Nickel Plate Beach
Lake Erie and Beautiful Beaches may seem like an oxymoron to many people, but, Nickel Plate Beach is our go-to our family in our Ohio Summers. This little piece paradise is located in Huron, roughly halfway between the entertainment hub of the North Coast, Sandusky, and the small town of Vermillion.
What makes Nickel Plate Beach great? The sand and water! Sure, all beaches have sand and water, it is what makes a beach! However, the quality can differ greatly. The sand on the Nickel Plate Beach is rather soft compared to other area beaches and the beach is typically clean from debris. Most of the beaches we have been to on Lake Erie are rather rocky where the sand can hurt your feet, both on land and in the water. After a short zone just into the water made up of rough sand containing degraded sea shells, the soft sand continues on out into the lake rather far. The Depth of the water increases rather slowly as you proceed out into the bay towards the boat. Our 7-year-old daughter who is under 4 ft tall could go out into the water 30 or more yards from shore and still reach the ground. The safety buoys that separate water traffic from the beach are out yet another 30 yards or so. This gives beachgoers an abundance of space to frolic about in the water.
The water quality also is a big reason we choose this beach. It is typically quite clear with very little debris or seaweed floating about. The Ohio Nowcast, which shows water quality reports based on testing and predictive models has shown this beach to be in “good condition” when other area beaches are in “advisory.”
From the beach to the northwest, out a long causeway sits a small lighthouse which adds to the scenery. The nearby Huron River hosts a plethora of boating docks and sailing clubs. Sailboats, speedboats, jet skis, etc. can be seen in abundance cruising about on the lake outside the safety buoys.
The beach park also has a pavilion, changing rooms, and playground equipment. When we visited yesterday, there was a hot dog vendor cart selling the American classic. Beach rentals are also available such as beach floats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards. We have visited this beach for the past several years and this was the first time these have been added to the park. The changing rooms were new last year which was a huge improvement.
There are a few drawbacks of Nickel Plate Beach. Only port-a-potties are available instead of plumbed restrooms. Another concern is the factory just west of the beach. There are no lifeguards on duty, therefore it is “swim at your own risk.” A woods blocks the view from all but the towering smokestack that unfurls a silent white cloud of smoke. It is scentless and not all that noticeable, but it was something we had concerns about on our first visit, but it does not bother us now. The beach is not free, but has a$5 per car “Parking Fee,” so it is still very affordable for a family. Although it is not perfect, Nickel Plate Beach is still where we go when we want to go to the beach and it is over a 90-minute drive from our home.
Huron Lake Front Park
When visiting the beach, we always drive to Huron Lake Front Park. This park gives views off to the northwest of the famed Cedar Point Amusement Park, well off in the distance. The park has a nice playground for the children and picnic tables.
Benches and a gazebo set beneath towering trees overlooking the lake, a small beach, and a little harbor that boats enjoy pulling in and lingering about. My wife Carrie remarked that this park has the “Cutest bathroom building I’ve ever seen” as it appears as a little beach house of sorts.
A double sided Historical Marker sits in the park telling the history of Erie County and the town of Huron.
The park sits only a couple blocks from Huron Harbor West Pier the causeway that leads out to Huron Lighthouse that could be seen from Nickel Plate Beach. According to an article from USA Today, the 2/3 mile pier leads to Lake Erie’s first electric powered lighthouse built in 1939. Along the west edge of the pier is a 70 acre impoundment lake which is where dredgings from the Huron River are dumped. It is about half full of reeds. The Huron Harbor West Pier is considered to be a good place to fish and an important location for bird watching!
Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve
Speaking of bird watching, the Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve is located only a little more than a mile west down US Route 6. It has a paved path that is just under 1 mile to the Lake Erie shore through various woodland and marshland environs with much wildlife to be seen, birds, insects, and varmints of all kinds. The path mirrors the original road to Cedar Point that was mostly washed away decades ago being built on the sandy soil. Other paths spur off in the 472 acre preserve including around the meadow and pond.
It was getting late in the day and we didn’t have the time to take a walk this day, and my foot heel spurs were acting up, however, I look forward to hiking the trails the next time we visit.
Enjoy your time in this nice town on the North Shore. What do you like to do when you are in the Huron, Ohio area? Do you know of a hidden gem of a beach near you? We would love to hear about it in the comments!