Looking for the perfect weekend getaway or a well-deserved escape?
Tucked away in the farthest northeast corner of Ohio is Ashtabula County. For many, when they think Ashtabula County, visions of large amounts of snow and wineries come to mind. But what many people don’t know, is the “un-wine” part of Ashtabula County; the part that doesn’t include the Grand River Valley which grows more grapes than anywhere else in Ohio.
Over the past few months, I had the opportunity to explore Ashtabula County and I not only found a county filled with wineries and vineyards, but a county that has many unique museums, historical sites, festivals, markets, 19 covered bridges and a historical reenactment like no other in the state; On top of all this, Ashtabula County opened my palate to some delicious plates of food. One place that I enjoyed visiting and tasting the cuisine was Bridge Street, located in Historic Ashtabula Harbor.
Once one of the busiest ports in the world, Ashtabula Harbor has seen a resurgence of its waterfront. Recreational boats, fishing charters, vessels and kayakers have found their way back to the largest private dock on the Great Lakes.
This historic harbor is home to the Bascule Cantilever Lift Bridge, that lifts every half hour to allow for boat traffic. History of the bridge and harbor can be found at the top of the hill at the Ashtabula Maritime and Surface Transportation Museum, where you will also find the largest piece of beach glass ever found in the world. Total weight 275 lbs. (Opens seasonally.)
You won’t go hungry on Bridge Street.
From local favorites to upscale cuisine, Bridge Street offers something for everyone.
What once was a butcher shop, Rennick’s Meat Market has now become one of the area’s favorite restaurants. Dishes include, filet, braised rabbit, homemade pasta, and more.
For the palate that is looking for a little creativity, there is the Bascule Bridge Grille. Seasonal and American Cuisine with a spin. For dessert you can’t go wrong with their crème brulè or their blackberry cabernet sorbet.
If your taste buds are craving BBQ, Briquettes Smokehouse is happy to serve you a plate of their award-winning southern style ribs with sides and an array of sauces. Don’t forget to try the brisket and pulled pork!
For fresh seafood, including Lake Erie perch and walleye, Hil-Mak’s Seafood restaurant and market is your place. For over 50 years, seafood from around the US is flown in weekly to be filleted and prepared for customers.
A little ways up on Bridge Street, owner and brewer Ryan Sposito opened up a nano brewery in 2018 called the Cloven Hoof Brewing Co. Here you will find a selection of unique brews on tap with names like Sailing Goat, Ostrich Punch, Paradise Lost and Dragon’s Blood.
If a cup a coffee is more your speed, the Harbor Perk is brewing daily their fresh roasted coffee. Other signature coffees include cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos.
Need chocolate to satisfy your sweet tooth? Stop at Marianne’s Chocolate Shop to sample the fudge and select a bag of your favorite chocolate creation. I found the dark chocolate potato chips to be quite a weakness.
For ice cream lovers, Cones can resolve your craving with a few scoops of Heavenly Creamery ice cream in one of their waffle cones or in a Root Beer float. (Open seasonal.)
Between the restaurants, coffee shop, and confections, you will also find art galleries and specialty stores. For those a little more adventurous, Harbor Yak offers sunset paddles with view of the lighthouse. And if you like ghost hunting, there is Eerie Harbor Tours.
Yearly festivals include the Wine and Walleye Festival, The Arts on Bridge Street, and the Beach Glass Festival (June).
For accommodations, I suggest The Michael Cahill Bed & Breakfast (c. 1887). Located near Bridge Street, the museum and historic bridge. (When doing my research I found out that one of the owners is a Chef! I can only image the breakfasts.)
This year, I invite you to pack the car and head out and explore the “un-wine” side of Ohio’s largest county. And if you must drink wine that’s okay too. To order your free visitor guide at visitashtabulacounty.com or call 800-337-6746.
Article and photos: Diane Rock
Feature photo: courtesy of Ashtabula County CVB
Rocky Hill | MyOhioFun.com
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