A Summer Day in Fairport Harbor

There’s something about the water that draws kids (young and old) to its shores. Combine that with boutique shopping and museum tours, and you’ve got my attention completely. And yes, a place like this exists right here in Northeast Ohio.

My husband and I recently visited Fairport Harbor. It’s a small town in Lake County on the shores of Lake Erie, largely settled by Finnish immigrants.

The town comes alive in the summer months as Lake Metroparks’ Fairport Harbor Beach offers kayak and paddleboard lessons, ice cream, and a boardwalk stroll along the beach.

We started our trip with a visit to Lake Erie.

We watched the ships and freighters come in and out of the harbor, walked the boardwalk, and soaked up the sun. Up the hill, we toured the Fairport Harbor Marine Museum and Lighthouse which offers fantastic views of the harbor. After that, we walked into town and explored Finnish Treasures Gift Shop, the Finnish Heritage Museum, and The Gravel Pit which is an adorable boutique store featuring local artists. It was my husband’s first trip to these places so I enjoyed acting as a tour guide…and personal shopper.

New for me, was the Finnish Treasures Gift Shop and the new walking tour at the Finnish Heritage Museum. I don’t really know what I expected when I walked into Finnish Treasures, but I left with a wonderful opinion. They had everything from Swedish Fish (haha) to beautiful pieces of glass done by Finnish artists. Recipe books, fresh baked goods, and souvenirs were all available and the shop was packed full of people.

The Finnish Heritage Museum is always a treat for me to visit.

Marine Museum

The museum is in the old fire department building and has a beautiful brick exterior with a relatively new sculpture, Spirit of Finland, outside its door. Inside the museum, you will find exhibits on traditional clothing, the correct way to drink coffee, woodcarving, birch bark crafts, Finnish military history, and a replica sauna. What is most impressive is their elaborate display of Finnish immigrant families to the area. It is so well done you can’t help but read each of their stories.

I was delighted to find out the museum now offers a walking tour of Finn Hollow. 

Finn Hollow was a section of town where 10 homes were built on temporary foundations on land owned by the Pennsylvania and Lake Erie Dock Company. The land was granted to the families with the understanding that the company could reclaim the land at any point – hence the temporary foundations. The tour is self-guided around Fairport Harbor that takes you from the Erie Indians to the 1st woman mayor of Ohio, then to the only original Finn Hollow house left in place, to various memorials, beaches, and lighthouses all important to the original immigrants and current residents.

Family Restaurant is the go-to place to eat.

When you’ve had your fill of museums, the lake, and shopping, Family Restaurant has  great food and a hometown atmosphere. If you prefer to dine on the lake, try Sunset Harbor Bar and Grill or there is always the option of a picnic on the beach.

PS…if you were wondering, the proper Finnish way to drink coffee is out of the saucer.

Finnish poem


Image rough translation:

Silence speaks volumes. It is happiness where the heart finds new voice for tomorrow. Quietness speaks to your heart.


Elizabeth Connor
Elizabeth Connor

Elizabeth Connor is the owner of EWC Media, LLC and also the Executive Director of the Lake County Historical Society. She lives with her husband, two pugs, and has a castle in her neighborhood (literally). When she’s not out promoting Lake County or history, she is creating in her studio or exploring. These explorations have led her to some incredibly interesting places around NEO like the Concours d’Elegance at Stan Hywet and the shipwrecks of Lake Erie. She’s also been in the depths of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History’s specimen collections and rode in a B-17. She even watched the Walleye Drop in Port Clinton. You can contact her at [email protected] or find her around Lake County – look for her behind a photography lens.