A Weekend Family Getaway in Geneva-on-the-Lake, Ohio

How to Spend 72 Hours in Geneva-on-the-Lake This Summer

In 2021, my family of six, along with our friends (a family of five), decided to make the most of summer’s end with a long weekend spent at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake. Our goal was outdoor relaxation balanced by a dose of adventure. Here’s how 11 of us — including kids from toddler to teen — spent 72 perfect hours (and then some) over Labor Day weekend.

DAY #1: Check-in at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake

Thursday afternoon, 3pm: My family arrived at The Lodge. Check-in was a breeze because there’s a playground outside, right next to the lobby. The playground was one of the simple amenities we found to be perfect at The Lodge. Our downtime was filled effortlessly, and our four daughters—ages four to nine—happily burned up their (abundant!) energy with simple, healthy outdoor activities.

We chose to rent a deluxe cottage, and were delighted by our choice. The cottage was clean and cozy. With the pull-out couch, we all slept comfortably. A simple kitchenette meant we could easily prep breakfast and lunch. A lively bike path was a stone’s throw from our front porch. Just beyond, a view of Lake Erie was as grand as the ocean.

Settling into our cottage at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake
Settling into our cottage at The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake
A grilled lunch on the lawn in front of our cottage.
A grilled lunch on the lawn in front of our cottage.

Thursday evening, 6pm: After settling in, we explored the grounds. We discovered a sprawling outdoor pool surrounded by scores of lounge chairs (an outdoor bar opened in 2022). Beside it, an indoor pool was surprisingly spacious, with vast windows providing a view of the water, a high ceiling displaying exposed wooden beams and a shallow end that even my water-averse four-year-old proudly dipped into.

For dinner, we decided to try Horizons Lounge, which is onsite at The Lodge. Horizons achieved the impressive feat of pleasing everyone in my family. The girls were thrilled with the kids’ menu, the crayon packs and activity sheets, the hot pretzel appetizer, and the doors that open onto an endless front lawn. My husband and I enjoyed some local options: a walleye dish, a Chardonnay, and a gorgeous cheese plate. With COVID a consideration at the time, we appreciated the open, airy feel of the large dining room. We ate indoors, but a patio provided ample space for outdoor dining. Both indoor and outdoor tables offered stunning views of the lake.

Thursday evening, 7:30 pm: After dinner, we stumbled upon another Geneva-on-the-Lake ritual. Every clear-skied evening, resort-goers gather on the lawn to watch the sun dip below the horizon, leaving behind a purple haze and a quiet hush. It’s natural theater at its best.

We forwent a campfire and cozied into bed, knowing our friends would arrive from Miami after midnight. We were ready for tomorrow.

DAY #2: Things to do in Geneva-on-the-Lake

Friday morning, 10am: After a lazy morning (our friends arrived!), we headed to Horizons Restaurant for brunch. A well-appointed buffet pleased everyone in our group. Cheese blintzes? Oatmeal with fresh fruit compote? Mini quiches? Those circle powdered donuts we can’t seem to resist? All on the menu.

After breakfast, we borrowed bikes from the resort, and the kids set out exploring. We loved the low-intensity feel of this place. We especially loved the fact that our older kids — all grabbing at independence — could explore safely, no parents in tow.

Friday at noon: We decided to have lunch at our cottages. We cooked sausages brought from home on one of the outdoor grills, drank wine and made hot dogs for the kids. We lazily watched a parade of foot traffic on the bike path. We could have done this for hours, except for adventure calling: We had reservations at Lake Erie Canopy Tours.

Enjoying our afternoon on the rope courses at Lake Erie Canopy Tours.
Enjoying our afternoon on the rope courses at Lake Erie Canopy Tours.
Our family meal in Ashtabula Harbor.
Our family meal in Ashtabula Harbor.

My four-year-old twins were signed up for the low ropes course, and three adults and the kids were signed up for the high ropes course and zipline (mom and baby enjoyed an afternoon siesta). As it turned out, the afternoon was perfect. Our guides were friendly, energetic, professional, and accommodating. The courses were gorgeous. The twins were trepidatious, but after being led through the elements, they were giddy with newfound confidence. The rest of us enjoyed the zip lines and high ropes course; my nine-year-old did her first zip line, which took my breath away. Fueled by two hours of adrenaline, we were walking on air when we left Lake Erie Canopy Tours.

