ten rooms, a restaurant and lounge, is certified as a Superior Small Lodging property.

Families can frolic at Wickliffe’s Clarion Cleveland East’s 17,000 square foot Atrium recreational facility. The Clarion features a presidential suite with a Jacuzzi and fireplace, plus four VIP suites, two with Jacuzzis. United States Vice President Dick Cheney was a guest during one election campaign. Mentor’s re-flagged, renovated Comfort Inn and Eastlake’s Radisson Hotel and Suites Cleveland/Eastlake, and the new AmeriHost Inn & Suites (Concord).are more additions to getaway hotels in Lake County, with affordable rates.

Numerous Cleveland industrialists built lavish mansions in Lake County at the turn of the century to impress their east coast colleagues. Many still remain in Lake County, renovated and operated as visitor centers and city halls – Coulby Mansion – Wickliffe’s City Hall open for tours – Banker Edward Moore’s, “Mooreland”, now an exquisitely renovated conference facility – Lake County History Center’s Shadybrook Mansion – Lake Erie College’s Morley Mansion – Lake Metroparks Pine Ridge Country Club, the former Corrigan Estate – Abraham Garfield designed Wildwood Estate in Mentor – the former Skeggs Arabian horse farm now expanded to Lake Farmpark’s 235-acre open air science and cultural center in Kirtland – and the Warren Corning Estate, Lantern Court – at Holden Arboretum, also in Kirtland.

Dining abounds for getaway traveling includes the completely rebuilt (after a fire) $3 million Pickle Bill’s in Grand River, Molinari’s in Mentor, Epiq Bistro and Wine Bar in Concord, The Phoenix Winery on 84 in Unionville, Gavi’s and Lure Bistro in Willoughby, and CK’s Steakhouse at Quail Hollow Resort in Concord Township. The City of Mentor alone features over 150 restaurants, the most for a city its size in Ohio ( www.cityofmentor.com ).

Lake County has noted tearooms; His Majesty’s Tea Room in Madison was featured in Country Victorian Magazine.

Exceptional fall foliage and bird watching are available. Last autumn, more than 30 species of plovers, sandpipers and other wading and shorebirds were seen in Lake County.

Lake County features 15,000 acres of foliaged land, preserved for public viewing. The Northeast Ohio Lake Erie coastal county borders Cleveland and Ashtabula, off Interstate 90 and State Route 2. Unlike other east coast popular foliage destinations, where full tree colors quickly fade, Lake County has a more diverse tree stock of red maples, oaks and sugar maples providing up to three weeks of color. Lake County offers a driving fall foliage tour, a “view shed,” offering scenic routes to follow. Select Lake County destinations with specific stops include:

Ø 235-acre Lake Farmpark in Kirtland is one of Lake Metroparks 27 parks encompassing 7,015 acres. Planters overlook at Lake Farmpark is the highest location with panoramic views. Lake Metroparks offers 37 miles of trails plus the 4.4 mile Greenway Corridor all purpose/bike path
( www.lakemetroparks.com ).

Ø 450-acre Mentor Lagoons Preserve, off State Route 2 at Route 615 north exit, offers an extensive trail system with 1.5 miles of wild beach ( www.cityofmentor.com ).

Ø 643-acre Mentor Marsh Nature Center, 5185 Corduroy Road, combines marsh, forest and beach habits with trails (440) 257-0777.

Ø Holden Arboretum, in Kirtland, with 3,450 acres, 20,000 plants and plant groupings, features an elevated viewing deck for such sites as Little Mountain, a 125 acre, 1,266 foot peak elevation site and 425 acre Stebbins Gulch ( www.holdenarb.org ).

Ø Headlands State Beach Park and Sand Dunes Preserve, Ohio’s longest beach in Mentor, State Route 44 north ( www.cityofmentor.com ).

Ø Lake County History Center, 8610 King Memorial Road, Kirtland Hills, a 20 acre turn of the century summer estate perch atop a bluff with a view of Lake Erie on a clear day
( www.lakehistory.org ).
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