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Mentor - Headlands Beach State Park

9601 Headlands Road

The trademark of Headlands Beach State Park is its mile-long natural sand beach, the largest in the state. In addition to its popularity during the summer season with picnickers and swimmers, the area is home to many plant species typically found only along the Atlantic Coast.


Lake Erie was a principal avenue of transportation for Indians and frontiersmen alike. The Lake Trail, a heavily used Indian path, ran along the south shore of the lake. Originally, the trail was used by the Iroquois. Later other Indians and settlers found it provided access to the Ohio country. Northeastern Ohio was given to Connecticut in an agreement by which that state gave up claim to all other land running west to the Pacific Ocean. Connecticut named the 3.8 million acres the "Western Reserve". Proceeds from the sale of this land were to benefit Connecticut schools. The Connecticut Land Company purchased the land for roughly 35 cents an acre and began selling tracts of land. Easterners moved west, and by 1800 the population of the Reserve was approximately 1,300 .

Nearby Fairport attracted Finns and Hungarians, later Slovenians and Slovaks, who came to fish and unload coal and ore from boats onto railroad cars by hand. The lake influenced development, and the harbor was a gateway for settlers and trade. Fairport Harbor is one of the best located on the lake with access possible when other harbors are closed.

Lake County, Ohio's smallest county, covers 231 square miles. With the lake's effect on the weather, the county developed a substantial nursery and fruit growing industry utilizing the prolonged growing season. The county claims one of the highest points in the Western Reserve. Known as Little Mountain, it is located about seven miles south of Painesville and offers excellent views of the surrounding area and Lake Erie.

In 1951-52, the state of Ohio began acquiring land west of Fairport to create a state park. Originally opened in 1953 as Painesville Beach State Park, the name was changed to Headlands Beach two years later. Its large beach has attracted huge crowds consistently since the opening. In 1957, the beach was closed when Lake Erie's waves and the undertow created safety problems. For a while, the public enjoyed swimming in the creek until the area was filled in. Capital improvement projects started in 1967 created numerous parking lots, concession buildings, restrooms, change booths and a treatment plant. Headlands Beach State Park remains very popular with swimmers and sunbathers.


lyd wetzel

Thursday, March 1, 2018
This place is an amazing 1 mile long beach, and I do the hour long drive a few times a summer to spend a day here to have a picnic on the sand and swim. But there are a few things you should know: Sand can get piping hot so wear sandals til you get your stuff set up as the walk is a little long from the parking lot. There are concessions. Beach patrol drives up and down the beach on their little buggies trying to bust you for anything. I think we should be able to enjoy responsibly on the beach but unfortunately no booze is allowed. Plenty of people still do it. Just be as discreet as possible because I know people who have gotten fines for drinking. An incident I would like to make note of: June 2016 (a warm sunny weekday), the beach was very uncrowded. Someone tried to break into my locked car and broke their fake key or whatever off in my driver side lock. So be aware. That being said, this place is so big that even when its crowded, you'll have room around you. You can walk on the rocks towards the lighthouse or on some paths under the trees. A couple years ago you used to be able to jump off the lighthouse but I think there may be a fence around it now. Overall this beach is a northeast Ohio staple that I hope you enjoy as much as I do.

Chrissy D'Aurio

Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018
I have lived in Ohio for 31 years. How have I not visited here before? Loved it! Reminded me of Virginia Beach. Lifeguards and Beach Patrol were kind and kept a watchful eye. Beach was very rocky but soft enough to relax on a towel. The swim area was good too. It was a nice getaway for a day.

Daniel Kneale

Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018
This place is gorgeous! Make sure you bring a camera along with your beach towel because you'll find several opportunities to use it. Check out the lighthouse on the end of the beach if you're up for a walk, amazing little place. Take into consideration that it's always going to be a few degrees colder on the lake though!

Jacob Patrick

Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018
Great park. Large open beach with plenty of parking and picnic benches. We love visiting during all seasons. One of the best places when the lake freezes over.

Michelle R

Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2018
The BEST beach around Cleveland that I have been to. It is long and wide with a tree line, a bike, trek path. Animals are not allowed on the beach. It is a beach that I don't have to be concerned about getting a UTI, yeast infection or kidney infection from unlike Huntington Beach or Edgewater. I won't go in the water there. I also love that on the way there is Brennan's, awesome seafood and Pickle Bills-only good food all-you-can-eat crab legs and drinks on the water.

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