Friday at 5pm: After a dip in the pool, we headed to Ashtabula Harbor for dinner al fresco at Briquette Smokehouse. The kids loved the outdoor setting, and we enjoyed meats cooked on a smoker we could see from the patio.

After dinner, we headed back to the cottages for our first campfire, complete with s’mores provided by the front desk for the kids (the adults opted for gin and tonics.) Everyone went to bed late because we loved being under the stars, talking, and listening to the sounds of the water.

DAY #3: Exploring Geneva State Park

Saturday morning, 9am: The morning was spent poolside, interrupted only by occasional bike rides and playground jaunts. Eventually, we made our way back to the cottages for another lazy lunch off the grill: steak, chicken kebabs, hot dogs, veggies, Manchego cheese, wine for the adults, and Gatorade for the kids. This time, it did last for hours.

After a brief siesta, we headed out for a hike: ten vacationers, each on a bike or scooter (we brought our scooters and toddler bikes from home), baby in the carrier, headed to a Geneva State Park trailhead. We dropped the bikes and headed into the forest. While we told stories of intrigue and suspense, the hike itself was nothing but relaxing.

Saturday evening, 6:30pm: After a late arrival back from our hike, we again decided to enjoy the amenity of onsite dining. The staff at Horizons is accommodating; the manager, Barb, pulled together a table for our large group at the last minute. Both children and adults were thrilled with everything from the food and drinks to the ambiance, views, and spaciousness. Because The Lodge at Geneva-on-the-Lake is a prime location for weddings, there was a gazebo and set of white folding chairs on the lawn. The kids played “wedding” after dinner, inspired by the brides and brides-to-be they saw on the resort throughout the weekend.

Saturday night: Another campfire: The air was just cool enough for sweatshirts. My nine-year-old came up with a game that involved counting as a group with our eyes closed. It was harder — and more fun — than it sounds. This time spent relaxing with friends felt like the ultimate luxury.

DAY #4: Ashtabula Harbor’s Historic Bridge Street

Sunday morning: It was a rainy morning, and Lake Erie looked like the New England coastline. The kids laid in bed and watched TV, and my husband and I read magazines and lounged. The weather cleared up by mid-morning; it was time for a bike ride and then a second trip to Ashtabula Harbor.

Sunday afternoon, 1pm: We had reservations at Rennick Meat Market for brunch, which turned out to be a lovely surprise. We sat at one long table with plenty of space around us, and the menu offered updated twists on classic favorites. We agonized over what to order and then loved everything we chose (some highlights: fried cheese curds, roasted Brussel sprouts, the Reuben, sweet potato fries, bloody Marys). My vacation-weary four-year-old had a meltdown on the sidewalk outside the restaurant, which only slightly dampened the mood. After lunch, a trip to an old-fashioned chocolate shop, Marianne’s, made everything right again for our travelers.

We spent a few more minutes loitering on the sidewalk, enjoying espresso and tea from a nearby coffee shop, and watching the Ashtabula bridge rise and lower. We didn’t want the afternoon to end. But finally, it was back to the cottages for our goodbyes.

Ready for our hike at Geneva State Park.
Ready for our hike at Geneva State Park.

Sunday at 4pm: We have already decided to make this a Labor Day tradition. Our friends were on their way: headed to the Cleveland airport, where they boarded a plane to Miami. As we hugged goodbye, I said, “Thank you – I know it was a lot of effort to get here,” to which the baby’s mom replied, “It was totally worth it!”

Missing our friends, we headed to the pool for another dip, then to Horizons for another memorable meal. We recalled our favorite moments of the weekend over dinner, and we headed outside for another sunset. We played a quick game of softball on the front lawn of our cottage. Our laughter carried through the grounds of the resort; our neighbors came out and smiled. Then it was off to bed — this time, not too late.

DAY #5: Saying goodbye

Monday, 8:30am: We had to go home, so we did our favorite things one last time. We enjoyed brunch at Horizons. We took one more swim and one more spin on the playground, and we offered our heartfelt thanks to the staff. The only way we could console the girls was by promising we’ll be back again. And we will: It was totally worth it.

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MEET OUR GURU Lissa Rausch

About

Lissa Rausch lives in Buffalo, NY, with her husband and four daughters. When not on adventures with her family, she works as a writer in the Creative Studio at Delaware North.