East Harbor State Park in Lakeside Marblehead, Ohio, is a relatively small park acreage-wise, but it offers a large campground with over 500 campsites ranging from primitive group sites to full hook-up sites. For a campground of this size, we were impressed with the amenities as well as the general maintenance of the park.
During our stay, one of the park rangers, Officer Bishop, stopped to talk with us about the park. The kiddos got a kick out of the Junior Ranger badges he gave them (they are still wearing them every day here at home). In addition to the state park staff, the park is maintained by a well-trained and efficient group of volunteers. This team of campground hosts did a great job of making sure sites were cleaned and prepped for the next camper. They even took the time to call us when they discovered a jack crank they thought we had left behind (it must have been left by the previous camper).
The reason for our visit to East Harbor State Park campground was to meet up with extended family who live in Michigan. The trip all came about after our West trip had to be reduced, so we made our reservations rather late. It was obvious that this is a popular park because finding two sites next to each other–that could fit our campers (32 ft. and 37 ft.) in a pet loop–was somewhat difficult.
We were in Site C-213 and our relatives were in site C-212, which were in the very last row of the C camping area. The sites were in a low area where water runs from the campground into the woods/wetland making for a soggy, muddy area due to all the rain we had this past weekend. Many other sites in the C loop seemed to be soggy as well. Most of the sites in the loop had little to no shading, so wet sites dried out faster in the sun.
Probably the biggest challenge to sites in the C loop was that many sites were extremely difficult to back into. Many of the sites are at a 90 degree angle to the road, rather than angled for ease of backing in. Had the campers across the road not been around when we arrived and willing to move their truck, it would have been extremely challenging to get our camper backed in.
Most sites in the pet camping areas have little to no privacy and are close together–as we sat inside our camper we could hear our neighbors talking around their campfire. If you are camping with a pet, here are some recommended sites:
- If you have a larger rig and want a pull through: C221-C226
- If you are looking for a bit more privacy or full hook-up: C2, C7, C8, C21, or C24
If you are camping without pets your ability to select a site with shade and a bit more privacy greatly increases. Camping area B is very nice with a good mix of sun and shade sites, most of which have more space than area C. All sites in area B are pull throughs. I would avoid B1-B13 since they looked like they would be very difficult to get a camper level (despite some really good efforts there were a few campers that were pretty sloped). I would also avoid B24, 79, 100, and 119 as they are at the end of the loop and at night headlights would point directly into your site as cars drive by.
If you are not in a full hook-up site, make sure to go to the dump station area to fill up your water tank before setting up your camper since there are only a few water spigots in the campground, most of which are not accessible for filling a camper.
Most campsites have restroom buildings that are fairly close. These were old, worn out, and in need of repairs/updates, but they were relatively clean. The one restroom building had a significant problem with its faucets, which were not attached well, so that when you tried to turn the faucet the whole unit turned, making it very hard to get water to come out of the spigot. In areas A, B, and C there were shower houses. These too were older but had some updates. While they were again relatively clean, they were still not up to Kristin’s standards. 🙂 If we were to return we would definitely reserve a full hook-up site.
For a small park there are quite a few amenities, including:
- a well-stocked camp store with an assortment of camping supplies and fresh ice cream;
- a camper boat launch that provides direct access to Sandusky Bay and Lake Erie;
- a beach and fishing areas;
- a frisbee disc golf course;
- a sand volleyball, baseball field, basketball court, and horseshoe pits;
- a public use archery range;
- a great kid-friendly nature center;
- an amphitheater that has planned activities (the weekend we were there they brought in a big band for a dance);
- well-groomed hiking trails;
- while there are several playgrounds, they are very small and only had a slide and swings (of which half weren’t feasible for our kiddos because the seats were hanging at my waist level).
Things to do in the area:
Since our main purpose for this trip was to fellowship with family we did not do a great deal of touring. However, we would not be The Touring Camper if we did not do some kind of touring. 🙂 So we did scope out two area attractions.
The Liberty Aviation Museum (and adjoining Tin Goose Diner) was our first stop. The museum is home to a collection of aircraft, automobiles, and vintage memorabilia related to the Ford Tri-motor, B-25, and Island Airlines. The entire collection is operational and you can see the restoration process in action. The kiddos really enjoyed this museum and even asked to go back and see a few things again after we ate lunch. We had lunch at the nostalgic Tin Goose Diner. The food was great and the atmosphere and view were fantastic. I had the Wrong Way Corrigan (grilled pot roast over a bed of potato pancakes) … yum!
We also took a ride out to the Marblehead Lighthouse State Park to check out the lighthouse and adjacent grounds. Unfortunately, the tour schedule for the lighthouse and home did not line up with our visit, but the grounds were beautiful. Additionally, they are in the process of building an additional facility that will be a replica of the 1875 U.S. Lifesaving Station. Our relatives spent a few hours that same afternoon at the Rocky Point Winery and said it would be a great stop for a relaxing afternoon in Marblehead, Ohio.
Additional attractions in the area include taking a ferry to visit the islands. Years ago Kristin visited Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island with her family, and she remembers having fun visiting Perry’s monument and the Crystal Cave located at Heineman’s Winery. Our research indicates Kelley’s Island is probably a more family-friendly spot for the kiddos. And of course, not too far away is Cedar Point Amusement Park and the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area.
Date of visit: June 12-15, 2015