The days are longer, the weather warmer and the sun shines more on northwest Ohio and the Lake Erie islands. At the Ørchard on Catawba Island, we’re preparing to celebrate the return of summer with our guests.
Throughout our 24-acre farm the grapevines, apple and peach trees are budding out. We breathe a little easier knowing that our orchard and vineyard rows, as well as those throughout farms in Northwest Ohio, promise another great season of Ohio fruits for our tables.
We’re also watching the dust settle from our newest project, an exciting expansion of our flagship restaurant, Orchard Bar & Table, that will up the experience at Ørchard on Catawba Island for our guests. We’re not quite ready to share our grand "reopening" day, but we’re close. So. Very. Close.
Our days right now are filled with sourcing the best ingredients including seasonal produce, meats and seafood for the Ørchard Bar& Table restaurant menu; selecting new brews, wines and crafting new cocktails for The Coop, inspired by our busy flock of laying hens; and stocking the Farm Stand where you can order from the café menu featuring Applewood fired pizza, sandwiches, fresh bread and bakery, sip coffees or wine and shop for everything for your summer table from fresh produce from our garden, eggs, honey from our hives, and homeware and kitchen goods that make cooking and eating really special.
Are you getting ready for summer, too? Maybe you’re thinking about how to fill those precious days from Memorial Day to Labor Day with meaningful experiences and memorable moments, things that check the box for spending time with nature, casual lessons in local history, things you can do on (and in) the water, and ways to stay active or simply chill.
If you thought Catawba was just a beeline to ferries to whisk you away to other Lake Erie Islands, you’ll be surprised at how this region has evolved over the past 10 years. It’s become a corridor for dining, wineries, breweries, shopping and a new focus on activities and attractions. Here are five to pique your interest. All are within easy reach of one another and the Ørchard on Catawba Island. Bundle two or more and fill a day with adventure, discovery and memory making.
1. Lighthouse Hopping. Ohio’s Lake Erie shores are dotted with more than 20 historic lighthouses between Ashtabula and Toledo. Here’s two you can check two off your list near Catawba Island. The Marblehead Lighthouse is the longest standing lighthouse on Lake Erie at just over 200 years old and beautifully restored. Tours are available between Memorial and Labor Days, along with a Keepers House Museum and amazing views of Lake Erie from the park, which is open year-round. You can also add a visit to the 125-year old Port Clinton Lighthouse which offers seasonal tours, a gift shop, and the Lightkeepers Boathouse, featuring historical displays and artifacts. Come for their annual Lighthouse & Maritime Festival, always the third Saturday in August.
2. Fantastic Fishing. Strong walleye hatches, a solid yellow perch population, and trophy worthy large and small mouth bass characterize the western basin off Catawba Island according to the ODNR. The island is a hub for charter and captains who know Lake Erie and where the fish are biting. You can find the charter to suit your needs by going to FishingBooker.com. Beginners, most charters provide all the equipment you need and captains are experienced teachers.
3. Island History. Making a connection with the places you visit always make for a meaningful experience. The Catawba Island Historical Society Museum sets the scene with carefully curated photos and info about the abundant vineyards and orchards that thrived here, Indian history and the answer to the question, “Why is the Catawba called an island when it’s really a peninsula?”
4. Glass Blowing. The Ferguson Gallery in Marblehead features the work of Cary Ferguson who has shared his love for Lake Erie through his artwork for 40 years: original oil paintings, prints, fine art glass and more. You have a chance to create as well. The Gallery offers glass blowing classes for individuals and groups during the summer season. Contact them directly for information.
5. Soul Southing Sunsets. Stopping to watch a sunset slows you down after a busy day, makes you grateful for your surroundings, and improves your mood. Catawba Island State Park offers a stretch of shoreline considered the best seats in the house for these nightly shows. This state park also offers 10 acres of green space, canoe and kayak launches, birdwatching, and a cobblestone beach.
Ørchard on Catawba is about an hour from Toledo and just over an hour from Cleveland. We’re on the way to the Miller Ferry and an easy stop whether you’re going or coming back. We are open daily at 8AM and invite you to join us for dining, wine, beer and cocktails, a wonderful shopping experience and a chance to enjoy the atmosphere of the grounds, from the orchard to the vineyard and all the feature we create to make your visit special. Visit us at 3350 NE Catawba Rd, Port Clinton, OH 43452.