Presidential Historic Sites – Visiting the Shores of Lake Erie and America’s 20th President

Welcome to another in a series of travelogue articles spotlighting presidential historic sites and presidential museums. Situated near the southern shores of Lake Erie in picturesque northeast Ohio is the home of America’s 20th president, James Garfield…

Mentor And Northeast Ohio: An Overview

About thirty miles east of downtown Cleveland, you’ll find a number of small lakeside communities that hug the southern shore of Lake Erie. Dotted with historic architecture and awash in delightful lake breezes, these communities provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of city life.

There is kind of a New England ambiance here. Summer is delightful, spring and autumn are generally crisp and cool. Outdoor activities are in season no matter what time of year, and winter is popular for snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and other snow sports.

This area is also the heart of Ohio’s wine country. The temperate effect of Lake Erie, along with fertile soil, make this an ideal terrain for grape growing. Wines from this region are garnering national attention, with numerous wineries welcoming visitors for tastings.

Shopping is another major draw. Many of the small towns have appealing and walkable downtown areas with specialty shops, antique stores, and fashionable outlets. For foodies, you’ll find no shortage of welcoming restaurants serving the freshest local fish and other inventive cuisine.

Of course, the star of the show in this area is Lake Erie itself. Numerous charters will take you out into the lake for fishing expeditions, sunset sails, or charter trips. Several beaches beckon families and sun lovers alike.

While the area is well known as a day trip destination from Cleveland, it is also a great family vacation spot or for couples looking to relax and unwind for a few days.

President Garfield’s Historic Home

James Garfield, a prominent Civil War general, bought this large farm house in 1876 to accommodate his large family. At the time, he was serving in the House of Representatives. He was also an enthusiastic farmer, planting many crops on the grounds.

Rather unexpectedly, Garfield won the nomination for president in 1880 and conducted his campaign largely from the front porch of this home. He won by less than 10,000 votes, the narrowest margin in history. Sadly, after he left for Washington to assume office, he never returned to Ohio. He was shot after just a few months in office and died two months later, in September, 1881.

Today, the restored home is a popular spot for visitors, not only for presidential historians, but those who appreciate seeing a restored 19th century home. Guided tours are given daily and last about 35 minutes. Visitors will see Garfield’s study and election headquarters, and a room where he monitored election results via telegraph service.

You can also explore the visitors center, a restored carriage house near the main home. It is here that you can learn about Garfield’s life and career, and view a short film about his ascent to the presidency and untimely death.

Many visitors come here to enjoy the peaceful, expansive grounds and the invigorating lake breeze. It is a perfect spot for a family picnic, or to simply relax and savor the fresh air.

Located between Cleveland and Buffalo, this part of north east Ohio is particularly attractive. It is a perfect place to stop for lunch and an afternoon visit before heading in either direction. We recommend an overnight stay in the area to truly experience the many charms and relaxed pace along the southern shores of Lake Erie.